Continued economic instability and the normalisation of remote working are pressuring South African organisations to find more effective ways of overcoming the scarcity of in-house software development resources.
This is according to specialised software development firm Dariel who believes that outsourcing this essential function will become a business priority.
“The US IT job market is highly specialised where software engineers get appointed to focus on specific things. However, the limited resources available to local software developers mean they are more multi-faceted and multi-talented as they must apply ingenuity to overcome these challenges.
The latter makes them highly sought-after overseas. And while the talent might remain in-country thanks to remote working, international companies get the benefit of quality software engineers at more affordable rates while still being able to outprice local companies,” says Wayne Yan, chief technology officer at Dariel.
Greg Vercellotti, executive director at Dariel, explains that the pandemic has taken what was already a difficult proposition to acquire quality developers and made it an almost impossible task.
“More overseas companies are offering jobs to South Africans. And because there is a shortage of skills coming out of tertiary institutions, there are not enough graduates to fill the demand,” says Vercellotti.
“Universities can change to help address this. While they spend much time on the theory needed to give someone a good degree, they do not prepare them for the work environment. Junior software engineers do not understand how to run projects and how methodologies work practically. Yes, they have great book learning but have not been exposed to much, if any, training in the field. There is a big jump from coming out of varsity and beginning work,” says Malcolm Rabson, group MD of Dariel.
This is where specialist organisations like Dariel come in. The company focuses on delivering high-quality strategic software development that unlocks business value. It does so by focusing on five key values: delivery; excellence in the quality of work produced; passion for developers; ethically engaging with clients; and growing its people skills.
It is not about creating a body shop where developers are blindly outsourced to clients. It is about finding the ways to use software development that makes sense for the client and helps it address specific needs.
“Many local companies do not appreciate or understand the process of software development. There has always been the temptation to create bloatware instead of focusing on the minimum viable requirement for the business. A few organisations realise that this must be done on a times and materials basis. For them, the software is the electricity of their business. They simply cannot function without it,” says Rabson.
For instance, if a bank loses its ATM network due to a software glitch, both the financial and reputational damage can be disastrous. However, a mine can still operate for a time even if its back-end systems go offline.
“For us, it is about understanding the business problem and using our software engineers to build a solution that addresses it. We do not want to sign as many clients as possible. Rather, it is finding those who understand the importance of software and partnering with them. It comes down to providing insight into the business value through technology,” says Vercellotti.