I’ve been looking forward to writing this blog post for some time, as it means that I’ve gotten to the point where I feel everything’s in place to start “going public” with the results of a lot of hard work, by a small group of people. It’s been over 3 years in the making for me, with step after step (and occasional misstep) seeing it slowly, but surely, head toward, what 5 months ago, became the biggest adventure of my life. It’s one that took my previous adventure, Zevenseas, to a whole new level.
That adventure is India.
Its everyone’s adventure
Of course, I’m not the only one. Probably every reader of this blog has in some way or another had an Indian adventure. Usually this takes the form of working on a project, or within a team, where a significant portion of the effort is delivered via engineers (developer or administrator) based remotely. In the majority of these cases, that remote location will be in India, its the home to some truly massive organisations. Companies like Wipro, Infosys, TCS (Tata Consultancy Services) and, while its not promoted, IBM have grown and flourished in an industry which is so beautifully adapted to a rapidly globalising world that’s been blanketed by the 1’s and 0’s of the Internet.
This is not to suggest that India is the only centre, it most certainly is not. China is a place to watch, and other countries like Sri Lanka and Egypt are emerging fast. For me though, it’s been about India and for a long time. This is where the IT Services revolution began, and its the on-going evolution of this country as a services hub that I want to be a part of.
Where it began
My first, and really only, customer as a Zevenseas consultant was a large multinational, one that had made a significant investment in a partnership with one of the large Indian services organisation. This is where it all really began for me, and while you could argue that this means my experience is quite short, and I’d agree, I approached every day with the intention to learn as much as I could about what worked, and what didn’t. My role as Architect meant that I dealt with engineers across support, test and most importantly for me, software development.
I’m really proud of what we were able to achieve there, but its true to say that the journey was at times a bit of a roller coaster ride. While in some areas it succeeded spectacularly, in others, well, lets just say it didn’t. Now, I’m the optimistic sort, so those times left me thinking “there must be a better way”, and confidently I set out to put that into action.
I was wrong
In March 2009, Zevenseas began to take some small steps toward establishing our own development centre in India. Initially we ran our own product development there, mostly this meant we continued the “TunnelPoint” and “Produshare” projects that we had previously developed through an Indian Partner. Looking back, we were never really committed. While we knew we didn’t want to work with India just through a partnership, we didn’t really have a good grasp of what it would actually take to create Zevenseas India.
At the same time I was working with an Engineer from Pune, Suyog Patki. He was on the team that had come together to build some very cool Social platforms on SharePoint 2007. We were mates instantly, and his combination of enthusiasm and talent meant we spent a lot of time talking about the Business of Software.
I was right
At the end of 2009 I decided that it was time to give India all the attention it deserved. With Suyog heading back to Pune, and the outstanding promise to my mother to head home soon, timing and circumstance seemed to be just right. I called mum and let her know that I was on the way, I’d just be taking a short stop-over.
I officially arrived in Pune at the end of April, and its been non-stop ever since. I can say from here, 5 months down the track, that India has turned out to be everything I hoped for. We have a terrific team of professionals, certainly the equal of any team I have worked with in the past, and they have enormous enthusiasm.
Zevenseas India – The Difference
There are lots of things we are doing differently at Zevenseas India, just as we do things differently at Zevenseas Holland. These are not small differences either, they are differences which will create the strong culture now, that will allow us as individuals to achieve our best, and bring out the best in others, into the future.
Zevenseas India (From Left): Purvin Desai, Dev Chaudhari, Kunal Ingale, Faiyaz Kazi, Suyog Patki, Avani Patki, Mukund Datar, Akhilesh Nirapure (missing: Sohel Dhalait, Mayur Tendulkar)
1) We love what we do. Each and every one of us is participating in Zevenseas India because it’s exactly where we want to be. We are not in IT by accident, we didn’t just find a job posting and apply for a position, we want to be here, we want to be the best in India at SharePoint, and do it by working with the best.
2) We are self-organising. There is no “boss” at Zevenseas, everyone is responsible for their own development, and the development of others. We are each professionals who make commitments and then pride ourselves on meeting them. We know how to get things done.
3) We are specialists. SharePoint is all we do, and in this way we gain experience, on top of experience, compounding onwards. While there are a lot of technologies out there, many of them very cool, we are committed to the mastery of just one. We want to work with customers that value their projects enough to search out the experts.
4) Anyone can cut code. We all love to code, we do it a lot, but it has to get results and it has to work with SharePoint, and not against it. We try to place ourselves in your position, starting from an understanding of why you purchased the SharePoint platform in the first place. We want to protect that investment with smart solutions that make SharePoint better in every sense. We prefer mock-ups to documents and discussions to email.
5) We are very happy very small. Finding employees might be relatively easy in India, but bringing on board a new team mate is very, very difficult. We have a simple rule, each new member of our team needs to make our group as a whole better. Oh, and they have to have a sense of humour.
6) Agile methodologies work best. Not in all cases, but for SharePoint, and for teams collaborating together while geographically dispersed, Agile works best. We’ll shortly be publishing a case study that demonstrates what we mean, but regular meetings, continuously improving estimation, team based commitment, capacity management, transparency and critical review keeps everyone in sync, including you.
7) It’s not all work. While we love to deliver great projects, and choose to spend the vast majority of our week doing it, balance outside of work keeps us performing. This doesn’t mean computers are banned on the weekends, it just means weekends aren’t, and evenings for that matter.
Which brings me onto the final point around community engagement. That has long been a core tenant of Zevenseas, and that continues in India. We have benefited greatly from the donations of time and knowledge by others, and we’ll be giving that back, it comes natural here, where its one of India’s strongest traditions.
Starting this week, we’ll be gradually introducing the team, and launching their blogs. They’ve got a long list of things they can’t wait to share, and so I hope you will welcome them to blogging, and to twitter!
Finally, if you have a project, don’t hesitate to contact me to discuss, as always firstname.lastname@example.org or +918805008260 or @danmc or skype: danielmcpherson
P.S. Who was that little team? Thanks to Hans Blaauw, Robin Meure, Mark van Lunenburg, Andrew Fix, Harold Punter, Wilco Turnhout and of course, Suyog & Avani Patki and the whole Zevenseas India Team.