Teaching – and Talking to – Robots: The Benefits of Cognitive-Enabled RPA

Robotic Process Automation (RPA) tools are being widely adopted across a wide range of enterprises and industries. By executing narrowly defined, repeatable tasks, RPA bots can drive dramatic productivity increases and significant cost reductions. For as little as $10,000 to $15,000 a year to deploy and maintain, a single bot can perform the routine, administrative tasks of five to ten people.

RPA is being applied to a wide range of generic business processes related to Finance and Accounting, such as order management and invoice processing, as well as HR functions such as payroll and pension management. In additon, RPA bots are being deployed for industry-specific tasks such as credit card and loan processing in financial servcies, claims processing in insurance and third-party administration in healthcare.

Somewhat counter-intuitively, RPA is not just for “simple” tasks; indeed, the technology is ideally suited to convoluted workflow processes that are both labor-intensive as well as highly prone to human error. For example, in a large, complex environment, account reconciliation can be a painful undertaking that involves rigorous compliance standards and multiple steps to match and verify numbers and records. When people are in charge, they invariably get sloppy or take shortcuts. Robots, meanwhile, aren’t smart enough to cut corners; instead, they follow the directions they’re given to the letter, ensuring accuracy and compliance.

Cognitive Capabilities

Benefits notwithstanding, traditional RPA systems have several major drawbacks. For one thing, the bots can’t handle anomalies or learn from experience. If the steps they’ve been instructed to follow don’t align with the reality of the function they’re working on, they can’t devise a solution. Rather, they report the anomaly as an exception that requires human intervention. This results in a productivity gap for shared services operations managing large volumes of unstructured data, because standard bots can’t navigate the nuances involved in, for example, email requests.

Today, self-learning applications are enabling bots to quickly identify a mistake and apply a fix, without requiring a rewrite of the bot’s instructions. When an exception arises, the cognitive tool flags the exception. And when that exception is fixed by a human administrator, the bot captures the fix and applies it going forward. As a result, the tasks of updating and optimizing RPA tools are significantly streamlined. Over time the expertise of these “cognitive bots” can match that of an operation’s top agents.

Natural language processing tools, meanwhile, analyze the context of words and phrases, enabling business users with minimal technical training to interact with RPA systems by using plain English commands. For example, a user from an accounting department can simply type, “I need to create a cost center for the marketing team,” and the robot understands what’s needed and executes the task. If the request is worded differently, such as, “Create a cost center for marketing,” the robot responds.

By simplifying and speeding the process of updating and reconfiguring RPA tools, integrating cognitive capabilities into basic RPA functionality reduces the need for constant intervention and oversight by technical experts. Given the scarcity of that technical talent in today’s market, smart tools can significantly reduce the productivity-sapping bottlenecks that characterize many RPA initiatives.

Optimizing BPO Capabilities

Cognitive-enabled RPA initiatives extend the benefits of automation and drive additional cost savings and increases in productivity. Equally important, by applying smart tools to continually optimize the automation of routine tasks, enterprises can focus their energies on strategic decision-making and on enhancing their shared services and Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) capabilities.

One characteristic of this strategic mindset is the ability to effectively deploy Agile methodologies that leverage collaboration between technology teams and business users – collaboration that is essential to reaping the full benefits of RPA. In addition, enterprises can focus on process optimization and identifying new opportunities to drive intelligent automation. Finally, a mature BPO strategy includes an RPA Center of Excellence (CoE) to enable oversight of the overall automation strategy, prioritize initiatives, manage organizational change and serve as a focal point of innovation.

RPA has had a dramatic impact on the ability of organizations to reduce costs and increase productivity in managing basic business processes. As the integration of RPA and smart tools continues to evolve, smart enterprises will seize the opportunity and leverage these emerging capabilities to fundamentally redefine their approach to managing business processes.

