Making Accessibility a Priority
This year marks the 30th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). When the ADA became law in 1990, it prohibited discrimination against individuals with disabilities in all areas of public life, including jobs, schools, and transportation. When the law was passed the internet was merely a tool to allow research professors to share notes. The law dealt largely with the physical world we lived in, not this virtual world where we shop, work, and play online. While the passing of this bill was certainly long overdue, I believe that employers, especially today, have an ongoing responsibility to improve the opportunities afforded to those with disabilities, and create an equally accessible world for them to succeed. As the father of two sons with special needs, equal accessibility for those with disabilities is something that I’ll always take a stand for. 61 million people The CDC reports that 1 in 4 American adults (that’s 61 million people) live with some sort of disability in the categories of mobility, cognition, hearing, vision, independent living, or self-care. That’s a large group of people with a wide range of skills that we as employers would be irresponsible to ignore. Through Rural Sourcing’s partnership with Georgia Tech Excel, a four-year college program for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, we’ve had the opportunity to recruit some seriously talented junior associates in our Atlanta office. I’m also proud to serve on the Board at Ventures ATL, a non-profit organization that provides meaningful employment opportunities for adults with Autism or other developmental disabilities. It’s estimated that 80-90% of adults with Autism are unemployed, which is an unfortunate statistic considering so many of these individuals are extremely detail-oriented, logical thinkers, and have a strong technical aptitude – all sought-after skills that any employer would value. The Walgreens standard Randy Lewis, a former VP at Walgreens who’s also the father of a son with special needs, pioneered a disability employment model in the company’s Anderson, SC distribution center that has truly set the standard in accessibility hiring. His model resulted in more than 10% of Walgreens’ distribution center workforce being comprised of people with disabilities. Lewis said, “The performance was the same. The safety was better. [The distribution centers] had better retention; they had less turnover. We also found better culture across the company.” Doing our part At Rural Sourcing, our human resources and recruiting teams, along with our Equity Inclusion & Diversity (EI&D) Council, are working hard to make sure that we’re an attractive place to work for those with disabilities. Some of the steps we’re taking include ensuring we’re using inclusive language in our job descriptions, having quiet individual workspaces in our development centers for those who need fewer distractions, and we’re training our developers on how to make software applications that are accessible to all audiences. I’m excited for us as an organization, because I know these efforts are going to introduce us to many talented colleagues with disabilities; people who will enrich our business in a profound way. The supportive and inclusive culture at Rural Sourcing is something we are really proud of, and by making accessibility a priority in our hiring practices, we’re making our culture a priority, too.
The Company We Keep
“Associate yourself with people of good quality, for it is better to be alone than in bad company.” - Booker T. Washington I’ve never been shy about voicing my opinion when it comes to the importance of being a socially conscious company. Gordon Gekko’s “greed is good” mantra may have been the corporate world’s adage in the 80’s and 90’s, but “good” looks a lot different now, and at Rural Sourcing we’re only as good as the people, companies, and communities we surround ourselves with. Mission first Our mission since Rural Sourcing was founded has always stayed the same: provide meaningful employment opportunities for marginalized communities by creating roles for software developers in mid-sized cities throughout Middle America, thereby closing the Digital Divide. By doing so, we provide a great value for our clients while our software developers enjoy the high quality of life they’ve come to expect by living outside of major tech centers like Silicon Valley. This mission went into overdrive when we received the support of Bain Capital’s Double Impact Fund. In good company Bain’s investment in Rural Sourcing is part of what they refer to as Double Bottom Line Investing (DBL2). In other words, there’s a focus on both the traditional bottom line of financial performance (there’s no mission without margin), but also an equal importance given to the positive social impact of a company. Other companies in the Double Impact portfolio include Broadstep, HealthDrive, Penn Foster, Rodeo Dental and Arosa. Whether it’s through affordable dental care for children living in low income communities, or affordable in-home care for the elderly, or accessible online education for any socio-economic demographic, the Double Impact companies all have one thing in common: they’re doing well by doing good. I encourage you to take a look at Bain Capital Double Impact’s Year in Review and see why we’re proud to associate ourselves with a group that takes giving back as seriously as they do their bottom line and why we believe in “No greatness without goodness.” DISCOVER MORE
Leading In A Crisis: Four Tips To Get The Most Out Of Your Team
This article was written by Rural Sourcing CEO Monty Hamilton for the Forbes Technology Council. This is not normal. We are in the middle of a crisis, and the technology industry has been engulfed by it, as well as countless other industries around the globe. But in a crisis, there is an opportunity. Read the full article here.
