Condado Group is a small consulting firm that in 2012 faced a conundrum that many companies face and found themselves torn between opportunity and risk: they had the chance to expand into a new market, but had to do so without detracting from the company’s main focus or straining precious time and resources. An especially difficult challenge for a small company that wished to grow while still remaining fairly small and focused.
John Debrotka, Vice president and CTO at Condado Group, explained that it was an especially difficult challenge for them because, while they wanted to grow their business, they really wanted to stay “small and focused.” They didn’t have the staff to make it happen and hiring in-house was a disaster, so they decided to outsource. This is their story.
Condado Group is a consulting firm based in Kansas City, MO. They provide Customer Relationship Management (CRM) and call center software and support that helps their clients optimize marketing, sales, and customer service capabilites. The team at Condado has over thirty years of experience with CRMs and knows how to best utilize them to make their clients more successful.
Some business models however don’t fit existing CRM software—or should I say there is no existing CRM software that fit them—so Condado saw a great opportunity in building custom software that would fit a particular untouched market. Custom software however requires software developers, and as John stressed: “we are not a software development company and we have no interest in becoming one. Consulting is our bread and butter and we don’t want to get too far away from that.”
They had the experience and know-how to provide unbeatable support, they just needed the product.
For Condado, this potential expansion into a new service came with a lot of risk—it meant adding a whole new department and investing heavily in an activity that was outside the company’s main focus and potentially adding staff that would not be needed long-term. They needed to have access to a large development staff to build very specific software, but Condado is only a team of ten so hiring new employees was no small feat. Apprehensively, the moved forward.
Like most small companies, Condado doesn’t have a designated recruiter or even an HR manager, so John had to do a lot of the leg work himself to find and interview potential developers, but it just didn’t work out. “We hired developers right out of college, but even with a couple years of intern experience they just couldn’t make it happen.” Condado flourishes as a small company because everyone “wears a lot of hats” and has the commitment to do what needs to be done; these developers did neither. “Everyone has to be able to get things done, especially for how much local people cost, but I had to hold their hands through everything.” Even after weeks with the company John said he had to spend 2-3 hours a day walking them through the same things; it was just time he didn’t have.
At an average of $70,000/year including benefits and FICA, they also couldn’t afford to hire the team they really needed in-house, not to mention give them work space or manage them.
Hiring in-house hadn’t panned out and they were running out of time, so Condado turned to outsourcing.
Outsourcing is the perfect solution for these kinds of predicaments. Companies can access a larger staff for less without having to expand their home office, recruit, or spend time directly managing. And since the outsourcing provider presumably focuses their work wholly on the service needed, they can offer a wealth of specialized knowledge. All of this is only true of course if the outsourcing is done well. As many can attest, not all outsourcing is done well.
John had two companies in mind when he decided to take the project out of the office, so he split it: half went to Allshore Virtual Staffing and the other to a service-based IT firm in India that boasted an onshore contact and project manager that relayed requirements to the developers overseas. Unfortunately for John, this onshore contact didn’t seem to fully understand what he was relaying, or perhaps the developers failed to execute, regardless, the work was sub-par, communication was poor, and transparency was nonexistent (a summary of his words, not ours). The project fell behind schedule and John was left with 20-60 hours of clean-up every time code was submitted.
Condado began working with Allshore in November of 2012 with two .NET developers and John quickly found refuge in Allshore’s communication, team structure, and technical competency.
Allshore is a client-based company so John’s developers were dedicated to him and worked like any other member of Condado’s team. John worked with them directly during U.S.-business hours and they were available via Skype whenever he needed them. It is easier and faster than shouting down the hall and nobody has to leave their seat. Direct communication and an emphasis on collaboration meant that John experienced none of the same problems with communication that had caused so much trouble with the other company.
Communication was further enhanced by Allshore’s team structure, which includes a Technical Team Lead (TL) who directly manages the team and a U.S.-based Client Relations Manager (CRM) to provide customer support, both at no extra cost. So while John was still the acting project manager, he did not have to be too technically savvy, nor did he have to spend time actively managing the developers or have to hang around all day since his CRM contacted him whenever a developer ran out of tasks or needed clarification. “I only have about three hours a day to work with the team, Nasir [ Condado’s TL] keeps the team motivated and on track… [and] Andrea [Their CRM] makes sure that the three hours I am on are the right three hours…”
John could focus on his primary tasks and check in only when he was needed.
Allshore’s structure unique structure was important, but in the end what really made this a viable solution for John and Condado was the competency of the developers, who John calls “subject experts”. After the initial requirements were discussed at length, the team was able to work independently and go beyond just following instructions, which John welcomed. “As long as they can justify a change, I am always open to their suggestions…I know the start and the end of the project, but I’m not a developer, what happens in the middle and how we get to the end is largely up to them.”
John quickly cut his Indian team and increased his Allshore team to four developers. By that point the project had gotten critically behind schedule, but together John and the team worked long hours and several weekends to get the first phase of the project back on track and make it a success. The team has now begun phase two of the project and John is looking forward to a smoother, more relaxed phase of development.
Condado’s work with Allshore saves the company roughly $32,000/year per developer in pay and benefits alone and allows them to access a team larger than they could possibly accommodate in their office. Most importantly it has given them the means to take on a project that has accounted for a 20% increase in their overall profits and given them the ability to move forward with some really big plans. They have accepted new contracts and recently hired three additional Allshore developers (bringing them to 7 total) and plan to hire more in the future.
Condado Group has a bright future with customized CRM software, and now that they have found a sustainable and manageable way to produce it, they can greatly expand their services with minimal risk and without having to stray from their role as consultants.
“Working with Allshore has removed a lot of the limits on our growth…it has allowed us to seek out a new kind of client and offer great products with great support.”