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How to jump-start a large scale software project using Rhonda services?

Some customers are really concerned about getting tangible results from an independent contractor within a short timeframe. Most vendors will argue that it is possible, but we don't need words to convince you - we can and will provide measurable evidence of our progress.

Rhonda prepared a standalone engineering team for providing services in software development related to porting Access NetFront browser to Motorola mobile phones. The customer set up an aggressive timeline which we, in fact, did achieve:

Quick facts:

  • Coding and prototyping phase started 1 month after the project start
  • Requirements elicitation completed : 5.5th month
  • Plans are frozen (including additional features) : 6th month
  • A version software is delivered : 7th month
  • B version software is delivered : 8th month
  • Testing completed : 10th month

Efforts:

  • Whole cycle duration : 10 months
  • The first tangible results : 2.5th month after the project start
  • Learning curve efforts : 16%
  • Requirements specification size : 147 pages
  • Released software size : 52 542 NCLOC
  • Total efforts : 186 Staff Months
  • Project team size in peak : 41 engineers

In this particular project our team proved its ability to help Motorola to start a new line of business in the totally different environment. We integrated efficiently into a multinational software development community where Motorola and Rhonda teams were set up in Russia, United States, Italy and Japan while collaborating with independent third-party solution vendor Access Co Ltd. and project’s customer NTT DoCoMo, the largest Japanese telecommunications provider.

Is having tangible evidence 1.5 months after the coding phase starts proofs enough that Rhonda is able to achieve goals in a short timeframe on large scale projects? We believe so, and our customers agree.

How are a smooth integration and a transparent work environment achieved?

One of the biggest outsourcing-related concerns is that any benefits gained in cost savings will be lost in efforts to manage contractor team and projects. Rhonda addressed this concern on multiple levels. Multimedia team (MMA) working for Motorola projects is a good example.

Multimedia Team Facts:

  • Services provided since 2004
  • Engineers assigned on Rhonda side : 100
  • International teams involved : 5
  • Embedded platforms covered : 3
  • Multimedia domains covered by Rhonda e.g. audio/video capturing, content storage and navigation, etc. : 5
  • Expertise areas covered within these domains e.g. FM Radio, Picture viewer, File System etc. : 15

How much customer effort is involved in managing our MMA team? The answer is "zero". Rhonda has integrated our team seamlessly into MMA's management structure. We are also proud to note that our team is extensively involved in product and team management creating a productive and smooth transition for both companies.

How has Rhonda helped our customers organize their product development projects?

  • Two Rhonda’s managers take a leadership role in managing the customer's product or engineering groups;
  • Rhonda's SQA leader is invited to manage quality for the entire Multimedia domain of the customer;
  • Due to the close collaboration, several Rhonda employees were hired as Motorola employees directly reporting to the Senior Director at Motorola;
  • Rhonda managed projects in multimedia domain with up to 9 external dependencies. For example for the FM Radio development our program manager traced dependencies from a third party vendors e.g. AMD (ATI).

Customer engineers involved in the same project with Rhonda are truly surprised to discover that Rhonda engineers are not their co-workers but rather independent Rhonda contractors.

How to establish a risk-free partnership?

Many customers harbor doubts if vendor can really match expectations as promised. When a proposal sounds too good to be true, how can you determine if all the agreements will be met?

In 2007 we negotiated with Zoran Inc., based in Sunnyvale, CA. Zoran provides System-on-a-Chip optimized for multimedia data processing. One of these processors is designed for portable digital camera manufacturers, and this is the area where Rhonda offered its services to Zoran. As the negotiation progressed, we offered a «pay at will» probation period in order to reduce possible concerns about our reliability. How does «pay at will» work?

Before the trial started, we mutually negotiated with Zoran criteria for success to be able to judge if our people had performed their work well and in accordance with the customer's standards. During the trial Rhonda and Zoran were holding frequent conference calls to check the progress and see if any corrective actions were needed.

