Firm's 'Hybrid Solution' Yokes Local and Foreign Talent To Meet Demand for Programmers and Software
Companies that send their software projects overseas can lose control and run into insurmountable cultural barriers, says Ben Boverman, president of Clockwork Software Associates Corp. in Ashland, Mass., near Boston.
A surprising opinion, it seems, since many of Clockwork's programmers are in Kiev, Ukraine.
The year-old firm, however, has pioneered a "hybrid solution" that blends the efforts of senior software professionals here with the cost-effective use of foreign programmers. Clients' projects are done right, on time and at much lower cost, he says.
"You can't expect overseas programmers, who don't understand American culture and business, to handle projects without a detailed roadmap," Boverman says. "It takes a team effort across borders."
Clockwork's senior people work with clients, develop project specifications and architecture, and closely supervise the Ukrainian programmers. With a branch office in Kiev and representatives in New York and Chicago, the firm has six senior programming professionals in the United States and 20 programmers abroad.
Since mid-1999, Clockwork has served a Fortune 500 firm needing a full set of Windows 2000 server tools, a chamber of commerce putting up an online barter system, and various businesses, software developers, consulting firms, and recruiters seeking an alternative to full-time employees. The firm works in four areas: Windows and Unix applications, database development in Oracle and SQL, and e-commerce/customer relationship management.
Though the firm's approach sounds simple, Boverman believes it's unique, as it takes tolerance and understanding to take advantage of diversity in the global economy. Only then can programmers in two very different countries work together seamlessly.
The key is that Clockwork's leaders are "hybrids" who can bridge the culture gap because they understand both American culture and business and that of their native land.
Founder Left Soviet Repression
Boverman, 50, is a prime example. An electrical engineering graduate of the Odessa Institute of Technology, he left the Soviet Union with his wife and two children in 1977 for a high-tech career in the United States. "I was part of the dissident movement. I had no choice but to leave," he says.
He held positions at Gerber Scientific, Computervision, Abbott Corp., New World Technologies, was general manager of the Boston Computer Exchange, and earned master's degrees in engineering and business at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. At Gerber, he worked with Israeli programmers. At Computervision he helped set up an offshore company using Indian programmers.
Today the demand for computer professionals has so outstripped supply that all solutions must be used, Boverman says. But bringing foreign workers to the U.S. isn't the only answer. The immigration system couldn't accommodate all of them. With the Internet, it's more efficient to use foreign programmers where they are.
Boverman sees Clockwork, whose name is meant to connote precision and timeliness, as the logical outgrowth of the outsourcing trend that started about 20 years ago and accelerated during the reengineering of the '90s.
But demand has driven up contractors' prices above $100 an hour, and the savings of outsourcing have vanished, Boverman says. And using local contractors hasn't expanded the talent pool, unlike going overseas.
The global economy creates some interesting communication patterns. Boverman sends his Ukrainian programmers English e-mails, but on the phone, the language is Russian. Ukrainian, suppressed by the Soviets, is still making a comeback.
More information about Clockwork Software Associates and its services can be found at www.clockworksa.com or by contacting Boverman at firstname.lastname@example.org or 508-788-5461.