Vietnamese students shine at world’s largest int’l science competition

(By Vietnamese students have shined at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (Intel ISEF 2016), the world’s largest international per-college science competition, which took place in the US from May 8-13.

Vietnamese students at the Intel ISEF 2016. Photo credit:
Vietnamese students at the Intel ISEF 2016. Photo credit:

Four out of six projects of the team won third prizes at the competition in the areas of chemistry, environmental engineering, mechanical engineering, and cellular and molecular biology.

The awarded projects included the “Potential Anticancer Complexes from Platinum and Clove Basil Oil (Ocimum grastissimum L.) by Nguyen Ha My (17), and Nguyen Quang Long (18) from High School for Gifted Students, Hanoi National University of Education.

The “Rice Straw Phytolith to enhance CO2 capture: Ideas for sustainable management of rice straw and reduction of greenhouse gases from paddy soils” of Pham Vu Tuan Phong (16), Nguyen Bao Ngoc (16) from the High School for Gifted Students, National University-Hanoi, won in the “Earth and Environmental Sciences” category.

The project “Diverse Terrain Wheelchair” of Nguyen Hoang Ngan (18), Pham Thanh Truc (18) from the Le Hong Phong High School for the Gifted, Ho Chi Minh City.

Under the “Cellular and Molecular Biology” category, Nguyen Thu Minh Chau (17), Hoang Lu Duc Chinh (16) from the Thang Long High School for the Gifted, Da Lat with their work on “Study on the Ability of Binding and Killing Several Cancer Cell Lines of Antinuclear Antibody” won the third prize.

Millions of students worldwide compete each year in local and school-sponsored science fairs; the winners of these events go on to participate in SSP-affiliated regional and state fairs from which the best win the opportunity to attend Intel ISEF.

Intel ISEF unites these top young scientific minds, showcasing their talents on an international stage, where doctoral level scientists review and judge their work.

Vietnamese students have been participating in the contest since 2012 and have won prizes at every event since then.



Nguyễn Hà Đông: Flappy Bird back in August with new functions

(By Flappy Bird creator Nguyen Ha Dong has officially confirmed that his fortuitous and addictive “endless flapper” will be back in August with many new functions, including multiplayers.


Dong made the announcement on CNBC’s business television programme “Closing Bell” which was broadcast live at 16h45 (local time) in New York on May 14.

Just one month ago, Dong unexpectedly yanked the chart busting game from IOS App and Google Play, following a wave of controversy concerning its addictiveness.

The 28-year-old programmer said that he took the game down with the intention of bringing it back in a less addictive form.

Some players reportedly lost their jobs because they were too busy playing the games, while other frustrated students are said to have broken their phones because they could not win.

Laban Key by Pham Kim Long listed among most popular on Google Play store

(By Laban Key, the Vietnamese keyboard for Android-based mobile devices, has been listed among the most popular apps on Google Play, just six months after it was offered by the online store.


Commenters on hi-tech forums are calling Laban Key the best Vietnamese keyboard for Android-based devices.

The app is favored for its high customization, which can serve users’ specific requirements, its fast operation, and low consumption of system resources.

The app creator, Pham Kim Long, was also the person behind the Vietnamese data input methodUniKey, which runs on the Microsoft Windows operating system. That was created 20 years ago.

At that time, Long said that Vietnamese users needed a keyboard when working on their computers, so he created a simple, reliable and free product.

Long said that making the Laban Key app was a big challenge.

When he made UniKey for the Windows platform, Long did not have any formidable rivals. However, things are quite different with Android.

Many products have been created by Vietnamese, but also by mobile phone manufacturers, who have tried to localize products to boost sales.

Laban Key at first was not welcomed by users. Long and his associates did not understand what the users really wanted.

While computer users need simple, easy-to-use products, mobile device users need much more. Besides these features, they also want apps that can help them spend their time in the most effective way, and are customized to satisfy their specific habits.

Vietnamese see mobile devices as something that reflects their characteristics and tastes, so they will only choose apps which please them.

Long said that he had been warned about the challenges in creating the app, but had no idea it would be so difficult.

