What do global multinationals, startup companies and digital agencies have in common? They are all hiring talent in Vietnam to build world-class web and mobile apps.
Why? They like the cost-advantage, fierce productivity and entrepreneurial spirit that is today’s Vietnam. We like Vietnam for software development too. Having worked with and interviewed a variety of firms here, we’ve learned a handful of lessons to ensure predictable results.
Some of our brief report will be conventional wisdom to those who’ve already sourced projects in Asia – but Vietnam – ranked #8 in the A.T. Kearney 2011 Global Services Location Index – has unique characteristics.
Here are five variables that should be considered when selecting a technology services firm for app development in Vietnam.
1. Size Matters // We’ve discovered that consistent, high quality code and service come from medium-sized shops with 40 plus staff that have been continually operating four years or more.
The shop you choose should possess senior internal backup engineering staff and have enough forward momentum in the marketplace to ensure they will be around during your entire project.
There are also a multitude of small shops with 15 staff or less (we call them “gems”) that are also worth a look.
Yes, they require more investment of project management resources and training on your preferred tool or approach, but this “vendor development” model can yield a larger ROI over time.
2. Professional Development // In a developing and fluid labor market where freelancers will jump a project for a dollar or two more per hour, it’s important to have a salaried team that is well managed.
The best performing shops we’ve seen in Vietnam have semi-annual or even quarterly performance and wage reviews for their staff.
These staff retention programs will ensure that the developers who built the application offered as proof are actually still working for the shop, and will be aboard from first line of code to go-live.
One app shop we interviewed even uses game theory and learning games to motivate staff and reward performance; this approach works well as many programmers here are passionate multiplayer gamers.
3. UXD Translation // User experience design (UXD) is so specific to the home market and end user’s culture that our recommendation to clients is to always bring your own user stories, information architecture and artwork to a project.
Vietnamese designers and developers are superb at replication, but the talent pool for original UXD has not yet matured.
On one Drupal build for an American client, it took us one half-day to demonstrate (to very talented Vietnamese developers) the concept of positively interacting with the federal government on a social journalism platform.
Some interaction concepts just don’t translate even when well documented. So, complete the culturally relevant work in your home market; it will dramatically speed up development times and help gain quick project traction abroad.
4. Development Flavor // Ruby, C#, PHP, iOS, Android and .NET – it’s all here and more. It may sound obvious, but having a concrete short list of development tools and a project management approach is a must when starting a project overseas.
For example, if you want to develop a .NET application and you want your team to be Agile literate, defining this requirement at the start will speed up your search for a team and help you decide if Vietnam is right for your project.
Some development tools and frameworks that are common in the west are not taught in Vietnamese universities (e.g. Ruby), so the firm that you choose will have most likely trained up your team in that flavor.
This is actually a great benefit as programmers are taught best practices by senior engineers and are less likely to develop self-taught “bad habits” as one vendor described it to us.
5. Local Presence // Large builds or ongoing development and maintenance projects initially require a local presence in the market. When things go well, being remote works great. But when conflicts arise around scope of work or delivery dates, having a local presence can help get the project quickly back on track again with minimal impact to schedule or budget.
Meeting your team face-to-face makes the project come alive for the developers as they like to have a personal connection to the people with whom they work.
Vietnamese developers are very social — going out for a beer or two with the team at code start and at major milestones works wonders for morale and mind share.
Summary // Let’s get coding! Vietnam today represents an excellent value in software development. While there are many opportunities and challenges to navigate, we highly recommend sourcing mobile and web application development in Vietnam.
If you are willing to invest some project management and training resources to build a dedicated team in Vietnam, the cost-advantage can increase dramatically over other markets as the labor market here is still in the development stage.
Contact Digilyst today to get your next mobile or web application started. We can introduce you to a suitable vendor and even oversee the entire project on your behalf.
2011 A.T. Kearney Global Services Location Index