At Unosquare, we have approximately 600 employees, or as we like to call ourselves, Unicorns. As a nearshore software development firm, most of our team members are Delivery Professionals with engineering, quality assurance, project management, and business analysis skills. Unosquare has experienced exponential growth year after year, landing us on the Inc. 5000 list in 2014 and every year since for the past six years straight.
Our growth is due to effective planning, healthy management processes, working with the right clients, and sound risk management. However, it's not only the negative risks we monitor. With the growth in our company's size, we also have to pay close attention to positive risks.
What comes to mind when you think about risks?
In business and everyday life, the concept of risk carries an undesirable connotation. People make "risky" decisions when there is more probability that things will go wrong. People ask themselves, "Should we risk it?" when they aren't sure of a positive outcome. Risk avoidance and risk tolerance are markers by which we assess professional growth and capability to lead. When planning, people typically focus primarily on the adverse risks - you don't leave your umbrella at home if it's sunny.
But, what about the risk of surpassing milestones and things going exceedingly well? Obviously, the exercises to assess the impact of strategic efforts on reaching a specific set of goals need to include the potential that the measures will fall short. The strategic plan then defines the outcome of hitting the mark, typically assessing revenue or growth milestones and the culmination of an aptly applied strategy. But how do you prepare for the consequences beyond positive results - ones that hit the goal and go even further than you've anticipated?
Risk management planning should always account for the negative and the positive. When we are considering positive risks, we are not looking to avoid or mitigate; rather, that positive risk should be:
In the introduction to this post, I spoke about the growth of Unosquare for a reason. While we are proud of our accomplishments, our growth has come with a significant number of stressors. One of the drivers of that stress has been the positive risk of quick expansion.
How to Prepare to Manage Positive Risks
1. Ensure that your partnership is mutually beneficial
At Unosquare, we are experts in talent management and we work with our clients to staff our software development professionals as extended or augmented members of their delivery teams. We know that smaller firms with modestly-sized team compositions statistically carry more negative risk than larger firms with a wide distribution of contracted talent. With smaller firms, requirements may not be well defined because of a need to be flexible for their customer base, scope/feature creep, and scalability. Additionally, they may have funding issues and carry the potential for an abrupt end to their project work.
We try our best to attend to these risks when we mutually assess if our firms' partnership makes sense in the relationship's discovery phase. Still, neither side can predict what exactly will happen during the business relationship and your planning should reflect that pragmatism.
2. Effective Change Management
Our larger client partners, with a broad distribution of our delivery professionals, can experience rapid changes within their organization. In our experience, the change most often involves broadening our relationship because they have identified a need for additional software development capability. These are clients with a robust in-house infrastructure who trust our expertise to find productive and collaborative professionals to augment their teams.
In a truly collaborative relationship, your client partners will prepare you for any upcoming changes that will affect your relationship. Being transparent about your own change management and risks will help build a bridge to shared experiences and raise awareness of impending changes.
If you have this open communication and collaborating around risk, you are helping to effectively manage change. Realize that most things won't change immediately if you are maintaining the relationship and your services haven't been cut.
- Be balanced in the face of shifting work requirements
- Adapt quickly to new facts and information
- Prioritize your risk management according to urgency
3. Continue to Deliver
Setting expectations with our existing client base and prospective clients is the key to effectively preparing for growth. For Unosquare, this is an iterative process of positive risk management. To enhance, exploit, share, and accept the risk, we have to drive successful delivery. The infrastructure that we have to maintain project health and successful project delivery is one of distinction that has enabled our decisive growth.
We have processes designed to support our talented Delivery Professionals when their teams need to grow and do so rapidly. As well, we have procedures to manage our clients' expectations during these transitions. Growth is the predominant "positive" risk that we experience, and planning for this eventuality is the cross-collaboration driver between our internal business units.
4. Build your Playbooks to Account for Managing Risks
Additionally, we found that building and maintaining the playbooks for our functional units created a positive byproduct - capturing compelling stories about our company. When we document how we took advantage of positive risk, we are building our promotional messaging. By detailing the effective management of positive risk, we create flexible and impactful marketing campaigns. Furthermore, when we understand what pieces of our delivery model are productive, we can take immediate advantage of this by adjusting our conversations with clients and prospects.
5. Effective Listening and Communication
Collaboration amongst internal business units to achieve functional integration of business rules is vital in software staff augmentation. As well, all leadership should be listening effectively to the feedback from your boots on the ground. The intelligence from your prized team members, those communicating challenges and successes of their daily work, should be shared with all stakeholders in your company.
Awareness of your contemporary market is beneficial and a dynamic approach to risk management. What it takes to create significant change from this information is a leadership team willing to listen to the real-time market feedback and adjust affected principles when necessary and supported by empiric data. We don't want to deal with reactionary thinking risks but have pragmatic responses to viable trends supported by contingency planning.
6. Prepare for Great Outcomes
In the planning stages of a project or strategic effort, prepare yourself and your team for the opportunities that come with positive risk and plan to exploit them. You may hear, "Well, we'll cross that bridge when we come to it." Or, "That's a good problem to have." That type of thinking will not enable your team to take advantage of positive risks. Ensure that your project planning has an air of optimism, and along with everything else, plan for things to go better than expected so you can genuinely manage and benefit from positive risks.
Looking to Partner with and Experienced Outsourcing Company?
Unosquare incorporates skilled and experienced professionals into existing teams to fill the need to have more resources working on active projects. We can provide the complementing talent for your teams in a way that is fast, transparent, and efficient.
As we’ve matured, we’ve refined our processes to reflect our earned understanding of our industries of focus, and the results are better than ever. Unparalleled transparency together with top tier talent in overlapping time-zones make the perfect formula for mature and seamless collaboration.