From Happy Socks to Gender Equality: This Swedish Start-Up’s Biggest Fear in Outsourcing Was Compromising Their Company Culture
Well, we are past the start-up phase. We are more of a scale-up now, Anders corrected me at the start.
Anders is a technopreneur and CTO of the fast-growing accounting scale-up, Wint, that partnered with Creative Software in December 2017.
I recently sat down with him to chat about Wint’s experience working with dedicated teams and how their perception of outsourcing might have changed since they ventured into it.
But first, I wanted to know why Wint chose Sri Lanka as their outsourcing destination.
Weather and beaches! Anders said right off the bat.
Ha-ha jokes aside, we got great references from a person we trust. He had been working with Creative Software for years and years, so that was definitely the deciding factor for us. But I can’t lie… the idea of lounging on Sri Lankan beaches was very appealing as well.
What were some of the main concerns you had before venturing into outsourcing?
Anders: Cultural differences were our biggest concern. In Sweden we are very direct and result-oriented, so we were not sure how well we would be able to communicate with our colleagues if they are used to hierarchy and complying with everything “the superiors” say.
We were also concerned about whether outsourcing would compromise our company culture. We have values and quirks that guide our recruitment strategy and shape our office life. For example, we are very conscious about the gender imbalance in our industry and actively take measures to diversify our teams, as well as ensure that everyone receives the same merit-based treatment.
We are also committed to making our employees feel at home, so – among other initiatives - we have a no-shoes policy at our home office. (We give out loud-coloured happy socks to all our new recruits.)
Our second concern was how our in-house developers would feel about us outsourcing. We did not want to make them feel threatened by it in any way.
Finally, we were worried about retention.
What prompted you to consider outsourcing?
Anders: Finding the right talent in Sweden has become incredibly challenging as the talent pool is very small considering the size of our tech industry.
The talent scarcity has made onboarding very expensive, while the abundance of job opportunities has driven the turnover rates up.
Startups and scaleups have to be able to grow quickly. For our business to reach its fullest potential, we have to find alternatives to hiring at home.
You are already several months into your partnership with Creative Software. This is your second visit to your Colombo-based team. Has your perception of outsourcing changed? If yes, how so?
Anders: Any concern I had about outsourcing is now gone. This is not to say that it is going to work for everyone and with any vendor. It is important to do thorough research, know your objectives and find the right partner to work with.
In our case, going back to the concerns about culture, understanding body language was a problem in the first few days, but that was a fun thing to learn. Also, sensitivity to hierarchy seemed like it was going to be an issue, but just a week into our onsite visit – as soon as we started getting to know each other – it was no longer an issue at all. Creative Software’s culture is based on the same values as ours: a flat organisation that promotes equality and empathy.
As for my concern about retention, it disappeared after the first call with Jonas [Director, Creative Software]. He told us how low the employee turnover rates are – consistently below 8% if I am not mistaken.
What about your concern about your in-house team’s perception of outsourcing?
Anders: We tackled this carefully. I had a meeting with our development team in which I explained our objectives for outsourcing, as well as assured them that we will continue to recruit locally as well.
The response was great. They understood the value our offshore team would bring to them and to the organisation overall.
And what about the happy socks: Have they made their way to Sri Lanka?
Anders: Sadly, we can’t expect our team in Sri Lanka to wear them – it is too hot. But, who knows, maybe we will introduce happy flip-flops. The important thing is that they are willing to embrace our quirks and that they already share our values.
Finally, what does the future look like for Wint and your dedicated team at Creative Software?
Anders: Well, we started with four people just a few months ago and we are already working on adding four more. So, it looks very promising.
As I said, this is a long-term strategy for us and we are excited to see where this road takes us.
About Wint: Swedish firm, Wint, builds artificial intelligence (AI)-powered cloud software for smarter and more efficient accounting. Wint’s dedicated team at Creative Software develops their mobile solutions and assists in the development of their AI-powered core system.