Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Outsourcing Article Re-write

I often receive offers to do article writing and find myself too tied up to accept them. However, I began meeting young people who are potential creative writers and decided to refer one opportunity yesterday, to a talented 18 year old, that more or less pays US$400 per month. She was very happy about it and even linked Busby SEO Test.

After that, I realized that outsourcing is changing indeed. One doesn't have to be a matured professional to accept work. In fact, the young and talented are an interesting resource to tap for the amount of pay is almost secondary to them. Although still, that amount if converted to pesos, is way above minimum wage. Their first intention in accepting projects is to get experience. Next, since they are still dependent (living with parents), the amount they earn is more for them to spend on things they like.

For the matured ones, I guess this also meant that we have to be really competitive with our offerings and be flexible with our rates as the market is becoming wiser and even practical.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

See you at E-Services Philippines 2009!

I am excited as will be having a booth at the 9th e-Services Global Sourcing Conference and Exhibition on February 09-10, 2009 at the SMX Convention Center, Pasay City.
The Philippine Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) through the Center for International Trade Expositions and Missions (CITEM) is organizing this event.

Folks are encourage to visit the exhibit for free. Just register to attend the exhibit.

The full conference program is also posted online where visitors can register as a delegate.

E-Services Philippines is also one event where companies converge to launch their outsourcing services. Exhibiting in this event is an investment that is worthwhile for any entity into outsourcing. You can also check out past exhibitors.

Another event highlight as well is the E-Services Awards 2009. Good to all the nominees! (I'm one of the recipients for 2008.)

There are two to three things that I would like to be able to showcase in this event that includes:
  • Launch of our international virtual assistants network.
  • Philippine-based blog advertising network.
  • International blog marketing network.
  • Launch of 2 to 3 books. (yes, I'm dreaming)
Once the above three have gone in full form, I'll post more details here. See you there!

P.S. Glad that the Busby SEO Test competition will be over by that time. I hope we will have great news by then.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Outsourcing Website Requirements

When a company decides to create a website, it must look into a lot of factors in order to increase its chances of success. Working with a web design company that has in-depth expertise is important especially if high return is desired.

Using Diggy, an Australian Web Design Company as a reference, here are some aspects you need to explore when checking your outsourcing vendor capabilities:
  • Website Design
    It must reflect the identity, goals, culture, and vision of the company.
  • Database development
    Can they generate the database you need?
  • Web applications
    Do they have ready-made application (or 3rd party) such as customizable image gallery, file management system, membership based website, forums or bulletin boards, blog platform, newsletter system, among others.
Another area you also need to look at is their ability to promote your website should they offer you Internet Marketing services. Some services that fall into this category are:
  • Search engine optimization
    This involves optimizing your website, developing high-quality content, and make the necessary link building task to ensure that your site rank on keywords that can generate revenue or traffic for your website.
  • Pay-per-click advertising
    This is where advertising placements in ad networks like Google is performed and manage in your behalf. This is ideal when you don't have the time and expertise to do this on your own.
  • E-mail campaign
    Scope of work in this area includes creating opt-in pages, developing the campaign content proper, and monitoring its effectiveness.
It is interesting to see how the web design and development business has evolved through the years. The above services are now offered as well by individuals and entities. There are simply a lot of competitive options now for the customer.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Philippines – challenging as a new offshore location

Ovum analyst David Mitchell just released their view on this subject.


The Philippines is trying to position itself as the next major global outsourcing destination, in competition with the major outsourcing powers of India and China. Despite a number of different initiatives that have been announced recently there are still major challenges to be faced.

There needs to be major investment in the education system in the Philippines, to deal with the anticipated skills shortfall.

The Philippines has set out major ambitions in the global outsourcing industry, aiming to have annual revenues of $12–13 billion by 2010, according to presentations this week by the CEO of the Business Processing Association of the Philippines – Oscar Sanez. As part of that growth the industry will need to find an estimated 420,000 additional workers, to serve the anticipated growth of contracts.

