From a start-up team of just three developers in 2015 to a software factory tackling an expanding nearshore market, Blue People has set itself apart through its integrated approach and savvy navigation of the CMMI appraisal process. The company, which is based in Monterrey, Mexico, achieved Level 3 CMMI rating in 2018 and, just a year later, was able to move to the CMMI’s highest maturity rating of Level 5.
The origins of Blue People lie in a CRM app designed for dentists. The founding team comprised two developers and a dentist, and so they opted to design a software-as-a-service app to make it easier for dentists to manage their clinics, processes and patients. Dental Pilot is still in demand. Uptake was quick and interest in the way the trio developed software grew rapidly, eventually seeing demand for bespoke software development beyond the dentistry arena.
Rodrigo Ochoa, CTO of Blue People, says: “From three people, we grew to 10 in 6 months. After a year we were 30, then another year and we were 60. We started working on one or two projects and now we have 25 projects open.”
Truly Agile Approaches
While most of the team are Millennials – aged 22 to 37 – it is not youth that Ochoa counts as an advantage, but rather the flexibility, adaptability, and familiarity with a fast-paced information ecosystem that having been born at that time brings.
“Millennials learned to value how fast information moves and how we can take advantage from a business sense of this global growth. For example, we know that when we start working professionally that we can take advantage of the global markets, which was not a common perspective just a few decades ago.”
Blue People’s expansion did not stop there. Realizing that their unique approach to recruiting and developing the top 5% of talent in the region was an attractive proposition, they branched out into recruitment and headhunting, using the processes they developed to grow their own company to help clients find the right people.
Logical Steps to Recruitment Success
“Rodrigo and Enrique [Carro, CEO], they have a vast background in math and logic tournaments around the world. Enrique represented Mexico since he was a little guy as a math genius. Instead of looking at the curriculum of the developers, we should be asking them and testing them on how they solve problems,” explains Alberto Pimentel, Blue People CMO.
With this in mind, they developed a headhunting platform, which allows them to evaluate on a scale base of 100 people at a time. The platform evaluates developers with specific tests that allows them to see if they are good with logic, with solving problems, with math and with the specific skills they are looking for.
Recognizing that while they were growing fast, Blue People was not yet up there with “the AAA clients.” Pimentel says: “We asked what we were lacking.” This brought them to the CMMI (Capability Maturity Model Integration) Institute and an immediate target of Level 3 maturity rating, which they achieved within a year.
“We wanted a really fast-paced approach to getting appraised with a Level 5 maturity,” he says. Rather than aiming for the rating for a particular project, the team decided to target an organizational maturity rating of Level 5 and set it as a goal for the whole company.
Ochoa adds: “We were already doing a lot of great stuff using agile methodologies that put us close to Level 3. So with a few changes, we were able to reach Level 3 in less than 3 months. We were already doing a lot of the CMMI processes.”
Aiming for Appraisal
After achieving a Level 3 rating in the appraisal, the team went to Washington and participated in the CMMI’s annual event. Their rapid advancement saw them used as a case study for the CMMI.
“CMMI appraisal allowed us to compete on an international market, which is why we already have US customers knocking on our doors,” Pimentel says. Blue People currently services customers in the US and in Costa Rica and Colombia, in addition to Mexico.
“For the CMMI appraisal, we developed another software called Blue Surf that allows us to get all the metrics from all of the developers on a daily basis and to statistically control all of our forward processes,” Pimentel adds.
“After achieving Maturity Level 3 we had our set of standard processes and a framework for improvement, but we needed to take it to the next level and statistically support our improvement. We knew that this was the next step, and as we worked towards ML3, we already had our minds set on ML5,” Carro said in the case study.
When it comes to differentiation, Ochoa believes it is really about quality, people and processes. Blue People looks to recruit the top 1% of talent in Mexico and then sets about ensuring that they are trained to be technologically agnostic and to know the roots of the program, so they can develop across all languages.
“We are developers who created a recruitment tool to find the right kind of people,” Ochoa says, adding that they adopted a similar approach for their processes. “The processes we use weren’t developed by process expert; they were developed by the people who use the processes.”
Ochoa also credits their location in Monterrey as contributing to their success. “We are the business capital of Mexico and we have the top ranked universities in the country here. Our location means we can be in San Antonio, Texas in 5 hours by car or 2 hours by plane. And we share similar cultures and the same time zone,” he says.