Ghost Story

Ghost Story

With all the major PBX vendors saying that the market is being driven by applications and encouraging their resellers and distributors to ‘think soft’ the accountants are having a

nightmare. The reason for their poor sleeping habits – in a word – is cost. Software development engineers, quality assurance and technical authors – the constituent parts of the whole applications process – are an expensive resource.

Many observers say that software companies are at their most productive before they make a single sale. The more successful they are and the more customers they get the less the product moves forward. Why is that? Well, every sale the software vendor gets comes complete with their own set of ‘bug’ and operational issues. You only have to picture the sales process; every time the salesman gets a deal it tends to be on the basis of a customer saying, ‘I’d buy it if the application did x and y. For x and y read bespoke requirements.

So if this is what the software vendor needs to do to get business then this is what they have to resource and the end result is either very expensive applications for the end user or non profitable sales for the vendor. A lose, lose situation.

One solution of course is for the vendor to outsource the software development resource to a low cost economy; but the downside to such a course of action is the potential, or most likely, probable, loss of control for the original software developer as the project descends in to an unmanageable mess.

One company that appears to have solved this problem is Brentwood, Essex based Ghost Software. The name Ghost is no accident as the company ghost writes ICT software on behalf of a portfolio of clients that reads like a ‘who’s who’ of the leading players in the communications market. Additionally, Ghost Software hosts software development and third line third party application support teams for companies needing overflow or extra resource at a cost that won’t break the bank. In fact the cost structures we have seen; fixed monthly capped costs would stop the accountants having nightmares and budget their business more accurately.

Managing Director Lee Benning runs the UK operation whilst Marshall Sherman is CEO of their Lahore based business in Pakistan and it’s to Sherman we turn to explains how it all works.

“We have a team of some forty highly qualified, articulate and motivated CTI and VoIP software developers who eat things like H.323 and SIP for breakfast. This means that we can provide a diverse range of applications from voice recording and PBX web provisioning tools to soft phones for a PDA and beyond.

The management and control issues are addressed by an innovative, for this sector, business process whereby Pakistan based directors spend considerable time in front of western based clients.”

Sherman continues, “By having our senior management team rotating through the UK we can achieve complete East/West empathy. Our customers quite rightly feel a close proximity to their project and do not feel as though it’s out of sight and 4,000 miles away.”

Imran Uddin, Managing Director of Ghost Pakistan, “Presently we are working on a number of client projects; the most recently completed include an IP based call recording solution for Cisco CallManager that our client expects to resell at a very affordable price. Again, for Cisco based solutions, we have produced a range of high to low end database integration applications including screen pop for either a PC or an XML based telephone.”

CTO Junaid Abid explains the structure, “Ghost Software works in teams of five with each team consisting of a senior software developer as team leader, two developers, one QA engineer and a technical writer. Teams can be scaled up but not down and the end result for our clients is shrink wrapped applications.”

Outside of these applications based project teams is an R&D team headed up by Khawer Zaidi, a graduate of the Institute of Management Sciences, one of the leading university’s in Pakistan. “My role is to anticipate the next generation of technologies and to explain how each technology interacts. Ultimately I need to show how these technologies can be harnessed in to viable products.”

The last word goes to UK Managing Director Lee Benning, “The key to our success has been the ability to make the model so predictable for our clients that we can guarantee that if we put resources in at one end the right result – a finished software application – comes out the other end. The channel will see our products everywhere – it’s just that you won’t see our name on them”

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