A Customer Journey with SmartDev, from the First E-mail to the App Launch


Our customer, Loci Amica

Loci Amica is an app that connects international travellers to local tour guides in popular destinations around the world. They make it possible for globetrotters to have more engaging experiences in the destinations they visit. At the same time, they provide locals with a passion for their homeland the opportunity to make a living doing what they love most. You can check them out at https://lociamica.com/.

The challenge: finding the best partner to develop the idea

Like many startups, Loci Amica was facing the challenge of finding not only a way to develop their idea, but also a qualified partner with the right skills to fulfil that objective.

In particular, they were looking for a partner who:

  • Is reliable and trustworthy
  • Can build a team efficiently
  • Offers competitive pricing
  • Works with an agile mindset
  • Can assist with requirement gathering and specifications
  • Has enough manpower to cover UX, UI, backend development and mobile app development
  • Has an experienced project manager who is fluent in English and has a strong technical background so as to immediately understand the project requirements

The solution: hiring an offshore team

As a company based in Canada and targeting mainly the Taiwanese market, Loci Amica found that hiring a dedicated remote team via offshoring (from the Canadian perspective) or nearshoring (from the Taiwanese perspective) was the perfect solution for meeting all their needs: they would save both money and time without compromising on quality, with the added benefit of having full flexibility with their project timeline. This is where we came in!

Wondering what offshoring can do for you? Read more about why companies choose to offshore here.

The development, from the first e-mail to the app launch

Let’s see how Loci Amica worked with SmartDev!

The kick-off:

In their first e-mail, Loci Amica briefly explained their needs and shared their design specifications to get a quote from us. Our team at SmartDev evaluated the specifications in a meeting with our project managers and technical leaders, and after breaking down the tasks, we estimated the amount of work required for the first version of the product, in terms of the team size and timeframe needed to achieve it. We then proposed our two different contract options:

  1. Time & Materials: SmartDev will allocate the most suitable developers to your project
  2. Project-based: a fixed price, with the project fully managed by SmartDev

Loci Amica decided to go for a project-based contract with a fixed price.

The project development phase

After signing the contract and assigning a dedicated team to the project, we could get started with the development of the product.

During the development phase of any project, we have regular meetings and report to the customer, to create full transparency and build mutual trust. This includes:

  • Audio Calls
  • Status e-mails and reporting
  • Review sessions
  • Sprint retrospectives


To ensure top-notch quality assurance and avoid bottlenecks and the waterfall effect, all tickets are tested immediately during the development phase. Our technical leads handle the submission of apps to the Google Play Store and Apple Store. We also have a DevOps who is in charge of deploying the solution in the production environment.

The implementation team

Product Owner
Victor T.

Our talented Product Owner, Victor, is managing the project. His high level of English and ability to understand client requirements allow him to perfectly plan and follow up on the development of the product while keeping the customer fully up to date.

Tech Lead
Vinh T.

I've been working as a software engineer for 7 years, and I've developed considerable expertise that has proven to be a great asset to the clients. My philosophy is to keep things simple, fast, and convenient for everyone.

QA Tester
Hien L.

I am a mobile tester and I love to explore new functionalities on various devices. I would be thrilled to test your web or mobile app.

The results

Loci Amica is  very pleased with our collaboration. They appreciated having the continuous and proactive involvement of SmartDev from the early beginning of the implementation right up until the final delivery to the market.

We are now entering the maintenance period and we will soon be ready to start on the next phase of the product lifetime!

Loci Amica Business Owner

In the startup phase, we had a lot of anxiety about finding a trustworthy partner. Choosing SmartDev was a very good decision. We are now confident in the future implementation and evolution of our products!

Who are we, and what can we do for you?

SmartDev is a Swiss agile software development company, based in Danang, Vietnam. We provide cutting-edge software solutions to medium and large businesses. Our proven expertise across mobile app and website development makes us an excellent partner to help you enter today’s competitive market.

Time and Materials

You already have a list of features in mind, and you have a development plan ready to go. SmartDev will allocate the most suitable developers to your project. The service can start within 7 days following the signing of the contract. SmartDev is very flexible and allows you to pause and resume the project on short notice, with minimal delays.