Of course, there will be expansion of the basic call centre operations that do not have high skill requirements. However, there are also ambitions to grow medical and legal transcription services, engineering services and other higher-value outsourcing tasks. For all of the outsourcing activities there are skill requirements for language, IT, management and customer service – and the various elements of the Philippine education system need to respond positively here. However, the more specialist skills, and the sheer number of different specialist skills that will be needed, are likely to be more difficult to produce without significant support and investment from government in secondary, tertiary and vocational education.

This support will be much more readily provided if the proposed Department on Information and Communication Technology (DICT) in the Philippines is created, with a remit to increase the level of effectiveness of policy development in the country – as has been suggested recently.

Smaller economies in emerging markets need to have focus, and avoid competing with larger economies on cost alone

If DICT is created it should rally the ICT economy around a maximum of four capability areas, aiming to create high-value businesses rather than commodity outsourcing capabilities. The reason for the exhortation that the Philippines needs to focus is two-fold. Firstly, the country is not large enough to compete against India and China on the basis of scale, and so the country needs carefully to select its battles. Secondly, focus brings the ability to charge premium rates, for skills that are rarer. This means the Philippines can avoid being dragged into a low-wage, low-investment spiral.

To date one focus area in the Philippines has been the development of software-as-a-service (SaaS) businesses, including companies such as Morph Labs. A further hotspot of SaaS activity is developing at one of the technology parks in the Philippines.

Open source is set to be another area of focus. A new technology park, located at the University of the Philippines, is due to open in December and will focus on developing businesses around open source. However, the key will be to ensure that the open source businesses that are created develop high-value assets, rather than developing as low-value services businesses. This needs to happen to ensure that the Philippine businesses have a greater ability to scale; something that will be crucial, given the labour shortfall that was highlighted above. Working on open source software, hardware and peripherals is all part of the initial open source plan for the latest technology park. Again there are local roots to the open source activity, just as there were for SaaS. Here the creation of an open source electronic health record application (released in beta in May this year) is a good example.

The planned creation of two additional technology parks in the next year or two creates further opportunity to extend the areas of focus. However, there is a danger that too many areas of focus emerge in the Philippine ICT economy, meaning that it will become difficult to gain the depth of skills required to develop globally competitive business that can sustain premium rates – as opposed to the low-rate economy associated with much outsourcing and BPO activity.


My thoughts:

My problem is that I've been in the industry long enough to hear various insights on this subject matter. The concerns and opinions mentioned here particularly on improving the skill set started to sound like a broken record. I wish reports will highlight headways made in this area on various competing economies in the field of outsourcing.

Whether the creation of a DICT will contribute to better policies is a desire the office has and one of the means to justify its creation. I believe that it can already do much in its present capacity. Furthermore, it should get its act together first in providing better transparency in their handling of the multi-billion E-Government Fund.

I find it unfair that the analysis did not recognize the amount of effort exerted by government agencies, like the Board of Investments and Department of Trade and Industry, to help bring the sector where it is today.

Monday, June 02, 2008

USD4.1 bilion - Philippines Outsourcing Market 2007

XMG was referred in this article estimating that the Philippines outsourcing market reached USD 4.1 billion and 1.4% of the global market share.

This makes me wonder if the target of 10 billion USD Philippine outsourcing market and 10% market share in 2010 can be achieved. What do you think?

Monday, March 10, 2008

Avatrian to expand Cebu operations

A lot of exciting developments are happening in Cebu that you can hardly find elsewhere. This is partly attributed also to people who have experienced living in this part of the Philippines and decided to continue investing there.

One of them is Dennis Bacsafra, CEO and founder of Avatrian, LLC. He came up with the idea of a full-service metaverse development shop and formed Avatrian officially last October 2006 in the city of Emeryville.

The California office functions as the official headquarters and the hub for marketing and promoting the products and services of Avatrian. Design decisions originate from its California office as well.

