e-Zest Certified ACE Partner Profile

On-Site Assessment Report

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1. Introduction

Accelerance has referred you to e-Zest in Pune, India for your outsourced software development needs. e-Zest is an "Accelerance ACE Partner" meaning we have visited and assessed their operations in India and we have certified their software development expertise. This ACE partner on-site assessment report is a written description of that visit by Hugh Morgan, Vice President of Strategic Planning at Accelerance during the spring of 2017. It includes images and links to video you can follow to learn more about e-Zest and the results of our assessment.

The Accelerance Assessment Process 

All Accelerance Partners are carefully evaluated and have their references checked before being accepted into the Accelerance Global Partner Network. Some Partners choose to go through an additional deeper assessment by having Accelerance visit their software development operations; undergoing this assessment enables them to be an Accelerance ACE Partner. 

The goal is not for Accelerance to favor one partner over another. We use the designation Preferred Partner because clients tell us they prefer to work with a partner that they can easily get to know, learn about and trust. The Accelerance onsite assessment and this profile report enable you to select this partner recommended by Accelerance with complete confidence. And if you decide to visit the partner yourself before making a final selection then you will know what to expect, who you will meet and what to look for when you make the trip. 

2. Partner Introduction and Leadership

e-Zest is one of Accelerance's newest partners in South Asia. In addition to deep development knowledge, they are the only firm that offers support for Business Process Outsourcing (BPO).

e-Zest has designed, developed, and is selling its own software products:

e-Zest is likely to be referred to clients who need a partner with the ability to scale and innovate, and with access to deep technical knowledge. 

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They are likely to be referred to North American clients who want a 24-hour work cycle or for clients in Europe who want a partial workday overlap.

Clearly, e-Zest's value proposition is a great benefit to clients who need strong skills, innovation, scalability and affordable pricing.

e-Zest is one of the new breed of Indian software development firms; they are creative, nimble, and forward thinking.

Executive Team and Contacts

The people at e-Zest that you are likely to interact with include:

AAEAAQAAAAAAAAPMAAAAJDM4MGZhNDIzLTljMjEtNDQwYy1iZjg2LTEzOGNhODNkMmQwNg.jpg Satish Chavan, President

Satish Chavan is closely involved in account management activities for key accounts at e-Zest. His goal is to help customers build successful software products.

Specialties: Pre-sales, Business Development, Solution Architecture, Software Project Estimation, SaaS enablement, Mobile and Cloud Strategy Consulting, SaaS Revenue Models, Web 2.0, Cloud Computing, Agile Methodologies, SCRUM, Product Engineering Services, Project Management, HTML5, CSS3, JavaScript Frameworks, software product support, digital marketing, venture funding and Private Equity, Angel investment and seed funding.

3. Location

e-Zest has two dedicated offshore development centers in Pune, one of the major IT hubs in India. One of the centers is located in the heart of the city at Kothrud and the other one at the Rajiv Gandhi IT Park in Hinjewadi. This offshore development office is a 100% export-oriented unit (EOU), registered with the Software Technology Parks of India (STPI). 

IMG_4560.jpgIndia is very mature in terms of software outsourcing. India has been handling outsourced IT projects for more than two decades. Understanding different cultures, business requirements and developing functional domains over many years helps eZest to quickly build the right team and execute projects efficiently. With its huge technologically advanced workforce, resource availability is never an issue. Different language coaching centers and initiatives by different internal agencies help in understanding foreign culture.

In the last decade, Pune has risen as a major IT destination owing to the presence of quality technical institutions and engineering colleges. It is well-connected with the world thanks to an international airport and close proximity to Mumbai. Its industry-friendly environment and weather have boosted the growth of IT services in the city. Programmer availability for any technology is not a challenge in Pune. Additionally, India time zone compliments U.S. time zones. If teams are working at both ends of a project, then deadlines can be met quickly with lower total cost of the project.  

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Travel

Pune is accessible via Delhi or Mumbai, which in turn can be accessed via the Middle East (Dubai, Abu Dhabi) or Asia (Singapore, Hong Kong, Seoul).