He said that smartphones, with touch technology, need new data input methods.

And, although the keyboards all run on the Android operating system, they need to be designed to fit different kinds of mobile devices, from smartphones to tablets.

Long said the users of Laban Key were not easy to please, but this actually helped him refine his work.

“The users had different requirements and they asked for interesting features that we did not think of,” Long said.

Long said Laban Key operates well on domestic mobile devices. However, Laban Key, like other products of the Laban family, was created not to win an app race but to just provide a helpful app to the community, he said.

Phạm Kim Long: 20-year journey of the most popular Vietnamese keyboard

(By  In 2014, Unikey, the most popularly used Vietnamese input method running on Microsoft Windows management systems, is 20 years old. This is believed to be the only software product which can exist for so long in the technology world, where technology solutions get backward everyday.

Phạm Kim Long, author of Unikey. Photo:
Phạm Kim Long, author of Unikey. Photo:

Unikey was programmed in 1994, when Assembly was popular. Pham Kim Long, who was then a student of the Hanoi University of Technology, competed with his friends to create a small-capacity DOS-run software piece which allows to type Vietnamese.

Long, who created a software piece with the small capacity of 2 KB (an MP3 music file has the average capacity of 3,500 KB), then thought of the idea of developing the software into a popular tool for the Vietnamese.

In the mid-1990s, when Long was following the postgraduate study program in Czech, Windows began becoming more popular in the world. He then created a software piece allowing to type Vietnamese on Windows, called “Little VnKey”. However, this was just for personal use and the gifts to friends.

However, Long could not continue spending more time on the software until 2000, when Microsoft began equipping Windows with Unicode, a computing industry standard for the consistent encoding, representation and handling of text expressed in most of the world’s writing systems.

At that time, the Vietnamese IT community paid its big attention to the creation of the applications that support the data input in Vietnamese on Windows.

Vietkey, the software most suitable to computer users at that moment, was not a free product. The Vietnamese then tried to use unlocked version for free.

It then took Long three days to complete his first Unicode supporting program and launched it onto the forums.

His work immediately received the feedbacks from the community, including the sarcastic remarks. He replied to all the emails and promised to fix the problem.

He vowed to successfully create Unikey not because he wanted to provide a free utility to Vietnamese, but also because he, as a technology engineer, needed to make a simple, reliable and friendly product.

The launching of Unikey was a “phenomenon” in the technology community. It has become more and more popular to the Vietnamese computer users.

When Unikey turned indispensable to all the computers in Vietnam, Long decided to make a “crazy” thing, which was criticized as the behavior aiming to kill commercial software: he made public Unikey’s open source.

Nevertheless, the decision by Long was then applauded by a lot of students and researchers, who were eager of approaching the software technology, which was then at the very early stage of development.

As such, Long not only has provided a good software product which supports the data input in Vietnamese, but has also helped change the Vietnamese thoughts and gathered the community’s strength for the development.

Despite the old age, Unikey remains effective, simple, friendly and easy to use. It is the software piece installed on nearly all the computers in Vietnam.

Vietnamese now expect Long to make the second exploit in his life with Laban Key, the product for mobile devices. Making debut in late 2013, Laban Key has been listed among the apps with the highest downloads on Google Play Store.

Excellent IT student becomes hackmaster

(By VietnamNet.vnNguyen Van Hoa has given all the money he earned from selling stolen credit card information to his father, and used it to buy land plots in Binh Duong and HCM City.

Nguyen Van Hoa. Photo:
Nguyen Van Hoa. Photo:


The Police have discovered the “underground world” (UG) of the crimes using high technology, arresting some subjects of the group of hackers who tried to hack foreigners’ credit card information to appropriate billions of dong.


To their surprise, one of the subjects, called the “hack master” is a university student. Nguyen Van Hoa, 23, from Dong Ha City in Quang Tri province, is now a student of the HCM City Technology University’s specialized training class for talented engineers.


Hoa has been arrested and prosecuted for illegally accessing computing networks, telecom network, Internet network and others’ digital devices.


Hoa is the hack master of the forums in the UG.