Almost immediately after inception, Dennis thought of opening an operations base in the city of Cebu. "Content creation in Second Life and providing consulting services in the metaverse requires a range of skill sets such as communications, technical, and creative. Having lived there for several months in 2005, I know from direct experience that Cebu has a strong pool of talented individuals who are more than able to be competitive in the global market. This important factor, along with the incredible location and obvious cost savings, left no question in my mind to base the operations in the city of Cebu."

Avatrian’s Cebu office handles the bulk of the development and production for internal Avatrian projects as well as client work. Internal projects include the development of their website, the creation and of the company's presence in Second Life, graphic design for promotions, management of the company databases, organization of shared files as well as the accounting and human resources. Client work includes the content creation for Second Life, contracted projects, and customizations.

Like any company that runs a company in more than one country, there are challenges in running an offshore office in Cebu but Dennis tries to work around it. "The challenges I encounter are common across businesses that operate in multiple locations and time zones. For example, our schedules do not sync up sometimes. And, although there are several hours of the day that our work overlaps, we cannot all attend the same events on occasions. For more important events, we just make it a point to plan ahead of time and make notes on our calendars."

Avatrian currently has a total of 8 people in the team and revenues are modest according to Dennis. "Being a relatively new company, a big portion of our expenses for 2007 and 2008 went to the allocation of start up costs. However, we are meeting our financial targets and revenues are increasing at a regular pace."

In terms of service providers, Dennis considers Avatrian as a mid-sized company. "The large sized outfits are few and far between. Electric Sheep, Millions of Us, Anshe Chung Studios, and River Runs Red, for example, are the only ones who have over 30 or more employees. Other service providers have a staff of 10 or more but primarily contract their work on an as-needed basis. Then, on the other side of the spectrum, there are independent builders who work by themselves and offer their services freelance. So, Avatrian sits comfortably in the middle of this variation."

With few Filipinos playing in Virtual Worlds, that still is not a hindrance to make us competitive in doing work in this field according to Dennis.

"It is hard to get definitive statistics on the number of residents in Second Life and virtual worlds per country. And, it is true that the use of the most common virtual world platforms is still limited in the Philippines. However, the same can be said for many other countries in Asia. With the exception of Japan, many Asian countries still have to do a bit of catch up in terms of participation in the virtual world and economy."

"I think the high level of literacy, the English language proficiency, and our ability to integrate new technology into our lives make it possible and even advantageous for Filipinos to engage in businesses involving virtual worlds. There are already Filipinos in Second Life who are running successful companies in SL. Casa Del Shai by Shai Delacroix and HodgePodge by Isadora Fiddlesticks, for example, have garnered brand name recognition for their work in SL."

This year, Dennis shared that Avatrian Cebu is expanding its staff. "We are participating in local job fairs to meet and hopefully recruit new graduates who are a good fit for the company. In addition, we are looking for a permanent space in terms of our office. We are spending time researching locations that will be comfortable and at the same time, will give us room to grow for the near future. In regards to our projects, Avatrian Cebu is concentrating on in-world events and researching other avenues for promotion in Second Life. Then, the company is branching out our operations to other metaverses. However, we are still keeping our primary focus in the Second Life platform. Finally, Avatrian Cebu is going to design and redevelop the look, feel, and interactivity of our simulator in Second Life - Avatrian Central. It is a bit on the ambitious side. But we are hoping to accomplish all of these within 2008. "

Despite the modes success Avatrian has achieved, Dennis does not necessarily want to encourage everyone to start a business in the virtual world and Second Life. "Instead, I would advise not to look at it as a get-rich-quick scheme. It is important to know that, like any other real world business, it is not easy. But, if you have the passion for it, feel that there is a niche that you can fulfill and you see a demand that is not currently provided to the market, then those are very good foundations for beginning a virtual enterprise."

Friday, March 07, 2008

Morph Labs launches Software as a Service platform

Through a social network, I got the chance to meet Macel Legaspi, marketing manager, of Cebu-based Morph Labs. This Web 2.0 technology company is into providing tools, platform, and applications to support Software as a Service (SaaS) globally through Morph eXchange.

