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Situational Summary

Andy Hilliard spoke with Austin-based Hema Ramaswamy SVP, Engineering of Tracer. This globally distributed team-building initiative is Hema’s #1 priority and she and her engineering managers will be largely responsible for selecting and working with new partners.

Tracer is a data intelligence platform, working with leading global brands, partners, and agencies to provide a single source of truth across their data. Their goal is to empower our clients to make better decisions by aggregating cross-platform data and adding business context, to provide transparency into business performance and answer questions unique to their business. They are currently solving data challenges for some of the world's biggest brands, agencies, and publishers. Their target audience is Media Agencies and their CIOs.

Tracer was incubated within VaynerMedia and spun out in 2018 as its own company. They closed their seed funding round in June 2021 at nearly $10MM. They are an NYC-based company with around 60 employees with more than half in engineering and growing fast. Today they are an invite-only platform but that will soon change and open the floodgates for growth.

Throughout the pandemic, competition has ramped up in the cloud database and analytics market, as well as adtech more broadly. Tracer is among those competitors, a marketing data aggregation and reporting platform that has integrations with some of the biggest cloud service vendors including Amazon, Microsoft, and Google, as well as social networks like Facebook and Snap.

Tracer works by pulling in and making sense of all types of data — everything from customer IDs to revenue figures — visualizing a company’s media spend across campaigns and platforms.

The software integrates with data visualization services like Salesforce-owned Tableau.

Tracer’s elements of data strategy:

People

Traditionally, the problem is that the engineering teams don’t have enough business context, and the business teams don't understand the necessary technology. We bridge the gap. Our team can speak both languages.

Process

We work with our clients and their partners to ensure that there is a long-term process to collect and manage data. Without doing so, it's garbage in / garbage out, no matter how good your technology.

Product

Product is what allows our process and people to scale. It's how one of our analysts can outproduce entire analytics teams. It’s how a trained pilot can fly so many planes.

Tracer Platform

A browser-based system to manipulate, report on, and analyze all of your data. The technology becomes your “plane”.

Vision

Tracer and Hema’s vision is to scale the company and build teams that will build products that Tracer is extremely proud of. The plan is to build both nearshore and offshore teams through multiple partners to leverage timezones and talent pools while mitigating vendor risk.

Hema wants to grow in a predictable manner. They have a great culture and focus on team and individual quality and she is keen to maintain that. The Tracer team is adamant about not growing the business before engineering is ready to be out ahead of forecasted growth.

Offshore Experience

Hema has good experience working with global engineering groups. Tracer does not, given their infancy. 

Current State IT Capability and Capacity

Tracer is currently running (6) teams in platform engineering with 3 of those being feature teams. There is also an architecture and a data team.

Tracer’s tech stack and target partner tech focus are here: https://tracer.tech/open-position.html?gh_jid=4022265003. Basically, it is:

  • Python / Pandas
  • PostgreSQL
  • Django REST framework
  • Heroku / AWS
  • React / Redux

Working with a New Partner - Relationship Vision and Timing

Hema envisions each partner starting with 3-5 engineers and spending a few months proving themselves before the prospect of growing the team. Per Hema, this could grow to 10-15-20+ resources per partner over time with success. 

She sees the Tracer engineering function at perhaps 75% onshore 25% offshore by year-end 2022 if things go to plan.

Initially, Tracer domestic would be building the “nuts and bolts” of the platform while the global teams add integrations and such.

Outsourced Team member and Partner characteristics

Hema expects partners and team members to have “strong opinions, loosely held”, meaning she wants confident, capable team members who will make their expertise and opinions known while also getting quickly and easily onboard leadership direction for the collaborative good of the team. While these partners and resources won’t be working directly with Hema, she does prefer partners and team members who are thoughtfully direct and decision-making oriented.

Desired Partner Characteristics

Do you have any preferences for the following items? If yes please explain why.

  • Location: 
    • One team of 3 to start and then growing to 5 a few months later and then scaling from there offshore: either Asia or Eastern Europe with some preference to Eastern Europe
    • One team of 3 to start and then growing to 5 a few months later and then scaling from there nearshore Latin America
  • Time Zone: Yes and No depending on partner location
  • Partner size: It’s important that Tracer is not “a small fish in a large pond.” This relationship should have partner prioritization and visibility to ensure that Tracer is getting the attention and quality they are looking for.
  • Budget: Andy socialized current pricing for the different regions given the attributes and benefits Hema and Tracer is looking for and Hema stated she was ok with these ranges. (Asia $30-50/hr, Eastern Europe 40-70/hr, LatAm 35-70/hr). FTE Forecast Worksheet (see below)
  • Industry Experience: none required
  • Other SME: are there other areas of expertise that you’d like the partner to bring?
  • Certifications: none required
  • English Fluency: Leads should definitely be fluent and supporting team members can be less so. This widens the talent pool, reduces costs and supporting people will receive direction from team leads.

