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

lociamica-background

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

Deliverables

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.