Fixed Price

You have a big-picture perspective of your project, but you don’t want to be involved in the development process. SmartDev can give you an estimate of the time needed to complete your product and offer a fixed price for the scope communicated.

Vietnam: A Smart Software Outsourcing Destination

  • Vietnam is quickly gaining popularity in the IT outsourcing world due to strong fundamentals.
  • Hiring software programmers remotely in Vietnam is a reliable, budget-savvy option.
  • Potential challenges to outsourcing in Vietnam are not as great as they may initially appear.

A Rising Star in the Information Technology World

Less than twenty years ago, the internet barely existed in Vietnam. Now, as in most modern parts of the world, it’s becoming an integral part of life—especially for the country’s increasingly young and urban population.

Despite Vietnam’s short-lived relationship with the internet, the country has quickly advanced to be an ideal location for IT outsourcing. In fact, Vietnam was recently ranked sixth in global software outsourcing according to consulting firm A.T. Kearney—a major jump from even just a few years ago.

This may come as a surprise to many readers, but it’s no mistake that IT outsourcing in Vietnam is booming in popularity. Many factors, both organic and intentional, contribute to the country’s growing strength in the IT industry.

Tech giants, including IBM, Intel, and Microsoft have established firm footholds in the country while countless small and medium businesses are constantly sprouting up in Vietnam’s increasingly bustling cities. Japanese companies, especially, have recognized Vietnam’s IT potential and have recently invested in 54 new IT projects representing a whopping 19.6 percent of foreign investment into the country, totalling in the billions of dollars.

These are just a few examples of a sector that is just beginning to shine.

From here, we’ll take a look at why Vietnam is a good choice for IT outsourcing, and the factors that contribute to its place as a rising star in the IT industry.

Positive Economic and Demographic Trends

Vietnam’s economy continues to grow at one of the world’s quickest paces. Its annual GDP has more than doubled over the last ten years, lifting millions out of poverty. Roughly half of Vietnam’s population is under 30 and the country is rapidly urbanizing, especially in major cities like Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, and Danang. This means that not only is there a vast labor pool to draw from, but there’s also an overarching positive economic trend that lends itself to a modernizing and expanding economy.

Far from being the agrarian backwater it once was, Vietnam is fully entering the modern era. Its cities are undergoing a vast transformation into cosmopolitan and competitive economic centers with vibrant and diverse economies.

One of the greatest symbols of the country’s transformation can be seen in the ubiquitous tech-savvy youngsters obsessed with their latest smartphone, tablet, or computer. The popularity of new software and technology is no less here than in any developed western country. In fact, newcomers to the country would be stunned to see the similarities between the online habits of Vietnamese youth and the youth of most western countries.

A Young and Eager Workforce

There are some significant differences that set Vietnam apart from western countries, however—and from countries that many consider competitors in the world of outsourcing.

A recent study demonstrated some interesting findings among IT workers in Vietnam—especially those who plan to remain loyal to their company. The insight gained is valuable in helping understand the mentality of Vietnamese IT workers, and what makes them tick.

  • 84% of Vietnamese IT workers chose the field because they love computers
  • IT workers value learning opportunities and growth—a large majority of those who plan to stay in their current job for more than a year mentioned both categories as important
  • While many workers would choose to work in product companies as compared to outsourcing companies, there is an overwhelming preference for working for foreign-owned companies versus Vietnamese companies. Thus, outsourcing companies have an edge against Vietnamese companies due to a worker’s expectations of greater opportunities for growth.
  • Vietnamese are excited to work with foreigners. Again, this is largely due to their expectations of growth and learning in their field.

Companies that treat their employees well can generally expect great loyalty from them, since a stable income, combined with future opportunities, is highly prized in Vietnam.

A Low Cost of Living, A Low Cost of Hiring

Vietnam is certainly still a developing country, but it is doing so rapidly. Nonetheless, its GDP per capita is far less than half of regional competitor Thailand, for example: wages in Vietnam are low compared to the rest of the world.

However, the comparatively low incomes in Vietnam change dramatically when one looks at its purchasing power parity (PPP)—essentially, GDP per capita as adjusted for cost of living. Vietnam’s PPP per capita is roughly three times its GDP per capita, meaning that a dollar goes far further in this country than it would in many others. Spending any amount of time on the ground in the country would give a quick demonstration of how much this matters.