Hoa is an excellent student, and he is very good at information technology. The passion for technology allows Hoa to spend long hours and days writing computing programs.


What made Hoa become a criminal was his decision to join the UG’s forums and become an “instrument” for others to earn money illegally.


Hoa said he began joining the underworld in 2010. Hoa used his information technology knowledge to hack foreign websites, stealing foreigners’ credit card information.


After that, Hoa sold the information to domestic buyers. All the money has been remitted to Hoa’s account at Dong A Bank. Until the arrest, VND7 billion had been remitted to the account.


The police believe that Hoa hacked a lot of websites and successfully stole the information about 300,000 credit cards. Supposing that the crimes appropriated VND3 million from every card, then the total sum of money the foreigners lost could be VND900 billion.


Though having earned a lot of money, Hoa did not intend to spend the money. He even did not care about himself. When arresting Hoa, the police officers felt surprised when seeing Hoa in dirty clothes and hands. The room where Hoa lived was so untidy.


Hoa said that he has remitted all the money he earned to the father, Nguyen Dong H, who has used the money to buy land in Binh Duong and HCM City.


Educators have expressed their pity for Hoa, saying that Hoa could be a big talent of the country if he can be led on the right track.


Hoa, an excellent student, has lost his opportunity to study at a prestigious university, while he is expecting the appropriate punishment in accordance to the laws.


Educators have pointed out that Hoa’s case should be seen as a lesson for the young capable students.


The students, who entertain the illusion about their talents and yield to the temptation, may waste their lives to commit crimes. Meanwhile, they could become the useful citizens in the society if they can receive reasonable education.


Meanwhile, the educators say parents need to keep an eye over their children even when they are over 18 years old. A parent in Hanoi said he could not understand why Hoa’s parents did not doubt about the big sum of money the son could earn, while he was still a school student.


Working Lives Vietnam: Software Engineer

(By Justin Rowlatt @ BBC) Nguyen Trung Hieu is part of Vietnam’s booming high tech sector. He works as a software engineer in an internet start-up.

Nguyễn Trung Hiếu, a software engineer of Mobivi. Photo:
Nguyễn Trung Hiếu, software engineer of Mobivi. Photo:

Born in 1986, the same year that Vietnam adopted Doi Moi or ‘renovation’, the state sanctioned policy embracing the market economy, Hieu benefits greatly from this openness.

He was sent by his parents to study for a master’s degree in computer engineering in Seoul, South Korea, after having graduated from the University of Natural Sciences, one of the most prestigious institutions in Ho Chi Minh City.

Back in Vietnam, he now works for Mobivi, an internet start-up specialising in online credit and payment services. Hieu works in a team of nine people which include two other leaders, four developers and two testers to develop online payment products which combine elements of eBay, PayPal, and Amazon tailored to Vietnam’s online market conditions.

This type of job can earn engineers like Hieu from $1,000 to $1,200 a month, much more than the average monthly salary in Vietnam of $185.

Outside work, Hieu likes to train in the gym, or relax with friends over coffee and beer.

“Being healthy is very important,” he says. “Without health you can’t do anything else. You can’t be creative.”

His passion for computer coding and well-being won Hieu a first prize in a UNICEF mobile hackathon in June 2013.

His mobile phone application and website aimed at providing information on nutrition for pregnant women are now attracting millions of users in Vietnam.

Six Good Ways to Say ‘No’ to Your Client @ Many people think the best way to keep a client is never to say ‘No’ to him or her. This turns out to be miles from the truth. Most clients want to hear your opinion. Unless you’re performing menial labor, your client is paying you for your judgment. Pat Brans shares ways to tell your customers ‘No’ – and get them on your side in the process.

Years ago, just after graduating from college, I worked for a series of startups. In those companies, I was primarily a programmer, but I also spent a good deal of time facing clients. I installed our software products and helped customers with their questions about using the applications. When problems arose, I worked with clients on the phone to learn the root cause of the trouble and fix any bugs I found. In cases where I couldn’t re-create the problem in the office, or when our account manager felt the customer needed special attention, I would travel to see the customer in person.