Pune International Airport is the closest airport (25 km) to eZest. There are frequent flights to Geneva. Mumbai airport (150 km from Pune) is the second nearest International airport. eZest's facility is just 10 minutes away from the Pune-Mumbai Expressway. 

Visitors from the U.S. and Canada will need a visa to enter the country. It is not necessary to have any special vaccinations when traveling to India.  

IMG_4692.jpgThe Accelerance team traveled from Pune International Airport to our hotel and around the region using Uber. Taxi cabs are fine too, but make sure you have cash and agree to a price in advance. Auto rickshaws are a blast although a little more challenging. Once again, be sure you negotiate the price in advance and have cash.

There was little trouble speaking English in Pune. It is a second language for most Indians and is very common in business. Locals speak Marathi and Hindi, neither of which a visitor needs to know. British English is widely spoken in India. However, they are also exposed to American English. Though it might take some time to adjust to different pronunciations, it has never been a deterrent.

The Accelerance team suggests you plan your visit during the winter months (November - February) to avoid excessive heat. Monsoon season typically runs from June to October.

Accelerance stayed at the Ibis Hotel, Pune. It is a standard business hotel owned by the Accor hotel chain. They have a fitness center, free parking, and an all-you-can-eat breakfast bar.

It is difficult to compare a large Indian city to any other conurbation - they are in a class of their own. The intensity, activity, and size are singularly Indian, as is the street life. While Pune is not as large as nearby Mumbai, it is still a very active city.

Watching a few Bollywood movies - and singing and dancing along to them - and scoring some good Indian food should easily prepare you for your trip. Additional films worth watching include:

Suggested Reading

Anyone willing to learn about Indian Culture and history, can refer to the book “From Midnight to Millennium And Beyond” by Shashi Tharoor. The book explores the history of Indian culture. Travelers can also refer to the book Lonely Planet Maharashtra for general information about Maharashtra and Pune along with maps and routes.   

Visit the following historical sites and attractions:

Rajgad Fort

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Katraj Jain Temple

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Gram Sanskruti Udyan Village Park

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Websites for more information about tourist attractions, restaurants, and shopping: 

Websites to help make travel arrangements:

Cultural and Communication Differences

There are some major cultural differences to consider when visiting India.

  • Attire - Women should dress conservatively in dresses. Men should dress in more formal clothing, not casual clothing.
  • Greeting Standards - In India, people use "Namaste" word and bow their head to greet anyone. Handshakes and hugs are generally not used when greeting people.
  • Dining Etiquette - The left hand is not used when eating.

To compensate for cultural differences, e-Zest invites clients to visit India and encourages their employees to have on-site engagements for firsthand exposure to other cultures. e-Zest introduces various campaigns that give their employees an opportunity to experience foreign cultures through library subscriptions, online tutorials by foreign presenters, and co-organizing workshops with foreign tech professionals so that e-Zest team members get to talk and interact with people.

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American media is widely popular in India. With the Internet being woven into the urban culture so tightly, Indians are exposed to American media. Through books and online subscriptions of Netflix and Amazon Prime Indians are now getting a deeper understanding of American culture and way of life. Indian cable networks also relay some of the better American television series. India is also becoming a large consumer of Hollywood movies. 

e-Zest team members talk to American clients daily. They are abreast with the latest happenings through this interaction. Following the Indian Prime Minister's visits to the U.S., the Indian media has started prominently covering the U.S. in international news. 

Employees are also active users of Facebook. The company's intranet is based on Facebook's private group. 

Indian businesspeople are attuned to the way Americans work and can match them on engagement, problem-solving and process management. When on the street, or in non-business situations, remember that while almost everyone speaks some English, it is almost always their second language. Take time to explain yourself and reframe it more than once if it is clear you are not being understood.

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Safety

When Accelerance traveled to e-Zest, there were no safety warnings in guidebooks or from the U.S. State Department for Pune, India.

Accelerance did not experience any safety concerns. Indian cities are remarkably safe and put large American cities to shame in this regard. Like travel anywhere, it is wise to keep a low profile, avoid flashing money or jewelry, and travel along well-lighted routes, particularly if moving around late in the evening.

Accelerance team members felt completely safe around the hotel where they stayed.

