Is Now the Time for Diversifying Your IT Outsourcing Portfolio?

COVID-19 and related actions have created huge disruptions not only to the economy, but also to the way in which IT services are delivered. Country-level lock downs have forced an almost universal work-from-home model upon the IT industry. Unfortunately, this de-facto standard creates the risk for huge service disruptions to companies around the world.Short term, companies across industries are scrambling to keep operations stable and prepare for the worst. Longer term this may have an impact on how companies here in the U.S. manage their IT outsourcing portfolio, perhaps opting for more in-house and in-country resources than what they've used over the last 10 years. COVID-19 has certainly provided a bit of a warning on the risk of putting all your eggs into one basket.Mitigating RiskYou can mitigate risks in a way a financial manager would – by diversifying.  Diversification has long been the rule for investment decisions, but many companies using outsourcing have tended to rely on a limited number of geographic regions and related IT providers. This is largely due to the availability of low-cost labor in these regions. In fact, more often the focus has been on the efficiency of the resource supply chain vs. its resiliency.So, what are the major considerations that companies should look at when re-evaluating their provider portfolio for diversification and risk mitigation? There is certainly a long list, but here are three key areas that rise to the top:Location RiskGiven the large amount of work that’s been shifted overseas, the term ‘outsourcing’ has almost become synonymous with ‘offshoring’. This is due to the availability of highly skilled, low cost labor in other countries outside of the U.S. With that lower labor cost comes areas of risk that need to be factored in for each location being considered:Infrastructure – this is more than just technology and communications infrastructure, which is critical.  It also includes healthcare infrastructure and local community infrastructure.  Weaknesses in any of these areas may inhibit performance, especially in times of crisis or natural disaster.Political/Economic stability – in recent years, there’s been an increase in terrorist activity, trade disputes and political tension around the globe. Locations should be evaluated for the potential risks in these areas. Security – depending on the country being considered, there can be differences in the rule of law that affects intellectual property protection, or the susceptibility of data breaches and loss.Agility and ResilienceThe COVID-19 pandemic has magnified the issue of needing to stay agile and operate with resilience.  Businesses should have an optimistic outlook, but be prepared for anything. In that vein, in addition to having the necessary technical skills and capabilities, providers need to show these characteristics:Contract flexibility – contracts by there nature are meant to protect mutual business interests, but that doesn’t mean they should be one-sided or ‘one size fits all’. The trend is toward shorter-term contracts, with flexible scope. Subscription or ‘as-a-service’ models – just as with software, the next framework for IT services is subscription based. This allows scaling up and down as the customer needs more volume, when the customer needs less volume, or when the customer has new needs.Business continuity and disaster recovery preparedness – it should go without saying that any provider, especially those with remote delivery capability, has a well-thought out and tested plan for business continuity and disaster recovery when something like COVID-19 happens again.Cost EffectivenessWith an economic downturn likely (hopefully a short one), cost containment will be even more critical.  Just as critical is the need to balance cost and risk. While labor is a major cost component for IT outsourcing, there are other hidden costs that need to be evaluated. Depending on the location of delivery, there can be significant costs associated with things like:Currency fluctuations Additional resources needed for offshore project management oversightVisa or travel restrictions and related resource availabilityTime delays due to time zone, language and cultureProviders need to be evaluated on not only hourly rates, but the other hidden costs or risk factors that may be inherent in their specific delivery models.Right now, and in the short term, companies need to do what’s necessary to ensure stable and profitable business operations. That means making whatever resource and process adjustments are needed, with minimum disruption. As the COVID-19 crisis begins to subside (which it will), it makes sense for companies to revisit their IT outsourcing strategy to better balance cost savings with risk mitigation. This means balancing the use of in-house employees, local contractors, on-shore delivery and offshore locations.Rural Sourcing is arguably the leader in onshore or domestic software development outsourcing.  This model strikes the right balance between cost savings and risk mitigation. With remote development centers exclusively located throughout the United States, Rural Sourcing leverages untapped, highly skilled technology talent in Middle America cities to provide world-class solutions to our clients. Our unique model eliminates the obstacles of time zones, distance, language and geopolitical risk.NEED HELP? LET'S TALK.About the AuthorAs Chief Client Officer for Rural Sourcing, Scott Monnig is responsible for one of our core values, ‘Change the Experience.’ He and his team are client-facing, colleague-centered and delivery-focused to ensure that our clients are delighted with our services. Scott works across our Sales, Sales Engineering and Delivery teams to ensure common practices and drive rigor that results in excellent outcomes.With 30+ years of hands-on technology leadership experience, Scott has led high-performing teams, technology groups, and business divisions through dozens of enterprise initiatives, systems development and digital innovation. He has also led organizational transformation initiatives with a recent focus around Agile, DevOps and Cloud transitions driven by rapidly growing digital demands across a number of industries and organizations.Scott is a graduate of the University of Missouri, where he earned a B.S. in Computer Science.

