Holy cows and IT software – correlation possible?

Considering that there is a shortage of software specialists in Germany, it makes sense to carefully develop defined projects supported by offshore teams. Eves_IT AG from Braunschweig decided to set up its own subsidiary in India to be able to cater to their clients in a more efficient way. However, holy cows were not the only peculiarity they have encountered since entering the Indian market.


Why India is a good choice

During the last few years, India has widely opened its doors to small and medium-sized enterprises (SME) and start-ups that can help shape a better future for the country. Being a SME itself eves_IT AG has been greatly assisted by the Make-in-India-Mittelstand (MIIM) program targeted to support the SME companies from Germany. With a steady economy, favorable foreign investment policies, a skilled-labor force, rapid growth of digitalization and the rich cultural value it was an easy decision to make India the hub for our future operations. For eves_IT AG India not only opens a door for new market expansion, but also brings in German expertise from an SME sector to the fastest growing economy. Another strategy behind choosing India was to introduce the relevant products and services and make them available at a suitable price. Our goal has been organic growth and maintaining close relationships with our customers which will also be transferred to our Indian subsidiary mode of operation. This will be carried out by having an Indian Pro-ject Manager working in Germany who takes care of the Indian colleagues. 

Initial operations – pilot project

The initial activities for eves_IT AG in India began when five software developers from the subcontinent were brought to Germany for a short-term onsite assignment. The integration of the teams happened faster than we had predicted and it only took a week before the actual work began. It was also a learning experience for the young and talented workers from India who got exposed to our German style of work. As we place high priority on an open-door policy and a family- like atmosphere at work, it was a different experience for the team in India as they are more used to following the hierarchical structure. Now we have also opened a service and support center where the team in India will support our customer locations across the world and provide a 24/7 service.

Localization in India – market specifics

During the selection of the location for our subsidiary in India a lot of thinking and research was carried out. The reason for choosing Thiruvananthapuram (capital of Kerala) is due to its recent growth and potential to be an IT-oriented location in India in the future. Kerala is the region in India with the highest literacy rate and huge importance is placed on improving its educational standards. Kerala is also a popular tourism destination in India; the infrastructure and the facilities provided by the government are topnotch. With a highly qualified labor force, supportive government allowances, and good infrastructure facilities, Thiruvananthapuram was chosen over the cliché IT destinations in India like Bengaluru and Chennai.

Challenges ahead and how to solve them

The biggest challenge that many companies face while working on a global level is team building across borders. Having global teams often leads to competition among the local teams and to the reluctance to collapse. This can undermine the team’s morality. In the traditional way the offshore team gets no opportunity to interact with the client and has minimum contact with their team in Germany. Eves_IT AG is counter-attacking this challenge with an open-door policy, flat hierarchies and decentralizing the decisions to be taken on a regional level.

In our experience, all too often minimum importance is given to communication, soft-skills and cultural differences – all factors to be considered working in a global team. We try to address the cultural differences, together, try to ensure that the teams are exposed to activities which are totally new and which they would never normally do in their lives. During our Indian colleagues' visit to Germany, the teams played cricket which is popular and often played in India, but not widely known in Germany. This led to the teams actively getting to know each other outside of the office premises. Same goes to the Indian team when they were asked to prepare a German dish after work for the teams. These may look like small activities but bring fruitful results in the end.

Before the start of a project, detailed coaching/cultural integration is provided to the team. Additionally, with the implementation of reliable project management tools, agile approaches, common goals and defined processes, we have witnessed a significant improvement in the quality of work. We strongly believe that offshoring projects are not doomed to fail: any failure is down to the team and how it orients itself.

Next steps

With great demand to expand our Indian subsidiary in the following years, we believe in organic growth to cater to our clients in the Americas, Europe and Asia. By 2020 we would like to position ourselves as the go-to company for SMEs looking for an economical solution and to open doors for globalization. The plan is to have a fully functioning support team of 200 people in different regions worldwide, promoting the business and investing in the right talent.

The market expansion and catering to the local market in India is one of the biggest challenges eves_IT AG will face. One crucial factor is to convince customers who are still hesitant and not sure of globalization especially in the SME sector. With regard to these challenges, we are taking measures to first build a close relationship with the customer, and then to motivate them to go global by starting with a small pilot project.

In today’s world, globalization and the belief in comparative advantage is a known phenomenon. Considering that India has a large pool of skilled IT workers it can be safely said that holy cows and IT software do fit well together.

Abhishek Swaminathan

Abhishek Swaminathan was born and raised in Chennai. After successfully completing his master’s degree in Automotive Technology in Germany he was part of the team supporting the setup of an IT center for a manufacturing automotive giant in India. At eves_IT AG he is responsible for managing all the subsidiaries of the eves_Group.

1. New To Investing In India? Start Here: https://seekingalpha.com/article/4159720-new-investing-india-start
2. The German Mittelstand as a model for success: https://www.bmwi.de/Redaktion/EN/Dossier/sme-policy.html