For those companies who are looking to outsource their labor, this is fantastic news. It means that a fully-qualified software programmer could be hired for as little as $12 per hour—a bargain for any western company looking to hire a programmer. It also leads to an attractive salary for any local IT worker in Vietnam: a win-win situation.

Strong Investment in Education

There are plenty of these software programmers available. One of the main reasons behind this is Vietnam has made leaps and bounds in its education over the past two decades, and the results show. In the 2015-16 PISA (Program for International Student Assessment) survey, Vietnam ranked 21st out of all countries surveyed, on par with Australia and ahead of supposed educational behemoths like the USA, France, and Sweden. The test measures scores in mathematics, reading, and science, and has been used as a benchmark for education for more than twenty years.

In addition to Vietnam’s vast improvements in its educational system, there are more than a hundred thousand Vietnamese students who study abroad each year. This gives them not only access to some of the world’s top schools, but also exposes them to cultures other than their own. As anyone who has travelled or lived abroad knows, exposure to other cultures is crucial to working well with people from other countries.

Vietnamese students don’t have to go out of the country to get a world-class education, however. A full branch of Fulbright University was opened in Ho Chi Minh City in 2016—in the city’s Hi-Tech Park, no less—and Cornell University is advising VinGroup on the opening of a world-class university to be opened in Hanoi.

These come on top of already well-established RMIT (Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology) campuses in both cities, and represent milestones on the road to further educational development in the country.

A Government with Vision

Perhaps one of the biggest differences that sets Vietnam apart from both competitors and neighbours is its government. Although many still hold the view of the Vietnamese government as rigid and hardline socialist, that is now far from true. In fact, the government has a long-reaching view of continuing to transform Vietnam’s economy into a high-tech powerhouse. To wit, in 2012 the national government set a goal to have 45% of Vietnam’s GDP derived from the tech sector by 2020.

Whether or not that specific goal is met, the point stands: the government is betting hard on the country’s tech sector, and is thus keen to favor it.

Potential Challenges

Outsourcing always comes with its potential challenges. However, those challenges may be more minor than they originally appear when closely inspected.

The Language Barrier

While it’s true that Vietnam is not as proficient in English as India, Malaysia, or the Philippines, it still ranks seventh in the Asia-Pacific English Proficiency Index.

This index, however, ranks the country as a whole—the tech sector is overall far more educated in language than the general population. Combined with the fact that English is the lingua franca of the internet and the tech sector in general, IT workers are constantly exposed to English and have a much higher command of English than the average citizen.

The Cultural Barrier

The cultural barrier between Vietnam and western countries is shrinking by the day, especially since so much of its youth is deeply involved in the internet from an early age. Although the Vietnam War is the first thing that many westerners think of when they imagine the country, most young Vietnamese see the war as a history lesson rather than as a memory. In fact, the country is open and welcoming to foreigners, and old and young alike generally express curiosity and interest when meeting a foreigner.

The Time Barrier

Vietnam is indeed far away from many western countries, especially when it comes to time zones. It’s at GMT+7—5 hours ahead of the UK and France, for example.

Companies who outsource, however, should be well aware of the potential challenges and benefits of working with time differences. If managed correctly, time differences can lead to greater efficiency as long as communications are well managed.

The Final Word

Vietnam’s role as a major player in the IT game is just beginning. With the strong foundations already laid, the country and its citizens can be expected to increase their presence in the global IT realm.

For now, companies looking for a bargain in IT outsourcing need look no further than Vietnam. It’s the perfect combination of price, ability, and flexibility. As it stands, there are numerous foreign-managed firms in Vietnam that can help you make informed decisions about your outsourcing needs.

Les Manuscrits du PO – User Story Mapping

Démarche utilisateur en Agile

La démarche Agile trouve une majeur partie de sa raison d’être dans le fait de réfléchir les choses pour chaque “persona” (ou utilisateur final), et avec la perspective de chaque persona. Cela explique entre autres, le formalisme des users stories, définissant la valeur dans ce cadre. 