Cyberattacks Never Stop: Why Penetration Testing Should Always Be on Your Radar

Microsoft. Facebook. Capital One. These are just three out of the long list of corporate behemoths that have fallen victim to cyber security breaches in the last year alone. And now, with hackers actively targeting essential services providers, no one is truly safe. What can your organization do to avoid becoming a victim? The answer is simple: penetration testing.What is penetration testing?The National Cyber Security Center describes penetration testing as “A method for gaining assurance in the security of an IT system by attempting to breach some or all of that system’s security, using the same tools and techniques an adversary might.” A penetration test attempts to exploit any vulnerabilities in your system, and add context to what the risk is to your organization.There are five different types of penetration tests: white box (the hacker is provided with a small amount of information ahead of time regarding the security target), black box (also known as a blind test, where the hacker isn’t given any information ahead of time), internal (the hacker completes the test from within the organization’s network), external (the “attack” is carried out from a remote location to go up against the company’s external facing technology), and covert (a test where no one in the company knows that it’s happening). The types of tests your organization will need depends on the regulations you’re subject to, and the goals you have for the test.No matter what type of penetration testing your organization undertakes, below are my top five reasons why you need it sooner rather than later.1. To test the effectiveness of your security controlsPart of the process of establishing a formal information security program is using an industry recognized framework. The most popular frameworks are NIST 800-53, the NIST CSF, and the CIS Controls. As organizations adopt these controls and frameworks, it’s a good practice to have a penetration test performed to test effectiveness of the implemented controls.2. To test the effectiveness of your incident response teamA penetration test is a great way for organizations to test their incident response team’s ability to respond quickly and efficiently after a potential cyber emergency. This can be done by performing an unannounced penetration test to simulate an actual cyber incident, or by working with the team in what’s called a Purple Team engagement. Purple Team engagements involve the penetration testers working with the incident response team while walking through an actual attack to determine where improvements can be made.3. As part of a third-party attestation statement of your security programIn some cases, an organization will need to satisfy the requirements of a client or partner’s vendor management program. In cases like these, the partner or client may request proof that their network and systems are secure. A penetration test can be performed in order to provide that verification in what’s known as a third-party attestation statement.4. To ensure compliance with regulatory requirements and security frameworksCompanies subject to regulations such as PCI, GLBA HIPAA, and SOX are periodically audited to ensure they’re in compliance. In these situations, a third-party auditing firm will perform a penetration test based on the corresponding regulatory requirements. After the test is complete, a report is provided to the client, which may be requested by the regulatory governing body for review.5. To discover vulnerabilities in software or web applications that you’ve developed.Organizations that develop their own software or web applications should be performing penetration tests as part of the development process, and further down the road, too. This is especially true for web applications. Some organizations will have a penetration test performed when the application is first launched, but fail to test after further updates and configuration changes have been made. It's those subsequent updates and reconfigurations that often lead to a compromise of the application. If you’re using third party code, modules or plug-ins for a web application, you may not be making updates or configurations to your web application, but the providers of those third party solutions may be introducing vulnerabilities in their products that you’re completely unaware of. This is why regular penetration testing is so important for web applications.Penetration testing is one of the best ways to assess your company’s vulnerability to cyberattacks. By engaging in one of the five types of this crucial testing process, you’re able to protect your company from a potentially debilitating attack. The longer you wait to take this necessary precaution, the longer your system is susceptible. Contact us today to take the next step toward digital security.NEED HELP? LET'S TALK.About the Author:Joe Sullivan is a principal consultant at Rural Sourcing in Oklahoma City with over 20 years of experience in information security. He helps develop the company’s security consulting services and the teams that provide them. Over his career, Joe has worked in incident response, penetration testing, systems administration, network architecture, forensics, and is a private investigator specializing in computer crime investigations. Joe also teaches information security classes for the SANS Institute.