Three Reasons the U.S. is Built for Remote Success
We’re in what may be a ‘new normal’. COVID-19 has forced businesses around the globe, that are able, to adopt remote work policies for their employees. For many companies, this is uncharted territory. In the U.S. tech industry, remote work isn’t a stretch. Companies have been experimenting with the idea for quite some time with increasing levels of success. But to be successful in a remote working environment, there are certain critical infrastructure and cultural points that must be met. As a result, the U.S. geography is well positioned to succeed in a remote work environment. Infrastructure The U.S. has great infrastructure. From reliable power grids to fast internet, and soon to be faster with 5G, we are leading in many areas that are critical for success in a modern work environment. Internet speeds and availability are two of the key points that demonstrate America’s strong position. According to data, U.S. broadband speeds are some of the fastest in the world. Beyond speed, there is nearly ubiquitous access to high-speed internet, which showcases an infrastructure that can handle the shifting workforce needs. In many popular offshore areas, data and development centers have dedicated broadband pipelines, but during a crisis when a center must close, there are limited options to maintain operations. Quite simply, there is not enough infrastructure to support a remote working environment at scale. The U.S. has the infrastructure to be successful, meet customer needs and innovate. Distribution of Workforce In the U.S. there is tech talent throughout the country. That means you can find technology professionals from the East to the West Coast and all the “flyover states” in between. Just look at Rural Sourcing. We have six software development centers in Middle America—outside of the traditional tech hubs. Our talent isn’t clustered in massive centers. We’ve found that having smaller centers, maxing out at 150 colleagues, is the ideal size to promote collaboration, innovation, and culture. We have talent spread out across the country, allowing us to provide a stable, high-quality, and committed workforce. That means less risk and better results. Smaller Learning Curve Remote work is nothing new for the U.S. A Gallup study finds that 43% of U.S. employees work remotely some or all of the time. Culturally, we have embraced the model for a number of years. Not at this scale, but the learning curve is small for a remote work culture. Beyond the volume of people already working remotely, numerous studies have shown that remote workers are more productive and profitable than in-house employees. The workforce is there and able to meet customer needs. Whether the remote work is a temporary or permanent fixture of our economic landscape, the onshore development model is well positioned to thrive. We are ready and able to get the job done—on time, on budget and in your backyard. NEED HELP? LET'S TALK.
History And Tech: Building The Future Through Architecture
This article was written by Monty Hamilton for the Forbes Technology Council. Tech and history don’t naturally go hand in hand. A common perception is that technology is always pushing forward, while history is looking back. But there’s a quote often attributed to Winston Churchill that seems as relevant today as ever: “The farther backward you can look, the farther forward you can see.” Read the full article here.
