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Client Story

Starkey Hearing Technologies

Challenge

Want to compare two vendors? Why not have a “playoff”? That’s exactly what Rob Duchscher did when he wanted to evaluate two outsourcing firms. Duchscher is Vice President of Software Engineering at Starkey Laboratories, the world’s leading manufacturer of custom hearing instruments.

One firm was located in India; the other was Coherent Solutions, which has offices in the U.S. and Eastern Europe. Duchscher assigned each firm a project. “The language translation tool that the Indian firm delivered was significantly flawed,” he said. “It didn’t work, it lacked innovation, and from an architectural standpoint, I’ll just say it was less than optimal. We ended up tossing their deliverable and rewriting it. It was a very frustrating, expensive learning experience for us.”

Coherent fared much better on its assignment, according to Duchscher. The firm was tasked with completing a .NET database conversion, delivering some complex reports, and performing software testing for Prohear.Net, a comprehensive Office Management System Starkey provides to audiology clinics to run their businesses.

“Coherent definitely exceeded our expectations,” said Duchscher. “And as our confidence in them has grown, we’ve retained more of their resources; we’ve leveraged them for testing and QA work; and we’ve engaged them on more strategic, mainstream projects.”

ROI

So what was the difference? According to Duchscher, Coherent’s delivery management was key. “We’ve been able to turn to their management for support and clarity on any software development issue,” he said.

Another important factor has been better overall communication. “Their English is very strong; traveling to their development center in Minsk is relatively easy; and because at least half of our workday overlaps, we’ve been able to have regular, productive conversations with the Minsk team.”

What’s more, Duchscher says the Coherent staff proactively offers constructive feedback and suggestions on projects. “They’re not ‘droids’ just doing what we ask without thinking,” he said. “They stop and say, ‘Wait a minute,’ if something doesn’t make sense.”

However, the primary benefit to Starkey has been financial. Says Duchscher, “It’s a $75-an-hour cost difference. Leveraging Coherent’s global delivery has allowed me to reduce my local consultant staff from 14 to just two. That’s a significant savings.”

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