Supervising or outsourcing? That is the question

    For more than two years, remote employees of the Support Division of the Krasnodar Plarium studio have been working under the supervision of supervisors. For what reasons we chose this management method and how we organized supervision in the support department - we tell under the cut.

    Why Supervision

    Vikings: War of Clans entry into new markets meant serving Asian and other exotic locales. It was necessary to hire representatives from these countries: they will not only be able to respond to players in their own language, but also have the same national mentality. For example, the Japanese are very polite, they are characterized by a formal style of communication, and the Turks are sincere, emotional and prefer a short psychological distance. However, it is long and difficult to search for speakers of languages, and it is even harder to gather in one office, so we refused to complete the house. Instead, they began to study ways of working with remote employees and first of all considered the option of outsourcing.

    In general, the outsourcing did not suit us, there were quite a lot of questions and problems. Plus outsourcing support is that a company that does not have its own support team gets a turnkey solution. However, for us this dignity would be a lack of cooperation. The fact is that our studio already had its own departmental structure, training program and service standards. Due to the fact that the outsourcing company has its own managers, human resources, IT and quality control, we would have to change our structure, otherwise we would have duplicated departments.

    Also at the search stage, we realized that there is no possibility to agree on a moving schedule. If employees are needed outside of office hours, it will be necessary to expand the staff of the outsourcing company in order to organize work on shifts, and this will entail an increase in the cost of services.

    It was not yet certain that the outsourcing agents immediately after receiving the regulations will respond to requests as required. There would be a question of learning.
    First, different companies allow varying degrees of partner control over employee training. Secondly, we already have an experienced team, retraining another one would be interesting, but inefficient.

    Finally, it is easiest to give the outsourcing company templates for all occasions in order to reduce the number of errors in comparison with individual answers. But with the release of updates, more situations arise that require new patterns, and so on to infinity. It is impractical. It is cheaper to create a bot program than to hire a command for copy-paste templates.

    If we were developing small flash projects or simple software, then using outsourcing would be more profitable than creating our own team. But we have a big game of 65 thousand words on each locale with complex mechanics, interconnections and balance. It is very difficult to prepare outsourcers to work on a global project: the more links in the chain, the higher the probability of error. Moreover, according to global trends, the quality of project servicing comes to the fore and becomes a competitive advantage. The popularity of the project also depends on how well we interact and postproduce. In order to provide support to the players at a high level and to remain within the budget, we stopped at the supervising.

    How we switched to supervising

    In April 2016, we started searching and hiring remote employees from different countries, primarily in Asian locales. In the fall, the team was already staffed, and about fifty people worked under the supervision of supervisors. It took us not so much time (maximum a year) for remote moderators to perceive us as a reliable employer. This is important because usually employers do not commit themselves to freelancers, may suddenly refuse services, do not train, but require a lot. We offer official employment and two-week paid vacation.

    The introduction of supervising primarily affected related areas: technical support, team working with social networks, localization. The changes were internal, so the scope of work for project managers and developers did not grow. We re-built communication so that there is a fast and clear communication between employees from different countries. The localization department helped us with this, as Google Translator will not save here. Also, thanks to the help of localizers, we were able to maintain the game page in application stores in various languages, for example, in Malaysian and Thai, maintain a support portal and FAQ. Such multilingual service of the project became possible due to the transition to supervising.

    During the transition to the remote control team, we are faced with a lot of difficulties. It was hard to predict everything and create all areas of remote work at once, especially since we did not have such experience. Most of the effort went in search of suitable moderators - we had to sift dozens, and even hundreds of candidates, until an effective team was recruited. But the most important point in the transition from inhouse to supervising became a single information field, where the supervisor plays the main role.

    How does the supervising service work?

    We trained the existing staff on supervisors. They took on tremendous managerial work and interaction with localization. Who, in our view, is a good supervisor? This is Batman! Professional, absolute authority for remote employees and possessor of outstanding patience. Like any manager, the supervisor must love people, and also develop the wards and strive to understand them.

    The norm for our supervisor is 6-8 moderators in submission, the size of the team depends on the amount of work. We need at least two supervisors for the Russian locale and two for the rest. Taking into account the stock is obtained by six people for each project.

    The moderator has a career opportunity up to, as we call it, a formor (fore-moderator): if an employee copes well, takes initiative and has no complaints about him, then he can take on additional administrative functions. Forms help other moderators and can partially replace the supervisor, for example, when it is night in his time zone.

    What tools supervisor we have

    We have created an administration knowledge base based on Google Sites and a learning portal where you can study project updates and get tested. Since learning and interaction takes place in English, we only hire those remote moderators who own it. So no additional translators are required.

    For motivation, we use different tools: general chat rooms, skype calls, events (for example, for everyone to take a picture of an object from their own city when a flash mob is launched for remote users). There is also a group on Facebook where people share memos and discuss business issues. But at the forefront is the personal communication between the moderator and the supervisor.


    Advantages of supervising:

    • flexibility: adaptation for hours with a large / smaller number of requests and adaptation for fluctuations in the number of calls depending on the day of the week;
    • transparent processes;
    • high level of control.

    Supervision minuses:

    • state expansion;
    • increased costs for organization and training.

    We liked the two years of work on the new system, and we plan to optimize the processes of supervising, for example, the improvement of training. Now one supervisor trains one moderator - this process can be automated, unload the supervisor and focus on in-depth employee training. The training system will switch to e-learning platforms, and support quality team, exploring the quality of processes, will help in knowledge testing.

    Further more. It is the introduction of supervising that has allowed at the moment to create the most optimal in scale and quality team. Soon we will transfer all services to supervising so that the first line of technical support is completely outside the office.

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