Sometimes a company’s success can be driven as much by the personal reputation of
(Mar 17, 2014) — Sometimes a company’s success can be driven as much by the personal reputation of
executives as by the quality of the product it delivers.
Link To Articlehttp://www.bizjournals.com/atlanta/print-edition/2014/03/14/invisible-touch.html?page=all
When KMS Technology began offering offshore product development and independent software testing five
years ago, founder Josh Lieberman made a critical decision.
“When we started the business we decided we didn’t want to have a sales force,” he
said. “We wanted to just allow our personal brands and our personal networks to grow
at the pace at which they would support us.”
Not having a formal sales force doesn’t mean a company isn’t selling, according to
Dr. Terry Loe, director of the Center for Professional Selling at Kennesaw State University.
“If you have a product or service and you have any interaction with the public, any
individual interacting, then they are selling,” he said. “A sales person’s job is
to assist the customers in meeting their needs, uncovering issues they may have and
helping them solve their problems. The sales person is supposed to help the organization
reach their goals through the use of their product or service.”
The idea was to drive business from the many contacts that Lieberman and CEO and founder Vu Lam, had developed over the years. The two had recently sold another venture and were
ready to make another run at the business with a new idea.
The two partners decided to leverage their access to the growing technology community
in Vietnam to offer lower cost development services for companies seeking an offshore
option for their products.
“We knew from the start that there was a need for organizations like ours that could
provide an alternative to India,” said Lieberman. “There was also a technical labor
shortage in the U.S. A lot of companies are having difficulty finding software developers
and testers. We were able to fill that void.”
While the software development community in Vietnam is small compared to global giants
like China and India, it offered the advantages of lower labor costs — as much as
60 percent below those charged by Indian companies. An ever bigger challenge lay in
the high attrition rates among Indian developers — ranging from 20 percent to 50 percent.
“When you’re building a partnership with a software company in the states, just having
that knowledge base and continuity on the team is vital,” said Lieberman. “Our attrition
rate last year was 4 percent which is virtually nothing. So once we have our people
work for our clients they get to know them on a first name basis and become an extension
of their operation.”
The low turnover among the 500 developers who work at the company’s Vietnam office
has proven a powerful asset with customers.
David Trice, Executive vice president at CX Technologies LLC, had a long standing relationship with the KMS’ founders. The startup had taken its
cloud-based customer relationship system as far as it could internally and needed
the expertise to create full scale production.
“I was looking for a team that I could personally bring in and use as an anchor to
get a first couple of projects completed and use that as a launching point into a
much longer term strategic relationship,” said Trice.
After checking out several other companies, Trice was impressed by KMS’ cost and expertise
in mobile software development, which his own team lacked.
“We had a short initial project to get to a deliverable as quickly as possible,” he
said. “It had some technical complications to it so it was a good test for them.”
For many companies seeking offshore product development, cost is a driving factor.
Even though budgets are constrained, companies still require high level technical
talent to develop a marketable product.
That’s where strong relationships are vital.
“You need a true partnership, especially when you’re working offshore,” said Trice.
“You really have to have a relationship to lean on and ensure the communications gap
can be bridged when it needs to be. When you’re working with people thousands of miles
away and you hit a fork in the road — positive, negative or strategic — you have important
messages to convey. You need a way to ensure the messages are understood in their
full context. For me, the relationship element was the reason for going down this
With 26 clients so far, KMS has been able to ensure its growth does not exceed its
ability to provide good service to its clients. Customers range in size from $2 million
in revenue to almost $1 billion and include household names like AutoTrader.com. Its sweet spot is among those companies in the $20 million to $100 million range,
according to Chief Technology Officer Kaushal Amin.
“If we’re doing the entire software development, our staff works with the business
people to understand what is the objective of the software, what do they want us to
build into it, what are the drivers for the success of the software,” said Amin.
The purpose of this product review is to gain deep understanding of what needs to
be built and what it needs to do for customers. The process also includes regular
communication between the customer and the developers in the form of twice a week
“This is where we make sure we show customers incrementally what we are bundling and
how it works,” said Amin. “We get feedback from them so it’s not like they say give
us a document and then we go away for three months before they see what we’re doing.”
The success of the company has even spawned a new off shoot venture — QASymphony. This venture, which shares quarters with KMS in Buckhead’s Atlanta Technology Village,
provides software quality assurance and testing.
“We saw that software space needed disruption,” said Lieberman. “So we thought it
presented a great opportunity to leverage some of our technical talent and build out
world class innovations solutions that we can take to market.”
KEYS TO MANAGING A VIRUAL WORKFORCE
- Work with people you know and trust.
- Overinvest in the business. Hire more experience than you think you need.
- Get the top talent. Focus on hiring the best people and don’t compromise.
- Don’t let growth outpace resources.
- Communicate early and often.
A leader in innovative teaching and learning, Kennesaw State University offers more than 150 undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees to its approximately 38,000 students. With 13 colleges on two metro Atlanta campuses, Kennesaw State is a member of the University System of Georgia and the third-largest university in the state. The university’s vibrant campus culture, diverse population, strong global ties and entrepreneurial spirit draw students from throughout the region and from 92 countries across the globe. Kennesaw State is a Carnegie-designated doctoral research institution (R2), placing it among an elite group of only 6 percent of U.S. colleges and universities with an R1 or R2 status, and one of the 50 largest public institutions in the country. For more information, visit kennesaw.edu.