As a product-based company, The Neat Company has staked our reputation on the performance and ease-of-use of our Optical Character Recognition (OCR) software — which has helped thousands of businesses transition to a paperless management system by easily managing expense reports and business documents. Our company has experienced rapid growth over the past several years. We’re still growing despite severe economic concern. And now more than ever we want to keep our top-notch development team motivated and productive by nurturing their software engineering skills and keeping them on the cutting edge of new technology.
At some point the economy is going to rebound. And when it does, it’s important to ensure that in-house development teams remain excited to be part of the culture. Now more than ever it’s time to invest in talent.
A central component of my role at The Neat Company has been to continue developing our world-class software and hardware solutions in a cost-effective manner, ensuring that we remain extremely competitive on the global stage, while continuing to recruit and retain great talent. In today’s economy, it is proving harder to recruit and retain world-class engineers, especially at a company like ours that is headquartered in Philadelphia, a city not necessarily known as a technology hub.
We’ve chosen a complementary sourcing strategy whereby we outsource other critically important aspects of the development lifecycle, like Quality Assurance (QA) and testing, to Symphony Services. Having a great QA team is important so that we can drive increasingly higher quality products to market, which leads to higher customer satisfaction and increased sales. By outsourcing QA we get access to top-flight engineers, take advantage of lower-cost labor rates (which helps stretch the R&D budget) and maintain a clear, challenging and rewarding career path for the in-house team.
Our sourcing experience with our partner has proven to be successful and helped us to stay true to our mission of providing the best solutions available to our customers.
How Does the Current Economy Impact The Neat Co.'s Development Strategy?
The decision to extend our product development team through outsourcing was by no means an easy one. Outsourcing Product Development (OPD) can leave a company vulnerable to unexpected pitfalls, costs and liability. Before undertaking an outsourcing strategy it was critical for us to verify that ownership of our IP would be 100 percent safeguarded, that our customer and employee data would be protected against leakage or threats and that our outsourcing partner could deliver against an aggressive product development cycle with the high level of quality that our customers demand. Additionally, we needed to ensure we could integrate an outsourcing partner into our already high-performing team in an effective manner. Moreover, there were several factors unique to our company that we felt made a strong case for outsourcing. Chief among them is our location. We’re a cutting edge technology company headquartered in Philadelphia — not Boston or Silicon Valley. Creating the next generation of OCR software is an incredibly complex and demanding engineering task and we don’t have ready access to a broad pool of engineering talent that can supplement the new product engineering work of our team.