AI in CRM: How to Enhance Customer Relationships

Today, I’ll explain why it’s a good idea for your business to integrate AI technology into CRM

Nowadays, you witness the shift in consumer demand. With the technological progress of recent years and the evolution of the software market, customers have been spoilt for choice. As a result, businesses should put more effort to differentiate themselves from competitors. Clients expect you to use a personalized approach. They want you to give high-quality service and always stay responsive. Today, to be really successful, you should establish a connection with your customers.

— But how can I build a strong rapport with each of my clients? 

— Seems impossible? Not exactly. 

The answer is to use a customer relationship management system or CRM. A vast amount of information is generated every hour by interactions with consumers. You should use this data to gain insights into predicting buyer’s behavior and plan your business strategies accordingly. 

— And that’s it? 

— Again, not exactly. 

If everything was that easy, all companies would follow the same path and reach success. 

— What’s the problem then? 

— The problem is that earlier, companies didn’t know how to use CRM effectively, how to manage client-oriented data. 

As a rule, CRM systems were used as a database for gathering, storing, and structuring info about clients. But simply storing data leads nowhere. You should know how to analyze the given information and interpret results. You should get meaningful insights. And this is where AI technologies come in handy. 

AI-based CRM gives a start to the whole new era of digital transformation. With the support of Artificial Intelligence, CRM software has revolutionized the way we improve our customer relationships. And this is what we’ll talk about in this article. 

Artificial Intelligence: How It Influences Customer Experience

Artificial Intelligence, or simply AI, refers to the ability of machines to demonstrate intelligence, think, and understand. Similarly to humans, machines are taught to analyze information and learn something new. The main difference between AI and human intelligence lies in its nature. AI is deprived of consciousness and emotionality. Yet, AI is not simply about storing and collecting data. AI is about analyzing, managing, and interpreting facts. With the help of AI, your business administration software can process a huge chunk of data and analyze it. It can detect patterns to predict behavior and use the same insight to calculate risks. 

AI has changed the software world a lot. It has also changed the way businesses interact with their clients. Earlier, the main purpose of CRM was to pull data from emails, orders, address books, and form submissions. This data was used to make informed decisions and actively address customer issues. With the evolution of AI, however, the situation has changed. Now you get a complete 360-degree picture of the customer interactions gathered in real-time. 

The Scope of Artificial Intelligence

  • Efficient Data Management

Small companies would say that managing data is not a problem. But when it comes to big firms, handling significant volumes of data takes time and effort. AI helps centralize data collected from various channels and digital interfaces. It collects information and unites it under a single management platform — CRM. Artificial Intelligence analyzes and interprets the collected info. It provides value to your company’s objective. 

— What do I get as a result? 

— Your marketing professionals respond to customer needs and requests more quickly and efficiently. 

  • Advanced Customer Service Capabilities with NLP

NLP helps the CRM platform to meaningfully analyze the textual context of customer emails and send them a precise response. But what is NLP? Natural language processing (NLP) in AI is an essential speech recognition capability. It reads, deciphers, and makes sense of human languages. With NLP in CRM, your sales department and marketing teams get real-time insights for sales pitches and course corrections. 

— What do I get as a result? 

— You reveal your brand sentiments accurately, which ultimately affects your marketing communications and efforts. 

  • Intelligent Workflow Enhancement and Automation

Based on past interactions with your clients, AI makes predictions on the upcoming interactions. It evaluates the sales funnels and forecasts market dynamics with maximum accuracy. AI interpretations and insights may even help you restructure the workflow or automatize some of its aspects. For example, analyzing your clients’ demographics and sales records with AI, you perform lead scoring and lead segmentation more effectively.

— What do I get as a result? 

— You take relevant promotion measures with a positive impact on your business.

The Benefits of AI in CRM

Before we’ll look at the benefits of Artificial Intelligence in CRM in more detail, let me briefly outline why AI is applied there at all. Generally, AI boosts the output of your CRM software. It delivers predictive behavior results and helps you build targeted offers for your audience. Moreover, AI provides a holistic view of the customer’s entire journey, from prospect until retention. All this results in a better and more effective business strategy. 

Here are some particular ways of how AI helps you accomplish customer relationships goals:

1. Understanding How Your Customer Feels

The success of your business depends on the effectiveness of sales and customer service. This is why companies look for the most powerful CRM that will boost their sales strategy. When combined with AI potential, CRM is doubly powerful. It interprets data for you and helps identify clients that are most likely to make another purchase.

You’re probably interested in why we discuss customer behavior so frequently in this article. It’s because predicting customer behavior is halfway to encouraging them to make a purchase. Forecasting their behavior, you learn how your customer feels and what pains they encounter. And knowing clients’ pains means knowing how to satisfy their needs. It helps you turn your first customers into loyal and regular buyers and real appreciators of your brand. More sales, less retention — these are the effects of Artificial Intelligence in CRM. 

2. Providing Your Consumers With Instant Response 

Responding to client requests instantly is the basis of quality client service. If you immediately reply to a person having a sales or marketing query, you increase the chances to turn this person into a customer. Without modern CRM and AI technology, it would be hard to deliver quick responses. 

With AI, you can automate communication with your clients. They will get instant answers to the most common questions. Companies today are actively implementing chatbots into their CRM systems. Needless to say, it helps them make a customer feel satisfied and engage them in the next steps of the client journey. It saves time for your employees and allows them to focus on more urgent issues. 

3. Improving Application Development

If you combine Artificial Intelligence and CRM software, you also get the opportunity to create or integrate applications that increase conversion. For example, customer feedback software is used to automate feedback acquisition from clients. Adding this software to your AI-based CRM, you can analyze data automatically. Using the results and interpretations, you boost the quality of client service and provide them with a better purchasing experience.

4. Facilitating Lead Management

The human factor is always a problem, regardless of the sphere you are in. The thing is, people may forget to follow up on a lead. They may forget to reply to your client or may have a lot of other tasks on their plate. The risks are that you’ll lose qualified leads as a result and reduce the number of potential clients. But no worries. This problem can also be solved with CRM and Artificial Intelligence.

AI can act as the sales reps, without actually involving any salesperson, and send out relevant messages to a lead via emails or text messenger. And when the MQL is identified, sales professionals take over to nurture it further. So, Artificial intelligence is revolutionizing the way we engage and nurture our leads and makes follow-up too easy. 

5. Closing in More Leads

Lead scoring, cross-selling, price optimization, and sales forecasting can also be done with AI in CRM. Artificial intelligence provides you with comprehensive details on these parameters. It analyzes past sales processes and buyer behavior and gives you useful insights. AI traces tendencies on accepted and rejected deals and saves you time and effort. Based on its evaluations, AI-based CRM makes recommendations on how to improve your business strategy. It gives guidelines for sales reps at each stage of the sales pipeline. 

To be short, AI-based CRM is like a complete package for your marketing and sales team, leading to an increased number of closes and doubled revenue.

6. Reaching Out to Global Audience

AI technology is a universal tool for reaching a global audience. The main barrier to earning foreign clients is a lack of knowledge of their language. AI translates listing titles and searches for users to easily find and communicate with your business. Such famous corporations as Google and Microsoft also encourage the use of AI-aided translation tools. It allows them to communicate with their clients all across the globe.

Wrap Up

A CRM is the backbone of your business administration software. Investing in AI for CRM will help you optimize various processes. Improving customer relationships will give you compelling sales pitches, increased retention rates, boosted customer engagement, and more. Artificial intelligence will create a better experience for both customers and sales representatives. 

So, the combination of AI and customer relationship management is a gateway to a more profitable business. 

Do you need help with business administration software development?

KeenEthics professionals will gladly assist you with developing a platform for HR Management, Marketing & SEO, Task Management, File Management, or Accounting. We have experience in developing ERP, Business Analysis & Report, and CRM systems. You can also contact us to learn about AI, IoT, and cloud solutions for business.

Let us know if you need any help!

Alex Pletnov Ilona Shvahla Head of Partner Engagement

Wait, Do Not Jump Into Redesign — Perform a UX Audit First!

Every dollar invested in UX brings $100 in return. Learn to invest it right.

Want to stand out from competitors? Develop a sense of trends and changes on the market. Keep moving. Stay open-minded. These rules seem so simple. But how to implement them in practice? You should review your results and figures regularly. Analyze the connections, trace tendencies. And if you see that something goes wrong, it’s high time to make some changes

But when the word change is pronounced, many of us decide to immediately gather our development teams and redesign our products. We tend to believe that completely redesigning software renews its relevance. However, it’s not always the case. Sometimes, a redesign can bring more bad outcomes than good. How to foresee the results? This is where one of UI UX design services — UX audit — comes into play. To expect a positive outcome, develop a strategy. Don’t do anything in the heat of passion. Be rational. 

Redesign vs UX Audit: What to Start with?

The decision to redesign a product may not bring positive results. Why do you think this happens? The answer is simple. To resolve a problem, you should understand its roots. Neglecting this rule results in poor outcomes for your business. You should keep in mind that simply redesigning your software without outlining the reasons is worse than doing nothing. So does redesign help at all? Indeed it helps. But only if planned and conducted wisely. To understand what aspects of your product should be redesigned, you have to understand why your users don’t like them. 

To reveal the pains of your user, conduct a UX audit first. It doesn’t really matter which industry you are in, e-commerce, or anything else — as long as you have a digital presence, you must ensure that the customer experience is outstanding. But what is UX (User Experience) audit?

It is the process of analyzing your app, website, or another type of product that shows you what aspects of your product cause headache for your users. UX website audit is frequently based on customer journey mapping. Yet, to get reliable answers, analyzing your software from the viewpoint of an owner is not enough. If you are not skilled in empirical analysis and heuristic evaluation and have no sense of cultural factors in design, entrust this task to UX professionals. 


UX audit helps you understand the pains of your customer.