The Best Places to Work in Tech
Silicon Valley. New York City. San Francisco. Read any of the countless articles about where to find the best tech jobs, and it’s more than likely that cities like these will be at the very top. With endless entertainment, dining, and cultural opportunities, it’s no wonder that so many people choose to live in these areas. But with a large number of amenities, comes a big drawback: a very high cost of living. That’s why I’d like to make the case that our six development center communities have just as much to offer as their larger counterparts, at a much lower cost for our colleagues. Take a look at my list for the best places to work in tech. Jonesboro, Arkansas Our very first development center is located almost smack dab in the center of Middle America. Home to Arkansas State University, Jonesboro has housing that’s an enviable 26% lower than the national average. It’s also a city full of natural beauty, with Craighead Forest Park and Crowley’s Ridge Nature Center providing ample opportunities for exploring the great outdoors. Augusta, Georgia While most people know Augusta as the city of the Masters golf tournament, to us, it’s home to over 120 of our colleagues. Located on the Savannah River, the city has tons of history, and was even the state capital at one time. A recent exciting addition to Augusta’s economy is a number of film and TV productions taking place, thanks to the filming tax credits offered by the State of Georgia. Mobile, Alabama San Francisco and New York City aren’t the only tech hubs located on the ocean! You’ll find Mobile right on Alabama’s beautiful Gulf Coast. The city has a booming culinary scene, with Dauphin Street (Mobile’s answer to New Orleans’s Frenchman Street) and its many restaurants and bars. Looking for a family-friendly Mardi Gras experience? You’ll definitely want to visit Mobile during their annual celebration, which is the oldest in the U.S. Albuquerque, New Mexico How does an average of 310 sunny days a year sound to you? In Albuquerque, great weather and lots of natural beauty make it a city you’ll want to get out and explore. Home to the Sandia Mountains, which offer breathtaking views and skiing opportunities, Albuquerque also has myriad art galleries, and hosts the country’s largest balloon festival. Oklahoma City, Oklahoma Oklahoma City has gone through an incredible transformation over the past 10 years, especially downtown, with additions including the Devon Energy Center, a 50-story office building; The Jones Assembly, a restaurant, bar and live music venue; and Scissortail Park, which hosts farmer’s markets, concerts, and is the home of the USRowing National High Performance Center, a U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Training Site. With a cost of living that’s 15% below the national average, OKC offers our employees a great value. Fort Wayne, Indiana In this city of over 250,000 people, endless entertainment options is just one of the reasons we decided to call Fort Wayne home to our newest development center. Lots of unique festivals, including the annual BuskerFest dedicated to street performers, and a thriving arts scene mean there’s no shortage of things for you and your family to do. In fact, SmartAsset.com named it the #1 place to raise a family in the United States. Beyond the many amenities offered by our development center cities, our one-of-a-kind culture provides opportunities for you to cultivate a rewarding career in tech. With challenging and exciting projects in a highly collaborative and supportive environment, Rural Sourcing is committed to creating high-quality jobs throughout Middle America. Looking for your next tech role in one of these fantastic cities? Check out our careers page to learn more about what’s waiting for you at Rural Sourcing.
Changing the Client Experience
“Change the experience” is one of Rural Sourcing’s core values, and we’re constantly striving to do just that for our clients. From establishing our team-based account management process (TBAM) for optimal client communication, to our client-focused Innovation Framework, we know that when our clients succeed, we succeed. That’s why we recently doubled down on this crucial commitment. Scott Monnig, our former EVP of Professional Services, has been promoted to the newly created role of Chief Client Officer (CCO). Scott has proven his ability to navigate complex projects by building a foundation of trust with many of our largest clients. Scott’s organization helps us deliver with more intimacy and effective communication with our clients than can be provided by offshore or nearshore organizations. Creating a great client experience has always been at the forefront of everything we do. So how do we do it? We start by engaging our entire organization. Our colleagues are co-located in our development centers across Middle America, and by doing this, we’re not just a collection of individuals, but a true team. We bring thoughtful engagement, innovative thinking, and strong delivery; concepts that we’ve learned from 13 years as a pioneer in this space. To us, changing the experience for our clients isn’t just a turn of phrase, it’s a commitment to providing the best and brightest ideas from the best and brightest people. Scott Monnig, Chief Client Officer In today’s fast-moving tech world, our clients require a nimble, agile approach, coupled with the ability to be proactive and respond quickly. That’s why we rely on consistent and continuous collaboration with our clients and across our six development centers. This collaboration brings fresh ideas that not only move our clients’ business objectives forward, but also results in serious growth. In other words, we don’t just do what our clients ask us to do; we enact a proactive strategy from the beginning, so they feel supported, inspired, and ready to conquer their goals, knowing they’ve partnered with the right team. It’s because of our talented team that we’ve been experiencing serious growth at Rural Sourcing. Colleagues here, including Scott, care deeply about our clients, and work diligently to help them succeed. With the creation of his new role, I’m confident that Scott will continue to drive our value of changing the experience for our clients, and our colleagues. LEARN MORE ABOUT OUR TEAMS
Software Development Staffing and the Sixth Man Principle
With college basketball season heating up and March Madness right around the corner, I’m reminded of the sixth man concept that Rural Sourcing has used since its early days. As in basketball, the sixth man concept is all about having a ”non-starter” prepped, practiced, ready to enter the game and immediately start contributing to the team. This concept is core to Rural Sourcing’s sixth man principle. For many of our strategic accounts we deploy an extra colleague to participate in the upfront strategy and design sessions, kickoff meetings and daily stand ups so that when their time comes they’ll be prepared to hit the court at full speed. Their time may come due to an injury, an illness, paternity or maternity leave, or maybe just a packed sprint that needs the extra help. Whatever the cause, we know that this sixth man will be able to step in, run the offense and execute the game plan because they’ve been to all the practices. But wait, why would an enterprising, software development firm place a non-billable colleague onto a team? Our rationale is that it’s good for the client, good for the colleague, and in the long run, it’s good for us. For the client, it’s the assurance that they know there’s a backup waiting to get in the game in case something happens. For the colleague, it’s a better use of “bench time,” and it keeps them fully engaged in the project at hand. That’s why, as the season progresses and March Madness arrives, pay special attention to the sixth man players. I bet you’ll find that even though they have less time on the court, they still make a big impact on the final score. NEED HELP? LET'S TALK.