Rural Sourcing Colleagues Share Their Best Advice for Working Remotely

For many of us, working from home is the new normal, especially for those in the tech world. While some are pros at working remotely, others are still getting used to their new workspace complete with new seating arrangements, new “coworkers” and new distractions. That’s why Rural Sourcing colleagues put their heads together to assemble some advice for adjusting to a work from home lifestyle. Below are their top tips.Create a workable desk environmentSitting on the couch, in the recliner, or at the kitchen bar sounds appealing, but isn't a suitable long-term work area. When you work for long periods of time in/on furniture that isn't designed for that kind of use, it starts to take a physical toll on you. It also limits your ability to use accessories that you normally use at your work desk, such as multiple monitors and a separate keyboard and mouse. Even if you don’t have a home office, ensure that your makeshift one has accessibility to everything you need to be efficient.    Take periodic physical breaksWithout colleagues in the office to interact with, it’s tempting to just sit at your desk all day. However, this won’t do your body any favors. Go outside and walk the dog, or spend a few minutes drawing with sidewalk chalk with the kids. Everyone in your house (pets included) will benefit.Have a quiet place for customer callsAt this point, customers are generally aware that most people are working remotely (and chances are, they are too), but too many barking dogs or crying children become a real distraction for working calls. If it’s not possible to find a quiet space in your house, the “branch office” (aka your car) can work in a pinch.Stay connected, creativelyBeing physically distanced from your coworkers doesn’t mean you can’t keep up the same camaraderie you’ve always had. A few unique ways our colleagues have managed to stay connected are by going on virtual walks together, Zoom ‘happy hours’, and taking each other on video tours of their homes. When all else fails, unplugA 2019 study found that the biggest struggle people had with working remotely was being able to unplug. Long days are necessary sometimes, but working extra hours over an extended period of time will leave most people feeling burned out, and unable to do their best work. It’s important to know when to unplug at the end of the day. With so much uncertainty surrounding how long this “new normal” will last, make sure you’re looking out for your well-being in the long-term, not the short-term.Figuring out the best remote work environment for you (and your family) will probably take some time. However, by utilizing these tips, you’ll be able to stay productive and connected as everyone adjusts to life working from home.NEED HELP? LET'S TALK.

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.InfrastructureThe 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 WorkforceIn 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 CurveRemote 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.