Morph eXchange is planned to be launched on the second quarter of 2008. As an international service offering, it is intended to become a one-stop shop marketplace for SaaS bringing both the demand and the supply side of the business.

Macel said, "We provide independent software vendors and entrepreneurs a complete end-to-end platform for the deployment, delivery, and management of web applications. The Morph Application Platform allows developers to simply focus on their job of building great software, while we handle the deployment, delivery, and ongoing management of their web applications. On the other hand, as the demand for SaaS-based business applications rides the high rise, Morph Labs plans to build simple enterprise applications to cater to growing demand. "

The first on-demand application that the company has built is a help and training application called Morph helpME. (finalist in the recent e-Services Awards) We're looking to secure a SysTrust Assurance in the next few months.

Being new, the pricing for solutions found in the portal is still being finalized. Macel explained, "As a start, we are planning to offer a "pay as you grow" or "pay only for what you use" model for the Morph Application Platform. This extremely lowers the start-up costs for new developers or for those software businesses transitioning into the SaaS model."

The company's success is partly dependent on the maturity and readiness of the community to use and avail such a service. According to Macel, the company does its business similar to the concept of The Long Tail. "When we talk about activities, we focus on areas which can contribute greatly to building a base of customers and these are our grassroots efforts."

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Software Requirements and Test Management Workshop

All PH-SPIN members are invited to attend the forthcoming Software Requirements and Test Management Workshop this April 28, 29, and 30, 2008 at the CEO Suite, 37th Flr. LKG Tower 6801 Ayala Ave. 1226 Makati City. PH-SPIN members can send one representative to this training. Please confirm for food count purposes.

Interested non-members are requested to sign up as a PH-SPIN member prior to April 27 and confirm attendance for food count purposes.

The training program shall be as follows:

Day 1

9:00 to 12:00
  • Introduction to Software Process Improvement
  • Introduction to Requirements Management
  • Requirements Gathering Interviewing Techniques
  • Requirements Questionnaire Development
1:00 to 5:00
  • Software Requirements Prioritization
  • Vision and Scope / Business Requirements Writing
  • Software Project Risk Analysis
Day 2

9:00 to 12:00
  • Presentation of Vision & Scope / Business Requirements / Traceability Matrix
1:00 to 5:00
  • Introduction to Software Testing
  • Test policy
  • Test plan development
  • Test plan workshop
Day 3

9:00 to 12:00
  • Test plan workshop
  • Test plan / traceability matrix presentation
1:00 to 5:00
  • Software Metrics and Analysis
  • Improve Software Process
Interested non-members are requested to sign up as a PH-SPIN member prior to April 27 and confirm attendance for food count purposes.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Re-Evaluating Go to USA H1B Job Offers

I got a chance to catch up with a friend lately, let us refer to him as Cary who shared a story on the downsides to signing up for H1B "go to the US" offers.


One of his ex-staff was poached by a firm in New Jersey last November and was begging to come back to work for them in Manila last January. Basically, here's what happened to his staff:
  1. He was promised an $80k salary but on arrival found that this would only be paid if he was placed in a client.
  2. Otherwise, on the bench, he had to survive on $20 a day.
  3. Sharing a 2 bedroom apartment with 5 other Indians - in a dangerous, ghetto neighborhood.
In the end, he had to pay for his own flight back to Manila.

Cary is based in the U.S. now and believes that the average Filipino IT worker doesn't understand the deteriorating reality of surviving in the US on even $80k a year. Perhaps it would be useful for them to know major expenses such as healthcare.
  • Healthcare costs – a family of 4 with employer-provided health insurance can factor an annual spend of around $6,000 - $10,000 a year on basic healthcare needs due to (i) employee premium contributions (ii) co-pays and deductibles (iii) out-of-plan coverage and pre-existing conditions and (iv) insanely inflated medication costs.