Why should you spend money for UX audit if you can directly ask your users what’s wrong with the app/website? If you think so, I’ll ask you the question. When you use a website or an app, do you think deeply about the quality of your interaction? I bet that you don’t. Most probably, you think about your goal. And when you fail to meet it, you just close down an app or a browser tab and look for a better solution. The same is true for your users. How can you base the strategy only on your users’ words if they don’t think over their behavior on your website?… They just either like it or not.

UX audit is not only about asking your users about the problems. It’s a complex process that involves several stages. Each of these will be discussed below. But if you decide to conduct a UX audit on your own, be ready to detach yourself from all your business processes and devote much time to the analysis of data. Usually, a UX audit is performed under a well-constructed timeline, which lasts from 2 to 4 weeks. If you have no background in the UX audit sphere, interpreting results can be a difficult task for you, too. 

This part of our article is called “Redesign vs UX audit.” But now you see that these two notions should not be contrasted. The former can be the result of the latter, yet not always. In some cases, you’ll need both. In other cases, less significant changes will save your business, and you’ll not have to hire a redesign team. 

Phases of UX Audit

Depending on the product type, audit goals, and requirements, a UX audit process may include different phases. Let’s review the UX audit checklist developed by KeenEthics:

1: Interviewing stakeholders

Before the magic happens, a design team needs to prepare thoroughly. They meet with a client for a kick-off meeting or even workshop to discuss the main business and usability objectives, user flow, and previous experience and issues. It is also useful to conduct interviews with stakeholders who have an interest in the product. These can be product managers, marketers, salespeople, and/or customer service representatives.

2: Reviewing and understanding user goals

With the whole picture of business goals, it is time to go outside and meet the users. The best practice in this step is to create user flows. These user flows will show the user’s objectives in different parts of the product and describe the way they will take to get there. This stage can turn into a full-fledged user testing process with its own methods, such as surveys.

3: Reviewing analytics

Some businesses use analytical tools such as Google Analytics or HotJar to track the performance of their product. If not, designers will have several tools to explore. At this stage, it is important to check how many users visit the website, how often, at what step they leave, and what difficulties they face. In fact, this step is necessary not only as a UX audit measure but as an everyday action taken by the marketing team to keep a finger on the pulse of the website.

4: Checking usability standards

As I mentioned earlier, usability standards are based on research from a variety of fields — including cognitive psychology, computer science, technical communication, and UX design itself. Using these guidelines and a UX audit sample, a UX specialist can check navigation, common design elements, consistency, visual hierarchy, and adaptivity to different devices. A crucial moment here is testing accessibility for the web products to meet the needs of people with disabilities.

5: Conducting heuristic evaluation

What are usability heuristics or standards? These are the 10 principles developed by Jakob Nielsen to evaluate usability and audit UX.  In particular, the system status should be visible, and it should follow real-life conventions, speak a common language with the user. The product should give a user a feeling of freedom and control by offering the undo and redo opportunities. It should be consistent, flexible, and efficient, offer proper error messages, and minimize the user’s memory load. Aesthetics should not be forgotten either. Overall, the designer has to try to see things from the user’s point of view as they would take steps to meet their goals. Also, throughout the process of heuristic evaluation, a designer should take screenshots with detailed notes.  

6 & 7: Compiling the audit report, formulating recommendations, drawing conclusions

At the end of the journey, the design team will prepare a document that clearly and concisely conveys the findings. This document or report should include pre-made screenshots with the list of issues, level of their severity, and additional notes that explain the issues in more detail. Also, the design team should offer mockups and resources for improvements. The report may recommend basically any measure necessary for the project’s success, including testing on a larger sample of users, testing on mobile devices, making SEO enhancements, or even launching a complete redesign of the website. 

UX Audit by KeenEthics: Case Example

Take a look at the case example of UX Audit conducted by KeenEthics for our client. Banker Advisor is an investment banking tool. It provides users with complex financial services of researching, comparing, and selecting banks. Since it is a fresh tool on the market, our client asked us to improve it with UX Audit and make an even greater impression on first clients. After weeks-long complex analysis and review, our UX professionals outlined several areas of improvement. 

We’ve subdivided problems into several categories marked by different colors. There were critical, serious, medium, and low usability problems. Critical had to be eliminated urgently, while low were minor mistakes or issues that did not affect the quality of services but might worsen the first impression from the product. 

Also, we’ve conducted an in-depth analysis of the home page. We spotted a lot of issues and prepared a list of actionable recommendations for our client. Below, you can see the excerpt of the review for Banker Advisor. And if you’d like to dive deeper into UX Audit and learn more about our strategy, we welcome you to contact your UI / UX specialist. She’s always happy to review your particular case and answer any questions!


Do you want to learn more about UX testing?

Check my recent article “The Value of User Testing: How to Find the Hidden Opportunity?”.

Alex Pletnov Oksana Pleten UI / UX Designer


So What Benefits You Get from UX Design Audit?

Forrester’s research once reported that, on average, every dollar invested in UX brings $100 in return. Truth or not, but here are some potential benefits that professional UX audits and reviews bring: 

  • Increased conversion. A high-quality website UX / UI audit focuses on the real needs of a user and improves conversion, which may reportedly increase by 30-75% if timely action is taken.
  • Time-efficiency. Fixing problems in the existing product design may be more time-efficient than redesigning.
  • Cost-efficiency. A UX audit helps you understand how your users behave and helps you get to know them better. Subsequent fixes can improve the user’s journey and increase user engagement. As a result, a business will spend less money on client acquisition and client retention.
  • Engaged users. UX site audit often shows very unpredictable results that have a great impact on the product. Anyway, it helps build an understanding between a business and its users. It can show the way of how to improve customer engagement and boost product performance.

A Final Remark

Not everyone needs UX site audits.

– Wait, what? What was the entire article about then?

A UX audit will not help every business to achieve their goals. For some, a redesign is the only solution. So how do you know, which service to go for — UI / UX Audit Service or website redesign? The answer is simple: ask an expert from a UI UX design company. They will look into your website, prepare a list of recommendations, and tell you which service would suit your needs best.

Would you like an expert UX designer to review your website?

Our professionals would gladly look through your software product and see if the UX audit would help. Contact us to learn more.

Software Development Models Explained: Outsourcing vs Outstaffing, Fixed Price vs Time & Material

If developing software was the same as building a house…

Do you agree that in order to achieve an effective result in business, each process must be managed by authorized professionals in a particular field? But at the same time, maintaining a highly specialized team of professionals to carry out each process is not a “cheap” decision. If you and your company are interested in minimizing the risks and costs of production processes that do not constitute the main direction but are related to the latter this article will be useful to you.

As we know, choosing a software development company is easy. If you have done it a few times already. If you are a first-timer or even a second-timer – it is a hell of a challenge. And when you are finally almost sure that this is the company you want to cooperate with, they ask you: “Which software development model do you prefer, outsourcing vs outstaffing, “Fixed Price”or ”Time & Material”?”. Here we go again, the things become dizzying.

To make your life a tiny bit easier, I am here with a concise comparison of the essential software development models. So, let me show you what is the difference between outsourcing and outstaffing and between the “Fixed Price” approach and the ”Time & Material” approach. To make it crystal clear, I will use the example of a house.

Outsourcing vs Outstaffing

This question most certainly will throw you off if you have little to no experience with software development agencies: “Outsourcing or outstaffing”? The two models are similar, both stand for offshore software development, and both offer dedicated developers. How do you tell them apart? How do you make the rights choice?

Outsourcing

Let’s start with outsourcing software development – a more complex approach. Imagine that you have no in-house development team, no technical specialists in your company, but you need to develop a software product. If it is only one project, which will be completed and closed in a few months, does it make sense to recruit in-house developers? Most likely, even if you decide to invest in hiring, onboarding, training, and then, offboarding, professional engineers will not be willing to start working with you full-time for such a short period of time. In this case, the more rational choice is to outsource your project to an external team of developers – an outsourcing provider.

Outsourcing means giving your software product idea to a remote development team and them giving you a final product. The outsourcing software development team composition depends on your project requirements – it may or may not involve business analytics or UI/UX designers, but it must involve software engineers, QA specialists, and a Project Manager. If you partner up with outsourcing companies, you are free to choose whether you want to monitor the project closely or you fully trust a PM with it. 

The House Example

For example, you want to build a house, but you do not want to build it yourself. You hire a construction team, tell them your wishes or show blueprints if you have any, and leave them to it. Building the house is their job now. You can visit the construction site daily or weekly, or you may even come back a year later when it is entirely done. Once they finish, you shake on it, finish all the payments and documents, and tell the goodbyes. Now, the house is all yours.

Pros of Outsourcing

  • Convenience

You can focus only on core functions and concentrate on key directions, assigning others to secondary tasks.

  • No management effort

The performance of important functions is outsourced to contractors. Therefore, the required corporate result is achieved via external efforts.

  • Cost reduction

Since certain business responsibilities are assigned to a partner, the company has no need to pay its own employees for the same services and saves money.

Cons of Outsourcing

  • Less control over the quality

To entrust the performance of certain functions to a partner means disrupting the corporate unity of the company. If the contractor does not bring the desired result, the company can face risks and losses.

So What?

The clear advantages of outsourcing prevail over the disadvantages. This tendency ensures the growing popularity of outsourcing all over the world. The main idea behind outsourcing is to reduce gross costs and give you the chance to manage the company’s resources more effectively. However, the main benefit is the opportunity to use someone else’s highly-specialized expertise and information accumulated through years. 

Outstaffing

The circumstances when you would require outstaffing services are different. To engage in outstaffing, you must have an in-house development team. Imagine that you have a team of developers, designers, testers, PMs, whom you have hired permanently and who work full-time with you. What if at some point you have some urgent development needs, and the team has no time or resources to manage them? You can hire another full-time specialist if the increased scope of work is going to persist. If the increase in workload is a temporary issue, you should engage in outstaffing instead.

Outstaffing equals hiring a remote full-time or part-time specialist, who will act as a temporary member of your in-house team. This model lets you hire basically any software development specialists or a couple of them – depending on your project needs. Outstaffing, however, requires project management to be ensured on your side.