The development of innovative software requires an Agile mindset, and the ability to change course and flex on scope when necessary, in a way that minimizes cost and maximizes innovation. Accordingly, a core principle of Agile software development is the emphasis on embracing changing requirements throughout the process. Many companies have adopted Agile for this very reason – to get faster, more innovative outcomes through real-time market and user feedback. This requires resource flexibility, scalability, and speed in order to adjust to constantly changing specifications. This combats the key challenge many companies face of finding and scaling necessary software development teams for effective Agile development. Scrum-as-a-Service is a unique engagement framework for Agile software development that helps clients develop mission critical software with speed, flexibility, and efficiency. This approach gives clients easy access to cross-functional teams of experts (also known as Scrum teams) who develop high-quality working software in a way that encourages innovation and maximizes time-to-market. What does Scrum-as-a-Service provide? Proven Agile Expertise Assembling Agile software development teams from scratch is daunting, to say the least. Sourcing experienced Scrum Masters and Agile professionals familiar with the practice’s many nuances (Kanban, Scrum, Lean Agile, Scaled Agile, etc.) can be a challenge. With Scrum-as-a-Service, each team has the necessary Agile skills, experience, and best-practice knowledge required for success. This means that you can bypass the grueling process of spending weeks or months trying to find and assemble the right people and skillsets for the job. Rapid Scaling Initially assembling a qualified Scrum team is just the first piece of the puzzle. You need to be able to adjust your approach and flex on scope as work progresses. This means resources and skillsets need to be accommodated as well. A Scrum-as-a-Service approach allows you to easily scale up or scale down teams as required, using just the right mix of technical skillsets and capabilities. In addition, Scrum-as-a-Service teams are capable of scaling to providing end-to-end life cycle services. These include development, testing, integration, deployment, and support. And whole teams can easily be moved to new projects as company needs arise. Multidisciplinary Skills On-tap Of course, Agile development projects require the general expertise of scrum masters, developers, and designers. But that’s just half the battle. Varying demands often require the know-how of highly-specialized experts. The Scrum-as-a-Service model provides you with a customized team based on your specific project requirements. Whether its high-powered UI/UX, data, cloud, AppSec, QA or DevOps, you can assemble the ideal team that’ll drive innovation and speed to market. Team Chemistry and Continuity Effective teams must know and trust each other. They also need to figure out each other’s strengths and weaknesses. This generally takes time. A lot of time. Scrum-as-a-Service has the advantage of providing you with experienced Scrum teams that have previously worked together, saving time, and removing friction. As multidisciplinary teams scale and new challenges are tackled, a virtuous cycle of innovative delivery and team engagement is created. Business Alignment and Ownership of Outcomes Scrum-as-a-Service is an approach that puts the company and product’s success before everything else. Once hired, Scrum teams become an extension of the client’s company, and team members know they succeed only when the client succeeds. This level of commitment is one of the key differences between Scrum-as-a-Service and traditional contracting. Contractors often limit their efforts to the mere fulfillment of the contract agreement related to basic cost, scope, or service-level parameters. They can fail to see the full picture and often act more like hired mercenaries than team players. Our Unique Scrum-as-a-Service Model Rural Sourcing provides Scrum-as-a-Service through development centers exclusively located in mid-sized cities throughout Middle America. With an average of 10 years of experience, our Agile software development experts understand U.S. consumer culture and common business practices. They operate within similar time zones as our clients for the real-time collaboration necessary for Agile development. Rural Sourcing’s ability to remotely provide Scrum-as-a-Service at high velocity is unrivaled in onshore software development. More importantly, our clients and case studies back it up. Our co-located Agile teams can deliver 2.5x – 4x the velocity of offshore teams and a 15% – 30% efficiency advantage over onsite contractors. In addition, Rural Sourcing’s Agile development services are structured to meet our clients’ needs wherever they are on their Agile journey. We’re here to help you embrace the Agile development mindset, so modernization, reinvention, and innovation always stay top of mind. INTERESTED? LET'S TALK.
