Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Nominations open for e-Services Awards 2010

ICT/BPO Awards to highlight emerging innovations as global economy recovers

As the global economy recovers, the Center for International Trade Expositions and Missions (CITEM) is launching e-Services Awards 2010 to highlight ICT creativity and innovation towards developing “best-of-breed” technologies and solutions.

Now on its 10th year, the e-Services Awards continues to become a “stamp of excellence in the Philippine ICT/BPO community.” Past awardees include People Support, PLDT, Globe Telecom, Pointwest Technologies, and TransProcure to name a few. The award is a component of the annual e-Services Global Sourcing Conference and Exhibition, a government led trade platform for ICT and BPO scheduled on February 8-9, 2010 at the SMX Convention Center.

e-Services Awards is open to all Philippine-based IT companies who have successfully developed and marketed new products and services in the Philippines and other foreign countries, as well as individuals with essential achievements and contribution in the field of IT-enabled services.

e-Services Awards also aim to encourage more ICT/BPO SMEs in developing creative content for the international market. The recent Creative Economy Report released by United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in 2005 cited the Philippine creative industries contributing some 4.92 % to the gross domestic product and accounting for 11.10 percent of the country’s labor force for the same period.

For 2010, nominations are now open in the following categories: Outstanding Client Application of the Year, Outstanding Consumer Application of the Year, Groundbreaking Technology of the Year, and the Most Progressive Homegrown Company of the Year.

“Through the award, our clients usually become more receptive and try out the product giving us 90% probability to close the sale,” said Roberto Suson, CEO of NEXT IX Inc., which bagged the Outstanding Consumer Application of the Year for the INF Dictation Capturing System. He also added that the award gave their product and company better credibility when marketing in the local and international market.

Likewise, Winston Damarillo, EXIST CEO, also said, “We are honored for the e-Services award which is a testament of seven years of our company’s hard work and consistent innovation. There is no better time to really become innovative than during these trying times. We are sure that with the recognition, EXIST will continue with its progressive ways and will do our part to help in the progress of e-Services in the country.” EXIST, awarded as the Most Progressive Company for Software Development, is a software engineering firm that designs, develops, and delivers high-class products and interactive web applications for some of the world’s successful businesses, including a member in the prestigious Fortune 500 companies.

The past e-Services Awards likewise featured international personalities in the ICT scene including David Barett, chairman of the European Advisory Board and International Association of Outsourcing Professionals as well as Nora Terrado, country manager of Headstrong.

Deadline of submission of entries for the e-Services Awards is on January 18, 2010 and winners for each award will be presented during the Awards Night of the 10th e-Services expo on February 8, 2010.

For more information on e-Services Awards, contact the Center for International Trade Expositions and Missions (CITEM) e-Services Project Management Team at tel. nos. (632) 832-5044/ 831-2201 locals 212/251/278/301, or e-mail

Friday, August 21, 2009

Thoughts blogging

A few hours earlier, I just discovered the free blogging community that is founded by Ben Ogden. It is similar to some of the social networks today that allows you to have a blog, photo album, podcast, forums, survey, video repository, and the likes. Some features I found interesting are:


  • The photo album section allows you to import from existing accounts. Although most of the sections require you to post or upload original content.
  • Fellow users can rate most of the stuff you posted in the site.
  • The person with the best weighed averaged shall be able to win an all expense-paid retreat to a fun location every year. In the past two years, the winner got treated in Las Vegas. I guess this is also a means to encourage people to interact with each other.
  • It has widgets that you can opt to add or remove as part of your home. An example would be the meet & greet where you can say hello to those who just joined the community.

The site can be of interest to those who are looking for another possible venue in establishing their presence, publish their thoughts and ideas, while meeting a whole new set of people at the same time.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Bas Vodde: Interview a ScrumMaster Series

Got word from DigitalFilipino club member CodeLean that it is bringing once again Dutch Agile expert Bas Vodde to Manila - to head a two-day course on Scrum on February 3 and 4, 2009 at Diamond Hotel, Manila.

