Merce

Models of engagement

  • Models of Engagement

    We can engage with customers in various models, for different types of requirements. A quick overview of those models will help understand the case studies better.

    Fixed-price projects. The customer wants us to build a software solution and hand over the full system to them. Our only responsibility after delivery is for bug fixes for (typically) six months after delivery. Billing in these projects is against delivery milestones.

    Our largest engagement has been for a bespoke ERP project of about twenty person-years.

    T&M teams. The term means "Time and Materials". We provide a team of developers either at customer site or in our premises. The customer hands over existing source code, lists tasks, and monitors delivery at a task level. Our managers manage the team and are answerable for task closure, assigning engineers to tasks, etc. The larger fixed-price projects usually transition into T&M engagements for application support and extensions. Billing is per calendar month or quarter, as per person-month rates.

    Today, we are capable of setting up and sustaining T&M teams of upto about 50-60 technical professionals. Larger teams are possible if all their members are in a single location.

    Staff augmentation teams. This is a variation on the T&M model, where we provide the team on our rolls, but the customer is involved in task allocation, assigning developers to tasks, and delivery responsibility. If they face performance issues with a specific team member, we replace him or her. For larger teams, we may assign a full-time or part-time Account Manager who handles administrative functions, but not task allocation and closure. Billing is per calendar month or quarter, as per person-month rates.

    We are capable of setting up and sustaining staff augmentation teams of 100+ technical professionals, specially if they are in a single location.

    Hands-on consulting assignments. These are one-shot fixed-price "projects" but with a different mix of resource requirements. These are usually very small assignments (often less than a month) where more senior or technically competent engineers are assigned. The work content typically involves

    • solving a specific problem
    • developing a small and specialised component
    • performing post facto analysis of an incident

    Billing is usually in two parts, one in advance with the order and one at the end.

    Advisory consulting. These are assignments which involve review, audit, guidance, and advice, with no hands-on work. Areas of engagement may include:

    • IT strategy and integration with overall business strategy
    • IT solution architecture (for an end-user organisation)
    • Product comparison, evaluation and vendor selection
    • Process guidance and training for IT dev teams
    • Team design, senior personnel selection, recruitment, training, team buliding
    • Software product engineering processes and standards (for software product companies)

    These assignments are usually handled directly by our 1-2 seniormost team members. Billing is usually per day. Retainership contracts often indicate the size of engagement, e.g. 2 days a month, or 10 days over a period of several months, etc.

  • Types of projects

    For fixed-price projects and hands-on consulting assignments, there are various possible models which may be chosen.

    Bespoke apps For these projects, any model of engagement may be followed. But we typically engage with the customer for an early release in the fixed-price model, followed by further development, extensions and application maintenance using one of the outsourced-team models.

    Solutions These are projects which are built on re-usable code, e.g. a learning management solution on top of Moodle. These projects are almost always structured as a fixed-price project for a v1.0 release. This release is quite quick, often within four (4) weeks of receiving of order. After the v1.0 release, all further work is often done with a small outsourced-team model.

    Sometimes, when the customer has a lot of clarity about his requirements, we undertake 1-2 additional releases in the fixed-price model and then follow it with further maintenance with an outsourced team.

    Hands-on consulting assignments are always as per a fixed price contract. They are usually too small and disruptive (for us) to use any other model.

RELATED READING

  • Case studies

    Work we have done for other customers in various engagement models