Seventhman Blog

  1. Debunking the Open-Source Myth

    "open_source_myth"Plenty of myths have been born when it comes to the topic of open source software and applications, and one of the most common is that it’s Free.  There are believers and there are skeptics.  For those who believe in free licensing, it’s more than just a move for making things better.  And the other side of the story is, open source and enterprise aren’t really synonyms.  Perhaps, the word ‘free’ itself has been an over-hyped marketing term used to win customer loyalty, nothing more.

    An Open Invitation to Brand Recognition

    On the contrary, quality and support levels for open source applications are not really substandard, as many might have believed.  There are open source projects fueled by community discussions for further improvement and as such, the level of quality given can mean on-the-spot customer satisfaction for brand recognition.  To make it simpler, the more bugs you fix quickly, the more likely your customers will stick to the super glue of your brand.

    Open Source: The Amateur’s Cove?

    Just because programmers are collaborating to work 8 hours a day, 5 days a week from scratch to build an open source app doesn’t mean it’s a hobbyist thing.  Did you know that a Gartner study has predicted that 99% of Global 2000 enterprises will include open source software in their portfolios by 2016?  That’s up by 75% in 2010.  Before you even think that big companies are not into the open source thing, just take a stab at big names like Google, Facebook or Amazon who are taking advantage of this platform for their IT needs.  Definitely, it’s not a noob’s thing!

    Expanding Your Market More than the Freebie Concept

    There are many reasons why open source software projects are booming and these can be free licenses, freedom to own and change the code, continuous improvement, code stability, and the ability to ask your community for help.  There are downsides as well and just because something is free doesn’t mean it has zero cost.  Also, maintaining the quality of your code is a top priority.. but that doesn’t have to stunt your project.  Keep in mind that at the end of the day, there’s always a huge difference between good and great, so you need to have experts on your side – no exceptions.  Size doesn’t matter these days; speed does.  When your community takes time to answer queries you’ve got for your open source project, a team of in-house or 3rd party experts who are ready to handle that issue won’t threaten the success rate of your work.

    That’s when you get the chance to shine above the rest.  So, if you think that there’s no money to be made in open source software, think of IBM who have grown their open source products.  They’re not in a danger of going out of business anytime soon.   Quite the opposite though, as Fortune 500 companies are embracing their Linux technology for mission-critical applications.. because it’s more stable.

    The only question left now is: How open are you to change?

  2. Conquering the Cultural Divide

    "cultural divide"Back in the 90′s, I remember hearing lots of news on the future of business as going ‘global’.  With technology today, time and place almost cease to exist as it bridges workforce across the cultural and geographical divide.  No longer does the adage ‘Divide and Conquer’ holds true these days, as collaboration happens in a speed of type.  The only question left now is: Have we really mastered our way through this global game?

    Is Having a Global Mindset Your Ultimate Key to Outsourcing Success?

    If you’ve watched the controversial TV series, Outsourced, you might as well know that adapting is more than a skill these days; it’s a must if you want to tackle problems together with your outsourced team and have an almost seamless collaboration process.  You may be too enthusiastic to work, only that it leads to frustration just because you forgot to do your research on your outsourced team’s culture, which affects the way they think and do things.  We are all stewards of global capital these days and having a global mindset is a social skill, just as important as technical skills.  How open are you to working with people in different cultures?

    Harnessing the Collective Brain

    One of the major impediments when it comes to success in outsourcing is not only the case of innovation, but also of the ‘Us versus Them‘ mentality that defeats the whole idea of team work in the first place.  This makes it easier to blame somebody just because s/he is from a culture totally different from yours.  Just how well you understand the culture beyond your own is crucial in building the trust you need to make your outsourcing efforts work.

    Get Out of Your Bubble

    You may not be too eager to learn more about the culture of your outsourced team, and the challenge here is to stretch yourself just a bit and do more than just trying to get work outsourced into foreign countries.  What are the customs of the countries you’re outsourcing to?  When you overcome this cultural divide with your willingness to learn, you can be better attuned to the pros and cons of taking your business on the global arena.