Rather than just relaying, I decided to interview him further in this article and have a better understanding about Scrum.

Janette Toral (JT): Bas Vodde, what is your claim to fame as a Scrum expert?

Bas Vodde (BV): Eh. Well I wouldn't claim such a thing. But my experiences with Agile development started in the 90s. I was first involved in RAD (rapid application development) though the 4GL tool part never attracted me much. Though, via the design pattern moment in the 90s, I quickly got to know Scrum and Extreme Programming. I had more interest in Extreme Programming though and started experimenting with that (e.g. doing test-driven development, continuous integration and working in iterations).

In the beginning of this century, I joined Nokia where I fist continued my experiments. After some time, I was involved with a very large product and got more interested in getting things to work in a traditional waterfall environment. It didn't. So, I got back to agile development and then got more interest in Scrum as I was working with Craig Larman and Ken Schwaber. I led the company-wide agile transition project in Nokia Networks for a while and now work for my own company. Also wrote two books on large-scale agile development together with Craig Larman.

JT: How many trained Scrum masters are there in the world? How many are in the Philippines at the moment? Who is doing Scrum?

BV: There are very many ScrumMasters in the world :) A couple of years ago we passed the 100,000 I believe, but I'm not sure of the current situation. In Philippines, my guess would be about 100 around now. There has just been some private courses internal into companies and one public course. Another public course coming up in September 3-4th.

Who is doing Scrum? I'm not sure. I trained mainly people from smaller companies. I guess larger companies arrange internal Scrum courses which might have different trainers. At least CodeLean, the company I work with, are doing Scrum :)

JT: What makes Scrum your favored method (I assume) compared to others you have tried? How different is it? (use analogy when possible)

BV: Who said it was my favored method? I sometimes joke that I train Scrum because Extreme Programming is too hard for people to learn, so Scrum is a good starting point. There is some truth in that, though I like the focus of Scrum on the concepts of inspecting and adapting and self-management. That isn't so explicit in extreme programming. But the engineering excellence of Extreme Programming is good, I like that part of XP.In the past I've done RAD, RUP, Waterfall and been involved with CMM(i) (though that is not a method).

RAD was transformed into DSDM and is an "agile method." I've lost most of my interest in the other methods as there are some basic assumptions about the nature of software that are different. For now, my main interest is modern engineering practices and self-organizing, self-managing teams. I don't care too much about what 'method' to use, but Scrum and XP happen to embrace these concepts.

JT: When can a company or project manager say that "I think I need to learn Scrum"?

BV: Whenever they want, of course ;) I'd say that anyone who wants to stay up-to-date with modern development practices would need to at least learn about Scrum or XP. Their impact on the software development industry has been huge. It is not that visible in Asia yet, but I don't think there is any larger company is Europe/US that has not implemented or is looking at Scrum/XP.

JT: Are there Scrum rules that matter the most? What are they and why?

BV: I'd prefer not prioritizing rules of a development system :) Conceptually Scrum is based on self-managing, self-organizing teams who work in short-cycles and focus on a working product. By working in short-cycles they will be able to inspect-adapt their product and process. The effect on that on the product is that the organization will be able to react quicker to customers need, the effect it has on the process is that the team will own their own process and are able to continuously improve it due to the faster feedback of the short-cycles.

All of these together form a simple system in which all concepts are equally important. The most important is that people understand these concepts, try them out and think about them and adjust the development to fit their context, technology, culture or team.

JT: Some folks say that the Certified SCRUM course, being two days, tends to give the wrong impression to some in terms of expectations (also being referred to as certified). What is your opinion on that?

BV: I care that people learn something useful in a 2 day course which they can apply in their work and life which will make their work a better place to life. I don't care how that would be called.

JT: They say you can't implement Scrum if you don't practice Agile. What is your opinion on that?

BV: I'm not sure what this question means. Scrum is an Agile method, so therefore if you apply Scrum and follow the principles/practices of the Agile Manifesto, then you can say that you "practice Agile." Not sure what practice agile before implementing Scrum would mean :)

JT: How can an organization transition to a Scrum process or style of development management?