Comme nous le verrons plus tard dans l’article, être centré sur l’utilisateur sera une des clés pour la problématique de réponse à une analyse de besoins, et comment le concept de Story Mapping s’articule autour de cette problématique.


Qu’est-ce que le Product Backlog ?

Un des outils les plus utilisés par un Product Owner lors du développement d’un logiciel est le “Product Backlog”.  Celui-ci est composé d’une liste ordonnée de fonctionnalités, besoins ou correctifs, à réaliser, les plus prioritaire situées au début de la liste. Ces éléments sont appelés des User Stories, et vont composer ce qui est requis dans le produit. Le product backlog est l’unique source des besoins courants et des futur changements, étant ainsi évolutif dans le temps.

Comment récolter et organiser le besoin ?

Il existe de multiples façons de récolter les besoins pour un produit, et ainsi créer les premières versions d’un Product Backlog. Ce processus est en général très coûteux en temps et en ressources.

L’une d’entre elles, pourtant, est redoutablement efficace, permettant de grandement optimiser ce temps et ces ressources: Le User Story Mapping.

Le Story Mapping

C’est une pratique Agile inventée par Jeff Patton qui se veut visuelle et interactive, centrée sur la définition d’un produit, s’appuyant sur la vision des utilisateurs. C’est un moyen simple de visualiser les histoires racontées par votre logiciel.

Elle permet de:

  • Rendre visible le flux de production de valeur
  • Montrer les relations entre les fonctionnalités principales et leur décomposition
  • Aider à vérifier la complétude d’un besoin fonctionnel
  • S’assurer de la cohérence des releases planifiées

Les artéfacts d’une User Story Map

Utilisateurs (personas)
Une fiche simple définissant les types d’utilisateurs de l’application.

Elle définissent les principaux groupes de tâches effectuées par les même types d’utilisateurs, dans un même but

Squelette – Flux narratif
Usages, listés de gauche à droite, dans l’ordre temporel. Ils détaillent un peu plus les activités, tout en restant haut niveau. Ces usages peuvent être considérés comme les “Epic Stories”. Les questions à se poser pour déterminer les usage de votre logiciel ou produit:

  • Que fait cette personne avec votre produit ?
  • Que fait-elle ensuite ?

Taches – Details
Les tâches sont une décomposition des usages. Le but ici est de fournir le plus de détails possible, tout en gardant une cohérence (verticale) avec l’usage. Décomposer les tâches permet également de les regrouper, de les ajuster, de créer de nouveaux usages.

La verticalité sert ici à classer les tâches par priorité. A ajuster à tout moment lors d’un atelier de Story Mapping.

Les tâches seront la base de la création de User stories, quand il s’agira de constituer le product backlog, et démarrer les sprints.

Séparateur de releases

Une fois tout les taches récoltées et priorisées, l’étape suivante consiste à tracer une ligne horizontale servant à délimiter la prochaine release et donc, son scope.

Il est important de se concentrer sur le contenu la prochaine releases, et laisser pour plus tard le détails des releases suivantes.

L’usage est de fixer comme objectif de ne garder que 40% maximum des fonctionnalités dans la prochaine release.

Processus de création d’une Story Map

  1. Mettre en place le cadre
    1. Faire un descriptif court du produit ou du logiciel afin de cadrer et mettre des contraintes
    2. Quoi: nommer le produit, les fonctionnalités à rajouter au produit, les problèmes a résoudre
    3. Qui: nommer les différents types d’utilisateurs, établir les “personas”. Pour chaque type d’utilisateur, établir l’intérêt d’utiliser le produit
    4. Pourquoi: Décrire l’intérêt pour l’organisation d’implémenter le produit

  2. Etablir la carte de la vision globale
    1. Se concentrer sur l’histoire complète, haut-niveau sans rentrer dans les details → construire le squelette de la Story map
    2. En commençant par le type d’utilisateur le plus important pour la réussite du produit: Imaginer une journée typique d’utilisation du produit, les activités seront ainsi réparties de gauche à droite, suivant l’écoulement temporel de cette journée d’utilisation
    3. Identifier les activités, en groupant les tâches d’un même type et suivant un objectif commun. Les activités émergent généralement au fur et à mesure que l’histoire se dévoile
    4. Ajouter des types d’utilisateurs, lorsque ceux ci sont identifiés. Procéder aux mêmes actions pour ces utilisateurs et mettre à jour les tâches et activités pour ces utilisateurs