Onboarding and Ramp-Up

Budget and Funding

Between seed funding by financially solid investors, growth in invitation mode, and imminent public introduction of the platform, Tracer is well-positioned to fund engineering and company growth.

Hema understands the trends in global pricing based on recent supply and demand drivers and she is relatively cost-conscious but cost-less-sensitive. Essentially, she wants quality talent that shares the same mentality and culture of Tracer. The model of onshore-offshore will result in a better cost-effective model but she won’t sacrifice quality.

Decision Making Process and Timing

Hema doesn’t foresee any impediments that would otherwise derail this initiative. As mentioned, this is her #1 priority currently. She is the primary decision maker and her recommendations will be approved and supported by Senior Management.

Our Recommendations

Accelerance has considered your objectives and partner selection criteria in the context of all members in the Accelerance Global Partner Network. Given your declared needs and objectives, Accelerance is delighted to introduce the below Certified Partners as our top aligned choices to work as a dedicated Partner.

These accomplished groups are excellent representatives of the 60+ Members of our Global Service Provider Network.

 

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Partner Information and Other Relevant Materials

Accelerance gathers and compiles relevant due diligence information on our Partners to share with you. This includes presentations, Assessments, blogs, and Accelerance Video Interviews of Partner leaders discussing topics of outsourcing interest. To review the information and other relevant material for your top-aligned Accelerance Partners, click on the links below.

What Personalsoft has to say about your project

Hi Andy,

Thanks for involving us in this opportunity. Tracer looks like a fantastic client for us. Very similar to the type of client we aspire to serve and serve best. We started developing our data practice a few years ago, and we are excelling with some clients and we really want to keep working in that direction.

I think it is worth highlighting our experience with McAfee where the challenge was to design and implement in conjunction with the customer’s subject matter specialists, a new architecture to achieve a drastic reduction in time and costs' processing of a huge data volume collected from global endpoints (customer's installs), to put the results at disposal of cyber analysts as soon as possible. To meet user’s needs, a data pipeline was built in AWS EC2 instances, that after receiving raw data from different endpoints, publishes them on an Apache Kafka data bus. Then, using Apache Flink's streaming capabilities, a data processing phase begins through a series of steps (validation, translation, normalization, aggregation in windows of ~20 mins). This is an in house ETL implemented in Java with Spring.  I don't want to extend with the details but we will love to double click with Tracer if you think it could be of use.

Specifically related to Tracer our Python engineers have been working with Apache PySpark  and Apache Airflow (among others) helping a US client with the design of a flexible framework that allows defining any type of Airflow Operator, precisely defining: its inputs, its internal process, its outputs and everything necessary for it to work autonomously.  

Andy, we would really like to meet Hema and the Tracer team

Best, 

 

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What Rishabh Software has to say about your project

Andy,

We have been reviewing the attached you've shared with part of our team and we understand we are more than capable to partner with Tracer. Likewise, we see both the client and the opportunity as very interesting to work with.

Regarding our rationale, we believe we can have a great impact as we have done, and are currently engaged, in several opportunities regarding data management and are more than familiar with the process regarding a ramp-up and management of a team with required skillsets. Also, we have had several experiences working with Tracer's integrations partners like AWS, Tableau, Azure, and Google Cloud. Last but not least, we are successfully working with several clients that seem totally aligned with Hema's concerns regarding partners' individual quality, predictability, ownership, and decision-making capabilities.

We are serious about our work and joyful about life, eager to learn because growth goes beyond a single project.

Please let us know the potential next steps and tentative dates for a quick call.

We look forward to working with Tracer!

Thanks,

 

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Recommended Reading

Conclusion

After you review this proposal please respond with feedback and questions so that we can clarify your needs and preferences.

The next recommended step is to have a brief 1 hour video call with two or more recommended partners using a simple agenda below. You will use the calls to validate shared information while exploring other related topics like how they work with clients and how they would create and ramp up your team, what software development methods they use with clients, case studies, metrics, etc... You can choose to keep the call at the business level or you can make it more technical.

Partner Intro Video Call - Recommended Agenda

  • 15 min: Overview of your company background and project goals and objectives.  
  • 15 min: Partner overview and review of their ability to support your software development needs
  • 25 min: Q & A 
  • 5 min: Next Steps
Ryan Schauer
Partner Success Manager
Accelerance Inc.