BV: Well, they would first need to learn about Scrum and get a common understanding of what they are trying to do. Then sit down with the team and discuss about how to try out or transition to Scrum. Every organization will do this differently, I cannot give you a seven-step process for rolling out Scrum.

At least, I always recommend organizations to get coaching help especially related to technical practices and to make sure everyone has a clear understanding of Scrum and its difference with traditional development.

JT: What are the benefits that companies can gain for practicing SCRUM?

BV: As mentioned above, working in short-cycles where the people doing the work own the process leads to being able to respond easier and quicker to changes and to continuously improve your development practices. Scrum provides transparency within your organization which, if acted on, can lead to huge improvements.Personally, I just think that work becomes nicer as people have more control over their own work. A friend of mine and a long-time team member of a Scrum Team in a large organization told me the following: "Before, I would be asked to do things, I'd do them and wouldn't know why. Now I don't do them anymore and instead focus on the things that are important for the product"

(CodeLean to Hold 2nd ScrumMaster Certification Course in Makati

Encoraged by the success of the first-ever ScrumMaster Certification Course in the country, CodeLean, Inc. once again brings Dutch Agile expert Bas Vodde to Manila to head a two-day course on Scrum on February 3 to 4, 2009 at Diamond Hotel, Manila. Scrum is an Agile methodology that deals with how projects are organized and planned.

The Certified ScrumMaster course covers the what, how, and whys of the Scrum framework for product development—from theory to practice. Structured around stories and discussions, the course is for IT professionals who want a deep understanding of Scrum: team members, Product Owners, Scrum Masters and other stakeholders. The first phase of the course covers the concepts of Scrum: background, overview, roles, empirical process control, and the key differences between Scrum and other ways of developing new products. The second phase reveals the practical side: making a backlog, planning, estimating, scaling, initiating a daily Scrum, and more. At the end of the course, participants will have concrete knowledge on how to implement Scrum and an understanding of why it is done that way.

Attendees who complete the course will receive an official certificate labeling them as Certified Scrum Masters (CSMs), and will be listed on the CSM registry of the Scrum Alliance, an organization of internationally recognized Scrum experts.

Facilitating the course is Bas Vodde, who currently works for Odd-e, a Singapore-based consulting company that trains Asian professionals in Agile and Lean development. He is also coauthor of "Scaling Agile and Lean Development: Thinking and Organizational Tools for Large-Scale Scrum" and "Practices for Large-Scale Agile and Lean Development."

Agile software development continues to gain many adherents in most developed countries. Agile methods improve the ability of IT companies to respond quickly to market and customer needs, cut down on inefficiency, and result in more productive and happier employees.
For inquiries and reservations, email or call 8920419.)

Friday, May 01, 2009

Chikka: CMMI Level 5 Philippines Story

In the Philippines, there are few software development outsourcing, industry, and information technology companies that have embraced CMMI or Capability Maturity Model Integrated - a process improvement approach.

One of the few is Chikka - the first mobile applications developer in the world to become recognized as a CMMI Level 5 organization.

I'm very glad that Chito Bustamante, CEO of Chikka, granted this interview and share to blog readers their CMMI story. For a long time as chief operating officer (since 2002), Chito has stayed on top of both engineering and product development departments, the heart and soul of Chikka. He has led Chikka thru its ISO and CMMI Maturity Level 5 certifications, giving "a method to the madness" or the frenzy that characterized product development, marketing, quality assurance at Chikka, and making sure it could sustain the same even as the company pursues an aggressive international roll-out.