Traffic can be a little chaotic so be alert when walking across a street. Uber is a good way to travel around the city as is auto rickshaw. Again, just be sure to pay with cash and always negotiate the rate prior to using any method of travel in the city.

There was no noticeable police presence or sense of danger during our visit.

4. Business Aspects

In India, SME IT service companies are specialized in one or two technology areas with minimal or no knowledge of user experience led development. e-Zest is one of the very few companies that offer cloud, enterprise mobility, big data and analytics solutions with phenomenal design understanding. Moreover, e-Zest executes projects in Agile while following documentation and workflow guidelines of the enterprise customers. This is a unique way of developing enterprise projects where e-Zest has mastered its Agile development methodology to absorb their clients’ business practices.

IMG_4541.jpge-Zest offers technical solutions which are not only good for current situations but also accommodate future scenarios. In addition, e-Zest offers a one stop solution for all of their clients' needs. They rarely have to partner with outside agencies for one or more modules of the project as e-Zest works in the areas of cloud, enterprise mobility, big data, analytics and user experience. This ensures that project development timelines remain aggressive and inter-team communication happens smoothly without any information loss in information travel. e-Zest is built on the philosophy of OLIVZ which stands for ownership, learning, innovative thinking, value creation and zest for life. These fundamental elements keep programmers ahead of their league and the whole organization keeps improving gradually with every passing day. 

e-Zest exhibits world-class skills in cloud (Azure and AWS), enterprise mobility, big data and Microsoft (Office 365 and SharePoint) technologies. While working with enterprise customers, e-Zest has to follow their process and development workflow which is not always suitable for Agile development. However, understanding this business need, e-Zest has tweaked its Agile development methodology to incorporate these processes. This helps enterprises to continue with their process without impacting the speed of the project.

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On various occasions, e-Zest had the opportunity to work on a project because previous companies were not successful at developing or implementing a solution. e-Zest has always delivered what was promised or expected. In some cases, the complexity of a project made it unattractive for existing vendors of Fortune 500 companies. e-Zest accepted such challenges and successfully delivered the projects. A few of the renowned digital agencies have partnered with us to build backend solutions for their complex frontend solutions for leading enterprises around the world. 

e-Zest is an SEI-CMMI Level-3, ISO 27001:2013 and ISO 9001:2015 certified global IT Services Company providing software consulting and development services and enterprise business solutions utilizing cloud, mobility, business intelligence and analytics, UI/UX and collaboration as key competency pillars for its multi-faceted delivery approach.

e-Zest provides the following services:

  • Global Onsite/Offshore Software Development
  • Custom Software Development/Bespoke Software Development
  • Independent Software Testing
  • Web Development
  • Professional Staffing
  • Open Source Software Implementation and Customization
  • Enterprise Integration Services
  • Digital Experience Engineering
  • Mobile Development Services
  • Content Management System
  • Document Management System
  • BI Development Services
  • ERP Development Services
  • Managed IT Services
  • Cloud Services
  • Datalytics Services
  • Business Analysis and Consulting
  • Quality Systems Consulting
  • Innovation-as-a-Service
  • System Re-engineering and Rejuvenation
  • Maintenance and Support Services
  • Remote Infrastructure Management
  • Business Process Outsourcing
  • Knowledge Process Outsourcing
  • Product Engineering Services

Product Acquisition – e-Zest recently announced the acquisition of SmarterMe, a personal assistant for sales powered by an intelligent mobile platform that is enabling sales people from small businesses to Fortune 500 enterprises to work smarter. SmarterMe humanizes the enterprise workflow of the individual sales person by replicating a real life personal assistant into the flow of their work, through an intuitive mobile app, that not only increases the productivity of the individual sales representative but also helps enterprises get the most out of their CRM and cloud investments.

e-Zest IPs – With innovation as e-Zest’s leading light, coupled with extensive technology experience, e-Zest has built products which can accelerate business’ time to market, build digital products and put them on the fast track to digital transformation at exciting costs.

e-Zest offers the following innovations for different businesses:

  • CloudMAP  Centralized Orchestrator to manage Cloud Assets and tools in a simple and consistent manner across enterprise;
  • SCORM Offline player;
  • TaBit – A web-based platform that creates rich mobile applications. These mobile applications run on multiple devices and work offline. The Tabit web platform also allows you to modify the content of these applications in real-time;
  • IRIS – Knowledge management system;
  • eZe Social Intelligence  Social Media Analytics to gauge sentiments of users and pitch the right deal to the right group at the right time by analyzing their posts on social media and identifying their sentiments about different topics/ideas/products;
  • BIVA – A powerful dashboard solution to fulfill business data consumption needs out of the heaps of data from multiple sources and is built on strong JavaScript library which produces dynamic, interactive data visualizations in web browsers.

IMG_4573.jpgDuring the assessment, Accelerance saw evidence of e-Zest's differentiation. Their customer experience team focuses on optimizing key areas of product and user experience, business process, and customer service. Their initial focus is on research, behavioral analysis and questioning set notions, practices to determine areas of improvement, as well as constraints for clients.

e-Zest offers cutting-edge technology software development, consulting and integration services to enterprises and ISVs with a strong sense of user experience with faster time to market. Its business models are built to help clients achieve objectives and goals. Having offices in India, the U.S. and Europe, e-Zest provides contractual flexibility to clients to execute contracts at preferred locations.

e-Zest is a perfect fit for clients looking to outsource complex IT projects which involve interplay of different technologies (cloud, mobile, big data, and collaboration) with engaging user experience to be delivered at aggressive timelines.

Size and Organization of Workforce

e-Zest’s programmers are spread across the U.S., Europe and India depending on clients' requirements.

e-Zest offshore development centers are located at:

  • Kothrud Office: Anand Nilay Business Center, Near Karve Statue, Karve Road, Kothrud Pune – 411029
  • Maharashtra India Digital Innovation Center: IT -9 Building 3rd Floor BlueRidge - SEZ Phase-1 Hinjewadi

e-Zest has around 400+ programmers and 50+ non-technical staff. The general experience level of programmers is:

  • Junior Level: 60-80;
  • Middle Level: 120-140;
  • Senior Level: 200-250.

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Project teams are organized on the basis of client requirements, technical solution and the timelines in which the project needs to be executed. The choice of developers depends on the technology chosen to implement the project. In general, the structure is as follows:

  • Account Manager (acts as the single point of contact for all client communication)
  • Project Manager
  • Business Analyst
  • Solution Architect
  • Interaction Designer
  • Visual Designer
  • UI Designer
  • UX Expert
  • Developers
  • Test Engineers
  • DevOps Engineers
  • SMEs
  • Cloud Engineers
  • SQAs
  • Technical Writer

IMG_4496.jpgProgrammers are managed in various programming practices by e-Zest's technology based Centre for Excellence (CFEs). CFE spearheads the technology initiatives at e-Zest. CFE is the owner of technology quality, the excellence of technical delivery and cutting edge proficiency in identified skills. There are multiple CFE and Support Groups that have been working with a multitude of global customers in delivering various technology solutions. These are technology focused units consisting of a Lead and a team of experts that track allied technologies and new developments, foster internal resources to gain competencies in new areas, provide subject matter guidance on technology evangelization, best practices, research, support and/or training for using best practices around a specific focus area to drive business or customer-valued results.

e-Zest has dedicated CFEs in the following technology areas: Microsoft Center for Excellence; JAVA Center for Excellence; LAMP Center for Excellence; Open Source Technology Center for Excellence; Mobility Center for Excellence; UX Center for Excellence.

e-Zest has processes in place to minimize staff changes and replacements. It is a constant endeavor to maintain the core team until the final release. If an unforeseen or unavoidable circumstance arises and a team member needs to be replaced, he/she is replaced with an equally qualified and experienced team member. On average, for every 100 projects that are implemented, team members have been changed on 5-6 projects. 

Facilities

IMG_20170330_113359.jpgOne of e-Zest’s offices is located in the Blue-Ridge special economic zone (SEZ) which is one of the largest technology parks in the country. Their office space is situated on the 3rd floor of the IT-9 building. This commercial zone houses a number of global IT companies with offices in nine different buildings. The buildings have an underground parking facility. In the surrounding area, there are residential complexes, banks, restaurants, and general stores.

