New .NET application form project

In the past 10 years, many IS managers have tried using offshore software development companies. The headline cost savings seem compelling but most have subsequently found that the required management overhead overshadows any cost saving.

We’ve recently been chosen by an international business to develop multi-lingual application forms using .NET.

The company is regulated by FSA rules and therefore there are strict regulations to be followed which include the publishing of instructions in the appropriate languages for each country in which the business trades.

It’s a competitive market which adds further complexity as frequent revisions must be made to the company’s product offerings and consequently the various application forms. The firm sells through white label resellers as well as direct to the public so yet more flexibility is required.

These business requirements are changing so fast that it’s extremely difficult to record them and send over to remote developers. However comprehensive a webmaster tries to be, he or she has to express the needs of marketing, sales, IT, finance and compliance departments. As in all businesses, sometimes these needs will be conflicting. So, with such a diverse set of requirements, if everything had to be specified in such minute detail it would be quicker and cheaper for the webmaster to learn how to program in .NET and do it all themself.

Instead, what they want is for development staff to add value by using their own experience and intuition to interpret a more general set of requirements.

Having interpreted them and formulated questions, another difference between onshore and offshore developers becomes apparent.

Offshore developers will ask – “How do you want this developed?” “How do you want this to look?”

But what a Webmaster generally wants to hear is: “How about we develop it like this” “How about we make it look like that?”

Software development is a technical discipline and that’s why there is a tendency to try procuring it like computer equipment or cleaning services by using hard criteria like lines of code or day rates.

However, anyone who has been responsible for software projects knows that less tangible criteria are equally important:

  • How famaliar are they with UK business culture
  • Will they consider the target market
  • Will they accommodate expansion
  • Will they build-in flexibility
  • Will they bring solutions, not just questions

So, communication is as important as technical ability. And we all know that it’s easier to communicate with people when they work in the same time zone, live in the same culture, speak your language and can make regular visits to work alongside you.