    When the office doesn’t anymore define the place of work, it doesn’t matter if your workers are on the same building, a floor below, or on a country thousands of miles away.  It’s a hot trend that businesses work with talent from any place on the planet, attracting an untapped gold mine of skills, of the best people you can find for your team.  The economic pie is growing and you have the power to make things work.

    The choice is yours.  Are you ready to stretch your mindset this 2012?

  3. 2012 Through the Looking-Glass: An Insight

    Gone with the old… and comes the new year.  We’ve seen small businesses become bolder in the outsourcing scene and there have been plenty of talks in cloud computing.  Surely, 2012 is an exciting year that’s full of possibilities.  Are you looking forward to the coming year with renewed hope and optimism?

    Beyond Predictions and Observations

    Whether major acquisitions will be made of a western service provider by offshore firms is still a hot topic for tomorrow.  Still, the threat of recession will likely hold back buyers into signing contracts, until they’re certain of the stability of things.  And yes, cutting down cost is one of the driving force in today and tomorrow’s outsourcing scene.  It’s not anymore a question of size, but speed, and we might as well see a correlation in the rise of outsourced workers to freelancers as new technologies make remote working almost seamless.

    Embracing Risk

    In the pursuit of excellence, I believe that there will be a race to customer-centric model when it comes to business, and we’ll surely see an open invitation to innovation and creativity.  Social intelligence is crucial though, where businesses and customers need to connect in a deeper level than meets the Web.  Will collaboration work this time across different cultural settings?  I can’t wait to find out…

    It All Starts With a Question

    Are you willing to push beyond your limits… to make a difference this 2012?  Are you ready to learn from your mistakes now so you can achieve your goals faster?  Whatever you have in mind for the new year, it will always help to make a top ten list of priorities – no matter how cliche it seems.  As Oprah Winfrey said, ” Cheers to a new year and another chance for us to get it right. “  So, take your best shot…

    We wish you and your loved ones a Happy and Prosperous New Year.  The best of health, wealth, wisdom, and happiness all year round! Shaleen Shah, CEO & Founder, and the entire Seventhman Team

  4. What Value Does Outsourcing Bring to Your Business?

    "business value outsourcing"If outsourcing is a valuable commodity these days, how come businesses are still clueless about what they’re getting for their money?  In times when cost cutting is trending, outsourcing is delivering the goods, no doubt.  A survey made on the State of Outsourcing 2011 ( done by the London School of Economics ) showed that of 1,135 respondents, 95% agreed about how outsourcing reduced the cost of operating their business.  Does this mean that profit is the ultimate marker in defining the value of your outsourced project?

    The Not-So Paradigm Shift

    It’s tough to focus from outsourcing results to business value, and calculating such is still a work in progress.  So, how do we even begin?  It may have to start with the dreaded ‘I’ word, as in: Innovation.  There are plenty of reasons why businesses outsource and it has been a common practice to outsourcing administrative work – the cost effective way.  But more than calculating the financial benefits of your outsourced contract, what exactly are you getting when you opted to get more for less?

    Scalability or Competitive Edge?

    Outsourcing is not really new and over the last decade, the amount of work outsourced expanded dramatically.  What can’t be outsourced these days?  Still, many are bogged down in the management of these outsourcing contracts that take them away from innovating processes to adding long-term value to the business.  Most outsourcing vendors focus too much on the cash-cow syndrome, trying to cut deals and bait clients with the lowest cost imaginable.  Yes, this can be great for competition, but it will not bring sustainable value in the long run.

    Quantity Doesn’t Mean Success

    The real business value of outsourcing comes into play when the quality of the results or work gained contributes to meeting corporate goals, or even exceeding it.  You shouldn’t measure your success with the number of outsourced workers or the number of transactions made by the vendor of your choice.  Are you practicing due diligence in partnering with your 3rd party provider?

    Do You Have What It Takes to… Change?