Source: futureofsourcing.com-Teaching – and Talking to – Robots: The Benefits of Cognitive-Enabled RPA

Procurement with a Purpose

A few years ago, companies used purpose to differentiate. It was an edge over their competition, something that was applauded by consumers. Today, it’s the expectation. Businesses want to not only do well for their companies, they also want to make a difference in the world, and between modern slavery and extreme poverty, the supply chain is the ticket. We’re living in an age where supply chains are becoming more and more complex and what you can’t see can hurt you.

What does purpose actually mean? The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines purpose as “a subject under discussion or an action in course of execution.” The key word here is “discussion.” Purpose is subjective and it’s unique from person to person and business to business. What empowers our own individual purpose though is the power of conversation. Here is where businesses can move the needle.

So why now? What makes purpose not only relevant in today’s world, but critical to success? A Nielsen study reports that about two-thirds of consumers are willing to pay more for products and services from companies who are committed to positive social and environmental impact. Nine in 10 consumers expect companies to not only make a profit, but also operate responsibly to address social and sustainability issues, according to another study by Cone Communications. Additionally, it reports that 84 percent of global consumers said they seek out responsible products whenever possible and they’re willing to pay for the peace of mind in knowing they did so.

But social causes aren’t limited to consumer companies. There are an abundance of ways that companies can do good. Any company. Think about the core of your business and how you can leverage it to serve a higher purpose—one that aligns with the issues that are important to your customers and the industries you serve. Think about cloud and network technologies and how you can leverage big data, machine learning and AI to bring transparency into the supply chain and act with purpose. When it comes right down to it, consumers and businesses alike want to feel that their purchasing decisions are not only beneficial from a fiscal standpoint, but also a personal one. The emotional element that comes with bringing purpose into your brand is deeply powerful and should never be underestimated.

One of the major drivers in businesses adopting a “purpose mission” is the inherent risks that come with not doing so. For example, at each step along the supply chain, businesses are inviting opportunities for inhumane labor conditions and other non-ethical scenarios that pose severe risk to not only their brand’s reputation but also to business growth and talent retention. In today’s world, consumers and employees don’t want to associate with businesses that aren’t able to guarantee a clean and ethical lifecycle for their products.

Businesses want to make a difference. They want to drive ethical behavior across the supply chain, and take on things like supplier diversity, as well as tougher challenges like the elimination of forced labor or the use of minerals that come from conflict zones…and with the help of technology they have the power to do it.

Collectively, companies in the Global 2000 spend an astounding $12 trillion on goods and services annually. And by tying their purchases to purposes, these companies can ensure they provide fair labor practices across their supply chain. They can make opportunities available to minority and women-owned businesses. And they can ensure that no slave labor is being used to make their products.

Companies across all industries are trying to connect these dots. They appreciate that there’s a problem but struggle to identify where and how to solve it simply given the lack of transparency in understanding their own supply chains. This is where networks come into play. Just as social networks allow consumers to share, shop and consume, business networks give companies the power to discover, connect and collaborate across a global network of partners in an open and informed way. That way the learnings of one organization can benefit all. We can all work together to do good and we have a corporate responsibility to do so.

That’s the power of purpose. And it is the greatest power of all. As procurement professionals, it motivates us to innovate and solve complex problems using connected data and transparent multi-tier global supply chains. It enables and empowers us to reimagine and reinvent what is possible. At the end of the day, when you combine the power of purpose with the technology and innovations available, businesses can make more informed decisions. This isn’t just an enormous opportunity, it’s a responsibility.

Source: futureofsourcing.com-Procurement with a Purpose

Supply Chain Sustainability: What We Know and Don’t Know

Supply chain sustainability is a nice idea, but there are a lot of unanswered questions when it comes to the finer details. So, while genuine progress has been made, there are also a lot of businesses whose commitment to a sustainable supply chain is questionable.

When McDonald’s says it wants to start serving “sustainable beef,” this sounds great. The supply chain for meat is one of the biggest causes of climate change, so anything that one of the world’s biggest purchasers of beef can do to make their supply chain more sustainable should be welcomed and applauded.

