Frequently Asked Questions

What do you do?

A-listware is an outsourcing development company focusing on software with headquarters in Europe. A-listware specializes in building teams of remote developers and dedicated software professionals serving US, European, and Israel customers. We integrate talented IT professionals into your existing team or set them up to work as a separate extension of your business. We outsource web development services with a team that is totally personalized based on the customer’s criteria. You manage your remote team directly, while we take care of back-office hassles infrastructure, accounting such as payments, benefits, insurance, etc, and legal services.

We offer company outsourcing for teams within 30 working days although usually, it is around 15. Our computer developers are proficient in .Net, C#, Java, C/C++, Ruby on Rails, PHP, Python, Perl, iOS/ iPhone, and Android, as well as Windows Phone developers, Testers/QAs, UI/UX designers, CSS/HTML coders, SEO specialists, and more. When we have the right fit available, it’s often possible for the person on the right developer team to start on the fly.

We are a professional web development services company that attracts senior developers, each of them having vast experience in the technologies and business domains required by the customer, which ensures the projects are performed following best practices.

Describe the employee makeup of your firm. What percentages are in development/QA vs. sales, marketing, administration, etc?

Our management has more than 15 years of experience in building distributed teams of developers for the US, Israel, and Europe who work as dedicated resources (software engineers, QAs, PMs, designers, etc.) in the clients’ projects in teams from 2 to 20 specialists.

Limiting the answer to clients with at least 3 staff assigned, how long is your longest-running client relationship?

We’ve been working with one of our customers since November 2011, meaning we’ve supplied them with offshore web development services for more than 10 years now.

To ensure understanding and easy collaboration, we will require a team that is fluent in English. How does your firm evaluate the language skills of applicants? What certifications are sought (such as TOEFL)?

We have 2 approaches within the company in terms of the English language level of the employees:

1. We have a project manager who is fluent in English and who is the key person to communicate with daily. He talks to the client, discusses the goals, gets the priorities, etc., and sets up and controls the accomplishment of the tasks.
2. We have computer programmers for hire (upon request) that are fluent in English and can communicate with the customer directly on a daily basis.

Either way, each dedicated resource has the skill of communicating in English in writing. This is just a matter of the requirements we set when we launch the recruitment process. If fluent English is a high priority then, before inviting the person to the interview, our recruiters test the candidate’s English level online. The criteria they evaluate them under are clarity of the language, fluency, pronunciation, manner, and grammar. We have a five-point grading scale and a field for the comments. After the total grade is received, the candidate is either recommended to take the interview for the corresponding position or not.

Additionally, after the client approves of the candidates and they join the company, they can attend additional English classes. The program they follow is based on the requirements of the customer so that they know the specific vocabulary and can communicate specific information.

Our company requires a team with deep experience in the listed technologies. How does your firm evaluate resource skills in these areas? How are they tested or what certifications are required? How does your firm manage, retain and ensure the continuing technical growth of the team?

When a candidate is in the selection process there are several stages that he passes:

  • English test checks if the level covers the position requirements
  • Technical interview with A-listware’s specialist
  • PM interview with A-listware’s specialist
  • HR interview with A-listware’s specialist
  • Interview with the customer
  • Sometimes additional test tasks if required.

In this way we ensure we employ the best professionals on the market for each company’s unique needs.

Additionally, once we find a software developer and the employees are onboarded, they must constantly improve their skills and learn new technologies.

Every six months we send an evaluation form to the employee, to their technical lead, and to the customer, where everyone gives feedback, which we compare, discuss and create a personal plan for the next six months.

Our regular education program includes:

  • English classes;
  • Library, which is renewed regularly;
  • A-listware looks for courses, workshops, training, and events that might be helpful for a project or might improve a developer’s skills. We pay for online streams or send developers to attend those events.

This is an ongoing process according to plans we create for employees during the evaluation process and this is where we define if a developer needs to take the certification or/and exam to prove his skills.

How long would it take to recruit a team with the required technical and language skills? Or do you already have a pool of full-time staff that could start work immediately?

We create development teams within 30 working days but often closer to 15 days. The team setup will be personalized based on each company’s specific criteria. You manage your remote team directly, while we take care of back-office hassles infrastructure, accounting, and legal services, payments, benefits, insurance, etc. We help you coach the team so you will be effective from the start.

Sometimes when we have the right offshore developer available, the person can even start on the fly.

Outline your approach to working with remote clients in the United States Pacific Time zone. (GMT -8)/Australia time zone (UTC+10).