  • WITHOUT health insurance (cost = $7k per year) – you are literally gambling with your life and/or your kid’s lives.

  • Education costs - Most middle class families send their kids to private education from 4yrs up at $10k a year – otherwise it's the public schools that has its own set of risks and challenges.
Countries that have transformed, from poor to rich, were partly assisted by growing a strong local IT industry. Can the same happen in the Philippines? Maybe yes if we can contain the overseas attrition issues.

If an IT professional can make 90k + in Manila, they’d be mad to go to the US. But who can pay that much?


Perhaps in our desire to have better lives, the immediate option is to get out of the country with the least difficult route as possible. As a result, some Filipinos have taken on job offers without going through the normal due process.

Time and again, we've seen that majority of those who encountered problems are the ones who didn't go through proper process.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Winners: E-Services Awards 2008

The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), Board of Investment (BOI), and Center for International Trade, Exhibitions, and Missions (CITEM) concluded its successful E-Services Philippines 2008 yesterday.

The event has served as a venue to promote the Philippines as a tier-one offshoring and outsourcing center. It generates opportunities for Philippines offshoring and outsourcing suppliers. Furthermore, generate investments and jobs.

The last event yesterday was the E-Services Awards whose intent is to communicate the world-class achievements of Philippine firms internationally, celebrate success, and creation champions to inspire others.

The winners for E-Services Awards 2008 are:

Animation and Game Development Sector

Category: Outstanding Client Application of the Year
Winner: Sun Life VUL e-Learning Program" by Media Farm, Inc.

Category: Outstanding Consumer Application of the Year
Winner: Tekkids Courseware by Tech Factors Incorporated

Back Office BPO Sector

Category: Most Progressive Homegrown Company of the Year
Winner: Transprocure Corporation

Contact Center Sector

Category: Most Progressive Homegrown Company of the Year
Winner: People Support (Phils) Corporation

Software Development and Maintenance Sector

Category: Outstanding Client Application of the Year
Winner: "ATM System Development for a major bank in Japan" by Advance World Systems

Category: Outstanding Consumer Application of the Year
Winner: "Ur HR Partner" by Navigation Systems, Inc.

Category: Most Progressive Homegrown Company of the Year
Winner: Pointwest Technologies Corporation

Category: Technology of the Year
Winner: "NEXT I.X. INF" by Next IX, Inc.

Transcription Sector

Category: Outstanding Consumer Application of the Year
Winner: "Online On-The-Job Simulation" by Total Transcription Solutions, Inc.

Category: Technology of the Year
Winner: "Electronic Medical Record" by EMR Global Corporation

e-Champion Awards 2008
This award recognizes personalities or organizations whose ideas, talent, and commitment have contributed significantly to Philippine ICT development and/or whose passion and dedication have helped raise the bar of excellence in the Philippines' e-Services industry.

An exclusive DTI special recognition, this award also aims to promote and propagate good practices and outstanding contributions and inspire others to replicate achievements of the awardees. Last year's awardees includes Senators Mar Roxas, Ramon Magsaysay Jr., former BPAP chair Bong Borja, and Mosaic Communications President Dr. William Torres.

A. Country Promotion Category
Winner: Ernest Cu, Vice President, SPi

B. Policy and Legal Category
Winner: Janette Toral (photos)

C. Business Development Category
Winner: Benedict Hernandez, Senior Vice President, e-Telecare Global Solutions

D. Software Development Category
Winner: Fermin Taruc, Managing Director, Gurango Software

Monday, January 14, 2008

Web Design Services in the Philippines

Web design is one of the popular services being offered by web development companies in the Philippines. What makes this competitive is that it is highly dependent on the creativity of the web designer in capturing what the client wants. As price is usually fierce in this field, clients usually picks on providers that have:
  • Impressive portfolio
  • Knowledge on the client industry
  • Friendly rates
Fees usually gets driven by number of images to be created, number of customized web page templates, among others.