The current capacity:

  • Total workstations  242
  • Meeting rooms  9
  • Telephone booths for conference calls  9
  • Formal discussion areas  3
  • Dedicated training room  30 seats
  • Cafeteria capacity  100
  • Blueridge has a common cafeteria 1000 seating capacity

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They are able to expand the number of workstations by an additional 202 and add another 3 meeting rooms at their current location.

The e-Zest SEZ offshore development center has 38,000 Sq.Ft. with a sitting arrangement capacity for more than 700.

There are close to 150 employees working in the Kothrud office, more than 350 at the SEZ office, and some 50+ onshore and at client locations.

e-Zest wants to grow its team member strength to 700 in the near future and has plans to expand to 900 shortly thereafter. They have enough space to accommodate the estimated 700 programmers. Efforts are to increase its capacity in the U.S. and Europe through opening development centers or by increasing the number of onsite team members at these territories.

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There are more than 60 security guards on the technology campus throughout the day covering the basement, lift lobby of each tower; reception lobbies; transformer substation yard; plant and utility room; service lift; main entry and exit point; and traffic control and navigation in the parking area.

All entries and exits are restricted through Blueridge SEZ main gates. At any point in time, at least three guards are present at each of the Main Entry-Exit Gates. Employees have to produce the company ID every time they enter the premises. Failure to do so results in No Entry.

At e-Zest, special attention is given to security. Access to the facility is controlled by Biometric System. Only authorized personnel with registered biometric (thumb impression) are allowed access inside. Server rooms and dedicated Offshore Development Centers (ODC) are controlled with a separate biometric with access to relevant and authorized personnel only. 

5. Human Resources

Recruiting

e-Zest finds employee candidates through various sourcing channels that include the TA software database, job portals, employee referrals or references, website database/emails, social media sites i.e., Facebook or LinkedIn, revisit candidate database, advertisements, rehire former employees and consultants.

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e-Zest has signed MoUs with different universities. Professionals from e-Zest goes to these universities for student interactions and workshops. e-Zest is also called to judge various technical events at these universities/colleges. They also have student interns from colleges. e-Zest conducts various events such as Hackathon, where students participate. Through interactions with students e-Zest offers placements for those who are qualified and talented.

e-Zest frequently hires programmers from large companies in the area and from other cities in the country. It is observed that the programmers from large companies like the open and transparent work culture of e-Zest.

Pune is one of the biggest IT hubs in India and is a home to the largest IT companies in the world. A few of the companies in the vicinity are Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), Infosys Accenture, Cognizant, Tech Mahindra, L&T InfoTech, and Persistent Systems.

e-Zest's talent pool database has 50,000 candidates and the pipeline of candidates is around 45-50.

A dedicated staff of eight recruiters works at e-Zest and the company has an employee referral incentive program to encourage the hiring of like-minded and dedicated programmers.

e-Zest recruiters ensure that all programmers have a bachelor’s degree in the field of information technology and related subject.

The academic divisions in India are broadly divided into the following categories: Pre-primary, Primary, Secondary, Higher Secondary, Graduation (Bachelors Degree), Post-Graduation (Masters Degree).

IMG_4523.jpge-Zest is one of the fastest growing technology companies in the Asia-Pacific region. With a strong global presence, they offer tremendous opportunities for career growth. Close to 40 % of programmers have advanced degrees in the field of Information Technology and Computer Application Management. 

Clients can expect to have programmers with hands-on experience in technology on their team. e-Zest strives to have a right-sized development team working on client projects which include the right combination of developers, test engineers, architects, technical leads and project managers.

IMG_4490.jpgAt e-Zest, the candidate screening and selection process are usually carried out in three stages. The first one is shortlisting candidates by HR professionals. The second phase consists of a "Technical Round" which includes a phone interview followed by a face-to-face meeting to discuss technical and non-technical skills. The last one is where communication skills are evaluated. Depending upon the experience and performance of the candidate in all the rounds he/she will be offered the position in the organization. The newly adopted process to hire candidates will consist of an online test instead of a technical telephone interview. The technical rounds can vary according to the requirements of the position. For example coding, testing etc.

e-Zest doesn’t test for English proficiency. English is the first language for technical undergraduate courses in India. 

