The case for delivery centers: part two
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The Tetris approach to solving complex software problems.
Steve Resnick and Adam Zimmer | November 12, 2015
New to this series? Start with part one to learn why there's no place like home for software delivery, then learn about what makes our software engineering culture great.
Think globally, act locally. This works for food (think farms), beverages (think beer), and yes, software. You may not find all the ingredients you need locally, like ripe avocados, hops, or iOS, AWS, and .NET talent, but that’s where your network comes in.
At Slalom, we have a network of regional software delivery centers for just this purpose. If one delivery center doesn’t have an ingredient we need, another likely does. And because we do this as a normal course of business, the ingredients stay fresh.
Deconstructing the work
Slalom recognizes that by decomposing complex opportunities into a series of smaller challenges, we can allocate resources more effectively than tackling the whole problem at once. For this, we split work among local offices and the regional network.
For example, we recently worked with an insurance provider to modernize its customer experience through web and mobile channels. The local office worked onsite with the client to define and prioritize features, while regional centers around the country wrote code. Each center had a technical leader who directed the work of designers, developers, and testers, focusing on one functional aspect of the project. In addition to functional decomposition, the aggregate team had specialized expertise in different centers. A UX designer completed red lines in Seattle, a DevOps expert configured and managed environments in Chicago, and the .NET engineers sat in Boston.
With a distributed network of delivery centers, efficient collaboration is key. Tools like HipChat and SharePoint, along with lunchtime talks, make collaboration and communication easy. In addition, each center promotes a common work ethic to maintain a consistent culture across the company.
The Tetris approach
Ensuring that the right team is available at the right time is no easy task. Think of the problem as a big Tetris board, where teams can be rotated, adjusted, or even held in place to meet a client need. We seek to match the client need and timing with the strengths and interests of the team. On top of that, we optimize for location, favoring a center in the same time zone, if not the same city. By partnering with clients to gain a long-term view of their needs, and by having enough scale in the development centers across the network, the match works.
At Slalom, we believe that thinking globally and acting locally is the best way to work. We can serve clients, employees, and the communities in which we live and still be home for dinner.
Adam Zimmer is an engineer at Slalom’s delivery center in Boston. His passion for modern technology and full-stack engineering experience drives him to deliver for clients at all phases of the software development lifecycle.
Steve Resnick is the Practice Area Director at Slalom’s Boston delivery center. He serves clients by providing the people, processes, and places that enable everyone to do their best work.