The issue comes with the self-regulation of McDonald’s “sustainable beef,” as well as the fact that “sustainable beef” is a term that the company has come up with itself. While it is encouraging to see McDonald’s promise to eliminate deforestation from its supply chain, exactly how else McDonald’s beef will be sustainable remains to be seen.

McDonald’s sets benchmarks for many industries, so there is a lot that can be learned from the company’s successes — as well as its failures — with regards to sustainability. In lieu of tough regulation from governments, we need companies to set targets for themselves by which the public and the media can measure them. Striving for “no deforestation in the McDonald’s supply chain by 2020” is a measurable target, but aiming to have “more sustainable beef” is neither specific enough nor truly measurable.

Waste, Wastewater and Pollution

The economics of scale is the principle behind almost every business on the planet, yet its major flaw is waste. When buying in such quantities, the risk of leftover waste increases exponentially. Recycling is an absolute must because the aim shouldn’t be waste reduction; the aim should be zero waste.

Wastewater can be recycled, waste can be recycled and emissions can be reduced to zero…all it takes is imagination and the will to do so. Elon Musk has proven that this is the case. The adventurous entrepreneur has built a solar-powered battery able to give electricity to an entire town in Australia and is also developing electric-powered delivery vehicles. These two inventions could help supply chains the world over to develop zero-emission factories with zero-emission transport. Those two inventions alone could completely cut emissions from a huge chunk of the global supply chain. What’s lacking is the investment and the belief in Musk’s ideas.

This is hardly surprising. Eco-friendly entrepreneurs like Musk have their own version of economics, where the aim isn’t to make as much money as possible but to use his company’s profits to make as much positive impact on the world as possible. It might sound hokey, yet it makes sense that the kind of people ambitious enough to make billions of dollars would also be ambitious enough to commit to such lofty aims.

It’s not just Musk. Entrepreneurs like Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg have amassed fortunes while simultaneously attempting to change the world. Of course, this change is not always welcome. As Zuckerberg learned in India, there is a fine line between philanthropy and neo-imperialism.

Things Smaller Businesses Can Do

Away from the machinations of billionaires, what can small to medium businesses do to create more sustainable supply chains? To begin with, it depends on your industry. Reducing carbon emissions might be the aim and there are many ways in which the future of warehousing or the future of shipping could be more sustainable.

However, to run a small business with zero emissions, you need to build the business from scratch, with the idea of zero emissions at the center of what you do. Of course, at some point, you’re going to run into the issue of transport. Without a zero-emission transport system such as the one Musk is developing, you’ll have to resort to whatever you can find.

There are a lot of things that all businesses can do to make supply chains more sustainable…there are a lot of things that governments can do to make supply chains more sustainable…and there are a lot of things that customers can do to influence both groups. What’s more, in some ways, decision-makers at small businesses are also waiting on big businesspeople like Musk to make a sustainable supply chain possible for everyone. In short, the job of supply chain sustainability is everyone’s, meaning everyone has a role to play.

Source: futureofsourcing.com-Supply Chain Sustainability: What We Know and Don’t Know

What those developers really mean

It’s been said that the only people who tell the truth are the children and the insane. Now, developers may seem insane at times and they are just as prone to childish tantrums as anyone, but that doesn’t mean they speak the truth. Indeed they often shade the truth just like the suits in the corner office when speaking to the developer team. They just use a different language.

To help you navigate the subtle inflections and sneaky barbs of your developers, here is a translation guide to some of the terms developers often use in team meetings.

‘Non-standard’

On a good day, standards are a nice way for a group to synchronize their behavior and build up a collective stack of code that encourages cooperation and tons of network effects. On a bad day, they’re a cudgel by which one tribe of developers beats down another.

Outside of a few corners controlled by government agencies, most so-called standards are just regular code with the word “standard” in the title. Some folks announced a “standard” and asked others to join. The real test is whether anyone follows the “standard” — and whether the industry alliances that uphold the “standard” shift as quickly as mall rats to new fashions.

