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Frequently Asked Questions

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Coherent Solutions was formed in 1995 in Minneapolis, MN, as a software consulting and development company. In 2003, Coherent created its Minsk offshore development center. Coherent works with large enterprises, software vendors, and technology startups in the U.S. and Europe. Coherent provides the distribution of resources that best fits their business needs and technology environment. We have extensive experience in a diverse set of industry verticals including retail, manufacturing, healthcare, fitness/wellness, financial services, and software. Currently, Coherent Solutions has offices in Minneapolis, Boston, New York, and a development center in Minsk, Belarus. We provide resources and expertise in an accountable process across the software lifecycle including design, testing, ongoing maintenance, and enhancements.

Security & Privacy

How secure are network connections between my business and Coherent Solutions developers in Minsk?

A Virtual Private Network (VPN) based on your specifications and security requirements is set up between your location(s) and your Coherent Minsk development team. The VPN can be software or hardware-based, depending on your requirements. Minsk team members have password protected access to the VPN, which is as secure as the VPN your employees use when they connect from home or a remote location to your network.

How secure is Coherent Solutions’ Minsk network?

Coherent’s Minsk network is as secure as any corporate network used internally by U.S. or European corporations. Coherent’s network administrators in Minsk employ all the standard best practices to protect the network and network-accessible resources from unauthorized access and continually monitor and measure network security.

Who has network access to my projects in Minsk?

Only those developers assigned to your project team have password-protected permission to access your projects on the Minsk network and passwords are changed on a regular basis in accordance with Coherent’s security policies.

How physically secure are Coherent Solutions’ facilities in Minsk?

Coherent’s facilities in Minsk meet the typical security standards found in U.S. and European corporations. All entries and exits are controlled by badge readers so only authorized personnel can enter Coherent facilities. In addition, all entries and rooms within the development center are monitored by CCTV video cameras.

Is working with Belarusian developers safer than working with other third parties offshore or U.S.?

Coherent’s Minsk team members are just as reliable as third party developers in other major offshore centers or in the U.S. Coherent follows standard best practices for ensuring that employees act ethically and honestly, including employment contracts that subject employees to legal action in Belarusian courts should nondisclosure provisions be violated. The company also monitors network traffic and blocks access to questionable sites. Coherent Minsk team members are among the cream of the crop of Minsk’s highly developed educational and technical infrastructure (Minsk has 12 major science and technical universities), and are among the most highly paid employees in Belarus. Many employees have advanced degrees and PhDs. They have little incentive to jeopardize their jobs through unauthorized or illegal activity. That’s one reason why Coherent’s attrition rate in Minsk is 12% annually versus 25-30% in many Asian offshore centers. Further, there has never been a single incident in Coherent’s history of one of our employees acting illegally or compromising confidential client information.

Can offshore team members be trusted with HIPAA data, PCI related information and other data that is tightly regulated by statute?

Yes. Based on your requirements, Coherent can implement the security provisions you require related to restricting exposure to sensitive data. In fact, Coherent can duplicate the same restrictions you apply to your own employees or to contractors in the U.S. Coherent can also implement the same procedures for reporting and remediation if such exposure inadvertently occurs. In short, we can follow the same technical and procedural restraints you do.

Legal & Contracts

What is the relationship between Coherent’s U.S. operations and the development center in Minsk?

Both are part of the same company (Coherent Solutions, Inc.) and report to the same management team. Coherent was formed in the U.S. in 1995 by Igor Epshteyn, a native of Minsk and the sole owner and CEO of the company. In 2003, Epshteyn founded the development center in Minsk and named it ISsoft Solutions because the middle syllable of ‘coherent’ sounds close to a profanity in Russian. The ‘I’ ‘S’ in ISsoft stand for Igor Epshteyn and Sasha Schneerson who is the General Manager in Belarus. Regardless of where Coherent Solutions employees work, they are all officially employed by the same company. This contrasts with other U.S. companies serving SMB market who partner with separate offshore development companies instead of employing offshore developers directly. These offshore development companies may have partnership arrangements with as many as a half dozen U.S. companies. The U.S. companies act as third party U.S. sales and marketing representatives for offshore development companies, but have little or no control over how these companies are run and how they manage their internal resources to successfully complete your projects.

Who do I sign a contract with?

You sign a contract with a U.S. company, Coherent Solutions, Inc., and only deal with the U.S. court system for all legal matters. With Coherent Solutions the relationship between the company you sign a contract with and the developers who actually do the work is direct and transparent – they are part of the same company and report to the same management team as described above. This is in contrast with legal arrangements signed with other outsourcers where the legal link between the U.S. entities and their offshore partners can be opaque exposing customers to considerable legal risk.