We have vast experience working with clients from the US. It is quite a standard scheme: we have daily meetings at the time that is daylight for both countries (usually US morning hours and UA evening hours). During those meetings, we discuss the progress and set the goals for the day to follow.

We use the same schedule for our Australian outsource development: our morning hours are your afternoon ones.

We usually use different PM systems depending upon the project (Jira, Git, TFS) allowing clients to track progress 24/7 and check the status, set tasks, etc.

Additionally, you usually have direct contact with your team members and can reach them in case of an emergency.

How does your firm execute discovery, collection and validating requirements from remote clients?

Since our dedicated development model presupposes direct communication it is easy to get hold of the client to get the needed information on the project. Nevertheless, there is a need, of course, for systematic tools and mechanisms to operate the requirements.

We recommend having a person on our team who is responsible for this process. It could be a Business Analyst, a Project Manager, or even someone from the team depending on the project specifics.

We discuss and approve with customers suitable templates/types of documentation for storing requirements. We use Jira user stories, custom templates in Google Docs, system requirements specifications, etc.

The responsible person collects requirements, processes them, and adjusts them according to an agreed template. Then he creates a list of questions and possible solutions if something is not clear and sends them to the customer. After questions are clarified, he creates a final version of specifications/user stories that become development tasks for developers after the customer’s approval.

Usually, this works well, but we can also adjust our process following the customer’s process.

Daily communication through emails and telephone/skype ensures productivity, getting timely feedback and requirements. We agree on the frequency of the demo versions we produce (we prefer to launch a new working version every couple of weeks, so that the customer can see how the product works when assembled, what is needed to be corrected, added, etc.), collect the feedback and do so on and so forth.

Outline your approach to code and release management and communicate build specifications to client support teams.

We use a Code Agreement document for the team for making the code understandable and readable. We use ReSharper to make those rules mandatory for every team member. Additionally, we use XML-type comments to create documentation automatically. We discuss with customers what is required and preferred in order not to spend too much time on something that has low priority for the customer.
When we release an application or a version we have some intermediate versions that pass the QA process and are presented to the customer. We have a code-freeze deadline when we stop active development and work only on bug fixing. Generally, it is 2-4 weeks before release depending on the project. After several QA cycles, we push the version to the staging server that is a copy of the production environment where it passes another QA cycle and customer review.
If we get approval for the staging version, we work on some user data migrations if it is required and then push the version to production.

We try to automate that process using DevOps resources that give us an automatically created changelog, which contains items from the task tracker system. If we do not have this automation, we just create manually the list of changes according to the requirements we include in the released version.

What role will the firm's management play in ensuring successful project execution and customer satisfaction? Will we have a dedicated account representative?

Regardless of whether you will have a dedicated project manager or not, you will have an A-listware’s supervisor, who will track the team’s performance, help establish a good communication process, control the discipline, and have contact daily. You may address all the technical issues connected with your team with this person.

In addition to that, you will have your account manager – the person managing our business relations, financial things, team composition, your general satisfaction, etc. You are welcome to escalate any issues you face with the team or the PM to this person.

Clients will always be given contact information for the top management of the company in case you feel the need for communication.

What are your rates?

Concerning the budgetary pricing you asked about – we operate on a fixed monthly rate for Dedicated Distributed Agile Teams. A-listware’s pricing policy is straightforward and transparent. Developer’s Salaries are broken down by level of experience/expertise and technology stack the developer adheres to as well as his English language proficiency.

When speaking of Dedicated Resources, we are talking about team members that are exclusively assigned to your projects. Contractually, the remote developers are yours 40 hours a week, but in reality, you typically get a lot more than that through dedication and interest in the work. Normally, we’re talking about Programmers and QC personnel.
Each of the team members works on a flat monthly rate with the customer he is assigned to with no other hidden costs or fees.

All the recruiting and retention measures, admin support, project supervision, and education (conferences, workshops, certifications, etc.) are included in the flat rate, no additional costs apply.

How will your firm conduct Knowledge Transfer to take over development from the current team? How long would you expect KT to take?

It is usually a team lead from our side and a lead from the existing team to share the code and discuss the system. It is extremely recommended that either our lead comes to your place or yours – to ours for a couple of weeks to work together and to get the knowledge transferred so that we may be on the same page.

The volume of the information determines the duration of the KT process commonly takes around a few weeks. Again, much depends upon the complexity of the system. Moreover, it is preferred that the person from the current team is available for some time afterward in case there is a need to ask him additional questions.

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