I studied computer science in school, because I loved working with computers. I was analytical, and the discipline of software engineering seemed natural to me. It never occurred to me during my college years that one day I would be dealing with customers. I was shy. I preferred working by myself, coming up with neat solutions in software—it was like working on mind puzzles all day long. I imagined that one day I would come up with some clever software all by myself, and the world would somehow recognize the value of my work and beat a path to my door to get it.

So I was quite unprepared when I entered into the work world and was immediately required to work with clients. Looking back from two and a half decades later, I now see that it makes perfect sense for programmers to work with clients. Ultimately somebody will use the software you develop. If you don’t have a feel for what users want, it’s unlikely you’ll be able to meet their needs.

This brings me to the following axiom, which has always been true, and will always be true:

Software engineers need to know how to interact with customers and users.

A second observation (one that’s more a matter of opinion than axiom) is the following:

The single most difficult aspect of working with customers is saying “No” effectively.

The Importance of Saying ‘No’

I had my own personal struggles with saying “No” to clients. At first, I just accepted any request coming from a customer, without question. But that didn’t mean I fulfilled the requests. Because I couldn’t bring myself to say “No” to somebody I perceived to have tremendous power over me, I wound up with too much to do, and I had to drop a few of the tasks. However, I did this without telling anybody, because I was too shy to mention it, and I reasoned that nobody would notice anyway.

Over time, I got braver, and I started saying “No” to clients. But sometimes that came across as aggressive. As a result, some customers then were hesitant to ask me for things, and this hesitation limited the free exchange of ideas. I couldn’t tell what they wanted. Working in the dark caused a whole new set of frustrations. I would misinterpret requirements, and sometimes I’d fail to understand the business issues behind customer requests.

I went from one extreme to another, and neither of the two approaches was satisfying. Through these experiences, and from watching other people, I realized three things:

  • It’s important to say “No” to clients when you can’t do what’s being asked, or when you think you have a better idea.
  • There are good ways of saying “No,” and there are bad ways of saying “No.”
  • You can learn the good ways of saying “No.”

The immediate benefit of turning down a request you find inappropriate is that you don’t do work that you think shouldn’t be done. In addition to that immediate benefit, saying “No” to a client has at least four good secondary effects:

  • It helps you to gain the customer’s esteem. Clients respect you more when they see you aren’t a pushover. Whether consciously or unconsciously, they place a higher value on your opinion and on your work. If saying “No” is difficult, remember that it’s far more important to berespected by the client than to be liked.
  • By telling the client what you think, you’re doing what you’re paid to do. Even when it’s uncomfortable for him or her to hear, the customer wants your expert opinion. Once they get over any initial shock of being turned down, most clients appreciate the fact that you’re applying your professional judgment.
  • By saying “No,” you protect yourself. You can’t do everything for everybody, and you want to be compensated fairly for what you do. Taking on too much work takes away the time you might apply to more strategic tasks. And remember, you do have a life outside of the job. Don’t fall into the same trap as countless other people, who have so much trouble turning things down that their jobs wind up encroaching on their personal lives.
  • By saying “No” when you mean it, you maintain personal integrity. It’s good to make a habit of telling people the truth. Sometimes the truth is that you don’t intend to do something, or you think you have a better idea.

Saying ‘No’ to a Client

I can think of a lot of bad ways of saying “No,” but only a few good ways. With a little practice, anybody can learn how to say “No” effectively—even to customers. Here are six suggestions of ways to say “No” to a client, each tailored to a specific situation:

  1. When you think what’s being asked is immoral or unethical, point this out to the client, but avoid sounding judgmental. Listen to what the client has to say, and be open to having your own opinion changed. The customer may have valid arguments and shed light on things you hadn’t noticed. But in the end, don’t let anybody pressure you into doing something that goes against your values.
  2. When what’s being asked is not in your contract or agreement with the client, point out the discrepancy—without suggesting that the customer doesn’t understand the contract terms. Here, too, be prepared to change your opinion. After all, you may be the one who overlooked something.
  3. When you don’t feel you’re being paid enough to do what the customer is asking, point out what you think your market value is, and why. Remember to refer to objective market figures, such as the average price charged in your region for the same kind of work. Before you approach the customer, think about things you might trade in the ensuing negotiation. For example, instead of higher pay, the client might promise you a substantial volume of work over the next year.
  4. When doing what the customer asks would jeopardize another important task for the same client, ask the customer to decide which task gets dropped. Offer the client the opportunity to give his or her opinion first, but also be prepared to provide your own views about relative priorities. Try to remain objective and state your opinion in terms of the customer’s interests.
  5. When you don’t think what the client is asking you to do would be beneficial to the client, explain why. Because the customer may have an emotional attachment to what he or she is asking you to do, make sure you have solid arguments backing your views. Be prepared to provide an alternative before getting into this discussion.
  6. When you don’t think you’re capable of doing what the customer is asking you to do, be honest. Before you approach the client, think of who else might be capable of handling this task, or come up with an alternative for it. Keep in mind your own interests—don’t point your customer to your fiercest competitor.

Remember that when you turn down a request from a customer, you’re either creating a new problem or pointing out one that existed unknown to the customer. This brings us to one more general rule to keep in mind when dealing with customers:

Whenever you point out a problem to a customer, always suggest a solution later on in the same conversation.

Prithvi Puttaraju (CEO of InfoNam): Unique Outsourcing Excellence from Vietnam

(By Sagaya Christuraj @

The benefits of outsourcing seem obvious, touted by experts across numerous industries as the answer to cutting costs for business functions ranging from information technology to accounting, marketing and human resources. Many companies have tapped upon this opportunity of catering to these companies. InfoNam is a company that started software engineering outsourcing back in 2010 and is one of a kind in paving way for an India+1 strategy for technology companies, big or small. From the inception they toiled to visualize their big dream by providing clients an innovative partnership that emphasized creativity & cost reduction at every stage of the product development lifecycle that significantly reduced time-to-market getting the customer ahead of the competition.

In a short span of two years the company has catered to the needs of big names in the Media and Entertainment, Mobile Computing, Telecom and Automotive industry and in the process has won the trust of giants such as Sony, Spirent, Hitachi, NEC, Ixia, Renesas, Open Clovis, IDS, Kit D, ANZ and Harman amongst others. InfoNam, headquartered in Cupertino and development center in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam which ranks among the top 25 outsourcing cities in the world, is today one of the top outsourcing companies in the country. The crucial characteristic that truly sets this company in a league of its own is a fantastic concoction of outsourcing from Vietnam with a successful blend of unbelievable costs, Indian processes and solution architects which is a feat, that Prithvi Puttaraju, Founder & CEO, InfoNam and his battalion are very proud of.

Touching First Base temperature in Vietnam is constantly rising and so is the number of technology firms. Regardless of the size of these companies that outsource, they all face similar challenges. The first and foremost is the competition offered by their peers from other emerging countries, notably India. The second is the ability to recruit enough talent to satisfy large projects and last but not least, the sales and marketing strategies coupled with the western management style that need to be deployed to compete in the world class market.

Although many other startups and seasoned campaigners are battling against these tides, the crew at InfoNam, stationed in a Class A infrastructure is relaxing in the chill of the A/C at full blast, knowing that these issues have already been taken care of. The reason being the experience and wisdom that the trio of Ash Bhardwaj, Chairman, InfoNam, a serial entrepreneur with multi-billion dollar success stories of Flextronics Asia, Aricent, SnapStick amongst others along with Rakesh Mathur who had previously founded Webaroo, Junglee, Armedia, Stratify, Snatpstick amongst others and Prithvi, an Entrepreneur with more than two decades of sales, business development and operations experience, brings into the company.