DevOps: Critical for Market Speed and Innovation
In today’s digital arena, businesses must quickly react to, or even predict, customer desires and market demand. The development and deployment of innovative technology must happen just as quickly. Accordingly, IT leaders are abandoning the diametrically opposed goals that previously placed Development and Operations groups in conflict. Traditionally, Development set out to build and deploy the capabilities the business needed, while Operations kept the infrastructure stable and fast. Development teams bundled new functionality and system improvements into periodic updates to appease the Operations teams’ resistance to any change that could disrupt system operations. Operational Overview of IT – Before Digital Department Functional Perspective Responsibility Timeframe Development Silo Build the functionality and capabilities the business needs Quarters to years Operations Silo Keep the infrastructure running smoothly with as little change as possible Ongoing This chart captures the roles and responsibilities of Development and Operations groups in a traditional IT organization. In this digital age, the diametrically opposed goals of Development and Operations are falling by the wayside. A united DevOps process and supporting culture, which requires both sides to see beyond their respective functional silos, unites IT staffers behind a single, shared goal: to enable the business to compete and win. Operational Overview of IT – After Digital Department Functional Perspective Responsibility Timeframe Development Blended and collaborative Build the scalable functionality and capabilities the business needs Create, test and produce 50 to 100 microservices simultaneously Rolls out “50 deployments” a day DevOps explained: This chart shows how the newly melded DevOps model unites IT organizations in the digital environment. While definitions of DevOps’ mission and culture vary from organization to organization, Rural Sourcing aligns itself with Gartner Group’s view of DevOps in the digital age: DevOps represents a change in IT culture, focusing on rapid IT service delivery through the adoption of agile, lean practices in the context of a system-oriented approach. DevOps emphasizes people (and culture), and seeks to improve collaboration between operations and development teams. DevOps implementations utilize technology — especially automation tools that can leverage an increasingly programmable and dynamic infrastructure from a life cycle perspective. IT organizations’ move to a DevOps model and culture refocuses technologists’ view away from technical infrastructure onto the needs of the business. This sea change in the way IT approaches its work requires speed, not for speed’s sake, but for competitive advantage. Through microservices, DevOps organizations can leverage digital tools and technologies to engage IT staffers and compress the speed-to-revenue cycle. By embracing the DevOps model, it enables Rural Sourcing to deliver software in a frictionless environment. Our teams work seamlessly across the “old school” borders of development and operations to provide solutions at the right speed for your organization. In a digital world where delays result in a declining competitive position, Rural Sourcing can help set up your business for success. We’ve integrated the use of the latest technologies including development and release automation, behavior-driven development, cloud delivery and container management to continually deliver a bug-free product. LET'S CONNECT
Why Rural Sourcing is the Next Starbucks
Confession time: I’m a Starbucks fanatic. For me, the day hasn’t begun until I’ve had my triple grande nonfat cappuccino. In fact, the company's former CEO Howard Schultz is someone whose leadership and guidance I've always admired (I’m the proud owner of an autographed copy of his book: Onward.) It was Schultz’s idea to create a third place to have coffee: a place that wasn’t your home or office. This vision created a new alternative at a scale that didn’t previously exist. The Rural Sourcing business model follows the same concept. Up until recently, businesses had two options for their IT workforce strategy. Businesses could bring in the talent to their office in their city, often at expensive hourly rates, or they could offshore the work to an outsourcing firm for less expensive hourly rates and figure out how to manage the cultural, security, IP, and time zone challenges. At Rural Sourcing, we saw the need to create that third option at scale. [caption id="attachment_11219" align="aligncenter" width="600"] [/caption] Small cities, big opportunities Onshore domestic technology talent is abundant in smaller cities such as Albuquerque, NM; Oklahoma City, OK; or