The House Example

Imagine that you have decided to build a house yourself, and your friends or relatives agreed to help you. The work on it is long underway, but at some point, you realize that you have nobody who knows how to deal with wood. You go to a local construction company and sign an agreement with a carpenter, who will now work hand-in-hand with your development team. After their job is done, you end the cooperation and proceed to do what you have to.

Pros of Outstaffing

  • Simplicity

Outstaffing greatly simplifies personnel management: vacations, sick leaves, salary payments, compliance with social guarantees — all these bureaucratic issues remain in the area of responsibility of the outstaffer company.

  • Less hiring effort

An employer does not waste time looking for a candidate because the outstaffing company itself selects a suitable specialist for them.

  • Cost reduction

Cons of Outstaffing

  • The need to have an in-house team

You still should have to have an in-house team to rely on. While you make use of outstaffing services to ease the workload, you should have in-house employees to keep the company’s strategy in the right direction. 

So What?

Undoubtedly, the main benefit of outstaffing is the optimization of the economic model of a company, along with cost reduction. Outstaffing significantly reduces costs, minimizes the expenses of your company related to non-core business processes. In addition, this model allows you to get rid of the costs of financial and resource maintenance of employees.

Fixed Price vs Time & Material

Supermarkets have fixed prices for everything they have in stock. Banks have fixed commissions. Service providers like barbershops or gyms also offer a price that you know beforehand. And that works perfectly fine. When you start a software project, you would also expect to know its price in advance. You would want to compare the prices of different vendors and to know which budget you need to cover. 

So, you go to a software vendor and ask something like “How much would it cost to build a website?”. If the vendor is honest with you and respects your business, you will not get an answer immediately. There’s a good reason for that: websites may be quite different, and the word “website” does not tell much about the things you have on your mind. Sadly, a note that “it’s an e-shop” will not help much here either. If at this point, you get a simple answer about the price, you definitely want to think twice before partnering up with this vendor.

At KeenEthics, for the time being, we have never had two identical projects. Obviously, most of them have had something in common. For example, you would need a login feature for most web-applications. But even login flow might have quite a lot of differences. Do you need social login? If so, which social networks should be supported? Do you need password recovery? 

There are two models that will help you decide on project pricing – Fixed Price approach and Time & Material approach.

Fixed Price

The Fixed Price approach lets you know the project price beforehand. You negotiate and confirm the price, and this is how much you will pay once you receive the final product. A conscientious software vendor would try to figure out all your requirements. Here, you will have to answer multiple questions starting with the overall business idea and finishing with minor login details. The UX-expert might try to prepare mockups of the final product, which you will be expected to critique. All the information will be documented, detailed, and decomposed into actual tasks. Only after that, the software engineers will estimate the time needed to complete each objective. Based on this estimation, the actual price will be calculated. Obviously, this takes quite some time. For larger projects, it might take months to finalize and document all the requirements, which increases the end price of the project.

However convenient it sounded, this approach is quite risky. In most cases, following this approach still will not give you a 100% accurate estimate. As a rule, the estimation process is conducted with the help of previous experience and intuition, which still leaves some room for deviations. Deviations produce risks. And risks also make their way into the final price. One side is always losing. Either the price is too high and you end up overpaying, or the price estimate is too low and the software development company is left underpaid. The latter case bears an important risk to you as well – as soon as the software development company starts going beyond the budget, they may compromise quality in the pursuit of ending the project sooner to reduce expenses. 

The Fixed Price approach is sometimes employed in outsourcing but almost never used in outstaffing.

The House Example

You negotiate the price of the house with your construction team. They review all the requests and blueprints, ask you about everything in the smallest details, and tell you the final price of the house, which includes labor costs, costs of materials, and costs of equipment. Now you know the final price, so you can start planning your budget and collecting the necessary amount of money. When you are shown the completed house, you have to pay the negotiated price, and it is not important if the currency rates changed, the work was finished much sooner than expected, or the resources appeared to be quite cheaper than expected. Also, if you want to implement some slight changes, you have to sign a separate contract and negotiate a different price because these changes were not covered in the previous one. 

“Time & Material” Approach

The Fixed Price approach has a simple and flexible alternative – “Time & Material”. Prior to the project start, the team gives rough estimates, and if confirmed, they proceed to development. Each specialist is assigned a certain hourly rate. The cost of the project is counted as the rates of each specialist multiplied by the number of hours spent. Sometimes, it may also include the costs of necessary resources, such as Jira or some technology license. “Time & Material” approach also takes into account the number of hours spent working overtime or during the weekend. This model is much fairer than the other one because the development team is paid as much as they have worked.  It also enables the development process to start much faster and gives the customer a high flexibility to change requirements on the go.

This model, however, requires trustworthy relationships between the client and the development team. If you have no confidence in the development team and you are not sure that they will tell you the truth, you risk losing money. It happens that developers record more hours than they actually spent working. Unfortunately, it is something you cannot prevent. The most you can do to protect your budget from somebody’s greediness is to communicate closely with developers, to be open with them, and to keep the healthy atmosphere in the team.

“Time & Material” model is equally used in both outsourcing and outstaffing. 

The House Example

You hire a construction team to build your house, they look at blueprints and tell you the approximate cost of your project. You agree that they keep track of all the resources they use and of the number of hours they spend working. Another important point to discuss is how and when you make payments. You do not know exactly how much the house will cost, so you probably should start collecting a bit more money than was estimated. When the house is being built, you can introduce changes to requirements freely. For instance, you want the porch to be made out of wood, not bricks. Each month or after the house completion, depending on the initial agreement, you meet with the team and review their cost records. If there are no questions, you proceed with the payment. Yet, you better make sure that the team is a trustworthy one, or they still some materials from you.

To Wrap Up

Here at KeenEthics, we respect the opinion of our outstaffing and outsourcing partners. If you would like to trust us with your project, we will make sure that the development process is smooth and transparent. If you need us to augment your in-house team, we will provide you with the most dedicated developers. 

If you feel good about rough estimations and flexible development process, we will eagerly implement the “Time & Material” approach. Meanwhile, if you have detailed requests and want to see prototypes first, we agree on taking a longer path and conducting comprehensive documentation and estimation. What we will not do, however, is telling you a random price to engage you in collaboration. Eventually, it would have a negative impact on the product quality and on our relationships. We value the needs and interests of businesses that trust us with their idea, and we hold responsibility for our estimations and project plans.

Do you need a dedicated software development team?

Our professionals will gladly help you with your project! Learn more about why and how to hire a dedicated development team.

What’s the Future of Proptech Development?

Let’s make it clear whether property technology is worth your time and money

What Is Proptech?

People who are going to buy a piece of real estate usually think that the only task is to get money and purchase the desired property. However, the process of purchasing is frequently not that simple. Apart from compliance inspections and dozens of contacts, they need to deal with property zoning and affidavits. To make people’s lives a bit easier, web and mobile app developers once decided that it’s the right time to enter the property market. That’s how the proptech field has developed. As you might guess, proptech refers to the integration of technology into the real estate market.

Today, proptech websites and mobile applications help better visualize property construction processes and modernize purchasing of real estate. We can characterize the proptech field as one of the aspects of digitalization strategy aimed to increase productivity and performance via technological integration. But before talking about proptech in action, let me clarify what advantages users get with proptech and how it changes the “Covid-19” market.

What Benefits Property Technology Gives

Proptech encompasses several subfields. I will show you how proptech software development works in each of the main ones. 

  • Construction

Construction process is always based on a project that’s developed in advance. Project work requires team members to apply a systematic approach and efficiently organize their collaboration. The actions of designers, for example, have a direct influence on the actions of constructors. Therefore, project executors should make sure that all decisions are agreed upon and negotiated by the whole team. With proptech, team members get the chance to collaborate using one, unified platform.

There’s no need for the team to update information manually — data is available in real-time thanks to the functionality and capacities of a platform. As a result, the project aims are executed faster and more effectively, which boosts performance and, subsequently, profitability. Also, during the construction, everyone strives to use resources effectively to reduce risks and prevent losses. How can this goal be achieved? Via planning, estimating, and forecasting. And it’s far more convenient when all team members have the chance to run these processes in one single system. Doing so, they see a general picture and save time, money, and effort. 

  • Purchasing and Renting

Property software development makes it more convenient for people to buy or rent real estate. You can choose, review, compare different pieces of real estate without leaving your home. Do you want to choose the best solution in terms of price, location, or reliability? Then you only need to set the necessary parameters in an app or on a website, and proptech will do everything for you. Everyone has ever heard about Airbnb, a world-known property-for-rent enterprise. Since the beginning, the company has also been the example of proptech in action. The developers of this software solution did a really great job: users get flexibility and value, choosing between thousands of options in one place.

  • Investing

If you consider the real estate market as a space for investing money, then proptech can ease the process as well. There are many websites and applications that allow you to compare pieces of real estate from a commercial viewpoint. Which location will ensure you a winning strategy? What type of commercial property works best in this particular area? The answers to these questions can be found on such websites. 

Let’s take LoopNet as an example. On LoopNet, you can not only look for commercial property but also analyze options based on the chosen criteria. The website offers an extensive inventory for those who are planning to invest in property. Imagine how much money users save: instead of requesting consulting services, they just turn on their laptops, and proptech websites do everything for them.

  • Coworking

Managing coworking spaces is not the most evident example of proptech — yet, one of the most effective ones. Today, property software development gives you the chance to manage a coworking system in one platform. You can track your membership, make payments, get notifications about upcoming or recent events, and receive newsletters. For the owners of coworking spaces, proptech is also an effective solution. Tracking customers and integrating marketing strategies backed by MRM (Membership Relationship Management) save you money spent on administrative tasks and make management processes smooth. 

How Property Technology Works During the Pandemic

Here, we will talk about proptech trends that make this field relevant under coronavirus conditions. 

Remote Building Management

Remote data management can be difficult if there is no unified system. I advise developing a single and centralized platform that will synchronize usage-based information about both technologies involved in building and services installed.