So when the InfoNam team procured a small organization at the end of 2010, they turned it around with their new story and pleased their customers. Mansoor Khan, Head of Business Development & Strategy, Americas came into InfoNam, whose Silicon Valley customer base helped InfoNam attract more customers. In 2011 they retrained the staff, injected the right kind of metrics, processes, development, disciplines, and in mid 2011 started acquiring customers. Mobilizing InfoNam.“Amongst us, we had the right platform and now we had to turn the ship around. We knew exactly what was supposed to be done and our simple mantra was to keep costs low, go delight the customer beyond expectation. I had the support of my team here in Vietnam who diligently worked to follow our vision. We did this one customer after the other, meticulously. The first million is very tough (gaining customer trust), but once you have achieved this, you have created a momentum” says Prithvi.

Vietnam is a place where testing is taken up as a serious career. Engineers walk into InfoNam’s office in Ho Chi Minh City and request for a job in Testing over development, which is not easily found anywhere in the world. There was a huge potential for network configuration testing and wireless products testing, which is the reason InfoNam initially decided to start off working in the domain the company set their sight on the mobility industry towards the end of the 2011. Coincidentally at the same time the world was witnessing the Smartphone war between iOS and Android and the coming of age of the tablets through iPads. 2012 was a milestone for InfoNam in terms of mobility. They got into mobility market and one unique feature of InfoNam is that they have very strong embedded skills. Having this fundamental low level knowledge, it was easy for InfoNam to move in to building applications, porting applications for the Smartphones.

Stepping into Unchartered Territory

Mobility picked up and InfoNam realized the big potential in the media and entertainment
business. They tapped the opportunity and today in the media and entertainment business they develop and test end to end digital content delivery platforms which could be video on demand, print media, e-books and so on, Mobility enablement is a big opportunity growing very fast and the investments InfoNam made in infrastructure, tools and test labs have helped them be close to the customer today. Prithvi says, “We kept pace with the technology evolution and built infrastructure accordingly. Digital media is a given today while the physical media business is clearly declining and M&E companies need teams to implement a good digital strategy to grow, sometimes even to survive. That’s where we are coming in”. We agree this is necessary in today’s world because physical media is a thing of the past. The M&E industry needs to have a digital story; it is a strategy that they must implement to survive. They need the support of content delivery platforms. InfoNam offered Digital Content Delivery services to many companies.

InfoNam helped to achieve the company’s vision by providing them with Enhancement of legacy apps and development of new apps for a better UI/UX experience in watching live or
catch-up video for movies, TV, sports on multiple screens and platforms such as smartphones, tablets, PC/Mac browsers, smart TVs, and set-top boxes with multiple language support.

Testing was a critical challenge to this project and InfoNam QA team put in the right process that helped improve overall product quality.

In some cases the team at InfoNam adapted to customize applications for different geographies as localization becomes an important aspect for the new business growth for the customer. InfoNam has also entered the gaming industry and port games on mobile phones for some of their customers under the Media & Entertainment umbrella.

Expanding their Network

The Telecom industry is a major part of stable revenue for InfoNam. Coming from telecom background, InfoNam management understands the Telecom & Networking industry and the on-going challenges related to Testing, Test Automation & Sustenance of Legacy product. With the investment in strong solution architects, the crew services Wireless AP Companies, Switching & Routing Manufacturers, Carrier, Metro & Datacenter Ethernet Equipment Manufacturers, L4-L7 Appliance Vendors, NGN Equipment Manufacturers, VoIP End Points, Call Management Server vendors and MCU/Video Conferencing Vendors.

“Our testing service is really strong. As a company we take it very seriously and spread it across all the industries” says Mansoor Khan President of Americas.

Another feather in InfoNam’s cap is a strong team with iTest expertise. iTest is owned by Spirent, an integrated test authoring and execution solution built for testers, developers, and automation teams. It provides QA organizations with a unified approach for rapidly developing, automating, and maintaining test cases. iTest is a very popular tool in any large organization today. Not many companies specialize in this domain.

For large telecom companies, developing automation scripts is important but it also consumes abundant technical resources,which can be utilized well on next generation products. The alternative is to utilize a platform, which deeply understands the technologies, scripting techniques and most importantly,, visualizing scenarios. “That is where we step in with our expertise and in-place infrastructure to add tremendous value at low cost for customers, which is very exciting for their management. InfoNam has had less than seven percent attrition for the last two years and this stability directly impacts on productivity in a positive way. Customers love it!,” says Prithvi. They see this growing as a huge space for them.