Business relationship in this type of projects has change through the years. Very rare would you find web designers giving a sample design prior to the signing and acceptance of downpayment. There are ethical concerns also as some clients do not proceed in a project after receiving initial studies, but later on carried it out with another provider using the same design that was initially given. The same is sometimes experienced vice-versa where the design they've created for a client were also used by other entities with minor modification.

With the availability of free templates online, the cost of design is no longer as high as usual. Entities who have higher budget than usual are the only ones who insist for customized design, that sets them apart from the rest.

Government support
The support of government in the field of web development is present but not as visible compared to other fields. One of its activities is E-Services Philippines where companies engage in this business can participate. Joining government trade mission is an option although the cost of participating in these activities can be quite prohibitive.

Another program that was created is the Funding for Information Technology Build-up (SME-FIT) by Small Business Corporation (SB Corp) where web design companies can apply for a credit line. Let us say the web designer has the following situation:
  • Got a client interested in developing a website but has constraints:
    • It wants to pay the web development project through installment amounts over a period of 6 months.
    • Willing to pay an extra interest to cover the duration.
    • Willing to issue post dated checks for the period covered.
If the web design company is accredited in SME-FIT, it can submit the copy of the contract and post-dated checks issued for consideration. Once approved, the web design entity issues post dated checks and receives the contract amount from SB Corp. This allows for immediate funding of the project although the web designer is expected to cover the funds for the checks issued, regardless whether their client pays them or not.

Web designers in the Philippines
There are close to a hundred companies offering web design services from different parts of the Philippines. I've listed some of them here. Note that these entities are those with online portfolios that cited international clients. I shall add more when I encounter other providers.

This blog does not guarantee the work of the companies listed here.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Getting Ready for E-Services Philippines 2008

I've been fortunate enough to take part during the early days of E-Services Philippines. It is amazing to see how this event has evolved and one of the most look forward to every year.

The 8th e-Services Philippines: Global Sourcing Conference and Exhibition is the Department of Trade and Industry’s (DTI) annual international exhibit and conference for the ICT industry. This will be held on February 11-12, 2008 at the SMX Convention Center, Roxas Boulevard Manila. Since its inception E-Services Philippines (ESP) attracted over 160 exhibitors and 2,000 conference attendees annually.

This year’s e-Services is a cooperation between DTI’s Center for International Trade Expositions and Missions, THOLONS, and Business Process Association of the Philippines (BPAP). With the theme, "Outsourcing Centers of Excellence," ESP will feature outsourcing centers of excellence and emerging players and locations in the outsourcing industry.

Another highlight of the event is the E-Services Awards 2008. In a bid to inspire ICT creativity and innovation, create benchmarking opportunities for Philippine firms, and establish a marketing platform for ICT innovators and entrepreneurs, the DTI through its trade promotion arm, the Center for International Trade Expositions and Missions (CITEM) will hold its annual e-Services Awards on February this year.

Since its inception in 2001, the winners of the Awards have earned international recognition and paved the way for companies to get into new markets. The project involves web-based systems using open-source technologies and the automation of their manual processes and incorporated into the system.

This year, the e-Services Awards 2008 boasts of new categories for 2008 include: Outstanding Client Application of the Year, Outstanding Consumer Application of the Year, Groundbreaking Technology of the Year, and Most Progressive Homegrown Company of the Year. The Awards are open for Philippine-based IT companies that have successfully marketed their products and services in the Philippines and other foreign countries and those who have established essential competencies and achievements in the field of IT-enabled services.

The awards will likewise recognize personalities whose ideas, talent, and commitment have contributed significantly to Philippine ICT development and/or whose passion have helped raise the bar of Philippine excellence in e-Services. Past recipients of this special citation were Senators Mar Roxas and Ramon Magsaysay Jr., Mosaic Communications President William Torres, and former Business Processing Association chair Bong Borja.

For information on the e-Services Awards 2008, contact e-Services Philippines Secretariat at 833-1277 or 831-2201 loc 254/255 or email