Such systems are so convenient that managers don’t stop using them even while real-time collaboration. Estimate analysis, on the background of strategic planning and programming review, definitely makes a change. 

Smart Space Management

As physical distancing has become an ultimate condition of people’s interaction, effective space management with the help of proptech also comes in handy. On the one hand, smart space management solutions ensure safety and distancing. On the other hand, they allow for a secure collaborative process. Smart space management is realized with Machine Learning algorithms and sensors that not only visualize people density within the given space but also prepare reports and provide forecasts about hazardous areas in the office. 

PropTech as a Future of Real Estate

Now, we see how proptech software development is revolutionizing the real estate market — tech solutions improve the quality of human interaction. Apart from the web and mobile solutions, deep tech helps this field grow, enhancing the potential of predictive analytics and the capacities of big data management. Below, I describe particular areas that, as I think, form the ground for the proptech evolution. 

Blockchain and Purchasing

Who benefits? CRE executives. 

Blockchain technology is today frequently used in the commercial real estate business. Commercial Real Estate (CRE) executives tend to choose contacts developed under blockchain technology because it eases the process of buying and selling. 

What if I tell you that under a blockchain-based contract, you are able to perform financial transactions and management operations in one place? In fact, it all boils down to smart decision-making and more effective financial administration.

VR and Interactive Tours

Who benefits? The owners of real estate agencies. 

If you are the owner of a real estate agency, the opportunity of VR tours can really make your business stand out from the competition. By 2025, it’s expected that VR technology will be used by more than 1.4 million real estate agents. Clients will have no need to have numerous trips to the house since they will see everything in the interactive VR tours. 

Moreover, VR technology helps to emotionally connect customers to their future home. They easily immerse themselves in a cozy atmosphere of a house and get inspired by the interactive elements of design. As a result, your customers will fall in love with a place even before they buy it or at least see it in reality.

3D Technology and Renovated Models

Who benefits? Designers and construction executives. 

Robotics technology becomes more sophisticated and performs complex tasks. Design planning and construction are under the focus of robotics development. Have you heard about the company called Boston Dynamics, for example? In 2005, they created a robot known as BigDog. Such robots are applied in the property field as they can be mounted with 3D cameras and map the surroundings.

In the picture above, you see the example of an automatic visualization made on the basis of 3D technology. Why do designers and construction executives use automated valuation models? Because it helps them visualize work progress and provide information about hazards and risks. 

Wrap Up

I have no doubt that investing in proptech is a good idea if you aim for long-term results. There are two main reasons for me to think so. First, the real estate business will never cease because of the physical need of humans to have a home, do commercial activities, and manage their space effectively. The property market will exist till the time people need it. For how long will they need it? Imagine the future without homes, shops, hospitals, colleges, cinemas, without the whole infrastructure — can you? Me neither, and that’s the answer.

Second, with the benefits of modern technologies, proptech will grow doubly faster than 5 or 10 years ago. For the real estate business, time is the main asset. The goal of a project team responsible for the construction is to give quick results, maximizing quality and minimizing expenses. Integrating such technologies as 3D, robotics, blockchain, or VR into your business, you double your chances to keep it competitive and relevant for years — the choice is yours.

Do you have an idea for a proptech solution?

Let us prove our expertise in property software development. Read more about the services we offer and the challenges we solve.

Alex Pletnov Ilona Shvahla Head of Partner Engagement

10 Best Countries for Hiring Dedicated Development Team

Let’s compare rates, time zones, talent pools, innovation levels, and most popular programming languages in Mexico, Brazil, Vietnam, China, India, the Philippines, Canada, Ukraine, Poland, and Russia.

If you are a business owner from a rich developed country, such as the USA or the Netherlands, and you need to develop a software product, who do you go to? To your fellow citizens? I do not think so. While working with people who speak the same language and live in the same culture may be easier for you, it is definitely not the most cost-efficient solution. Even if you already have an in-house team, it is not almighty, so I may be seeking help from outside. So how do you choose the optimal dedicated development team?

You should start by considering which country to hire dedicated development team from. In this article, I will compare the eleven most popular destinations for outstaffing and outsourcing. To make this comparison as objective as possible, here are the metrics I will consider:

The most popular regions for outsourcing and outstaffing are Latin America, Eastern Europe, and Asia.


Latin America

Latin America is a top outsourcing and outstaffing region for clients from the United States. Such developers are really close in terms of geographical distance, and their time zones often overlap. The average cost of these professionals is also quite low – $30 per hour, while the cost of a software engineer from an American development company may go beyond $100-150. The two most popular Latin American countries for hiring a dedicated development team are Brazil and Mexico.

Mexico

Most business owners in the United States will tell you that Mexicans make great employees. They are smart, diligent, and not demanding in terms of payment. No wonder that Mexico made it to the list of top outsourcing destinations in the IT industry. In fact, it offers quite a large talent pool of about 224 thousand software engineers with an average hourly rate varying from 25 to 50 US dollars. Mexican developers prefer working with Java, Python, C#, and Ruby.

Furthermore, Mexico is located quite close to the United States geographically as this country is only a few-hours-long flight away. As for the time difference, it is insignificant as these countries are located in the same time zones – Mexico in GMT-6, GMT-7, GMT-8, and the USA in GMT-5, GMT-6, GMT-7, GMT-8, GMT-9, and GMT-10. Finally, Mexico is currently at 8th place in the world as for the level of innovation, according to the 2019 Tholons Services Globalization Index, which is yet three positions lower than in 2018.

There are three reasons not to choose Mexico as an outsourcing destination. One – the political situation between the US and Mexico is unstable as Donald Trump has been long threatening Mexico with economic sanctions. Two – there are more cost-efficient options. Three – language barrier may become an obstacle as Mexico is ranked 57th out of 88 in terms of EF English Proficiency.

Brazil

The population of Brazil is 212.6 million people, and about 40 percent of them are under the age of 24. Such a young nation is eager to learn and develop, so most of them enroll in higher education programs. At the same time, the IT industry in Brazil is quite profitable as an average developer is paid 30 to 50 US dollars. Therefore, the talent pool of developers in Brazil is quite large and comprises about 476 thousand people, who specialize mainly in JavaScript, SQL, Java, HTML, CSS, C#, and Python. According to Tholons Services Globalization Index, Brazil is the second most innovative state in the world as of 2019, which is one position higher than in 2018. 

Brazil is located in GMT-3 time zone, which is 2 hours ahead of New York and 5 hours ahead of California. This way, American clients can easily find time to hold a meeting with a Brazilian development team. Nonetheless, communication with Brazilians is not guaranteed to be simple because the English proficiency level here is quite low. According to a 2009 study, only one in four IT professionals in Brazil were fluent in English. The situation had slightly improved since then, but poor English skills remain the number one reason why people abstain from outsourcing to Brazil.


North America

North America is rarely associated with outsourcing and outstaffing. Still, it is worth attention because of the impressive skill sets that this region has to offer. However, get ready that service quality and easy communication come at a cost – an average middle-level software developer in North America costs around $132 per hour.

Canada 

The number one reason why American clients choose to outsource to Canada is cultural and geographical proximity. Canadians and Americans understand each other well, and their business hours overlap as Canada is located in GMT-3:30, GMT-4, GMT-5, GMT-6, GMT-7, and GMT-8 time zones, while the USA is located in GMT-5, GMT-6, GMT-7, GMT-8, GMT-9, and GMT-10. Most importantly, Canadian development services are slightly cheaper than those in the USA as the average developer here earns about $150-195 hourly. Overall, there are about 72 thousand software developers, and the most popular programming languages here are Python, Java,  and Ruby.


Asia

Asia is best-known for its large pool of talents and low hourly rates. A mid-level developer in Asia on average costs $24 per hour. In fact, if you google “software development company”, high chances are that the first website you open is of an Indian software development company. The most common Asian countries for outsourcing and outstaffing are China, India, Vietnam, and the Philippines.

Vietnam 

Vietnam is a developing country of almost a hundred million people, but it offers quite a large pool of developer talents – about 250 thousand specialists focusing on Java, PHP, and .NET. Even though Vietnam is defined as a lower middle-income country, the average hourly rates of software developers here are not quite low – from 30 to 40 US dollars. Vietnam is located in GMT+7 time zone – 12 hours ahead of New York and 15 hours ahead of California. Business hours in these two countries simply do not overlap, which poses a serious communication challenge. 

What brings businesses to outsource to Vietnam is the level of business culture. Vietnamese employees are very loyal with one of the lowest attrition rates globally. The IT infrastructure here shows a promising tendency of growth, and the innovation level is quite high even though it dropped 5 positions since 2018.

Philippines

The top advantages of the Philippines for outsourcing are low cost and high English proficiency. In fact, the 2000 Census showed that almost 64% of Filipinos could speak English – it is the second-best result in Asia. This country offers a pool of talents of about 190 thousand people with an average hourly rate of $15-25. The most popular programming languages here are Java, PHP, C, C++, C#, and Visual Basic. Moreover, Tholons Services Globalization Index ranks the Philippines as the fifth country in the world by the level of innovation, which is a decline by 3 positions if compared to 2018. 

The Philippines is located in GMT+8 time zone – 16 hours ahead of the West of the USA and 13 hours ahead of the East of the USA. Such a time difference translates into a significant communication inconvenience, especially for the eastern states. Yet, the time difference is not the only drawback associated with outsourcing to the Philippines. Filipinos slightly fall behind in terms of technical expertise and service quality. If you have a complex project in mind, you should consider other places to look for a dedicated development team for hire. 

China

China is the state with the largest population in the world and with the largest talent pool of software engineers. Developers here master both usual and unusual programming languages, namely Java, C++, JavaScript, C#, Python, and Go. At the same time, Chinese developers are more expensive than those from other Asian countries, and the average hourly rate of a middle-level developer here is from 30 to 60 US dollars.