InfoNam has stepped into Medical & Healthcare areas too with patient portal developments on the application side and remote monitoring on the systems areas. Some of the Japanese companies produce medical equipment in Vietnam and hence the industry is aware of general dynamics of the industry making it easy for InfoNam to attract the right talent.

As any industry has it, InfoNam continues to have its share of challenges. Vietnam is evolving as a software industry with great potential but not there yet. Talent pool is the biggest challenge and also good flow of engineering degree holders, the main ingredient for software services, is low but improving. English communication is an issue too. Prithvi
mentions “We went into Vietnam knowing this and I was confident, after building operations in China, that we will overcome this. It was a very uphill task initially until we built a successful engagement model”.

InfoNam has set a path to capturing services opportunities in the Media & Entertainment, Telecom testing, automotive and Healthcare spaces. In a country with many advantages and challenging factors, InfoNam owes its initial success majorly to the experience of its management team. A look into this magnetic entrepreneur’s past reveals the hurdles he had to overcome to be in the prestigious position he is in today.

Of Prithvi, InfoNam and Vietnam 

Prithvi hails from Bengaluru, India and graduated from BMS college of Engineering. He started off his career by working in a small company’s sales and marketing division. He show cased the entrepreneur inside him very early in his career by initiating a small business in the embedded software sector in the pre Internet era, which eventually was merged into a Software IP organization. During this time he dealt with DSP IP licensing and
software solutions for the emerging SOC/VoIP markets then. With the advent of outsourcing industry in India he was exposed to American, European and Japanese customers.

Over a period of time he worked deeply with Japanese customers before moving on to Hughes Software Systems now Aricent Group. “Software companies in India were picking up very fast. By managing large projects and businesses for Hughes software which was into telecom solutions, I realized the advantages and issues in the outsourcing space in the tech domain,” recalls Prithvi. He moved to China in 2005, taking care of the Hughes software operations. Running the operation for five years, sole expat on the field, he grasped the entire outsourcing gambit of low cost destinations. He learnt Mandarin. Working with Indian and Chinese engineers and global customers he realized that the cost was going up. The customers were constantly not happy about the growing employee turnover, which has an impact on the cost as well as continuity and productivity in the outsourcing business.

They started searching for a place from where services could be delivered at a cheaper cost; with better stability and environment yet make use of the advantages of the other two destinations. It was Ash’s deep insight into emerging markets which brought the idea of setting up in Vietnam where a young, hardworking, highly motivated and well-educated labor force exists. And Prithvi moved to Vietnam to create the InfoNam platform.

Vietnam has a population of close to 85 million people with a high literacy rate of 95 percent. A safe country with a potential to being one of the major hubs in SE Asia. Highly stable and humble workforce who are very leadership driven. A device and gaming society, Vietnam is a tropical country. To cater to such a crowd there was a very small software industry and that is when they decided that this is where they need to go. The clever bit was bringing in Indian processes and solution architects and tying it to Vietnamese engineering. They then made sure the target costs were at a certain point; otherwise the customers were not going to get excited about the story. “Vietnam has a great ecosystem for a large software company to flourish with the right platform. It is clearly an India+1 story for software and you cannot go wrong there. With labor turnover issues all over, the stability that InfoNam can provide is incomparable. So we made sure that the cost points were such that everybody would jump at it while the InfoNam team delivered beyond expectation. Putting these two things together is the recipe for success that attracted customer to InfoNam” says Ash.

Trudging Ahead

InfoNam team is trudging towards becoming one of the largest software outsourcing companies in Vietnam, the dream which passionate investors from the Valley have backed seeing the potential. “We are headed towards making this a large global organization and the potential is very big as we move on we will focus on multi industries and we will build our expertise accordingly,” comments Rakesh. With already a huge list of big names in their clientele and many more in the pipeline it would be safe to say that InfoNam has booked a one way ticket to top of industry.

Multi-team Agile process: Shuffling members to meet shortfalls?