  3. Explorer
    1. Continuer de détailler les activités et découper les tâches conséquentes en sous tâches et détails d’interface utilisateur.  Ajouter, subdiviser, réécrire, réorganiser les éléments de la carte
    2. Ne pas hésiter à donner trop d’information, ou de penser en dehors du scope, l’idée est ici de récolter le plus d’information possible. Le scope sera réajusté plus tard
    3. Considerer les nice to have, les variations, les exceptions, les autres types d’utilisateurs
    4. Régulièrement relire la Story Map pour vérifier sa consistance horizontale (temporelle) et verticale (activités et sous tâches les détaillant) et mettre à jour les priorités
    5. Impliquer différentes personnes liées au produit: Business owners, développeurs, architecte, etc..

  4. Définir le scope des releases
    1. Se concentrer sur le scope de la prochaine release, en traçant une ligne le délimitant du reste des incréments du produit
    2. Se donner la contrainte de n’inclure que maximum 40% des tâches dans cette release, le reste sera distribué dans les releases suivantes
    3. Se donner plus de flexibilités sur les scope des releases suivantes, celles-ci seront ajustées dans le futur
    4. Pour chaque release, définir son objectif et impact, ainsi que les métriques de sa réussite

  5. Formaliser une vision, stratégie de développement
    1. Cette ultime étape servira à établir la première version du “Product backlog”
    2. Diviser la première release en 3 phase de livraisons:
      1. La version la plus simple et fonctionnelle du produit
      2. Une version plus riche du produit, ajustée avec les feedback
      3. Une version raffinée du produit

La suite

L’atelier de Story mapping n’est qu’une des étapes dans le cycle de vie d’un produit. Comme démontré, il permet de rapidement donner une première vision claire d’un produit.

Cette carte d’histoires, sera ensuite une base solide à la constitution du Product backlog, qui sera évolutif dans le temps. La suite, dépendra de chaque projet, de chaque produit, de chaque logiciel. Avec par exemple une décomposition en Sprint pour une project logiciel en Scrum.


  • Ne pas être trop strict sur l’organisation temporelle
  • Faire intervenir différent types de personnes impliquées dans le produit: Business owner, utilisateurs finaux, développeur des logiciels,  etc..
  • Etre flexible sur la création de la story map: rajouter des colonnes si besoin, des séparateurs etc..
  • Ecrire lisiblement sur les post-its
  • Ne pas hésiter à ré-écrire un post-it et jeter le precedent
  • A tout moment, pendant l’atelier, prioriser
  • Des ateliers de story mapping peuvent nécessiter plusieurs heures, voire s’étaler sur plusieurs jours
  • Il est normal de devoir utiliser une espace conséquent pour lister toutes les tâches (souvent des centaines de post-its) sur différents supports: plusieurs murs, sol, tableaux etc..



So, why would you outsource your software development?

1 – Cost Savings
It is much cheaper! Software developers in Vietnam may cost 80% less than their Western European or North American counterparts. Moreover, you will not need to invest in software, neither in hardware, nor in an expensive working environment.

2 – Time Savings
With SmartDev, you will not waste time with the recruitment process of your developers, you will not waste time overseeing their work and you will not have to worry about the quality of the deliveries. SmartDev will allocate the resources that fit best to your needs, control the quality and respect the deadlines.

3 – Lack of in house experience
SmartDev offers a wide range of expertise and experience available at any moment. From web to mobile application development, SmartDev’s skillset covers the most popular technologies for which you may have difficulties to find experts in your domestic market.

4 – Flexibility
SmartDev allows you to rent resources for a short period of time. The service contract can be renewed, suspended or cancelled with a short notice period. SmartDev can also scale up your team to fulfill your needs of extension.

5- Talented IT Professionals
SmartDev gives you immediate access to some of the best and brightest Vietnamese information-technology professionals. We hire engineers graduated from the best universities of the country and provide them a complete training on the latest technologies.