After the trial Rhonda discussed with decision makers to see if the criteria for success have been met and if the customer is ready to continue  the collaboration. Even though the «pay at will» trial period was 30 days the decision was clear to Zoran after the first two weeks. One of the Rhonda engineers developed a CEC protocol for HDMI interface which was successfully certified for HDMI compliance. Any doubts about Rhonda's capabilities were eliminated from Zoran.

How to build a reliable bridge to Japan?

The Japanese say that Vladivostok is «The most eastern city with a western culture». It is true. As everywhere in Russia, in Vladivostok we have a western-type of culture, similar enough to European or American lifestyles.

Moreover, our company culture has been formed under a strong influence of our customers. We honed our internal processes diligently until they became transparent to our USA partners.

Asian markets are even closer to us in proximity. Even with the inherent and often dramatic differences in traditional business styles, we've learned to mirror our Japanese and Korean counterparts' business customs. This has been rewarding for our customers. They have come to value our ability to bring software development closer to their business partners in Asia.

Particularly, Rhonda is proud of its long history of successful working with Japanese customers. Some of Rhonda’s engineers and managers are fluent in Japanese. Since 2006 Rhonda’s Japanese-speaking engineers have been working in Tokyo and Sapporo with their Japanese colleagues as Rhonda’s «madoguchi» (Japanese front-end) in our Russian-Japanese joint-stock company.

Building a reliable bridge to Japan was also crucial for Motorola and Rhonda was chosen by Motorola as a preferable vendor for integration of Japanese i-Mode technology into Motorola cell phones. Additionally, we offered Zoran our assistance to match the growing demands of Asian customers,  Zoran accepted this proposal– and currently our engineers are working for Zoran in Japan.

We know that these two companies are not the only software and silicon providers in USA, who alsowould like to enter mature and booming Asian markets – and here we can help.

Is it worth bringing software development closer to your customers? Would you have a competitive edge if your engineering team works in the same time zone? If you do, then give us a call. Rhonda is available to bridge your company with the Asian markets.

Is it safe enough to pass your intellectual property to the outsourcing company?

Intellectual property protection is one of the most common issues in engineering outsourcing. Is it safe for your IP to be passed to external organization that is out of your control? How do you decide if the vendor is trustworthy or not?

There is probably no silver bullet, but the general practice is to check the service provider's track record and business background. Are there any other organizations that have trusted valuable information to this vendor?

To vouch for the credibility of our team it is noteworthy to mention the Motorola RAZR program. Rhonda received the engineering prototypes of the RAZR long before it was officially launched by their marketing team. We were maintaining strict level of confidentiality during SW development for these units and even exceeded Motorola's high standards for privacy. Motorola is never disappointed.

Another example of intellectual property protection was our work for F-Origin (North Carolina, USA). This company brings breakthrough user interface and touch screen technologies to the market. Both technologies strongly depend on SW development.

F-Origin’s technology, called IRIS, allows user to control mobile device just by changing its orientation. By turning device from side to side and/or making other specific motions user can interact with applications in different ways – to scroll a document, to zoom an image, to adjust a picture orientation from portrait to landscape and so on. In many cases such new UI control features appear to be considerably more ergonomic in comparison with traditional user interfaces.

The following deliverables were developed for F-Origin within the IRIS project scope:

  • Cross-platform IRIS library providing new UI capabilities available on Linux, Qtopia, Windows Mobile and Symbian;
  • Demo application visualizing the capabilities of new technology features for working with maps and other image files;
  • Software Development Kit (SDK) – a set of application programming interfaces (API) which allows third-party developers to create their own applications using IRIS technology;
  • The complete set of documentation necessary for third-party developers to create IRIS applications;
  • Set of subsidiary artifacts including requirements, design, system and feature test sets, etc. created during development

In summary, instead of employing dozens of engineers to develop their lead-edge technology in-house F-Origin decided to outsource their development to Rhonda enabling them to focus on their core competency. Rhonda proved it can be trusted to protect your intellectual property.

 

Do not hesitate to contact us for any question regarding our services. We will be glad to respond in detail.

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