For some reason, China has not listed in the Top 50 Innovative States according to Tholons Services Globalization Index. Moreover, English proficiency in China is quite poor – less than 1% of the population speaks English. This might create a serious communication barrier. Outsourcing to China is further complicated by the ongoing political tension between the USA and China. 

China is located in GMT+8 timezone, which is 13 hours ahead of New York and 16 hours ahead of California. If you are from Los Angeles or San Francisco, your business hours and business hours of your development team will overlap by one or two hours. If you are from central or eastern states, you will not be able to schedule a meeting at a convenient time for both of you.

India

What is the first state that comes to mind when you hear “outsourcing”? India. As the state with the second-largest population, India definitely has a lot to offer. It is estimated that the talent pool of developers here is about to reach 440 thousand people. They specialize mainly in SQL, Java, JavaScript, C#, C++, and Python. Yet, the number is not its only advantage. The 2011 Census in India showed that 10.6% of the population speaks English. This percentage is much higher among IT professionals. Good command of English lets Indian developers easily communicate with clients from all over the world. Going even further, the most appealing advantage that outsourcing in India offers is cost-efficiency. An average hourly rate of a developer in India is $25-50. 

Still, such a low cost comes at a price. Indian developers are often blamed for producing low-quality code. Sure, it is not a universal rule, and there are technical geniuses in India. There is a reason why India has earned first place for innovation in Tholons Services Globalization Research for two years in a row. However, when looking for a dedicated software development team here, be careful and assess their skills thoroughly.

Also, India may not be the best choice for you if you are a business owner from the United States. It is located in GMT +5.5 – a unique timezone followed only by India and Sri Lanka. So, if you are from New York, there are 10 and a half hours of difference between India and you. If you are from California, the difference is 13 hours and 30 minutes. In any case, your business hours are not overlapping, so either you have to wake up very early or the developers have to work much longer hours.

Finally, the political environment here is quite unstable, and the second-largest population in the world often unrests against the authorities.


Eastern Europe

Eastern Europe is the most popular outsourcing and outstaffing destination among business people from Western Europe. Such professionals are close both geographically and culturally, but they cost significantly less than their fellow citizens. An average middle software engineer from Eastern Europe costs $35 per hour. For that matter, the most popular Eastern European countries are Poland, Ukraine, and Russia (the European part of it).

Poland

Poland offers a vast pool of talented developers, which reaches 280 thousand specialists. The average hourly rate of a mid-level Polish software engineer is 30–50 dollars. The most popular programming languages here are Java, C++, Python, and SQL.

According to Tholons Services Globalization Index, Poland is the fifteenth country in the world by the level of innovation, which is 4 positions lower than in 2018. Polish people demonstrate very strong English skills – their English proficiency is ranked as “very high”. This should greatly facilitate communication with the development team and reduce the probability of misunderstandings.

The state is located in GMT+1 timezone, which is 6 hours ahead of New York and 9 hours ahead of California. Such a difference lets Polish and American businesspeople find a time slot for a meeting, which would be convenient for both parties.

Russia

Russia is not an obvious choice when it comes to outsourcing. It is more commonly associated with fossil fuels, machinery, or agriculture, but not with the IT industry. And yet, this state has something to offer. Being the largest country in the world by area, Russia has quite an average population of 144.5 million people. Yet, the talent pool of developers is immense – about 470 thousand software engineers. The average development rates here are higher than in Ukraine but lower than in Poland. The languages that Russian developers specialize in are JavaScript, Java, Python, PHP, and C++.

As for the time difference, there is no point to compare as Russia stretches across eleven different time zones, from GMT+2 to GMT+12. To understand if the business hours overlap, you should check with the time zone of a particular city you consider for outsourcing.

There are two problems with outsourcing to Russia. Firstly, English proficiency is questionable as English is not a compulsory subject in Russian schools. Secondly, there is some political heat between Russia on the one hand and the United States or the EU on the other hand. Russia leads an aggressive military politics towards a few other countries, so it is bound by quite a few economic sanctions, with new ones being regularly imposed.

Ukraine

Ukraine is the most popular outsourcing destination in Eastern Europe due to low development costs, which however do not affect the quality of service, and a large available pool of talents in Java, JavaScript, C#, PHP, Python, C++,  and TypeScript. It is estimated that there are around 185 thousand software development specialists with an average hourly rate of 20 to 40 US dollars. 

Ukraine ranks quite low in terms of English proficiency –  28th place out of 32 countries in Europe. Indeed, middle-aged and elderly people have poor English skills. However, most young people understand and speak English. In the IT market, every developer, designer, or tester will demonstrate from intermediate to advanced English level. People without knowledge of English have little to no chances to enter the IT industry. Also, Ukraine ranks low in terms of Tholons Services Globalization Index, but it demonstrates unprecedented growth. In only one year from 2018 to 2019, Ukraine climbed up by 9 positions, and as of now, it ranks 33rd in the world.

Another common concern often associated with Ukraine is safety because the political situation in Ukraine is unstable. Indeed, for the last six years, Eastern Ukraine has been devastated by the war with Russia. Yet, in these six years, the state managed to adapt to such conditions, and the economic system functions as it should. In Ukraine, a lot of software development companies emerged during war years, and by many times more projects have been successfully launched. 

This state is located in GMT+2 time zone. It is 7 hours ahead of New York and 10 hours ahead of California. While business hours in Ukraine and the US do not entirely overlap, you as a business owner will be able to find time for a daily call with your dedicated development team from Ukraine. For instance, schedule a meeting with developers at 10 am New York time, and they will eagerly answer you as it will be only 5 pm in Kyiv or Lviv.

Ukraine is gradually getting rid of the post-soviet heritage. Young people grow up in European culture with a mindset typical for Western countries. When you communicate with Ukrainian developers, you will see that you laugh at the same jokes and cherish the same values. 


Ukraine is the country that offers Western culture and quality for the Asian price.

To Wrap Up

If all these names and numbers do not help you make a final decision, there is one more way you can go. In any unclear situation – ask your friends or partners who have ever engaged in outsourcing or outstaffing. They will share their actual feelings about working with dedicated developers from different states. This way, you will operate not average statistical figures but actual real-life facts.

Do you want to hire a dedicated development team in Ukraine?

Let us prove to you that Ukraine is the right destination to outsource to. Our professionals will gladly provide you with efficient and effective development services. Go ahead and learn more about our Dedicated Development Team!

Dedicated Development Team: A Mere Name or a Real Characteristic?

Today, we want to show you how to make the experience of outstaffing pleasant and effective

Hiring an offshore team is not an easy task. Particularly if you’ve already had an unsuccessful experience. People dealing with outstaffing ask, “But how can I trust those whom I meet for the first time? How can our cooperation be prolific if we haven’t interacted before?” They are afraid that they’ll lose money and not get the desired results. And such worries are natural.

However, if the practice of outstaffing was so hopeless, companies wouldn’t opt for this strategy so often. Maybe there’s a way to make the cooperation with offshore team successful and effective? Yes, there is. The key is to develop a step-by-step plan of your interaction while outstaffing. And today, we will discuss how to make sure that the dedicated development team you choose for your project is truly dedicated.

Apart from flexibility and technical expertise that your dedicated development team should possess, devotion and commitment are the other two factors you should consider. Yet, we are not here to speak in riddles. Let’s start with the hiring process.

Understand your project

Clearly define your project requirements. What goal do you pursue? What kind of people do you need? Having a clear vision will help you choose the right path. If you know the answers to these questions, move further.

And if you want to learn more about how to develop a strategic project plan and what kind of people or dedicated team model you need, check our recent article on designing a project development strategy.


Look for development companies

So, you set your project’s goal and defined the category of people you are looking for. The next task is to find a dedicated development team that matches your expectations. Where to look for? I guess you’ve heard about such platforms as GoodFirmsThe Manifest, and Clutch

As our partners indicate, these websites provide the most relevant, topical, and transparent information on software development companies from all around the world. Here, you can sort the agencies by service type, average hourly rate, location, number of reviews, rating, minimum project size, and industry focus. The databases of these web platforms are sufficient for you to choose the best outstaffing agency.

Check the websites and LinkedIn pages of companies you find there, look for reviews online, select your favorites, and email them. Describe your project and its goals and ask these companies to provide you with detail. I recommend contacting several companies at once, even if there is one particular company you liked the most. Asking several companies to give you some details, you will get a broader choice.

A lot of companies that offer outstaffing services leave the hiring and managing processes to you without offering any extra support. Such an approach may suit someone who knows exactly what and whom they need. If you need regular guidance and support and don’t have anyone to consult you, you should look for a company that offers added support. You should be determined to talk to a technical specialist in case you have doubts about the project.

To choose only the right companies, create the Google Sheet file where you will list all the agencies you found. Then, assess these companies according to several categories. For example, “Price for services,” “Response time,” “General impression,” “Case studies,” “Added support.” Based on the obtained data, you will easily choose the most advantageous offer.

The best way to start cooperation is to hire a dedicated development team consisting of several developers and gradually increase the number after the first developers are onboarded. Also, strive for a long-term relationship. It takes months for team members to become fully efficient. Hiring separate teams for one- or two-month-long projects is less efficient than hiring one and the same team for all of them.


Assess the development team

Outstaffing experience can fail if you ignore this aspect. And if you’ve ever dealt with offshore companies, you know what I mean. This part is doubly important. Why? First, because it defines whether a dedicated development team that you found is the right choice. Second, because at this point, you make sure that a “dedicated team” is not just the cliché but also a characteristic. You’re welcome to use our assessment guide to assess a team you are going to work with.

Step 1: Consider development capabilities

Surely, development capabilities were the number-one criteria of your choice at the previous stages. Now, you should dive deeper into the services and solutions that the chosen company offers. Is there a technology you prefer in their tech stack? Are they willing to suggest some time- and cost-efficient solutions? Will they be able to provide you with, for example, UI/IX design or DevOps services if you suddenly need some?

At this point, you should make sure that the dedicated software development team has versatile skills and expertise but does not disperse their focus over numerous technologies.