Mobile, AL. These cities, complete with large universities, low cost of living and high quality of life, represent millions of available technology talent waiting to be deployed to solve software problems for the world’s greatest companies located in much higher cost locations. Rural Sourcing selects cities like these based on our proprietary data analysis of the qualified talent pool, the quality of life and the affordability of living in these locations. We then establish software development centers complete with the look and feel of a “Google-esque” environment, where software developers and quality engineers can focus on creating applications to support our clients on their digital journeys. The beauty of this third option, unlike Starbucks, is that it actually costs less than the other available options. With a substantially reduced cost of living in these smaller cities, the dollar goes a lot further than in San Francisco, New York, or even Atlanta. Also, when measured against offshore, domestic sourcing is more cost-effective when evaluated by the total cost of ownership (TCO) of completing a successful project in today’s agile software development world. The right blend I’m not saying that businesses shouldn’t consume the available talent within their own cities or even offshore, as both have their respective roles to play in the sourcing strategy. What I am saying, however, is that there’s a new coffee shop available that serves a remarkable third alternative that may just taste better than your traditional sources. Find out more about our unique blend of services here. NEED HELP? LET'S TALK.
2020 Tech Trends: New Decade, New Opportunities for CIOs
With a new year and a new decade, we’re taking a look at opportunities for our clients and the state of the technology market. As we’ve talked with our clients and studied the industry, we see two themes emerge. Expansion of Artificial Intelligence/Machine LearningA Full Transformation to Cloud Technologies Artificial Intelligence (AI) We’ve heard a lot about AI over the past few years, but for most enterprise companies this narrative has been about a leading-edge technology in search of good use cases. All that is set to change. AI is going from an R&D or pilot programs to the mainstream. That will have a massive impact on businesses of all types. We’re seeing a massive investment in AI. According to Gartner, 37 percent of organization have implemented AI in some form. That’s a 270 percent increase over the last four years. That shouldn’t come as a surprise, since spending on AI systems has increased drastically as well. The IDC reports a 44 percent increase from the prior year to more than $35 billion in 2019 and that number is expected to grow another 30 percent in 2020 according to Axios. There are opportunities to utilize AI through almost any technology or industry. Marketing and sales have been early adopters and believers in machine learning, but the use of AI will become ubiquitous in business operations as the decade progresses. Through AI, leaders and CIO’s can make better decisions by removing unconscious biases, allowing them to potentially find hidden truths, spot patterns and predict the future with more accuracy. Cloud Transformation Cloud Transformation has also been a hot topic for a number of years in tech. In 2020, it will take a leap further. Initially, companies pursued the Cloud for server capabilities and infrastructure improvements, ie. getting rid of their own servers and data centers. In 2018, Gartner reported that the worldwide public cloud services market was $182.4 billion. In 2019, that number was up 17.5 percent. In mid-2019, Gartner had this to say: “Cloud services are definitely shaking up the industry,” said Sid Nag, research vice president at Gartner. “At Gartner, we know of no vendor or service provider today whose business model offerings and revenue growth are not influenced by the increasing adoption of cloud-first strategies in organizations. What we see now is only the beginning, though. Through 2022, Gartner projects the market size and growth of the cloud services industry at nearly three time the growth of overall IT services.” That puts things into perspective and shows the scope of what is to come. We are seeing our clients utilize the Cloud to replatform and modernize their business applications to take advantage of the advanced technical development capabilities of the cloud platforms. Through the cloud, clients are embracing containerization, microservices, machine learning and natural language processing skills. 2020 will continue to move the Cloud Transformation forward. We will see innovation and increased adoption as CIOs position their companies to succeed today and in the future. NEED HELP? LET'S TALK.