When developers call a work initiative or chosen tool “non-standard,” they may be speaking truth. It would be silly, for instance, to forgo the established code built around HTML for some new layout scheme, no matter how good it is. But most so-called “standards” don’t have the same kind of inertia as HTML, and so you have to poke a bit to see whether your developers are really just saying, “Not my cup of tea”, “not invented here”, or even “we hate this guy.”

‘New standard’

Developers love to tout their new favorite toy by saying it’s the “new standard” or “it’s quickly becoming the new standard.” Again, “standard” becomes a touchstone that’s meant to make everyone feel good about the choice.

The word “new,” however, should raise the hair on the back of your neck. Standards don’t become standards without time. If something is “new” then it’s too early to know whether the crowds will gather behind the bandwagon or your company will be one of the few left out to dry. Developers of the “new standard” may be blowing all the right horns and lighting lots of fireworks, but we won’t know whether the parade will fall into line without time.

That doesn’t mean developers don’t have good intentions when they tell you it’s a “new standard” that they’re hot to adopt. After all, this often means they are interested in abandoning or deprecating some old approach. Perhaps they’ve pulled their hair out one too many times with how you’ve been doing things, and they’re hoping this new approach or tool may actually solve some of the problems that have arisen. But you still have to be somewhat cautious of the new when invoked by developers.

‘One week’

Hope springs eternal. When developers say a feature or fix will be easy, they’re usually speaking truthfully. Because they really hope it will be finished quickly. It’s just that there are all too many things that can go wrong with computers. Sometimes it’s the network. Sometimes it’s the legacy database. Sometimes it’s just foolish optimism. In any case, more often than not, “one week” really means “one month.” Or maybe even “six weeks.”

‘One month’

This is a more standard unit of estimation that you will hear from developers, and like “one week,” it is completely inaccurate as far as reality goes. The level of misestimating is probably similar as it is for “one week,” and it’s not uncommon to see “one month” tasks expand by a factor of four to six.

‘One year’

When developers say something will take a year, they’re not talking about time any more. They’re just saying they don’t want to do it. Maybe it will require learning or relearning to program in some language they didn’t like. Maybe it will mean negotiating with some team in another division, one that stole all the resources and maybe beat them in softball.

They would try the gambit of claiming it can’t be done but they often realize this is a losing ploy. Nine times out of ten, a competitor is doing just what you’ve asked your developers to do, so it’s hard to claim with a straight face that’s impossible. Better to bury it by claiming it’s infeasible or impractical.

This behavior is common in all layers of a bureaucracy, of course. It’s just programmers live in mysterious world inscrutable to outsiders. That makes it easier for them to play the game and then hide behind some odd standard or weird software layer you’ve never heard of.

‘Style’

Someone once said there’s no debating style — you either have it or you don’t. Developers aren’t any different. They have opinions about the most attractive way to write code just as clothes designers care about tie width or skirt length.

Perhaps the most famous version of stylistic fascism is the AirBnB Style Guide for Node.JS, which include rules like one insisting putting a space both before and after a plus sign, rule 19.4. Rule 19.10 also forbids putting a space inside a square bracket while 19.11 insists on a space inside curly brackets. Yes, the rules have numbers, subnumbers and embedded anchor tags so you can send a nastygram to some developer with misplaced spaces explaining exactly which “code style” has been violated.

AirBnB as a company may have a more relaxed view about regulations because they’re actively fighting fire codes and zoning codes that may or may not protect customers, but they’re happy to insist on how many non-functional spaces are in their code stack. (See here and here.)

The problem isn’t that developers have opinions about how to write code; it’s when they try to force others to bend to their will. Many developer tribes like to go to war over “code style,” which can often just be a passive-aggressive burn in a memo about “non-standard” issues. That team’s style is bad. Ours is good. For the most part, when a developer references “code style,” whatever they say next can be safely ignored. If there was a real technical issue around, say, interoperability, “style” wouldn’t enter the conversation. If your developers are stuck objecting to code style, consider it a pretty clear sign they’re just being obnoxious.