    When things go wrong, are you willing to abandon the cause?  Perhaps, it’s high time to leave processes and technologies that don’t deliver results.  Have you monitored your key performance indicators lately?  Issues do happen in outsourcing, but it can be detected and resolved before it morphs into a cancer that will eat on the health ( and wealth ) of your business.

    The trend on outsourcing looks good and there’s no limit to what you can outsource today.  The challenge now is coming up with new and creative ways for outsourcing to add value to your business, and make sure that efforts made will deliver results with stunning consistency.

  5. How to Resolve Disputes with Your Outsourcing Provider

    "contract breach"When it comes to contracts in the outsourcing world, one cannot ignore perceptions.  Are contracts all about perceived promises of a reciprocal exchange between two parties?  If that is true, we might as well say that your outsourcing contract is in the eyes of the beholder, you and the outsourced service provider’s.  In reality, there is the legal obligation written in fine print that comes with jargons… and disputes happen because both parties rely on the spirit of the ‘handshake’ when it comes to following the terms and conditions that are not spelled out clearly in the first place.  Come to think of it, there are plenty of fuzzy terms that make it necessary to supplement this written agreement with unwritten promises.

    Don’t get me wrong here.  I’m not saying that the written formal contract between you and your outsourced vendor has no value.  It’s just that the more explicit the terms are, the higher the expectations can get, and though having a fine print reduces the likelihood of a breach because some terms are misunderstood, having a successful outsourcing contract means converting these oral promises into a simple and clear binding contract to start with.

    Asking Hard Questions Matter

    When something goes wrong, the initial reaction is to terminate the contract by reason that the other has breached it.  Don’t jump the gun too soon though, as you will really need a hard proof.  Instead, you can ask yourself these six questions:

    1. What’s the nature of the dispute?
    2. Can you resolve this dispute without going for a lawsuit?
    3. Do you have the right to withhold payment when your service provider failed to produce results?
    4. Do you have a provision for a neutral arbitration?
    5. Where exactly is your outsourced service provider based?  Can you enforce your judgment in that location?
    6. How much money are you looking to collect with your claim?

    Answering these questions matter a lot, so you can avoid costly damages when a dispute arises.  Besides, you might want to define your definition of ‘damage’ – like, is it the cost of having work done by a third party outside the contract?  Or, is it loss of profit?

    Having a Back Up is Better than None

    Minor disputes can easily be resolved if you both agree to share a log of all these disputes, like a ticket system.  There must be written statements when a dispute arises and transparency in who exactly are responsible for it.  Having a room for escalation can help collaborate your team into meeting regularly to work on resolving disputes – even if that meeting has to be done via web conferencing tools.

    Beware of Poison Provisions

    Before you even sign that agreement, check out for any open-ended statement that may cause you major pains in the future.  Or simply, anything that’s left you hanging in the air should be avoided.  This means that you have to state all important provisions BEFORE signing the contract, and you must check out all the dates and terms of payment stated.  Everything must be crystal clear!

    A contract without a dispute resolution process is like a jellyfish in the open seas.  There are, of course, plenty of options to deal with disagreements.  The only question is:  Are you willing to keep the relationship from going sour… to bitter or better?

    Disclaimer: This post is not a legal advice

  6. Bridging Outsourcing and Innovation in the 21st Century

    "outsourcing_and_innovation"Innovation is like a nebula for many businesses and yet, everyone is hungry to have a bite of this fuzzy word to become globally competitive these days.  We all know that cost savings is the top driver of an outsourced project and next to it is direct access to quality expertise.  Then, we have strategic benefit that one can get when outsourcing a project – from freeing up one’s resources, flexibility to changing the rules of the competitive market.  Seldom do we hear innovation as the major reason for outsourcing and yet, it has become one of the biggest disappointments executives have today.  It’s not a surprising news, really.

    The Ugly Truth:  There’s No Reward for Innovation

    Outsourced providers are given a set of standards for operating within the cost and there’s just no reward for bold moves in these deals. That’s the reality.  Innovation in outsourcing involves change and the need to do things differently, which can disrupt the work flow.  So, how can businesses succeed in innovation at outsourcing?  Or, is it even possible?