Step 2: Check the portfolio

A portfolio of the chosen agency can tell a lot. Usually, the main information about the projects developed by a company is mentioned on their corporate website, but you can ask for information about more case studies via email. Are there a lot of them? Are there any major companies you are familiar with? Do the solutions seem successful? Is there a project similar to yours?

To understand if the development team can handle your project, you should make sure that they had experience in creating solutions of the same scope in the same industry field.

Step 3: Contact former or current clients

If you see a client’s name in a projects portfolio or in Clutch reviews, find them on LinkedIn and ask about their experience with the company. You can also ask the team to provide you with a list of clients. Talk to these people and ask them what was good about cooperating with the company, what could be improved, and how satisfactory the outcome was.

Peer reviews are the most honest and fair assessment of one’s service. If you talk to former clients of a software development company, you get a clear picture of what your cooperation may look like.

Step 4: Understand their image

Look at how long the company exists and how much it managed to achieve in these years. Does this company have a good name? Does it have devoted partners? What about its online presence? Does it participate in anything else besides development, such as social responsibility initiatives or community events? 

It is good if the company has a clear mission, a story, and a corporate culture. While it does not affect their development performance, you will find communication with such team to be much more pleasant.

Step 5: Conduct initial screening and technical interviews

By talking to the team via a video communication platform, such as Skype or Hangouts, you can see if you connect with these people. Are they communicative or extra shy? Do they understand what you say, what problems you have, and what solutions you expect? Is there a language barrier? Let your in-house team lead or HR manager talk to the offshore team, they will help you estimate their soft skills. After they pass the initial screening, invite them for an interview with technical specialists from your company. They will test the technical knowledge and skills of the team and conclude whether they are suitable for the role.

After you and your in-house team meet the potential partners, you can conclude if the cooperation promises to be smooth. Eventually, the most important thing is for the team to connect on a personal level.


Specify cooperation requirements

1. Scope of work

Scope of work is the set of fundamental cooperation requirements, which describes all the milestones, deliverables, and end products that the software development company is obliged to provide. Out of scope is another essential document, which describes the work that will certainly not be done in this project. It is important that both the client and service provider equally understand the scope of work and out of scope requirements. According to these two documents, the team can estimate deadlines and budget.

2. Payment system

In the case of outstaffing, the Time-and-Material approach is the most common. Yet, you can negotiate with the development company and opt for the Fixed Price approach. What is the estimated budget? What are the rates? How often will the payments be made and through which channels? Who is responsible for invoices and bills? All these questions need to be answered before the work on the project starts.

3. Legal liabilities

All the cooperation aspects you have negotiated should be declared in a legal agreement between you and a service provider. Aside from the contract, another important document is a Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA). You should sign it before you elaborate on project details with the outstaffing company to prevent the breach of your intellectual property rights. 

Talking about formalities beforehand will save you a lot of energy and nerves in the future.


Manage the dedicated development team

After hiring a dedicated development team, you need to consider how to onboard and manage them.

Project management methodology

It is great if you have an in-house software engineer who will cooperate with the offshore team and monitor code quality. If you do not have a Project Manager, you can assign this very engineer to manage work on the project. In any case, the project should follow a certain methodology — Waterfall, Agile (Scrum, Kanban, Lean, XP), or a combination of any of those. If you are not sure, check our article on how to choose your optimal development methodology

Project management tools

Task management and communication tools should also be well familiar to both in-house and dedicated development teams. You can hardly do without Trello and Jira, which will help you monitor and control the development process and timeline. To communicate effectively, we recommend using Slack, which is far more convenient than Skype or email.

Communication 

Communication is the key, but only if it is effective. Miscommunication, in turn, may threaten the entire project. The most common communication threats are personal conflictslanguage barrier, and different time zones

To manage personal conflicts, you need an effective project manager who will predict, address, and mitigate conflicts. Language barrier is not a problem you can solve. You have no other option but to identify it during the initial screening interview. Different time zones may also turn into an actual communication problem. This risk is obvious and yet high unless you acknowledge and address it properly.

To make your cooperation work across a few time zones, the only thing you need is to talk to your team. Discuss what time works best for you and them and hold daily meetings at the specified hour. If daily’s are organized properly, they will be just enough for your communication not to suffer. 

For example, you are from New York, which is located in GMT-5 timezone. You find a dedicated development team in Lviv, which is at GMT+2. When they come to work at 9 or 10 am, you must be still sleeping. Yet, when you come to work at 9 or 10 am, they must be still working as in Ukraine it will be 4 or 5 pm. So why don’t you agree to have a daily meeting at 10 am (GMT-5)? This way, they can report on what they did during the day, and you can tell them what you expect them to be doing tomorrow.


To Wrap Up

If you had a sad experience with outstaffing once, it does not mean that all other cases will be unsuccessful, too. There are a lot of interesting and inspiring success stories in which dedicated development teams really brought a change to a company or business.

Consider some well-known companies as an example. IBM, Microsoft, Facebook, Intel, Google — each of these technology giants hires a dedicated development team for some minor or major development tasks. For instance, Facebook out staffed about 500 employees to deal with hate speech in Germany. When Skype was launched, back end development was delegated to a dedicated development team from Estonia.

In this article, I have listed major steps to take to make sure that your dedicated development team is indeed dedicated. If these do not work for you, maybe outstaffing is just not the dedicated team model that you need. Most likely, there is a problem with communication or management, which you can solve by engaging in outsourcing.

Do you need a dedicated software development team?

Our professionals will gladly help you with your project! Learn more about why and how to hire a dedicated development team.

PWA vs AMP: What Is the Difference and How to Choose?

Check these 8 questions and see what PWA and AMP is and what’s better in your case

In the developed world, almost everyone has a smartphone. The mobile software market opens endless opportunities to a business. However, these opportunities are immediately challenged by an immense number of competitors. Yes, mobile apps are way more convenient than web or desktop platforms. No, they are not the most comfortable option that the industry offers.

To strike the highest user satisfaction level and outrun competitors, inventive people opt for PWA mobile app development or choose to develop accelerated mobile pages (AMP). But what are these, and how to choose the best option? Let’s consider step-by-step:

  1. What is PWA?
  2. What is AMP?
  3. What is similar?
  4. What is different?
  5. Why is PWA better than web?
  6. Why is PWA better than native mobile?
  7. Why is AMP better than web?
  8. Why is AMP NOT better than native mobile?

1. What Is PWA?

PWA is a progressive web application, the purpose of which is to unite the advantages of both web and mobile apps into a single software product. As Google declares, PWAs are “user experiences that have the reach of the web and are reliable, fast, and engaging.” It is a technology that lets you use a website as if it was a native app.

Twitter is one of the major companies using PWA. To install it, you should open the web version on your phone and add it to your home screen. Once you open Twitter from the home screen icon, you will open it as a progressive web app.

Fundamentals

PWA is a highly responsive and easily shareable solution that can work offline. Progressive web apps store HTML and CSS files in the browser cache and archive them with service workers, making it possible to use the web page offline. Service workers are one of the three essential components of progressive web apps, along with the manifest file and a secure protocol HTTPS.

  • Service workers

These are JavaScript code components, which play the role of a proxy between the network and a browser. When you open a web page for the first time, service workers store the necessary data in the browser cache. When you open it for the second time, service workers retrieve this data from the cache even before the app checks network availability. Not only does it provide the opportunity to work offline, but also it greatly boosts the response time. Also, service workers manage push notifications.

  • The manifest file

This is a JSON file with all the information about your app. For instance, it contains data about the home screen icon of your PWA, its short name, color palette, and theme. If you are using the Chrome browser on an Android phone, the manifest file will trigger the automatic installation of the PWA onto your phone.

  • The secure HTTPS protocol

It’s an absolute must if you develop a progressive web app. While service workers make the very concept of PWA possible, they are vulnerable to network errors or breaches. Service workers can intercept network requests and modify responses. To ensure data security and network security, the secure protocol needs to be used.

Success stories

Twitter is not the only company that benefited from PWA. Check these case studies published by Google to see how this technology helped popular businesses succeed. Among these companies, there are PinterestAlibabaThe Weather Channel, and Lancome.

2. What Is AMP?

AMP is an accelerated mobile page — a mobile-friendly web page designed to be loaded instantly. It is a fast and smooth loading solution, which is developed with the user experience in mind. Introduced as an open-source project, the accelerated mobile page (AMP) technology was integrated by Google in February 2016.

In 2016, The Guardian announced that their platform is now available as AMP. To see the example of how it works, they advise checking the same article displayed as a web version and an AMP version. There are some differences, but they are insignificant. But what you’ll definitely notice is how much faster the AMP loads compared with the regular web.

*By comparing this illustration with the one I included earlier, you could notice an interesting point. A PWA needs to be installed. In turn, you do not need to install AMP. It is accessed via a different like.

Fundamentals

AMP’s idea is to reduce unnecessary content and functionality to display the vital content immediately. By using AMP, one can reduce the volume of data up to ten times. The three essential components of AMP are AMP HTML, AMP Components, and AMP Cache.

  • AMP HTML

This is a simplified version of a regular HTML. AMP HTML does not allow some tags and elements of HTML, such as forms. To understand better what AMP HTML should look like, check the required mark-up.

  • AMP Components

These are the scripts that enable you to do without Javascript. AMP’s idea is to get rid of all JavaScript scripts as they negatively affect page loading time. Yet, it does not mean that your page should do without animations, modified layouts, analytics data, autocomplete suggestions, or ads. There is an extensive library of components that enable you to implement these and many other features.

  • AMP Cache

It’s a proxy-based content delivery network, which fetches and caches page content. AMP Cache enables you as an app owner to easily introduce page updates. It optimizes and, if needed, modifies the AMP. 

Success stories

Same as with PWA, the community is very proud of the business advantages that the solution offers. There is a collection of success stories — case studies of companies that used AMP and benefited from it. MusementRCS MediaGroupCNBCThe Washington Post — these are the companies that are deciding or have already decided to implement AMP.