‘DevOps’

The name sounds like a combination of “developer” and “operations,” but it really refers to the process of keeping the code running and the servers humming, a process complex enough for some around the office to start specializing in these chores.

But you can often detect a slight sneer in the voice of a programmer who delegates things to the “DevOps” team in the same way a great chef lets someone else worry about setting the table. Programmers think great thoughts about data structures and leave the job of keeping it running to others, regardless of what you would like them to do. In a way, “DevOps” can seem like anything developers don’t want to do but needs to be done.

‘API’

Robert Frost may not have been a programmer, but he understood APIs when he wrote, “Something there is that doesn’t love a wall.” Programmers love APIs because they establish clear boundaries with rules for crossing them. By encapsulating the work, APIs allow those outside the API wall to avoid thinking too much about what is going on inside.

But when programmers say “API,” what they are talking about more often than not is control. The team that builds the API gets to set the rules, facilitating complaints about other developers who are using “non-standard” means to abuse the API. They can set up terms of service and rules of access, which no doubt others will want further opened up and arguments will ensue. Perhaps it’s best to concentrate on the happier aspects when developers speak of APIs, like when Frost himself concludes, “Good fences make good neighbors.”

‘Better suited’ / ‘The right tool for the job’

Developers spend a lot of time learning the idiosyncrasies of a programming language and its supporting codebase. After all, the more they learn, the more efficient and valuable they become. So it’s no surprise that they often advocate for what they know best.

When they say that X or Y is “better suited” to the task, they’re often just validating a choice they made long ago to dive deeply into one particular stack. The best approach is just to nod, smile and agree. The differences aren’t worth arguing about. After all, modern languages are relatively equivalent in power and capability, with most differences being largely cosmetic. Python programmers, for instance, are often proud that their language breaks up code into blocks using indentation instead of curly brackets. That may not be enough to pivot to Python with your next programming project.

‘Scope creep’

Projects begin with big dreams — and sometimes we manage to finish 50 percent of them. Choosing how much to bite off is not an easy task. If you’re too conservative, you don’t accomplish much. But If you try to go big, well, you’re much more likely to crash and get nothing done.

The phrase “scope creep” officially describes the process by which a once feasible goal is made impossible by adding all of these extra goals along the way. It’s often mentioned defensively when developers try to stop a manager from adding another neat idea to the mix. Does it work? Sometimes. But managers often counter with phrases like “raising the bar” or even worse, “Do it, or you’re fired.”

‘Cultural fit’

If you’ve ever thought humans have evolved beyond warring tribes, just watch developers use the words “cultural fit,” which are almost always a replacement for “person just like me.” Some see it used to exclude races and genders, but others see it deployed when discussing programming languages, APIs, and many technical items. People have their comfort zone where everything is just how they like it and those outside that comfort zone don’t have a “cultural fit.”

‘Refactoring’

If a programmer called it “fixing mistakes” or “rebuilding things the right way,” it would sound like they were admitting incompetence. But somehow the word “refactoring” sounds scientific and even noble. Is it any wonder that programmers deploy it when they’re cleaning up prior mistakes?

‘Feature’ vs. ‘bug’

If a programmer says “feature,” it means they like the code, often because they wrote it. If they use the word “bug,” they don’t like the code and it’s often simply because the other team wrote it.

While any user understands the concept of a “bug,” it’s actually hard for programmers to recognize them. Code defines itself. Some developers say there’s no such thing as a bug; it’s just a matter of use cases that haven’t been written yet.

Don’t get sucked into their philosophical swamp. If the user can’t accomplish something, it needs to be fixed whether it’s called a bug or a feature.

‘Kludge’

A kludge is just an old slang for a stop-gap measure that’s implemented because there wasn’t time to do things “the right way.” The programmers will probably want to refactor by adding more code. In the future, the next team will refer to this refactoring as a kludge and the cycle will continue.

‘Luser’

The tech community has pretty much banished the attitude that only the high priest caste can work these machines and we should bother worrying about the rest of the world, the so called “lusers”. When the success of a tech platform is measured by the number of noses using it, the programmers get the message.