Janette: When did Chikka started with its CMMI journey? What prompted the company to pursue it?
Chito: Chikka launched its first services (Chikka Text Messenger, Bidshot online auctions and Crushcow Mobile Matchmaking) in 2001. In 2002, the company began pushing a frenetic product development program that saw the company experimenting, designing, developing and launching various services that sought to “mobile-enable” every conceivable aspect of life in these parts. A prolific line of mobile messaging-based products ensued including:
  • mobile corporate promos
  • a text to email solution that was a veritable “poor man’s blackberry” at the time
  • mobile versions of Internet Relay Chat
  • text hotlines
  • various games and polls
  • a Catholic mobile portal with the blessings of the Church.
By 2003, Chikka had completely diversified into the content (SMS, MMS, Ringtones and logos), corporate solutions, and communications businesses. It was also already experimenting with m-commerce. Furthermore, the company started fixing its eyes on an international rollout for any and all its services.

This is the complete backdrop for the Chikka’s quest for the highest certification standards. Beginning with the ISO standards for Quality Management, Security, and Technology Management which it hurdled and validated from 2002-2004. But already eyeing CMMI Maturity Level 5 for which it finally opened itself to actual audit in 2005.

In sum, what prompted the Chikka to benchmark its processes with the highest standards especially CMMI was:
  1. “the Pace and the Space” – much of what we were doing was groundbreaking and highly competitive globally (there was a race on virtually every front, to “mobile enable” virtually everything, not just IM). Before ISO and CMMI, we felt that there was a strain in product development and software development with too much going back and forth especially between these two departments and so much competition, internally, for resources. We believed that the process standards would provide “a method to the madness.”

  2. “Manila as Global HQ” – by 2005 with one or more services live in over 10 countries and tens of network operators, this is what Chikka had become, a global hub for mobile applications development, and a Global Headquarters providing support and direction to various country operations. We believed that CMMI especially would help us support this expansion which was proceeding as rapidly as product development itself.

  3. “Opening Doors” - CMMI was a standard recognized worldwide. It would help open doors and gain the immediate recognition of potential business partners around the world. Like speaking the same language.
Janette: How long did Chikka went through the process?

Chito: Chikka didn’t take that long to adopt the CMMI standards since prior to CMMI, Chikka was already ISO 9001; 27000; 21000 certified. All these standards contributed to the easy adoption of the CMMI requirements. The work that needed to be done was on the calibration of semantics and the adoption of other policies deemed necessary for the level 4 and 5 processes.

Jantte: What went well in the process? What were the challenging parts?

Chito: What went very well was that people embraced it, and we mean everyone down the line, understood the need and the importance nay, the urgency of getting certified, and what it meant for ones own work, and the business side of things, making less mistakes, and recovering quickly if there are any, being very efficient - even as we remained tenacious in seizing opportunities.

It was going to allow us to be more tenacious – which is the original culture of Chikka that we wanted to preserve -- tenacity and resourcefulness -- the loose translations for the value and culture everyone in Chikka embraced and simply called – diskarte. And Chikka wanted to continue winning.

The challenging part has always been there and that is to stick to the discipline. A certification is never a guarantee. Everything was still up to management --- how we would use the tools that have been learned and that we keep validating.

The challenge was further to blend CMMI with the culture for that would have meant to us, perfection. Having the rigid and rigorous disciplines of documentation, along with the culture of speed, and tenacity, and winning.

Janette: When did Chikka got its CMMI level 5 confirmation?

Chito: In February 2006, Chikka hurdled the assessment, becoming the first mobile applications developer in the world to become a CMMI Maturity Level 5 organization.

Janette: What does being CMMI level 5 mean to Chikka? How about to its software engineering process group (SEPG) members?

Chito: For Chikka, being a CMMI Level 5 organization means that our operations are conducted to the highest level of IT standards. As an IT organization, this means that we raised the bar for competition in our space. We have literally lived the promise of CMMI for efficiency and productivity.

As for SEPG members, this presents a new exciting horizon for them --- a chance to make a difference in the organization, being in-charge of facilitating new and exciting changes that will help better the organization.

Janette: How is Chikka adjusting to the new policies being done in conjunction with CMMI that now requires regular audit?

Chito: Well, we acquired the services of a consultant; who was previously Head of our QA team. He maintains liaison for Chikka’s change requirements --- from the adoption of the new policies, to training new personnel.

