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Hotels.com goes agile and in-shores development team

Kathleen Hall

Hotels.com has brought its offshore development team in-house to cut software product cycles from 26 weeks to a fortnight.

The hotel booking site receives millions of visitors every day, and has 85 localised sites supporting 34 languages. The company decided to in-shore its development team after adopting agile methodologies.

Stuart Silberg, vice-president of technology at Hotels.com, said the company was concerned about the exposure of its intellectual property in relying so heavily on a third-party outsourcer.

The company started working with managed services provider DSP last August, and has gone from having the majority of its 80 developers and 40 quality assurance team being offshored, to having a 50/50 split in-house and overseas.

“Agile is hard, but agile offshore is very difficult," said Silberg. "We weren’t achieving the kind of innovation that we could. There were also concerns about quality and predictability.”

Efficiency has increased by 25% since half of the company’s previously offshored jobs were brought back to the UK.

“Previously we didn’t feel the quality was there and there were frictions in development," he said. "Of course, agile doesn’t fix those problems, but it does put a spotlight on the issue and tackles [project management] in smaller chunks so it’s easier to fix.”

Silberg said it wasn’t a challenge to hire in the UK: “We are not struggling for talent here, and DSP brought in a number of high-level candidates which kept the bar high.

“There’s no way we would have got our iPhone and iPad apps in the state they are. Basically, we’ve caught up with two years’ work in one year.”


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