Five Ways For an Easier Transition to AWS

While living in the Cloud has become the new normal for many companies, there are still plenty out there that have yet to make the move. It’s a huge effort for your development team, with a lot of room for error. That’s why I’ve assembled these five crucial steps to help you work through a successful AWS implementation. Even if you’re not involved in setting up the architecture, this guide will help you gain a much deeper understanding of AWS functions. Create a plan, but be willing to pivotFail to plan and you plan to fail, right? No successful AWS implementation happens without a solid plan in place, but remember that things do (and will) come up: third party dependency problems, requirements changes, even service outages. When you’re getting started, some important questions to ask include “what are the application’s goals?”, “what kind of traffic will it have?”, “how is the app going to be built?”, and “where will your team be located?”. Perform Infrastructure as Code to avoid the human error element that comes with doing things manually. And anticipate failure and have a procedure in place to respond, be it disaster recovery or remediation documentation.Make security a top priority These days, large corporate security breaches are pretty much guaranteed to make the news. So, keep your company happy (and off of CNN) by making sure your AWS implementation is secure. To start, use AWS Identity and Access Management (IAM) to create a security identity. If you don’t have one in place, it’s hard to get everyone on your team to do their part. And when everybody isn’t doing their part, gaps can get overlooked. You’ll also want to prepare for security events ahead of time. For example, if an unknown user or strange traffic pattern arises, do you want an automated or human response? Or both? The sooner you get your eyes on a security problem, the sooner you can get it solved and potentially lessen severity.Manage costs... ahead of timeKeeping your costs in check is an important part of the implementation process. Over provisioning of resources is all too common, as well as the unexpected costs in transferring data in and out of the Cloud. If your need for resources fluctuates throughout the year, a consumption model can help. By adopting this type of operating model, you utilize auto-scaling and only pay for the resources that are required. Just be careful, though. With the benefits of auto-scaling come a few drawbacks: if only the application scales up, the infrastructure that supports it could potentially become a bottleneck, and cause delays or timeouts; or if the database isn’t scaling at the same rate as the web application, this could cause connection issues while the read/write operations struggle to keep up.Ensure reliabilitySure, the AWS SLA is reliable, but what can happen in the procedures that take place between you and AWS? Network problems, power loss… you’ll want to test your recovery procedures in advance so you can automatically recover from any failures in the future. Another way to ensure reliability is to stop guessing capacity. I’ve heard time and time again from clients that “it’ll never be more than x amount,” and then sure enough, it ends up over the estimate. Now you’ve been impacted, whether that’s the extra amount of time spent, or a dollar amount lost. If you’re on a consumption model with auto-scaling, it just gets done.Optimize overall performanceRather than having your team learn how to host and run a new technology, that technology can be consumed as a service. For example, NoSQL databases, media transcoding, and machine learning require expertise that isn’t always available on every team. AWS has services that can be consumed while the team continues to focus on product development and business value, instead of trying to master something new. Another way to optimize site performance is by using serverless architectures: they’re easy to deploy, low cost, scalable, and allow for continuous improvement. Finally, be sure to use some “mechanical sympathy.” That means understand and deploy technology that best aligns with what you’re trying to achieve. For example, consider data access patterns when selecting database or storage approaches. You don’t want to choose completely opposing technologies for your stack.AWS implementation can be a big undertaking, but with the right team in place and a well-thought-out strategy, transitioning to the Cloud is easier than you think. Learn more about how Rural Sourcing has helped clients implement AWS for their organizations by visiting our Results page.LEARN MORE ABOUT OUR AWS CAPABILITIES

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, ArkansasOur 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, GeorgiaWhile 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, AlabamaSan 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 MexicoHow 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, OklahomaOklahoma 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, IndianaIn 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.

Considering Nearshoring? Why Not “Here Shoring?”

Nearshoring has grown over recent years. While companies in India used to be the preferred choice for outsourcing as they offered the lowest cost alternative, many organizations have shifted their investments to near shore organizations to address time zone challenges. Nearshoring is a type of offshoring that occurs when an organization decides to outsource work to companies that are geographically nearer, such as a U.S.-based company working with a firm in Central or South America.Although nearshoring does have its advantages, onshoring (aka “here shoring”) allows you to keep your investment, your team, and your security right here in the U.S. Keep reading to understand the difference between these two outsourcing models, and discover why “here shoring” may be the right one for your company.Pros and Cons of NearshoringBy far, the biggest benefit of nearshoring is that the organizations are physically closer, reducing time zone discrepancies. Fewer time zone differences allow teams to make faster decisions to stay on schedule and reduce delays. However, while nearshoring solves most time zone barriers, it doesn’t tackle the most difficult challenges that operating in an international context – usually with developing countries – presents. Different countries will have varying national holidays, languages, cultural differences, and business practices that can prove to be a challenge to efficient communications.It’s also important to consider any new laws and regulations you’ll need to adhere to when working with a company in another country. Frankly, nearshoring is illusory in its ability to solve the tough problems of delivering high-quality software, cost effectively, at the required speed with an acceptable amount of risk.Onshoring: A Cost-effective Alternative to NearshoringAlthough nearshoring allows two companies to be in more similar time zones, this doesn’t solve all problems with overseas outsourcing – just one of them. When you “here shore,” you cut down not only on time zone concerns, but also language and cultural barriers, as well as preserve the rules of U.S. law over IP and data security. You’ll also support jobs here in your own country, so you can feel good about the career opportunities your engagement will create. Besides that, wouldn’t you rather work with someone right here in the U.S.? Especially, if you can do it in a cost-effective way?Rural Sourcing: America’s Leader in Onshore “Here Shore” Software DevelopmentTo help companies lower their costs and create high-quality software, Rural Sourcing’s innovative onshore model allows you to benefit from talented, qualified IT teams living right here in mid-sized and small cities across the United States. By “here shoring” with us, you’ll eliminate time zone challenges, language barriers, cultural differences, and get U.S. business/industry knowledge to speed up deadlines and improve collaboration. To find out how “here shoring” can benefit your organization, get in touch with our team today.NEED HELP? LET'S TALK.

