At Evolve Systems, we implement a system we like to call Evolve Sourcing, where we contract project work that is not essential to the core functions of our business while at the same time keeping our best talent close to home in our Saint Paul, Minnesota office. A number of teams we Evolve Source to are overseas. In fact, Evolve Systems has been working with their overseas team in Croatia for nearly 10 years now. To celebrate this milestone, I spoke with Evolve System’s President Donald Raleigh Sr. to learn more about why Evolve Systems uses overseas teams (not just in Croatia), what exactly these teams do and how their work benefits Evolve Systems and its customers.
Q: Why does Evolve Systems work with overseas web development teams?
Don: We have development teams in Croatia, Istanbul, Turkey, and India and there are several reasons we use overseas teams. The first reason we use Evolve Sourcing and have an overseas team is to make it possible for Evolve Systems to have 24-hour capability. Our development team follows the sun, meaning 24 hours a day someone is working on and advancing projects.
The second reason use Evolve Sourcing is for a practical economic reason. It’s more cost effective to Evolve Source and hire some to do project work, where we get a fixed bid or know-contained cost that we can apply to a particular project, as opposed to bringing on a full-time employee, who may or may not be gainfully employed at any point. Containing costs this way allows us to make sure we make profitability on our projects.
The key to it though is that we continue to make sure we keep project management and our intellectual capital in the Twin Cities, here in Saint Paul. We have several architects, project managers and our QA (quality assurance) and developers on staff in Saint Paul.
Q: What are the benefits of having overseas web development teams to clients?
Don: Typically, the clients don’t interact with the overseas team, but the overseas team is beneficial to our clients because they’re working on their projects 24/7, which means Evolve Systems is able to deliver projects faster.
Q: What does the Croatian team specifically specialize in?
Don: The Croatian team specializes in CMS and E-commerce platforms. Specifically, on the content management side we use WordPress, Drupal and Concrete5. They’re able to help with not only frameworks, but also modules and custom applications within those content management systems.
Q: Any anecdotes to tell about the overseas teams throughout the years?
Don: Language barrier is always an issue. When we use colloquialisms here in English, the overseas team members don’t always get what we’re trying to say.
“One of the funny things is, I’m a native Minnesotan and at the end of my sentences sometimes I will reinforce them by saying “you betcha.” And the very first time I said “you betcha” to the team in Croatia, they didn’t understand it and they were wondering why I was trying to bet on the project. One of the developers ask if the project was going to be in Las Vegas. I said no, and asked why he thought so. At which point he responded, because you said you’re betting on it.”
“Language is a funny thing. You must say what you mean, and mean what you say because in projects words mean things. It’s important to become clear concise consistent.”
Q: Any lessons learned from working from Evolve Sourcing and working with the overseas teams?
Don: Cultural differences have been very much a learning experience for us. When we say “yes we’ll do something,” we typically mean yes we’ll do something. When we’re working with some of the teams overseas and they say “yes, they’ll do something” it means they’ll look into the problem or task given to them and they understand what you’re saying – but it doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll finish the assigned task or solve the problem. This is a lesson we learned early on when working with the overseas teams.
Another cultural difference we weren’t aware of is how different the work hours are there. Needless to say, their hours are a bit different and more flexible than I am used to. While I am typically awake at 6am and from there in the office until 7 or 8 o’clock at night, they value relaxation a little bit more than Americans typically do. Teams over there also value weekends more than I previously knew.
Don described a typical work day he experienced during a visiting to one of the overseas teams:
Work days are split between breakfast, conversations and then doing project work. After working for a couple hours, employees take a two-hour lunch, which is then followed by a trip to the spa to get a massage or they take a 45-minute walk which they refer to as a digestive. What a digestive means is you eat lunch and then you go for a walk to settle your food. When I kept wanting to get back to the office to work on projects, they assured me that the work would get done – I just needed to relax first. That was a big cultural difference for me.
Filling the Needs of Our Customers
What it comes down to is how can we offer the best service and product to our clients, while also continuing to progress as a fast-growing global business. If it were not for the cooperation on Evolve sourcing from both the staff in Saint Paul and the overseas teams, the great work they have been able to collaborate on and create together over the last 10 years for our clients would not be possible. We hope the relationship with our overseas teams continues to flourish for many years to come and as a company we will continue to adapt, act and evolve!