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IS Team Management / Acquisition

learn how we've managed an acquisition / team integration of an external IT team

Challenge

In 2011 we were approached by Interactive Solutions – one of the top polish digital agencies and our core business partner – with an idea of transition of their IT team into ITSpree structures and deployment of a long-term outsourcing deal. The main goal behind this project was better cost control and costs transparency on the one hand, but also improved IT management, team scalability and modern development process deployment on the other hand.

Key challenges included:
  • transition of LAMP development team into ITSpree structures
  • transition & unification of all hosting platforms and servers as well as deployment of professional linux servers administration service
  • deployment of an efficient process & development methodology designed specifically for a digital agency needs

Solution

We have designed the transition phase into three stages each one taking approx. one month:

The goal for the first stage was to deploy a new development methodology and QA process within Interactive Solution’s IT team – while the team was still being officially employed by its old employer. The idea behind was to prepare the team for cost controlling mechanism which required specific development methods to be abided. After speaking with Interactive Solutions management we have decided to introduce light agile process based on modified SCRUM methodology. We have also introduced unified code & project management system (TRAC + SVN) as well as release management (with basic staging and separation of hosting platform between internal development & public production servers). Finally we have also started to standardize code building techniques by introducing preferred frameworks & tools to be used across all projects. After first month of transition, the team was using a whole new methodology to build & deploy projects as well as communicate with project managers’ team.

The next stage was to introduce cost control by requiring full man-hours estimation and reporting for all tasks being handled by the team. We wanted all work being send from IS project managers to always be estimated in man-hours and scheduled in on-going development cycle so that PMs know when to expect delivery and at what man-hours costs. We also required all development being held to be reported in executed man-hours. Finally we have developed an easy-to-use system to create reports of the IT team – allowing creation of detailed reports of exact number of billable man-hours being done for specific PM and specific client.

The last stage of transition was formal take-over of the team (employment within ITSpree structured) and introduction of cost rates for each billable man-hour to the Interactive Solution. From this stage PMs knew exactly what will be the estimated cost of each project they held, and IS management could easily see how the overall IT costs split by each project, customer and brand. It was also at this stage were we have moved full IT servers ownership and management to ITSpree as well and introduced a flat-fee for hosting management & administration.


Effect

After a couple of months the IT team learned the strengths of the new development process – the standardization of the tools used in development – from coding framework to code management – introduced long-awaiting order. Frequent communication and on-going estimation of the time needed to accomplish the tasks was also positively received by the PMs team.

Finally the IS management was also happy with the results of the transition – as it not only introduced more control and predictability in the on-going development of digital projects for their customers, but also allowed to have full control over the cost generated by the IT team.
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