Are there any other contractual advantages to working with Coherent compared to other outsourcing development companies?

Yes. Offshore development companies often structure their contracts like cell phone contracts; you get what seems like an attractive rate, but are forced to commit to long term contracts and pay a heavy penalty for canceling contracts. In contrast Coherent sees flexibility as one of the primary strategic benefits enabled by outsourcing and structures its contracts accordingly. Coherent does not require customers to agree to guaranteed minimum durations or resource quantities in contracts, and contracts can be ended without excessive prior notice restrictions.

Technical Skill

How large is the developer talent pool in Minsk?

Minsk is considered one of the major eastern European software development centers. The city has a population of 1.8M. It has 12 major technical and science universities and dozens of other schools that offer computer training. Minsk also is home to hundreds of outsourcing companies, including some of the largest in Eastern Europe.

What are the educational backgrounds of Minsk team members?

All Minsk developers and testers have at least a five-year university degree called a specialist degree in applied mathematics, technology or computer sciences which based on the structure of the Belarusian education system is equivalent to a four-year bachelor degree in the U.S. Some have masters or PhDs.

What certifications do they hold?

Coherent developers in Minsk hold strong competencies in Microsoft, Java and other technologies. As a Microsoft Gold Certified Partner, Coherent has made a commitment to maintain a large number of Microsoft-certified developers with approximately 30% of the company’s .NET developers being Microsoft certified. In Java our senior software developers and team leads hold Java Oracle certificates. Besides these technical certifications, we also have lead and project management resources with PMP and Scrum Master Certifications.

What technologies do Coherent Solutions developers in Minsk use?

Coherent developers are strong in .NET, Java, C++, web (HTML5, CSS, Javascript) and mobile (iOS, Android, cross platform) development tools. Our technical team has experience in all major databases, all major OSes, and popular data tools including Oracle OBIEE, Cognos, & SSIS/SSRS/SSAS.

Can Minsk team members work in an Agile development environment?

Yes. Agile is Coherent’s internal standard and over half of our customer projects are conducted in an Agile development environment. Customers report these engagements are highly successful. Several factors make Minsk team members an especially good fit for Agile projects. There is a direct daily time overlap of 2-4 hours (depending on your time zone) during normal business hours providing a communication window for Minsk personnel to participate in daily scrums. In addition, our Minsk team members have extensive experience in working in team environments and possess strong English skills.

What development methodologies do Coherent use?

When working on an integrated basis with customers, Coherent seeks to adopt whatever methodology the customer uses and act as an extended part of the customer’s organization. Therefore, we have experience with a broad set of methodologies. Besides Agile, Coherent has successfully conducted many projects using traditional plan/Waterfall-oriented methodologies.

Communication

How culturally compatible are Belarusians with members of my own team?

Belarus has a European culture, which mirrors American culture more closely than alternative outsourcing locales such as India, China, or Vietnam. Coherent Solutions customers and others who have worked with Belarusian developers report that they encounter few cultural differences that hamper communication, get more innovation, and establish more collaborative relationships than working with Asian offshore developers. The vast majority of Coherent employees in Minsk are able to communicate with clients by phone and email. Team leads are highly proficient English speakers and can communicate seamlessly with you. As part of its commitment to providing clients with project transparency and tight integration, Coherent Solutions has three English teachers on staff and requires personnel to attend English classes as part of their training. Minsk team members work until 7 p.m. Minsk-time, making them available by phone until 12pm Eastern / 9am Pacific time (hours can be shifted later for west coast customers).

What if I need to connect with someone in Minsk after hours for support or bug fixing?

Minsk team members work with you just like internal or onshore resources. This includes being available after hours by personal cell phone and email when production support is needed. During critical phases of projects, Minsk team members are on call regardless of the hour. Minsk team members are also available for online or telephone meetings outside of normal business hours.

Can I visit Coherent Solutions in Minsk?

Yes. Coherent Solutions highly recommends that you visit Minsk if you have a major project or are interested in a longer term relationship. A visit to Minsk is also a good way to kick-start initiatives. Coherent Solutions hosts about 15 clients a year in Minsk, a city of two million with an abundance of first-class hotels, restaurants and cultural attractions. Minsk is about 12-hours of travel time from New York City and has connections with most major European airports. Belarusian visas are easy to obtain. Coherent Solutions can assist you to obtain a Belarusian visa, if necessary.

Can Minsk team members spend time at my company’s location(s)?

Yes. Coherent Solutions encourages clients to have Minsk team members visit their locations to learn their operations and business requirements, as well as cement relationships between Minsk team members and your own staff. This is often especially important for major projects or when you anticipate establishing a long-term relationship with Coherent Solutions.

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