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 OfficerIn 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

Outsourcing is Dead – Long Live Outsourcing

Digital technology has forever changed our business and economic landscape. Adopting cloud technology, SaaS and advanced analytics is no longer an option for businesses – most are well on their way. And as more companies become digital, and technology advances, the pace of change and innovation required to stay competitive continues to increase.The need for speed and innovation has also accelerated the adoption of Agile software development to build new digital systems. Agile development is critical for addressing changing requirements and continuous improvement based on immediate market and user feedback. What has lagged, however, is how outsourcing providers deliver the necessary services to build, deploy, and support today’s new digital systems. Old delivery models are based on cost containment, SLA compliance, and monolithic multi-year engagements. Offshore factory models are geared toward annual delivery of agreed upon scope. In a time when the business environment is constantly changing, these models won’t work. Of course, cost and efficiency are important, but productivity, agility and velocity may be more critical.  Market demands shift quickly. Businesses can’t wait 12-18 months for changes to be implemented.  Outsourcing providers need to be responsive and flexible, allowing the relationship to change as the business changes. In addition, Agile development requires greater proximity for real-time collaboration, and new expertise in the form of experienced full-stack developers.What’s needed now is an approach to outsourcing delivery that’s flexible and partner-oriented – not fixed, SLA-driven contractual relationships. Businesses need the appropriate software development expertise, in close proximity, that can be scaled up or down as needed.  Much like the software industry has moved toward a more flexible and scalable Software-as-a-Service model, the delivery of software development must move in the same direction.In their recent report titled Future-Proofing your IT Services Model – Outsourcing for the Digital Age, the Everest Group acknowledges this industry transformation as the exhibit below indicates:For these reasons and in support of our ongoing effort to change the outsourcing experience, Rural Sourcing has developed a unique “as-a-service” engagement framework for Agile software development we call Scrum-as-a-Service. It helps clients develop mission critical software with speed, flexibility, and efficiency. Our approach gives clients easy access to cross-functional teams of experts (Scrum teams) who develop high-quality working software in a way that encourages innovation and maximizes time-to-market.Scrum-as-a-Service provides:Proven Agile Expertise – teams with the necessary Agile skills, experience, and best-practice knowledge required for successRapid Scaling - up or scale down as required, using just the right mix of technical skillsets and capabilities Multidisciplinary Skills On-tap - customized teams based on specific project requirements (UI/UX, data, cloud, AppSec, QA or DevOps)Team Chemistry and Continuity - experienced Scrum teams that have previously worked together, saving time, and removing friction.Business Alignment and Ownership of Outcomes – co-located Scrum teams become an extension of the client’s company, and team members know they succeed only when the client succeeds.Rural Sourcing has arguably been a disrupter in the outsourcing industry with our 100% U.S.-based delivery model leveraging development centers exclusively located in mid-sized cities throughout Middle America. With Scrum-as-a-Service, we happily continue to evolve and disrupt the status quo based on the demands of our customers and the market.NEED HELP? LET'S TALK.

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.

Scrum-as-a-Service

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 ExpertiseAssembling 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 ScalingInitially 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-tapOf 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 ContinuityEffective 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 OutcomesScrum-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 ModelRural 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.