3. What Is Similar?

Both PWA and AMP are means of displaying web pages on mobile devices. Both are created to enhance the user experience. Both PWA and AMP help reduce page load time. While AMP may be slightly more effective in terms of loading speed, the difference between AMP and PWA loading times is barely noticeable. Google actively supports both technologies. There is a PWA page on Google Developers and an AMP page on Google Developers.

There are not so many similarities between AMP and PWA, but these similarities are essential. Let’s see what the differences are. Here goes the comparison of AMP with PWA.

4. What Is Different?

Appearance

  • PWA: you do not feel that you use a web page. PWA looks and feels like a mobile app.
  • AMP: you are well-aware that you use a web page because it looks the same.

Development

  • PWA: the application code is written either from scratch or with some parts of the existing code.
  • AMP: the existing code of a web page is stripped of unnecessary CSS and JS for the web page to load faster.

User experience

  • PWA: offers a much better user experience. It has push-notifications, a home screen icon, and no browser tabs. Also, it is much easier to download PWA since it’s lighter in size than a regular mobile app. It loads faster than a regular web version because of being embedded with App Shell. Moreover, PWA can be used when the network connection is down.
  • AMP: offers a slightly improved user experience since the page loads faster than regular. Yet, it is the only UX advantage that it offers. Unlike PWA, AMP cannot work offline.

Performance

  • AMP: from the SEO standpoint, it wins the PWA vs. AMP competition. Google favors these pages and lists them in the carousel of top stories, which increases the Click-Through Rate. 
  • PWA: does not have a direct advantage for SEO. However, a better user experience translates into higher retention rates, which helps you win the SEO.

Support

  • PWA: is not supported equally on all devices, it may have slight inconveniences with being displayed on iOS. Also, it does not support all the hardware functionalities, such as Bluetooth, NFC, GPS, or accelerometer. 
  • AMP: is supported by all major browsers on all devices.

Apps it is best suitable for

  • PWA: works perfectly for the apps that are aimed to interact with the user. E-commerce websites, social media, or online learning platforms where the app needs to be responsive and constantly updated can make use of this technology. This is why Twitter uses PWA.
  • AMP: is more suitable for the platforms with a wall of content, such as online magazines or newspapers. AMP loads content instantly, but the interaction opportunities are limited. This is why The Guardian has decided to employ AMP.

5. Why Is PWA Better than Web?

If you access a web page on mobile, you will have to deal with browser tabs, slow page load time, and annoying pop-ups. If your device has a relatively small screen or a slow network connection, surfing the web on it becomes unbearable. Progressive web apps solve this problem. In a few clicks, you install the app on your phone and get down to using it. No need to type a link, no browser tabs, and no pop-up screens. The app works fast, and it does even work if the network connection is down.

Alright, the benefits of this solution are evident, but it seems like the native mobile apps could work perfectly instead. No, it would not. Let’s see why PWA is better than native mobile.

6. Why Is PWA Better than Native Mobile?

To use a native mobile application, you have to find it in the App Store or Google Play catalogs. Then, you have to wait for some time to download it. There might be a case that you do not have enough free space on your device, so you need to spare some. In turn, PWA is installed and ready to be used in seconds. The file size is small but bound to increase while you are using the app and it is caching. Yet, the size of cached data depends on the amount of free storage you have on your device. 

Thus, PWA seems better than a web or native mobile app. Still, you should understand that this solution is not universal. Check our recent article on PWA vs Native to learn when a native app is a better choice than a PWA.

7. Why Is AMP Better than Web?

As mentioned above, web apps are slow and inconvenient, especially when accessed on mobile devices with small screen size or underpowered hardware. By getting rid of all the unnecessary user experience web components, accelerated mobile pages (AMP) solve this problem. AMPs perform four times faster and use ten times fewer data than regular web pages.

8. Why Is AMP NOT Better than Native Mobile?

Unfortunately, AMPs cannot substitute native mobile apps. They cannot be installed on the home screen, they still include browser tabs, and the functionality of such is limited to some basic stuff. Yet, for an online newspaper or an informational website, such as WebMD, it would be better to use AMP rather than a native mobile app. These do not require any additional functionality but for displaying page content.

To Wrap Up

Both AMP and PWA are powerful technologies, and our specialists develop both. The results of our PWA vs. AMP analysis can be described as follows:

  • AMP is easier, faster, and cheaper for you to develop
  • PWA offers more benefits.

We believe that progressive web apps are the future. Accelerated mobile pages (AMP) are just too simple and limited in functionality to compete. 

Yet, each of these is neither a universal solution nor a panacea. Even AMP and PWA together may not meet all your demands.  Sometimes, you may need to choose conventional mobile solutions or other types of software. If you are still not sure what to choose, our specialists are always here to help you!

Do you need help with AMP or PWA development?

Our developers will gladly help you with both. Contact us! I will get you in touch with a developer, who will help you choose the most suitable technology – AMP vs PWA vs native mobile.

Alex Pletnov Ilona Shvahla Head of Partner Engagement

How to Manage Your Project Remotely?

Is Scrum as universal as it seems to be? What if I tell you that monitoring project progress remotely is easier and safer than you might think? Is Scrum as universal as it seems to be?

Backstory First

Recently, I watched a pretty interesting movie. I took my coffee, made myself comfortable in the living room, and pressed the “start watching” button on my laptop. Imagine my surprise when I understood that the movie I chose was the one people are now talking about all the time. 

As you might already guess, this movie was Contagion, the piece about the virus and people’s efforts to fight it. “Nothing special,” somebody may think. And I would agree if this movie was released in 2020 but not in 2011. 2011 was the time when no one knew what would be waiting for us in 2020. 

In 2011, we hardly heard the phrases like “social distancing,” “self-isolation,” “working remotely.” Today, however, the term “remotely” has become a part of people’s everyday vocabulary. And this blogpost will also maintain the trend and give you a couple of useful insights about project management under remote work conditions. 

But before, let me explain who needs to read this piece and what project management is.

For Whom

Today, many people have to manage their projects remotely because of pandemic restrictions. If you refer to this category, the chances are that you’re experiencing such a situation for the first time. And at first glance, it might even seem to you that all the processes run smoothly. Everyone’s doing their job, right?

The biggest challenge of remote project management lies in the fact that you do not always see the real picture. You might think that everything is perfect, and only in the end, you realize that your team has failed to finalize the project and meet all goals set initially. To prevent such situations, you should look for the ways to adapt to new conditions and boost your project management. 

Another category of readers who might be interested in our tips are those who hire a dedicated development team from another country. If you hire software developers from Eastern Europe because it is one of the ways to save money without losing quality — this article is for you. 

In Ukraine, for example, you can find thousands of software development companies that offer excellent service but take less money for their work. Why do you pay less? Because of the economic conditions and the national currency rate. So, if you are a person who decided to outsource your team from another country, remote project management is a must-have skill for you. 

What Project Management Is

If you deal with project management, you clearly understand your project’s goals, achievements, and pitfalls. You know at which point of project development you currently are and when you expect to finalize your work. 

If you want to implement your project central idea successfully and timely, you need effective project management. But being a good project manager is not as easy as it might seem. On the one hand, you should have enough time, possess strong organizational skills, and make your team members stay disciplined. On the other hand, you should ensure that people in your team do not feel oppressed and are not irritated because of too much control. 

Of course, you can always entrust project monitoring to an in-house project manager. But if you want to minimize the chances of mistakes, failures, or misunderstandings, be ready to keep a regular check on the project progress yourself. 

How to Track Projects

We’ve prepared a checklist that should be reviewed regularly if you want to achieve the expected results.

The mentioned steps are general, and the solutions are different for each business. Of course, to estimate risks or improve data security, we should study each case separately. However, there are a couple of challenges that are faced nearly by every remote project manager. Let’s review them in more detail.

So What about the Pitfalls?

Not to take much of your time, I will give you some tips on your project management in the following way. I will name challenges that frequently come to mind when people think about the difficulties of remote project management. Right below, I will suggest a solution that will help you boost your management skills. 

  • Challenge You Face: Lack of Consistency

Set up a clear work policy. Your team members should understand their tasks and duties while working remotely. They should clearly see that working far away from a project manager does not presuppose less responsibility. Ask your project team to provide you with regular project estimates and performance reports. Turn the process of sending reports into their habit but try to ensure that it does not take much of their time. 

Setting up the work policy will allow you to measure project performance data through the prism of the project tracking plan. The major variables to control include project timeline, costs, resources, and deliverables. For a performance report to be readable, it should be simple, fast, and cheap to obtain. You know, there is no value in tracking project progress if data collection takes more effort than the project itself. 

  • Challenge You Face: Poor Communication

Remember: “remote communication” does not mean “the lack of communication.” Organize regular meetings and discuss the progress with your teammates. Ask the people about their performance yesterday, the challenges they encountered, and their plans for the day. Make sure that the project team feels motivated and engaged. Daily 15-minute-long conferences are an efficient tool to get first-hand information about the project progress.

Choose Scrum, Kanban, Lean, XP, or Waterfall methodology, depending on the project type and characteristics. Read our recent article to get the ultimate project tracking guide. And if you are not sure about the right methodology, feel free to contact our project managers — they will help you decide what’s best in your case.

  • Challenge You Face: No Control over Productivity

In addition to regular updates from your team, you should be able to access performance data yourself in real life. Performance analysis is important at each stage of the project lifecycle because losing some strengths today means increasing risks tomorrow. 

For this purpose, use a project progress tracker, such as Teamwork, Trello, Jira, or Notion. These project management tools to monitor project progress also greatly facilitate project planning and the process of data exchange.

  • Challenge You Face: Ineffective Conflict Management

Create a “Conflict Log” spreadsheet, where you will list all the issues with the stakeholders, customers, and team members in chronological order. This is one of the central project management tools, which will allow you to identify disruptive behavioral patterns, if any, and make sure that no issues are left unresolved. 

Such an approach to conflict management gives you a two-sided benefit. On the one hand, it is a useful tool for analyzing past conflict situations and tracing tendencies. On the other hand, it will help you develop conflict management algorithms and prevent conflicts from occurring throughout future projects.

