Introduce your business and what you do there.
Salestech provided technological services for several brands within the financial industry. The company had around 500 employees; 80 of them in the technology department and 50 for product R&D. I was the CTO of the company.
OPPORTUNITY / CHALLENGE
What challenge were you trying to address with Shakuro?
We had seen growth in the R&D department and wanted to make sure that we'd grow in parallel in Israel as well as offshore. We wanted to recruit resources on both fronts, in order to have a good pace and there was also an issue of cost. We wanted to offset the cost of Israel employees, which we were able to do by 2/3 when recruiting offshore resources. Our business worked from Monday to Friday and wanted a development unit which would be available beyond this for any production issues. Shakuro's team worked from Monday till Friday.
What was the scope of their involvement?
Shakuro's employees were treated as our own, given the same code to work on. They built platforms, working on new features and architecture.
We needed to build a new solution from scratch, so we established a part of the team in Israel, using Shakuro's Russian team as an extension of it. Our managers were in charge of a single Scrum team for both groups. Most people in Shakuro's group are full-stack developers for PHP and .NET C#, but we also utilized frontend and QA resources. They worked on our CRM [customer relationship management] and payment systems, performing manual and automated testing. We also had a product owner and DevOps people on Shakuro's side. Overall, we had a 20-person team, consisting of developers, QA, managers, and so on. Our project manager was Shakuro's current COO. He is a very trustworthy person, and I enjoyed working with him. He knew how to bring people together, ensuring that our recruitment and retention were being done optimally.
We wanted to set up their team so that they could work independently, with all the required functionalities existing on the Russian side.
How did you come to work with Shakuro?
I had known Shakuro's manager from a previous collaboration and wanted to continue working with him.
How much have you invested with Shakuro?
The cost of Shakuro's work was around $500,000 per year.
What is the status of this engagement?
We started working with Shakuro in July 2015. The project ended in December 2016.
RESULTS & FEEDBACK
Could you share any evidence that would demonstrate the productivity, quality of work, or the impact of the engagement?
We'd had problems with our old systems, and wanted to replace them. In a very short period, around four months, we were able to overcome our problems with the legacy payment system and deployed the new one to production. Shakuro's team mainly built it. We saw a significant revenue increase after four months of working with them.
Shakuro's team was very professional. They were doing architecture work for a new system, and adopted a well-established infrastructure, thinking about the long-term use of the system. They were detail oriented, and the code reflected this. We were satisfied with the testing efforts and everything which was reflected in our ALM [application lifecycle management] tool. Overall, we felt that Shakuro was part of our Israel team, and they felt the same. We had visits from Israel to their location and vice versa, in order to establish a common atmosphere and culture. I was very satisfied to see this happen.
The system was meant for internal use. The business units who were using it were very impressed; we gave them everything they were hoping for in a very short while. It amounted to a general boost on the business side.
“Everyone was conscious of our targets and worked hard, long hours, including on national holidays.”
How did Shakuro perform from a project management standpoint?
We worked through the Agile methodology, using sprints. There were more long-term projects for which we put together plans, and we achieved this with Shakuro's team because they were integrated with our own.
We set up video conferencing equipment in every room on Shakuro's side. Each member had their own camera, which they turned on during our standups. This was important for us, since being able to look at a person makes the communication much more personal, and leads to more commitment and a better culture. This was expressed in every aspect of the ceremonies, including our retrospective and planning meetings. We were always inviting Shakuro's team to join our meetings over Skype and any other software which allowed that.
What did you find most impressive about Shakuro?
I know that there are many offshore companies on the market, but the most important thing for me was to know that Shakuro's team would see themselves as our employees. Shakuro allowed that, giving them a dedicated office so that they could work alone with no other clients around. We felt that Shakuro's employees adopted the culture of our company, which is very important in the business culture of Israel. Shakuro had very good management and stability, assigning dedicated managers. The site manager knew everything that was happening, coordinated the work, and raised flags whenever there wasn't enough work. Many other companies will use resources for multiple clients regardless, but I was able to trust that Shakuro's team was exclusive to us and that they wanted to contribute to our effort.
Are there any areas Shakuro could improve?
My advice would be giving Shakuro the mindset that they belong to a company, putting together events and branding everything accordingly. I would also advise clients to allow the team to be as independent as possible. My strategy is to start with a distributed team and gradually allow the outsourced party to be self-sufficient with their own Scrum master, product owner, and so on.
Shakuro delivered well most of the time, but there were some areas where we felt that we didn't receive the deliverables we wanted. It was a work in progress, and Shakuro improved over time. Their mindset and culture were there.
What we got, compared to Israel prices and productivity, was great. Shakuro was more productive in some cases and cost us 1/3 of the price.
My experience with Shakuro's team has been very good.