Janette: What advice can Chito give to entities who are considering to invest in CMMI? (in terms of target budget on hand, sepg team, transition to new processes, the audit process, and maintenance)

Chito: Large or small, a company would like to pursue CMMI for all the advantages it would give in terms of business development and marketing but most importantly to be able to rest on correct analysis, as the basis for decision making, and ultimately action and execution. This is true more so in highly volatile industry and business environments, such that we all face now. You know, those things can make or break a company.

And should one decide to pursue, to get the commitment of the entire company, to aspire for and then to embrace CMMI as intrinsic to ones culture.

Invest, believe, but don’t expect miracles. CMMI is a long term improvement process. Benefits are gradually felt as you embed its policies in the organization’s culture.

Get help. Getting a consultant helped us and reduced our cycle time in understanding the changes on the new policies. Be vigilant on the audits. Ensure that things are set into the open, not kept in the dark. Real change can only happen when there is acceptance. And lastly, become the change.

(If you like to share your company's CMMI story, just contact Janette.)

Software Process Improvement Workshop Series

All PH-SPIN members are invited to attend the Software Process Improvement Competency Development Workshop this May 6 to 8, 2009 at the AIM Acceed Conference Center, Benavidez St. corner Paseo de Roxas, Makati City. PH-SPIN members can send one representative on one of the trainings mentioned above. Please confirm for food count purposes.

Non-members can also join this training through Posh Marketing Services and avail of our 1+1 promotion.

Software Process Improvement Competency Development Workshop

Day 1
  • Introduction to Software Process Improvement
  • The CMMI Framework - Level 2
  • Requirements Management
  • Project Planning
  • Project Monitoring and Control
  • Supplier Agreement Management
  • Configuration Management
  • Creating a Software Process Improvement Strategic Plan
Day 2
  • Process and Product Quality Assurance
  • Measurement and Analysis
  • Introduction to CMMI Level 3
  • Requirements Development
  • Technical Solution
  • Product Integration
  • Verification
  • Validation
Day 3
  • Decision Analysis and Resolution
  • Integrated Project Management
  • Integrated Supplier Management
  • Risk Management - Organizational Process Focus
  • Organizational Process Definition
  • Organizational Training
  • Presentation of Software Process Improvement Strategic Plan
We added a Competency Development component. The Competency Development Exercise is meant to assist participants in drafting the list of skills needed to be acquired in order for each process area to be developed in the organization. It can also be used in the future in assessing skills needed by one personnel to be able to competently perform a process area and in determining their capability as well.

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

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Getting into the web hosting business

Eversince I started DigitalFilipino, a question often received is if we develop websites and into web hosting business. Default answer would always be a "No, but I can refer you to others." However, as I find myself gradually investing into domain names, create blogs, helping companies start a blog, among others, having a web hosting server that can service unlimited domain names is fast becoming an attractive option. Eventually subscribed two weeks ago from a corporate club member and will start attending to it soon.

Being in the search engine marketing and optimization business, having multiple web host accounts, not limited to one country provider, is critical especially for those whose clients are global in nature. This also saves you from the situation where if the web host is down, all of your sites (especially if they are by the hundred) are down too.


I realized that this is now easy to do as there are cheap webhost review sites today, like Web Hosting Bluebook, that can help any newbie webmaster decide to pick the right one that suits their budget and be confident as the entities are recommended by others.

The top 10 web hosting sites offers great deals like free domain name and monthly hosting fees as low as US$3.95. I like also the trust factor where details about the web hosting provider is given such as the year they started in business, uptime rating, total customers, etc.

Readers can also suggest other providers and complain about the ones listed through the forums.

The web hosting business is still very much promising. For as long as companies believe they need to have a website and individuals recognize the importance of having their own presence, the demand for it will continuously increase.

What will separate one service provider over another is the trust and reputation they are able to establish.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Agile expert Bas Vodde to teach Scrum in Manila

Bas Vodde co-author of the book "Scaling Agile and Lean Development: Thinking and Organizational Tools for Large-Scale Scrum" and of "Practices for Large-Scale Agile and Lean Development" will be in Manila this April 14 and 15 to conduct the 1st Scrum Master Certification Course, organized by CodeLean Inc. and Agile Philippines.

