Companies should demand more from their outsourced IT providers who should act like business partners and product developers – as with fast-growing Ukraine-based provider N-iX
Outsourcing is developing in both the size of the sector and the scope of services that it offers, but too many companies still regard it purely as a tactical solution. They see it as simply being available to meet an immediate need on a short-term basis, rather than providing a collaboration partner who can play a strategic role in helping them to develop their business.
It’s a perception that Andrew Pavliv of specialist developers N-iX is keen to challenge, and he and his team are finding that more and more technology companies and independent software vendors are seeing beyond these limited, short-term benefits.
Thanks to this new way of viewing and using outsourcing providers in these sectors N-iX, which started out as a product development company, is making more of a strategic contribution to its clients rather than simply providing support in the short term when a company suddenly discovers it needs outsourcing services.
‘Their background as product developers has meant N-iX can be proactive and add value – they act as an R&D department for us in many ways’ - Richard Bastin, chief technology officer at Lebara
“We can help drive our clients’ businesses forward because we understand software development, having been developers ourselves,” he says. “Because prior to becoming a service provider we were developers of software products, we can really add value to our customers and work proactively rather than simply carrying out their essential IT functions.”
N-iX’s rapidly growing roster of clients appreciate the fact that rather than simply reducing costs, thanks to its expertise it can act as a partner, working closely with them. Clients include Currency Cloud, a B2B platform providing administration and control features to automate the entire payments life cycle of businesses, Canada’s largest software company OpenText and global telecoms group Lebara.
“N-iX adapted to our organisation very quickly and we get very good cooperation. We see them as part of our team, rather than just another vendor that we have to manage,” says a spokesman for another client, Anoto Group AB, a Swedish technology company that develops and licenses digital pens.
Anoto and N-iX have been working together for more than eight years. N-iX hosts a part of Anoto’s research and development team, consisting of 18 developers, who work on Anoto pen firmware updates. There’s also a desktop application that synchronises, controls and manages digital pen behaviour.
“Clients really benefit from the fact that we provide them with their own dedicated team who work exclusively on their projects and are fully integrated into their organisational structure, processes and culture,” says N-iX’s Mr Pavliv. “We can often act as a client’s research and development centre too.”
N-iX was founded in 2002 in Ukraine as a product startup. Its founders came up with the idea of developing software for Linux that would allow users to work with infrastructure software provider Novell’s NetWare and GroupWise products.
Novell was so impressed by this technology that the company acquired it just a year later. N-iX continued to work with Novell for another seven years, developing the product further. The dedicated development centre that N-iX set up for Novell is a good example, says Mr Pavliv of how closely the company works with its partners and clients. The success of this co-operation inspired dozens of similar partnerships with some of the leading technology companies in Western Europe and North America over the following 13 years.
With many more companies realising that N-iX can act as their strategic partner to drive their business forward, this exciting growth seems set to continue.
CASE STUDY: HELPING LEBARA TO AID ITS GLOBAL MIGRANT CUSTOMERS
N-iX has been working with global migrant brand Lebara for just over 12 months, having built a development centre that consolidates a wide range of expertise – software development, quality assurance, business intelligence development and operations, application support, database administration, infrastructure support – everything is under one roof. This way knowledge is consolidated in one place, which benefits the company in so many ways.
“We were impressed by how quickly and easily they could be integrated into our systems and diverse company culture,” says Richard Bastin, chief technology officer at Lebara. “Their background as product developers has meant N-iX can be proactive and add value – they act as an R&D department for us in many ways.”
The scale of co-operation encompasses support of the company’s core functions and innovations. “Each direction requires different development processes and different skillsets,” says Pavlo Deshchynskyy, vice president of delivery at N-iX. “Managing existing business, quality and ensuring responsiveness are key. To work on innovations, we need to move fast to bring the product to market. We need to be innovators to build the most valuable product, to implement and challenge new ideas.”
The location of N-iX in Ukraine was another key selling point for Lebara. Mr Bastin says: “There’s only a two-hour time difference between the UK and Ukraine so most of the working day overlaps, making it much easier to discuss and co-ordinate delivery, requirements, designs and other similar topics – this is a significant advantage. Similar working culture can also be a benefit.”
Working with N-iX has brought other advantages, he says: “It’s helped us go to market efficiently with new digital products quickly, thanks to N-iX. Essentially, and very importantly, the partnership allows us to service our global migrant customers better wherever they might be.”