At e-Zest, clients are encouraged to participate in the interviewing process. 

The recruitment time varies from 15 days to 3 months at e-Zest. In the case of urgent recruitments, e-Zest buys out the notice period of the candidate. In such cases, a new programmer can be onboard in 15 days. Normally, the process extends to 3 months as the programmer has to give a two-month notice to their current employer, which is a standard notice period in the Indian IT services industry.

Training

e-Zest is committed to its employees by continuously upgrading their skills and giving consultants opportunities to stay current with leading-edge technologies and to develop their technical as well as their soft skills so that they can perform their roles effectively and efficiently. To maintain this level of expertise, e-Zest provides training to consultants as and when required.

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When a new employee is interviewed, areas of improvement are identified and training provided. Additional training and upgrading skills for existing employees are determined during the annual employee appraisal, during regular meetings when feedback is obtained from peers, and if during a project it is determined that individual team members need new skills or has areas that need improvement.

In addition, e-Zest requires additional skill upgrade for:

  • Strategic training initiatives on emerging technologies;
  • Internal trainers are identified and encouraged to conduct training in their expert areas; 
  • Learning evaluations are conducted at various levels to measure effectiveness;
  • All team members are encouraged to attend programs to enhance their technical and personal skills.

Although e-Zest doesn’t provide English language training internally, they encourage employees to attend ToastMaster class. Employees are reimbursed for the cost of the program once they successfully complete the course. 

IMG_4488.jpgAll new employees are introduced to the OLIVZ value system followed at e-Zest, during their induction program. Through various fun activities like games, quizzes and competitions, employees are educated on the value system and culture. 

Management training or workshops are conducted from time to time at e-Zest. Some of them are conducted on the company premises and some are executed offsite. The training is on different topics such as leadership, mentoring, performance review, budget setting, and negotiation skills etc.

Size and Capacity

e-Zest wants to expand their company to 700 people in the near future and increase that number to 900 programmers. e-Zest has not set a limit on the number of programmers as they plan to continue to grow. 

e-Zest's recruitment team has recruited more than 30 people in a month for clients. e-Zest has a separate business unit which is responsible for providing consultants to customers where recruitment is the key process. The whole company benefits from the best practices developed by this team at e-Zest. In addition, they have external recruitment agencies and trained internal programmers conduct interviews so the hiring process can be done quickly when needed.

In 2016 e-Zest's retention statistics was 27%.

IMG_4570.jpgIt can be somewhat arduous for an employee to get a visa to travel to the U.S. It is necessary to strictly follow all the guidelines and deadlines that are required to process applications. Visa rejections are very low for e-Zest employees; 95% of applications qualify for approval. It takes one week for an employee to get a visa to visit the U.S. Records indicate that through the years, fewer than five e-Zest employees have been refused a visa to travel to the U.S.

The average time span for an e-Zest employee to visit a client in North America is four to six weeks.

6. Technology

e-Zest has built internal specialized practices to learn newer technologies that have not yet become mainstream. Volunteering at these excellence centers allows programmers to develop PoCs that help them acquire hands-on experience in these technologies. These excellence centers also bring out solution accelerators which are then consumed in existing or future projects to reduce overall development efforts. e-Zest has set up such excellence centers for cloud computing, enterprise mobility, big data and Microsoft modern computing technologies along with user experience practice.

e-Zest's integration capabilities and center of excellence for data analytics were quite impressive. Their integration architects have experience in assimilating business applications and products with enterprise platforms like SAP, Oracle Apps, Salesforce, Sharepoint, Adobe Enterprise Manager as well as prevalent social platforms. Apart from API based integration, E-Zest has also performed integration using middleware platforms like TIBCO, OpenESB and EDI formats including HL7 for the healthcare industry.