Still, there’s a deep question about how much work the developers should do to make life simple for the folks who can’t begin to understand the tech. Just how much programmer time is worth spending to attract how many more incompetent dolts. Is it worth it? That’s a tough job for the management. If it were left up to the users, every field would take JSON data structures filled with regular expressions.

Source: Cio.com-What those developers really mean

Barely a third of outsourcing deals are now safe: Window-dressing legacy engagements is over

We’ve been talking about the legacy model of butts-on-seats “mess for less” outsourcing fizzling out for years, but somehow the same old candidates have clung on grimly to the same old model, relying on clients that still find a modicum of comfort negotiating rate cards down to the lowest common denominator, content to hobble along with average service delivery that just about keeps everyone paid… and somehow relevant.

As we’ve bemoaned the decreasing growth rates across almost all traditional areas of business and IT services, no one’s pressed the panic button to do anything wildly different. In fact, many have used the recent stagnant times to merge with each other to eke out a bit more revenue growth and rationalize costs wherever possible.

Meanwhile, all the providers have slapped the lovely “digital” tag on pretty much ever new client dollar that wasn’t obviously a help desk deal or some server consolidation. Yes, people, even good old app testing today has managed to be magically reformulated as a “digital” service by some.

The balance of power sits firmly with the enterprise clients, and many have no choice but to jump ship from the old model

Being realistic, the IT and business services business is no different than it was five years ago, except there is a lot more cloud… and a lot more window dressing. But that is all changing, and our new research reveals a new services economy is upon us.

But, finally, many enterprise clients are wising up to the reality they now wield a lot more power over service providers as the market flattens to a state of hyper-commoditization and negligible-to-pathetic growth. Many are, finally, awakening to a new dawn that service providers can (and most are) able to takeout delivery cost through better deployment of cloud, less costly SaaS apps, and applying robotic process automation to reduce manual workarounds and augment people delivery.

Simply put, if your long-time service provider is failing to deliver you any of these benefits to your business, or at least is making some strides to incorporate pricing that is tied to successful service execution and not only people effort, then it’s time to cut bait before you get fired yourself for perpetuating a legacy model that is depriving your firm from finding new thresholds of value your smarter competitors are already enjoying.

As this year’s State of Operations and Outsourcing study of 381 enterprise operations leaders across the Global 2000 reveals, only 30% of these relationships will continue to operate in the old model, while a similar number will stick with their service provider if they can have a shift towards business outcome pricing and a degree of automation applied. 27% have already given up on shifting the model with their current provider and have declared their attention to switch, while 17% want to end the misery and focus on bringing the work back inhouse, and look to simply automate it:

The Bottom-line: Outsourcing is finally entering the uncomfortable phase of change that’s threatened for several years, and it’s going to get ugly.

Judgement day is now upon the industry once known as outsourcing and this one will get pretty ugly before it eventually finds a new groove, where enterprises and service providers find real value in each other again.

History has told us time and time again that nothing in this business changes until deals are lost and the C-Suite is forced to address why this is really happening… and actually act on it. This is the fine balance in which we find ourselves today, where

actions will change dramatically when 2% growth spirals into a 5-10% decline because that is what will happen to many service providers if they truly cannot pivot to deliver value beyond cheap labor.

Those providers which have the capability to make the necessary investments and adjustments will take a few hits, but rebuild for a new phase… those which think they can keep papering over the cracks, repeating to same old spin, but never fundamentally changing how they invest in solutions, talent and their clients, will quickly start moving backward (and fast) in the new services market that’s emerging.

There needs to be a coming-together of consulting and outsourcing service delivery, the likes of which we have yet to see at a broad scale in the services industry.

The outsourcing of responsibility: half of today’s F&A BPO deals are now advised!

 

While the combination of increasing commodization of basic BPO services and an ever-smartening buyer, seemed to signal the end of transactional advisory services, the consulting industry has found a way to adapt to keep itself relevant and much more price-friendly, while still being in a strong position to help clients…

Why aren’t I happy with my outsourcer?