Bas works for a small consulting company based in Singapore called Odd-e specializing in training and coaching related to Agile and Lean development in Asia. For several years he led the agile and Scrum enterprise-wide adoption initiative at Nokia Networks. He is also known as one of the authors of "CppUTest" unit test framework for C/C++.

Attendees who complete the course will receive an official certificate labeling them as Certified ScrumMasters (CSMs), and will be listed on the CSM registry of the Scrum Alliance, an organization of internationally recognized Scrum experts. The course will be conducted in the Boardroom of the Dusit Hotel in Makati City.

The Certified Scrum Master course covers the what, how, and whys of the Scrum framework for product development—from theory to practice. Structured around stories and discussions, the course is for anyone who wants a deep understanding of Scrum: team members, product owners, Scrum Masters and other stakeholders. The first part covers the concepts of Scrum: background, overview, roles, empirical process control, and the key differences between Scrum and other ways of developing new products. The second part covers the practical side: making a backlog, planning, estimating, scaling, initiating a daily Scrum, and more. At the end of the course, participants will have concrete knowledge on how to implement Scrum and an understanding of why it is done that way.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

200 Million to Boost the E-Services Sector

One of the announcements made by President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo during the E-Services Philippines 2009 event last February 9 & 10 at SMX Convention Center was the 200 million assistance by the government to help the growing e-services sector.

There are varying opinions on how this 200 million be better spent. Lauro Vives, CEO of XMG believes that this is better used to boost the quality of manpower resource in the country.

Find more videos like this on Social Network

Bayantel Managing Director Tunde Fafunwa believes this should be used to promote the Philippines and bring potential investors in the country.

Find more videos like this on Social Network

How about you? What do you think?

Friday, February 13, 2009

Legazpi City as Web Development & SEO Outsourcing Hub

I was in Legazpi City last February 6 and 7 for the Search Engine Marketing Conference Bicol event. After the event, we visited several places and one of them is Embarcadero IT Park being developed by Embarcadero Land Ventures Inc. (ELV). This is a spot intended to become an information technology and modern trading hub in a sea front environment (Legazpi Port Area).

The IT park is part of the 15,477 square meter Embarcadero de Legazpi. It is already recognized by the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) as an Economic Tourism Zone with IT component. It aims to host an estimated 8,000 seat call center on its 1st building.

Australian company BN Group Property Ltd. is the masterplanner of the project. It is conceptualized from the Fisherman's Wharf in California and Sydney Marina in Sydney Australia.

During the E-Services Philippines event, I also got the chance to catch up with Albay ICT Association president and Legazpi City ICT Council chairperson Rosemarie Quinto-Rey who also desires for the city to be known as a major outsourcing center for web development and search engine optimization projects. Companies such as Content Online Services Inc. and SLTCFI Business Solutions specializes in this area.

More information:

Embarcadero IT Park
Manila Office

Contact person:
Randolph Zuniga
Chief Operating Officer
318 Defedbac Building, Penaranda, Bonot, Legazpi City

Contact Person:
Ms. Rosemarie Quinto-Rey
(052) 480-8939 / (052) 435-4770

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Philippines transaction volume in oDesk reaches US$50,000 weekly in 2009

oDesk just released over the weekend its report showing the Philippines and Pakistan topping the value for money survey. The site also launched its Philippines oConomy page that shares data on the pricing, services, hours worked rendered by freelancers in oDesk. oDesk is a marketplace for outsourcing services buyers and providers.

More than 10,000 work hours are rendered by Filipino freelancers per week reaching transaction volume of almost fifty thousand dollars charges (US$50,000). There are more than 17,000 Filipino service providers registered in oDesk to date.


Services like data entry, programming, writing, search engine optimization, search engine marketing, among others are some of the offerings by Filipino freelancers in oDesk.