E-Zest’s C.F.E. for data analytics solutions has a wealth of skills and competencies in traditional BI platforms like Business Objects, Microstrategy as well as migrating from such platforms to modern solutions like Tableau, Talend, Pentaho and PowerBI. This CFE also works in Big Data stack, cloud platforms, semantic analysis and machine learning. Their product, SmarterMe, is a creation of this CFE and heavily uses big data stack to deliver powerful email search capabilities via a smart inbox.

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A variety of software development methodologies are followed at e-Zest. The choice of a particular methodology primarily depends on project need and client preferences. Following are a few models followed:

  • Waterfall
  • Iterative Prototype
  • Agile Scrum
  • Rational Unified Process

The Waterfall model is utilized for projects where requirements are defined and elaborated in detail and there is less chance of scope change. In this approach major phases include: 

  • Knowledge Acquisition/Requirements analysis
  • Application Design and Architecture
  • Coding/Product Customization and Features Development
  • Testing and Pilot
  • Deployment and Hosting
  • Knowledge Transfer and User Training
  • Support and Maintenance Phase 

The Agile Execution Approach

For projects with evolving requirements and short release cycles, Agile execution approach is recommended to accommodate the new requirements quickly and release the product for review and feedback on regular intervals. e-Zest divides the project into individual work items (Sprints) which is considered as an individual deliverable and goes through the complete development lifecycle. 

Iterative Prototype Enhancement Model (IPEM)

An approach developed by e-Zest that combines best practices from Waterfall and Iterative and Agile methodologies to create a general model best suited for custom software and product development. Inherent characteristics of these are: iterative and incremental; use case driven; architecture-centric; risk focused.

IMG_4487-2.jpge-Zest is compliant with and certified by leading quality management bodies and partners with technology companies to deliver consistent technology advantages. They have entered into multiple affiliations to facilitate global business while complying with local laws.

e-Zest uses the following tools to collaborate with clients: Slack; Skype/Skype for Business; TFS; Jira; Rally; Trello; Basecamp; Zoom Meeting; E-mail; GoToMeeting; WebEx.

e-Zest manages the performance of consultants through quarterly review sessions since timely feedback is important for continuous performance improvement. The annual performance review is conducted by taking all the quarterly review observations into account in collaboration with the client’s performance evaluation process. 

The scope of the performance measurement is divided as follows: 

Client Feedback

The Project Team is the best entity to review the technical skills of a consultant along with the possibility of future potential contribution to the project. Feedback is given on the parameters of Quality of Work; Ability to Work Independently; Job Knowledge and Competence; Planning and Organization; Initiative and Motivation; Professionalism and Team Work.

Account Manager Feedback

The dedicated off-shore Account Manager actively interacts with the consultant and the project team. The feedback sessions are conducted semi-annually and annually.

The Account Manager collects information from the client on the technical skills of a consultant and other skills that would add value to their project like coding skills, design and architecture capabilities, quality of work delivered, conduct at the IMG_4495-2.jpgworkplace, etc. This feedback is shared with individual consultants. Areas needing improvement are also discussed with consultants. This helps pinpoint the skills and competencies of a consultant that are currently inadequate. A Skill Matrix is prepared for consultants to map the required level of skills against the actual skill proficiency. This is done to identify training needs at the start and while executing the project. As the need arises, training is provided on technology skills and soft skills. e-Zest runs various certification programs and encourages all its team members to become certified and stay up-to-date with technologies.

Consultants are rated on Key Performance Indicators on a scale of 1(minimum) to 7 (Maximum). Sample KPI for a Senior Software Engineer:

I.  Category Objectives Implementation

  1. Ensure all tasks are completed on time (meets deadlines).
  2. Ensure that code is reviewed by the senior team member - mention the number of instances this has been done.
  3. Ensure that coding standards are followed.
  4. Ensure that best practices being used on the project are understood and maintained while in the new implementation.
  5. Demonstrates Technical/Job Knowledge during execution.
  6. Ensures code delivered is unit tested.
  7. Ensure that new features implemented do not introduce other defects in other modules.
  8. Able to present own development views in relation to business with ease.
  9. Analyze situations where reusable components can be built (out of the box thinking).
  10. Ensure code review is being done for junior team members - mention the number of instances this has been done.
  11. Ensure task descriptions are added while making time entries.
  12. Ensure defects identified in the reviews are closed in the given time.
  13. Ensure that in the case of leave of absence all relevant files are checked in and KT done for colleagues.