How many times have you heard someone say that all our service metrics are green, but the relationship is red? This sort of non-specific concern about an outsourcer seems to be as old as outsourcing itself.

 

Source: enterpriseirregulars.com-Barely a third of outsourcing deals are now safe: Window-dressing legacy engagements is over

 

What Entrepreneurs Should Know About Outsourcing to Ukraine

Ukraine seems to be on its way to becoming the new darling of IT outsourcing. The country’s pool of engineering talent is extensive, and its software development and quality assurance rates are fairly cheap. This is why many tech giants, including Samsung, IBM and Oracle have already set up their R&D offices there.

The outsourcing industry in Ukraine has been growing at a stable rate since the early 2000s. It is projected to reach $4.5 billion by the end of 2018 (increasing 20 percent from 2017) and, therefore, it’ll become the third most profitable field for the country’s economy. The overall number of software engineers in Ukraine, according to IT Ukraine, is nearing 116,000 while by 2025 it’s expected to grow by a whopping 125 percent.

Why is Ukraine’s IT outsourcing sector booming?

Since the country’s separation from the USSR, Ukraine’s universities have made impressive headway in modernizing and adapting their degree programs and making them comparable to leading institutions of higher education in Europe and America. Many Ukrainian schools, especially those specializing in business, science and technology, frequently launch joint academic projects with world-renowned universities and have reputed guest lecturers giving talks on the latest methodologies and trends. The curriculums they provide prepare students comprehensively for jobs that require high-level qualifications.

Though the quality of education is high, it typically costs substantially less to enroll in various programs at Ukrainian universities than, say, at prestigious academic organizations in the U.S. or Europe. As a result, the country has an extensive pool of experts (scientists, software engineers, managers, etc.) with diverse expertise and strict work ethics to boast of.

Here’s where Ukraine is, in terms of software engineering skills, according to various ratings:

  • Global Sourcing Association (GSA) named Ukraine the “Outsourcing Destination of the Year” in 2017.
  • Gartner has featured the country in its list of top 30 countries for offshore services for seven years straight.
  • 18 Ukraine-based IT companies are on the IAOP’s list of the world’s top outsourcing providers of 2018. Ukraine, therefore, has more of its companies included in the list than any other country.
  • Clutch.co, a reputable research firm from Washington D.C., regularly adds Ukrainian IT vendors to its global leaders matrix in both “Top Custom Software Development Companies” and “Top IT Outsourcing Firms” categories.
  • SkillValue’s 2018 rating of the countries with the most talented developers includes Ukraine at eighth place. The average score index of a Ukrainian developer is 91.26 percent.

Many large tech firms are contracting out their development initiatives to Ukrainian vendors to have them executed diligently and at a cheaper price. This is due to the wide range of technologies Ukrainian engineers have proved to excel at, including:

According to DOU, one of Ukraine’s most respected technology outlets, software engineers account for 52 percent of people employed by software vendors in Ukraine (14 percent of these people are QA engineers and only 6 percent are top and middle level managers).

Why do companies choose Ukraine?

The reason Ukraine has managed to become an offshore darling despite its political turbulence of the last years is quite nuanced. I’d say that, for the most part, companies such as Intel are just impressed by the sheer quantity of talented engineers living in the country.

Ukraine, though not a small country, only has about one-seventh of the population of the U.S. yet, every year, it produces nearly half as many software engineering graduates. For Ukrainians, as opposed to Americans and those living in western Europe, software engineering is among the most lucrative jobs available, so there’s no wonder the IT talent pool over there keeps growing a frenetic pace.

Another appealing factor is, of course, the prices. That the job title “programmer”isn’t all that revered among American youth, resulting in a fairly low number of talented engineers available for hire in the U.S. The demand outstrips supply and, therefore, top (and even mediocre) engineering talent costs a lot.

An average software engineer in the U.S. might charge as much as $100 per an hour of work, while a more experienced one might only agree to a $150/hour rate. This puts a substantial strain on the budget for American companies who decide to opt for local sourcing exclusively, whereas employing a Ukrainian team can help them avoid overspending.