Amy Reichert. Photo:
Amy Reichert. Photo:

(By Amy Reichert @ TechTarget.comAcross the organization, the Agile process is running smoothly. With multiple teams in place, Agile is well on its way to being fully accepted, understood and utilized. The majority of the teams are productive. They work well together, and development is progressing at a solid, sustainable pace.

Here’s the thing: The teams are busy, but some are less so than others. Why not move team members around to speed the progress of the busiest teams? This resource-switching approach could support the Agile process by allowing project managers to plug team members in and pull them out as needed.

Shuffling members among different Agile teams sounds like a good idea, doesn’t it? But don’t do it. It’s a bad idea.

In this tip, I explain why stable teams deliver the best software quality over time — and why resource switching is not an effective strategy for boosting productivity and producing better software.

Forming, storming, norming, performing

It might not be evident at first, but on any established team, members have already learned how to work together to support the Agile process. Disrupting a stable team doesn’t improve software quality or boost team productivity. In fact, it can have the opposite effect. Resource switching doesn’t work because the team has already gone through the “forming” process.

The process of forming a productive team isn’t easy, and it requires a significant commitment of personal energy, time and concentration from each member. When teams first come together, they go through the stages of forming, storming, norming and performing. These are Agile terms for getting to know one another and mapping out strategies that turn strangers into members who grow into stable, productive and high-performing teams over time. When project managers switch out team members, that process has to start all over again. When a stable team is disrupted, you force them to regroup and re-form. When a team stabilizes, it’s a sign that members have learned how to optimize their skills within working relationships. In the most successful Agile teams, members develop a bond that allows them to be productive and interact on a personal, genuine level.

Optimizing Agile processes

Another advantage of stable teams is that they have learned how to optimize their processes. By “processes,” I mean Agile methods and technical processes, such as unit testing, giving demos to testers, code reviews and test reviews, to mention a few. Continuous improvement processes tend to bind members together so they work efficiently. Each time you move members in or out of a team, you force the team to redefine or rework processes. After all, if you think about it as a manager, the members of each team spend a great deal of time and effort getting to know each other — and getting to know how each person responds to varying viewpoints, egos and differences of opinion until they hash out an effective professional working relationship. Once that balance is reached, it’s best to maintain the balance and not disrupt the formative, personal work that’s already been accomplished. The team’s energy now needs to be spent in developing and testing, not in reestablishing team connections.

Stable teams boost productivity, quality

Stable teams have higher productivity and established velocity. They already know how each member works and what they can expect from one another. They’ve established a working order that results in a set velocity that results in more accurate planning. That enables project managers to reliably predict the outcome of a team’s work. But if the team is disrupted — and forced to incorporate new members — velocity and productivity will be in flux until new members find their place in the established team flow.

How do stable teams affect software quality? It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that adding more testers will boost quality. The more testers you have, the more testing that occurs, the greater the quality and the lesser the chance that defects will make their way into production. But this isn’t true for stable Agile teams. In Agile, the whole team bears responsibility for testing, not just the testers. And in my experience, stable and productive teams devote more time to quality. They keep the customer experience in mind and focus on reducing customer issues and defects. Software professionals don’t want to hear that customers of their software have run into a problem. And within an established team, it’s even more personal: The team, not the testers, missed an issue.

Agile produces personal satisfaction

Stable teams provide higher quality and productivity. They also allow members to experience a higher degree of personal satisfaction. “What?” you might be asking. “Personal satisfaction? What has that got to do with anything?” Here’s what: Stable teams provide personal satisfaction. In small groups, most people are able to shine and showcase the depth of their abilities. Stable Agile teams produce star members who might not have been noticed otherwise. As a project manager, it’s vital to provide a consistent, stable work environment to improve employee satisfaction and retention.

Yes, it’s difficult to resist the temptation to switch out team members to fill gaps and holes in other projects. And, yes, even stable teams are likely to change at some point. However, to provide the maximum positive impact on quality, productivity and employee satisfaction, it’s critical that stable teams be kept intact. Plug-and-play simply doesn’t work with real, working people.