II.  Application/Domain Knowledge

  1. Ensures that domain knowledge is obtained from the BA for the project.
  2. Analytical ability (to perform work analysis and self-analysis). Impact analysis of requirement changes across modules.
  3. Understand the product and application domain.
  4. Understand the system design and DB design of the product being developed.
  5. Analytical ability (to perform root cause analysis for bugs/defects) and proactive actions to eliminate repeated issues.

III.  Communication

  1. Timely communication of deliverable deadlines - communicate in complete openness and with full transparency any potential issues and problems regarding timing and estimates as quickly as possible (proactively before and not after the fact).
  2. Able to respond to internal team members (project team members).
  3. Listens to others' views on continuous improvement.
  4. Able to respond to customers both internally and externally quickly.
  5. Communicates task completion in advance and takes up new tasks if not allocated.

IV.  Group Participation

  1. Able to interact and adjust well with team members.
  2. Listens to others’ viewpoints.
  3. Able to be assertive as and when required.
  4. Helps others.
  5. Ensures lessons learned are added in Whizible.

V.  Initiative

  1. Keen to work on the tasks assigned.
  2. Shows interest in learning new technologies & concepts.
  3. Learns from mistakes committed.
  4. Ensure "leaves" planning is done in relation to project deadlines.
  5. Trains/teaches/shares knowledge with peers as and when required voluntarily.
  6. Participates in organizational initiatives.

VI.  Organizational Discipline

  1. Timely entries of timesheets.
  2. Basic Responsibility and Professionalism.
  3. Attendance/Punctuality.

This all-round-year monitoring of performance enables the Account Manager to generate an informed annual feedback.

Annual performance review is just an extension of the normal performance discussion carried out all year long. This is done by having the consultants fill out a self-IMG_4519-1.jpgassessment form and highlighting all his/her achievements during the performance cycle. Account manager then fills in his/her observations that are collected in the semi-annual reviews. A healthy discussion is then carried out by engaging the employees in a two-way discussion by integrating the feedback from the client with feedback from the account manager.

The feedback gathered from the client and the account manager is synced to generate a fair review. The annual performance review is carried out on a tool called HRMantra. The tool registers feedback on parameters that are generated by taking the Key Performance Indicators listed in the semi-annual reviews and merging them with the standards shared by the client for feedback. 

e-Zest keeps refining the evaluation process by incorporating feedback and suggestions from clients on the skills identified for monitoring the evaluation process. Sometimes a performance measurement process is also developed that is mutually agreed upon between the client and e-Zest.

e-Zest uses both automated and test-driven development. The best approach is selected depending on the business case, market priority and nature of engagement.

7. Conclusion

e-Zest has experience in healthcare, the public sector, finance, manufacturing, and e-learning. They understand the complexities of designing, delivering and selling software products by virtue of their own product portfolio.

e-Zest has designed, developed and is selling its own software products (CloudMAP, IRIS, Tabit, Offline SCORM Player).

e-Zest enables clients to contract with them in a variety of ways.

  • A dedicated team model (preferred)
  • Augment the client team with fractional resources
  • Provide a fixed bid for projects

 e-Zest is in the top 5% of software development firms that Accelerance has surveyed.

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Companies thinking about hiring their own staff will find the process takes longer, it reduces flexibility and costs more. Outsourcing to e-Zest gives clients:

  • Access to a deep pool of technical talent;
  • The flexibility to scale (and shrink) quickly;
  • The ability to save money (versus hiring domestically).

e-Zest is a leader in software development and outsourcing and offers teams with hyper-current technical skills (Microsoft, Java) in a dedicated team format using the Agile methodology.

e-Zest team members are encouraged to share their thoughts on various issues and topics in general. Team members have written a variety of blogs, articles and informative white papers from a business, technical, operational and delivery perspective. To promote blogging and acknowledge the work put in by the writers, e-Zest organizes an annual “Blogger’s Party” wherein all the writers and content generators are felicitated and awarded.   

Please take a moment and check out the Accelerance blog post about outsourcing to India.