    Making Room for Open Innovation

    If you want to get more than just the regular supply of goods or services from your outsourced provider, you can open up the communication channels to welcome new ideas that can help solve problems, or create new opportunities for the business.  The key here is involving everyone, giving them a voice that will make them feel part of the project.  This feeling can be powerful enough to make them more productive at work because there’s a sense of ownership that’s non-existent before.  Innovation must start from within..

    Change Management with a Vengeance

    It’s human nature to resist change and yet, innovation can only happen when people are willing to accept a change.  This is where multi-tiered governance comes in to help manage communication and operations between the business and vendor’s executives.  Good governance matters a lot here and it’s like conducting a philharmonic orchestra; you’ve got to make sure the rhythm’s right.  How do you get key stakeholders play along with everyone else?

    Fixing the Innovation Cycle

    A report from Gartner shows that innovation is lacking in outsourcing deals in 2010, where focus is centered on cost instead.  This year, more businesses are allocating funds for innovation and they are aware of the risk of failure.  If innovation is hard to come by in certain departments, getting an external consultant may be the answer – to bring down costs.  The only question is:  Will people within the organization build resistance to the outsider, keeping him/her from adding innovative value?

    Innovation, like outsourcing, is a strategy.  Can the two work seamlessly together?  Many are trying to bridge this gap, especially in new territories that run with cultural and geographical barriers.  In a good business sense, the right outsourcing vendor have a big room for innovation – where people are equipped with the expertise to develop innovative applications to whatever niche it is required for.  Sometimes, all it takes to innovate is taking… baby steps.

  7. The Secret to Successful Cloud Computing Revealed

    "Cloud Computing"Cloud computing has the power to break down the application divide inside and outside your organization, where everyone can freely share information on the clouds.  It’s not really a new buzzword and businesses have used it to tap into resources beyond their own, in times when running their own IT departments means costly, risky and time-consuming.  This technology has existed for years, built upon the foundation of services-oriented architecture – to respond more quickly in times when change happens in a mouse click, where technology is that ultimate driver to make you a leader in your industry.  So, what’s the secret to adopting cloud computing into a successful corporate strategy that you can maximize on?

    The Secret Sauce of Cloud Computing Revealed

    By now, we’re clear about one thing: Cloud computing comes with benefits, enabling businesses to run an effective workforce, anytime and anywhere.  If you have just made that transition to a cloud-based enterprise platform, you need to know that:

    Virtual Security is Everything

    It’s a no-brainer! To run a successful cloud computing application means developing a secure infrastructure that will make hacking obsolete.  Moving sensitive info on the clouds can be a tough decision for many businesses with proprietary information, and every effort must be made to protect data in a dynamic setup that’s evolving in a faster pace than ever imagined.  This means coming up with a secured technology, even at grass roots levels.

    Being Service-Oriented Surely Makes a Winner

    There are plenty of cloud applications out there that run like ‘franken apps’ that are not versatile when it comes to changes or future developments.  When cloud computing has the power to run your virtual workforce, having a service-oriented architecture that makes access and delivery of services easier to your remote team matters… a lot!  So, it makes sense to have a close-knit application that helps bolster collaboration inside and outside of your organization.  Besides, time is a valuable commodity these days and you want everyone to be efficient on the clouds.

    Simplicity is the Absolute Key

    What good is your cloud computing application when people are wrestling with servers and upgrades?  Did you know that Amazon Web Services is closing in on $1B a year just because they cared to make things drop dead simple?  By simplifying the network’s model, not only will you keep costs down, but you also get things done faster in a world of rapid change.

    The cloud computing revolution is here and most of us have learned lessons, the hard way.  It’s now time to correct this and build a consensus to a successful transition.  It all comes down to having a change management plan, where you orient everyone on the team so that the adoption to cloud computing for your business will be a major success.