Could you share any evidence that would demonstrate the productivity, quality of work, or the impact of the engagement?
One of the highlights of our relationship with Fingent is the quality and retention rates of their resources. Their resources are well qualified for the positions they fill, but what's rarer is that they stay on for a long time. Coming from an offshore-onsite model, I know that for companies where most of their resources are based out of India, turnover is a big problem. They frequently try and build processes around making it less person-dependent and more process-dependent.
The first person we got on our team, James, is still on our team as of this month. He’s been solid technically as well as for communication. He knows the product. It’s a shame we have to end that relationship, but retention has been a really surprising element with Fingent for me. There was some turnover, but most of our team was consistent through the years. That helped a lot, especially since we're a small company. Eight to ten people offshore in India is not a huge engagement, but that was part of the reason why we picked Fingent: they were small enough where we would be a significant client for them.
They have well-qualified resources. Communication was not an issue at all. In fact, I visited their facility about 2 1/2 years ago to meet the team who were very well structured. Their office is located amidst a huge technology park, so one of my questions to their executive team was how do you keep your people from going out and handing out their resume and switching jobs. They’re right in the middle of these tens of thousands of people who are doing the same job. They definitely have a culture and a model that attracts talent, so they didn’t seem to have any attrition issues going on there.
How did Fingent perform from a project management standpoint?
Their management was very easy to deal with. They did not raise prices on us for resources over the course of five years, which is also very surprising. They stuck to the original price point that we got from them four years ago when we switched to this time-and-materials model. There was never an issue about resources or unplanned vacations. It was always very smooth. In fact, we almost got spoiled by Fingent to a point where we now have higher expectations.
We worked in an Agile methodology where we did weekly checkpoints that included not just status updates but also demos. They got quick feedback that they could act upon, and they’re good at retaining feedback. Over time, the resources picked up new information and required little direction after the first year or so.
Our direct contact was with the team leads, and we used a variety of project management tools to keep track. At any given time, we always had an instant messenger tool like Skype or, more recently, Jabber. Most of my team interacted with their team directly on a daily basis. We had a weekly status call every Wednesday. We used WebEx or GoToMeeting for collaboration. For access to our QA environment, they VPNed and connected to our network. For most of the development collaboration, we used the Microsoft suite of tools. We are on Team Foundation Server for work item tracking and issue logging. We used Confluence for documentation in the last year and a half for knowledge sharing. We also used Visual Studio and Microsoft SQL Server.
What did you find most impressive about Fingent?
Their price point was one of the big drivers for us to pick them initially. When I went through the whole RFP process, Fingent had the lowest price point. I didn’t want to just pick the cheapest vendor, so I looked at two different ones. The other one was ISO 9001 certified, but their quality of resources was much lower than what Fingent delivered at a lower price point. That was a differentiator for us. As we went through the relationship, the retention was another big differentiator. We had a consistent team, which is a huge deal for a product company because the system knowledge they gain is invaluable. Those two are the highlights for me.
Are there any areas Fingent could improve?
In the big scheme of things, nothing really. We are very pleased with how they have done business with us. There were some quality issues: there was a six-month period when there was a weaker team on our project. As soon as we highlighted that to the managers, we got immediate attention. They took concrete steps to mitigate anything like that and monitored the quality of code. They responded very well. Again, that’s expected in this kind of engagement so I wouldn’t say the quality of resources slipping a little bit was anything out of the ordinary.
What tips or recommendations could you share that might increase the likelihood of success with Fingent?
Whatever company uses them needs to be prepared to outsource stuff. Many companies fall into the trap of trying to outsource too much and not having a balance between owners here versus in India. We’re fortunate enough and had people with enough outsourcing background that we could determine what could be outsourced and what couldn't. Whatever we did outsource, there was a lot of definition on what needed to be done, and we always established communication protocols and checkpoints.
Be prepared for outsourcing. Document your requirements and establish good communication protocols and acceptance criteria. If you get a partner like Fingent with that in place, then it makes it very easy. I’ve heard people be skeptical about whether outsourcing really works. It works both ways—you have to put in some effort to make it work for you in the long term.