How We Work

One question that customers ask us all the time is this: you are an offshore company, how will we work with you, logistically? And that also generates a number of other questions: how will we communicate? what if we want to see your faces? what about security and privacy of our data and data that belongs to our clients? how do you ensure protection of intellectual property? how would we know if you are actually making progress in your work? Basically customers want to know what working with us will feel and look like. Some don't have any experience with outsourcing while others are curious to compare us to their partners in India and other countries. These are all good questions and we are glad you asked them!


Communication

We certainly use all of the latest communication tools, such as email, traditional conference calls, and instant messaging. Some people prefer Skype, but we somehow settled on using GoogleTalk, with its small footprint and nice clean interface. We use it on a daily basis. We are flexible though and will try to accomodate your requirements the best we can. We also like Web conferencing tools, such as WebEx, with remote desktop viewing capability, and have used them fairly extensively. Traditional conference calls via a number of available services are great, and we have done calls involving people in Hawaii, Boston, Moscow, and Hong Kong. We don't mind being on the call at 1 am if need be!


We not only don't mind on site visits, but actually believe it's important to meet folks face to face, especially on larger projects. It certainly does help to associate faces with email addresses and voices on conference calls, helps build better relationships. But we have done work without ever meeting people face to face. If on site travel is needed, we prefer a bit of time to plan our travel and get decent deals on plane tickets, but we often travel on a very short notice. We have a US-based architect and technical lead, as well as customer relationship manager, who are involved in all and every project and provide an interface between the offshore developers and our customers.


You are also more than welcome to visit our offices in Russia, as some customers do before embarking on a long-term project with us. We will give you a great sightseeing tour and take you to some of the best restaurants in Moscow and Voronezh! If you are not comfortable traveling to Russia on your own, we will have someone from the US accompany you.


Throughout the lifetime of a project we will use a number of project management approaches to track our progress and stay engaged with you. We like to have weekly or bi-weekly (or more frequent, if needed) status calls, with your participation where we discuss current progress, issues, and outstanding action items. We send out weekly project updates and status reports. We visit your office when necessary and may perform either short or long-term work on site. We have done both. We use CVS, Subversion, or other repositories to store code, or can use your version control systems, if necessary. We have our own Web-based defect tracking system as well. We have used IBM Lotus Notes Web-based TeamRoom to store project documents, but not everyone likes that system. We are usually fairly flexible and will try to accomodate your specific requirements.


Our developers in Russia usually work at a slightly shifted schedule and, even though there's an 8-hour difference between our Russian offices and the East Coast of the US, there is usually an overlap of a few hours. If required, our guys will work late as well.


If you are already using offshore resources in India or other countries --- great, we will be happy to work with them, the more the merrier. In the past, we successfully worked with customers who had developers and testers in Eastern Europe, India, and Nepal. We have also successfully worked on large projects involving up to four organizations, all residing in different countries. We never met those folks face to face but had a great working relationship via email, IM, WebEx, and conference calls. Worked surprisingly well!


Security

Security is always an important issue. How can it not be? And we take it very seriously!


Traditional approach to security on-line is using public-key encryption. Customers provide us with VPN access to their systems, and, on projects where customers need to access our servers, we provide them with VPN access to our systems. Some VPN systems require key fobs (little electronic devices that generate random numbers to be used in addition to passwords in order to login into VPN). It is never an issue for our customers to mail us a few key fobs and we can mail them back when the project ends. We have done work for US customers who store extremely sensitive medical, financial, and personal data using this approach.


In some cases, customers still feel uncomfortable when someone from outside the US accesses sensitive data, even if over a secure connection. We totally understand. In such cases there are a couple different approaches. One is to create a set of scrambled data that could be used for testing. It looks very much like real data, except it's all bogus. Could be used for software testing, but not for anything else. Works great, but requires a bit of extra work to create such data. Another approach is to allow only people who are physically residing in the US to access sensitive data. We have accomodated such requests from our customers in the past. Offshore developers send software code over to the GSS onshore personnel who then access sensitive data. Works quite well. GSS onshore personnel can even be on site at the customer location, to completely eliminate all remote access, even if over VPN. But in most cases, we simply access customer systems remotely over VPN, both from the US and from Russia. We have not had any problems, ever.


We are also pretty flexible about signing customer Non-Disclosure Agreements (NDAs) and will work with you to iron out all the details. Our management and attorney will work with your attorneys to come to an aggreement acceptable to both sides.


Read more on security and intellectual property protection.


How to Engage Us

If you like what you see, get in touch with us! We will get back to you and will setup a conference call so we can learn more about your needs and answer any questions you may have about us. Depending on a project and your specific requirements and needs, we may discuss everything over phone and email, analyze your requirements or existing code and come up with a cost estimate, or we may visit your office to meet you in person and go over all the details there. We can also perform a pilot project for you, before embarking on a larger endeavor.


If we don't have the exact set of skills that you are looking for, we will tell you right away. At the same time, we are usually willing to explore the possibility of finding such skills if customers are interested in that.

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