Junior programmers (up to two years of experience) in Ukraine can cost as low as $20 per hour. Mid-level developers (two to five years of experience) charge about $30/hour, while senior software engineers with five-plus years of experience will usually work for you if you pay them $40/hour. Add this to the fact that most of them speak English at an intermediate level and that the country’s location — in the center of Europe — makes it easily reachable from almost any place in the world, and you’ll get why the likes of Apple, IBM and Microsoft have been so eager to open their R&D centers there.

All in all, Ukraine is a great location to outsource your development to. Though it generally costs a bit more to hire Ukrainian developers than, say, the ones from India, the quality of work they provide is well worth the price.

Source: Entrepreneur-What Entrepreneurs Should Know About Outsourcing to Ukraine

Study: DevOps Outsourcing Can Cost You

The new report by DORA on the state of DevOps in 2018 found outsourcing to be the crutch of low software delivery performers.

The DevOps Research and Assessment (DORA), which is a collaborative effort between DevOps experts Dr. Nicole Forsgren, Gene Kim, and Jez Humble, has released its 2018 State of DevOps report. This report is released annually and is in its fifth year. The researchers use cluster analysis, which allows readers to compare their performance to their rubric of software delivery performance, which categorizes performers as elite, high, medium, and low.

This year the report looked at the outsourcing of IT and software delivery functions, among other metrics, and how it affected software delivery performance.

The survey showed that functional outsourcing (one role as opposed to an entire process) had a negative impact on performance.

“Low-performing teams are 3.9 times more likely to use functional outsourcing (overall) than elite performance teams, and 3.2 times more likely to use outsourcing of any of the following functions: application development, IT operations work, or testing and QA. This suggests that outsourcing by function is rarely adopted by elite performers. ” — Accelerate: State of DevOps report.

“[Functional outsourcing has] been a common barrier to the adoption of DevOps,” says Jez Humble, CTO and founder of DORA. “We see teams all the time [say], ‘We’d like to do DevOps, but we have functional outsourcing…so it’s impossible to collaborate,’” says Humble, adding that he was glad to see that what they are hearing in the field was strongly confirmed in the data.

According to the report, one reason why outsourcing negatively affects software delivery and operational performance (SDO) is that outsourcing often results in batch software updates, which can lead to longer lead times.

When high-value features are batched with low-value features, there can be significant costs to the business.

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The report provides an example from shipping company, Maersk Line. The top three features had a cost of delay of around $7 million per week or $30 million per month. At that rate, the cost to delay features would pale in comparison to the cost savings of outsourcing.

When it comes to outsourcing, Humble says it doesn’t have to be a cost drain, but it needs to be properly evaluated. “Consider [outsourcing] holistically, consider the economics holistically, and find out if it really is the benefit you expect.”

The expectation of simple experiences along with the preference of mobile devices is changing what consumers and businesses expect and need.

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While functional outsourcing does seem to have a significant negative outcome on SDO, it’s not the only factor that impacts SDO. For example, the research also found that the way cloud infrastructure is implemented also had an impact.

According to NIST, and as documented in the report, there are five essential characteristics of cloud computing: on-demand self-service, broad network access, resource pooling, rapid elasticity, measured service.

“Even though over 80% of people said they were using cloud, only 22% of respondents said they were met all five of these essential characteristics, and then when we do the math on it, we found that if you meet all of those [cloud] characteristics, you’re 23 times more likely to be in elite performance group,” says Humble.

One more key takeaway from the report was that the research showed that high performance is not only for the small, nimble, and unregulated industries. It’s industry- and company-size agnostic.

“Anyone can do this,” this being high software delivery performance, says Humble. “We find highly regulated, big companies in our high performers, we find small non-regulated companies in our low performers. We don’t find any statistically significant difference between different verticals on software delivery performance,” says Humble, although he adds that it is hard work.

Source: informationweek.com-Study: DevOps Outsourcing Can Cost You