Since March 2020, the stakes have never been higher for your business to adapt and evolve. But how do you accelerate and scale your digital transformation cost-effectively? The answer – optimized global delivery. Follow this series and learn more about our nearshore software development capabilities from members of our global delivery team in Colombia.
Earlier this year, we announced Perficient’s expansion into South America with the acquisition of Productora Software S.A.S. (PSL), a nearshore software development company based in Colombia.
This team reinforces our commitment to optimized global delivery and helping the world’s largest enterprises connect with customers and grow their businesses. In a recent conversation with Camilo Gomez Aristizabal, director of business development at Perficient’s Global Delivery Center in Colombia, he revealed the importance of nearshore software development and provided some qualities to seek in a nearshore partner.
He also shared the unique history of PSL prior to the acquisition and the turning point for becoming a valuable nearshore software development partner for leading US organizations.
Why is nearshore software development so critical now?
Camilo: Nearshore is truly a game-changer from my perspective. COVID-19 has changed everything – the dynamics and behaviors of people that includes how we work, how and what we buy, and even what we do for entertainment. Everything in our personal and work lives has forever changed because of the pandemic.
Prior to this event, it was business as usual. Companies’ strategic approaches and cadence for developing digital products happened on their own timelines and perceptions of what was happening in the world. Some businesses outsourced development to teams in other geographies. Other organizations handled development directly with full-time employees working in offices in the US.
When COVID-19 hit, we quickly saw which businesses were “in” or “out.” Those businesses that previously invested in digital were winning all the chips. While at the other end of the spectrum, some companies were far behind and almost out of the game. Many companies fell somewhere in between, of course.
For the businesses that fall between the leaders and laggards, they can’t just increase their IT budgets. However, business leaders have shifted their perception of outsourcing software development. With more teams and staff now working remotely, they see the potential benefits and cost savings for outsourcing.
The pandemic has also affected the dynamic for your business to adapt and act quickly. You have to evolve your digital transformation to account for different consumer behaviors, consumption trends, entertainment, and more. And then you must consider, how will this shape new features or functionalities of my existing product?
Nearshore software development offers a way for businesses to invest budgets wisely and put additional teams in place to evolve products and services that address these new realities. You can tap into great talent, cultural alignment, and similar time zones to accelerate your digital transformation.
What’s at stake for businesses in recovery from COVID-19? And, how can nearshore software development support them?
Camilo: There’s a feeling of a before and after with this pandemic, even if we don’t know when “after” will be. I don’t think we will go back to a “business as usual” – or how we knew it – going forward.
Businesses must evolve faster, but they also have to iterate strategically for this new reality. Business leaders wonder, “How can our company quickly understand these new behaviors? How should we measure and leverage analytics from our current products, services, and ecosystems to evolve faster?”
And to evolve faster, your business needs to leverage more digital anyway. That’s how nearshore adds value. You can work with remote teams geographically located in the same time zones. There’s also better cultural alignment. With a nearshore delivery team, your company will see a [return on investment] that’s two or nearly three times more than what you would spend with onshore teams.
Not only that, our global delivery centers in Colombia have proven experience with leading US companies. You can leverage the expertise of our nearshore team because if you don’t, your competition will – and you’ll be left behind.
What qualities should businesses seek when evaluating a nearshore partner?
Camilo: Beyond the basics, such as process certifications, security, and legal audits, one of the top considerations is a partner that’s purpose-led and wants the best for your business.
When you find a nearshore partner that puts clients’ and employees’ best interests at heart, it means that the people on the ground feel empowered. They feel like they’re an extension of your team, which means less churn and drain of knowledge over the course of the engagement.
We have a clear purpose to become better every day – for our colleagues and our clients.
Building a team in this manner means more velocity and faster time to market. And empowered team members are thinking ahead – questioning and proposing things that you might not see.
You also want to look for diversity. Diverse teams bring different perspectives – not only gender diversity but also geo-diversity and racial diversity. Diversity yields a variety of ideas and perspectives on a product. When you bring in diversity that means it’s also strategic for your product.
Alignment also matters. When you find a partner that’s purpose-led in a heuristic way – from the most strategic decisions to the more tactical ones – the engagement will flow and move faster. There will be more autonomy, more mastery, and deeper engagement. There will also be more motivation.
How did an innovative culture take shape with our nearshore development team?
Camilo: The early 2000s marked the start of our transformation. That’s when our leadership sharpened the focus on building a culture of excellence and innovation.
As the Colombian economy expanded into global trade, companies in the region needed enterprise resource planning (ERP) to take the first steps with digital transformation. Back then, only a few ERP offerings existed. You either had SAP or you didn’t – there weren’t many options in between.
We [PSL] saw an opportunity to develop an ERP solution for mid-tier companies that was more cost-effective and less complex in terms of features.
After two to three years of developing, the first ERP installment did not go as well as everyone hoped. In fact, that version was full of bugs. While we addressed and fixed the issues, the situation raised the question: “Where did we go wrong?”
Upon closer examination, a hypothesis emerged that under-development wasn’t an economical problem but a cultural one. The question then became: “How do we change our culture to become a world-class company?”
Our leadership chose Capability Maturity Model Integration® (CMMI) as the path to changing our culture. Throughout that process, we successfully changed the culture of what was then a 15-year old company. We [PSL] were the eighth company in the world to achieve CMMI Level 5, and the first one in all of Latin America.
Changing our view of software development and taking the necessary steps to transform our culture laid the foundation for our team becoming a powerhouse in Latin America.
What was the turning point for expanding operations as a nearshore software development partner?
Camilo: The three-year investment in earning CMMI Level 5 cemented our purpose and commitment to continuous excellence. The way we leveraged our investment in CMMI was the next step of the journey.
With mapped out processes for building software and products, Jorge Aramburo, general manager and founder of PSL, saw Agile as a game changer. He recognized the potential of Agile to help transform companies and create better software products.
Jorge also realized that adopting Agile would well-position and differentiate our team [PSL]. But we soon discovered that prospective clients in Latin America weren’t ready – or willing – to take the risk with Agile development. That’s when we had to pivot and focus on companies based in the United States.
US-based businesses were either already using Agile or aspiring to use that approach. But when outsourcing software development to other geographies, they often faced challenges with real-time communication. Early-adopters of Agile in the US wanted development partners within the same time zone, which opened to the door for our team to expand into nearshore.
What have you observed about the cultural alignment between Perficient and PSL?
Camilo: Since my first day [at PSL,] the importance of culture was driven into my head. Technology, code, and processes obviously account for a big part of software development projects. Beyond that, these projects are at least 50 percent about people, their behaviors, and shared values.
In the end, it’s about people. And trust is essential for teams to deliver successful projects. You can’t trust if there’s not alignment in values and principles.
In the five, nearly six years, that I’ve worked here, the focus is on developing long-term relationships with our clients. Those multi-year engagements are the direct result of establishing trust with them.
I’m excited about joining Perficient because of our shared values. With every person I’ve met so far, I can feel a sense of warmth and trust. Sometimes it seems like I’ve been part of Perficient for several years. And I can tell that the trust and shared values will allow us to keep pushing the envelope and continue to become world-class strategic partners for our clients.
Our nearshore delivery team has proven experience working with US-based clients on complex, cloud-native product development. Learn more about outsourcing software development and finding the right fit with a nearshore development partner.