  • Challenge You Face: Ever-Changing Situation with Business

Yes, the pandemic has shown us that no one knows what will happen tomorrow. Companies are transforming their growth strategies to meet the economic demands of today. Project management is not free of worries, too. Be ready that something might not go as expected, and you’ll have to amend your initial plan

In this case, you’ll need to compromise at least one of these values: time, costs, or scope. In other words, you either move the due date further, pay more money, or reduce the amount of work to be done. To make the best choice, you need to decide which aspects you value the most and which ones you can sacrifice. Do you prefer quality and functionality over time and money? Or a high-quality final product is more important for you than other aspects?

P.S. If you are not sure that you have enough time and energy to monitor all these processes yourself, find an app development or website development company or agency with an excellent reputation and a well-developed portfolio. To help you with tracking project progress, the agency will assign its best project managers to supervise your product. 

These people are educated to use project management tools, plan and monitor the project completion, estimate risks, unite and motivate the team, and communicate the project progress. Hiring professionals who will track your project will spare you from unnecessary efforts and hustle.

Wrap Up

It’s time to sum up our discussion of project management tracking.

When working with KeenEthics, feel free to entrust your project progress tracking to our skillful and devoted Project Managers. They will provide you with tracking tools so that you get the product of the highest quality completed on time with minimum resources and absolutely no risks. Yet, do not hesitate to track project progress yourself —  our PMs will willingly consult you on the tools to monitor project progress!

Do you need help or advice from our PMs?

Let me introduce our experts ― ask them how to measure project performance and communicate your ideas or worries once you have any. We appreciate your opinion and engagement!

Alex Pletnov Ilona Shvahla Head of Partner Engagement

Rescue Plan for Your Fleet Management During the Pandemic

How to save your logistics business and improve your fleet management system

Today, almost everyone feels the pressure of the difficult economic situation. Some companies lose money, while others lose employees and partners. But what can be done to reduce and even prevent such outcomes? The answer lies in the strategy you choose.

Current Situation

If you are a business owner, you are fully aware of the concerns raised by the pandemic. When everything started, we did not know what was waiting for humanity in general, not to mention the business sphere. During that time, even the world’s giants like Mcdonald’s had to close their locations because of the lack of resources. Not all businesses managed to survive. However, if you take logistics, the situation is quite different. 

The statistics shows that, indeed, logistics has suffered a lot. Now, however, it’s gradually restoring its power, and you can see it from the figures. Take the USA as an example. The highest drop in monthly rail freight traffic in the U.S. due to coronavirus 2020 was seen in May (more than 20%). Meantime, in December, the fall was only around 5%. As you might guess, the logistics business has an advantage over other spheres. Because of the increasing demand for online purchases, there’s much more you can get than you can lose. 

Your Rescue Plan

As we found out, logistics has great potential nowadays. But how to catch the opportunities and turn them into your personal advantage? Take a look at the plan below — these universally applicable tips will resonate with each business owner. Make these steps a part of your growth strategy, and you will see how the pandemic period can become a very suitable time for your business to prosper.

1. Take a proactive position

Let’s start with a global and long-term goal. No doubt, you should change your approach from reactive to proactive. What’s the difference between these two? The proactive approach makes you think in advance, while the reactive one makes you face the outcomes. 

Yes, proactive fleet management solutions require more effort. You should organize online meetings with your managers. You should analyze a lot. Maybe it is better to conduct fleet maintenance more often today to reduce risks tomorrow? And what about your advantages in front of competitors? How to stand out from the noise and keep your business on the same level as before the pandemic or take it even higher? Collaboration with your colleagues helps to find clues to these questions. 

2. Consider online promotion. What about new markets?

If you have never dealt with online promotion, it’s the best time to start. Just think of the following: a lot of us changed our purchasing habits because of the pandemic. While most people used to do shopping in malls, now, we would rather order things online than go outside and increase the risks of infection. 

The more people order online, the broader opportunities for the business you get. So, why don’t you expand your client base? If you already have a website, consider Google Ads adapted to the searches of local users. If you have no web representation yet, create an ad campaign with Facebook Advertising. You can use this tool to adjust your campaign to any format, be it a video or text announcements. 

Another thing is analyzing new markets. Logistics business comprises a number of subfields. If you see that you get fewer orders because of the coronavirus, just think about some new, more relevant niches. Suppose you deal with clothes delivery. Why don’t you consider fitness equipment delivery, for example? After all, people today prefer doing their workout at home and buy weights and treadmills online.

3. Make your workers feel safe

If you still see money as your number-one priority, reconsider your approach. New circumstances require us to elaborate on new solutions for fleet management. Our health status becomes a top concern today. Preventative and safety measures become a necessity. 

Ensure cleanliness of your fleet via introducing sanitizing protocols. Provide your drivers with protective wear, which basically should include masks and gloves. Instruct them on safety measures while interacting with other people. And, most importantly, turn risk prevention into their habit! 

Based on the recommendations of WHO or your local healthcare workers, develop an inspection checklist. Ask your drivers to perform safety inspections daily. Doing so, you will not only increase your workers’ performance but also reduce health risks for both employees and the public. You should keep in mind that people form the core of each company. So, make people working in your company feel safe in these turbulent times. 

4. Minimize face-to-face contact

Apply step 4 both to the work setting and to the informal setting. The pandemic has made us doubly care about our health, and as an employer, you bear responsibility for the safety of your workers. In fleet management, a great volume of communication can be transferred to an online mode. For instance, instead of informing your clients about the delivery at the place, use phone calls or messengers to ensure social distancing. Also, use Zoom, Google Meet, or other video communication software to organize online meetings with employees and discuss the agenda.

5. Perform expenses audit

Collaboration and effective budget planning are key to the proper functioning of your company. Coronavirus adversely affects both aspects, requiring you to pay more attention to employees’ motivation and expenses. When it comes to the latter, you should get a clear understanding of your budget. 

If the method of delivery you use has become too costly during the pandemic, consider others. Or maybe you noticed that your clients want some particular orders promptly, while others can be delivered later. In this case, you can combine different delivery methods and save money. 

6. Get fleet management software

One more step on your way to ensuring the effectiveness of fleet management is getting fleet management software. Step 6 reduces all of the following: risks, costs, and your employees’ workload. 

First, risks. Having all information stored in one space ensures data protection. The delivery process, communication effectiveness and speed, order tracking — analyze all of these to understand how you can increase your profit.

Second, costs. How much does your company spend on fuel? Maybe you should consider route optimization to make fleet management more efficient. 

And finally, employees’ workload. Requesting updates manually takes time. And what if some unexpected situation occurs to one of your drivers and you should find a replacement? Asking your managers to call each driver separately to check whether they can replace their colleague is not the best decision. It’s much more convenient to open a fleet management system and check the information about all your drivers in one place.

Below, there are some other powers that go with fleet management solutions.

Powers you gain with fleet management software

  • Automated route planning

With fleet management software, you schedule and plan your drivers’ routes so that orders are delivered on time. This benefit becomes doubly vital when you deal with international shipping. Coronavirus pandemic restrictions lead to changes in routes. While some of them might be overloaded, other routes can be closed at all. Knowing the best way to deliver goods increases the chances that clients will prefer your services over competitors’.

  • Multi-drop delivery planning

It frequently happens that the destinations of several orders are located close to each other. There is no need for two separate drivers to carry out two separate deliveries simultaneously if the same can be done only by one. You need software that will ensure multi-drop delivery in this case. Using such software, you save one vehicle, receive additional orders, and, consequently, earn extra money. 

  • Real-time tracking of your fleet

Depending on the custom web development services you choose, the software can be adjusted to your company’s needs. Real-time driver tracking, for example, is implemented on the basis of GPS technology. It can replace traditional ways of getting updates, such as face-to-face meetings or excessive paperwork.

With real-time driver tracking, you improve control over the whole system. Just take your phone/tablet/smartphone and check the location of your trucks. Besides, you can give your clients the chance to do the same. There will be no need for them to calculate the approximate delivery time and wait for a driver. During the pandemic, it’s much better to use fleet management software and avoid personal interactions.

  • Delivery updates

What is your approach to performing proof of delivery? And what about gathering statistics to check your company’s progress? If you do everything through paper-shuffling, the pandemic is a perfect time to update your strategy. Making use of mobile app development services, you get a ready-made iOS or Android solution for proof of delivery. Get instant notifications and gather statistics. Analyze bottlenecks and elaborate on an improvement plan. Make your fleet management doubly powerful! 

  • Effective communication with clients and employees

Do you want your clients to stay with you during and after the coronavirus pandemic? Then make their voices heard — integrate effective mobile solutions into your daily business routine. Provide your clients with a platform where they can not only track the vehicles that are delivering their orders but also leave comments and communicate with managers. Give them the chance to solve issues promptly instead of redirecting their phone calls from managers to drivers and vice versa.

7. Stay flexible

The situation with coronavirus has taught us a lot. For fleet managers and the owners of the logistics businesses, the main lesson is to stay flexible. No one knows what will happen tomorrow, and the only way to ensure safe “tomorrow” is to care about your “today”. Analyze what your competitors do and what strategies they use, create a Plan B, develop an approach that will allow you to adapt to severe lockdown restrictions as quickly as to lockdown cancellation.

Concluding Remark

Recently, we conducted an interview with Henri Nyakarundi, the representative of the Tech4Good movement in Africa. I remember Henri saying, “When there’s a big challenge, there is also a huge opportunity”. This thought perfectly illustrates the conclusion I want to share.

I encourage you to view the pandemic not as a hazard for your business but as a chance to become stronger and more flexible. Try to turn the pandemic situation into an opportunity. Provide your clients with high-quality service to stand out from the competition. And, most importantly, take care of yourself and of people who trust you.

Looking for a fleet management software solution?

Our professionals would gladly help you choose what’s the best for your business. Learn more about the logistics software development services that we offer.