Artem Dolobanko of OpsWorks Co tells us how companies can scale their businesses with a reliable and efficient IT infrastructure.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Artem Dolobanko: Well, fortunately, my family is doing well. Obviously, we’ve spent most of our time at home, but we’ve managed to continue working remotely. To overcome these difficult times, it’s important to support each other and find new ways to interact. For us, it was maintaining our work-life balance and spending time outdoors. Ukraine has plenty of picturesque and quiet places where we’d stay for a while to work and rest.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded OpsWorks Co.
Artem Dolobanko: Originally, I started as a DevOps engineer myself. I did work for several big companies, but then I decided I needed some space. So I went to search for new opportunities in Upwork. In time I got more offers than I could handle as a freelancer, so I thought, why not delegate them to someone I trust as a professional? And I had such a person, it was my good friend. He joined me on one of the projects I was doing for a client from the US. We still provide services for them by the way. But another new project would come every week or two. That’s when I created OpsWorks Co. and started hiring DevOps engineers. It started as a simple delegation, and now we are partnering with the biggest cloud provider, AWS, and actively hiring DevOps talent to join our team!
How does OpsWorks Co innovate?
Artem Dolobanko: We are not going to reinvent the wheel; however, we innovate in some ways. In 2021 still, a lot of companies know that DevOps practices exist, but unfortunately, they haven’t considered implementing them for various reasons. For those kinds of businesses, we become a miracle pill that gets their development process on track and allows them to concentrate on business development rather than fixing bugs.
How does the coronavirus pandemic affect your business finances?
Artem Dolobanko: The coronavirus pandemic did affect our business; however, the effect was rather positive. Currently, every business’s competitiveness depends on its ability to adjust and change. In 2020 many businesses had to go online for the first time, and they either started from scratch or invested a lot to get everything up and running. This has only created more demand for our services.
Not only has the pandemic affected our business development, but also our team. Even when we were working in the office, we weren’t as close as we are now. We’ve managed to communicate in such a way that everyone in the team really feels involved in our development.
Did you have to make difficult choices regarding human resources, and what are the lessons learned?
Artem Dolobanko: At OpsWorks Co., we value people above everything else. I always pay close attention to human resources, because my success and the success of my company often depends on the people I work with.
In the time of the pandemic, the biggest issue we faced was retaining the team and providing our employees with everything they needed for comfortable remote working conditions. And we succeeded! We didn’t have to make anyone redundant or delay salaries. Although we did have to stop hiring for a while, we are now back in the recruiting process.
The main conclusion I made is that businesses must invest in communication. Communication is the company’s circulatory system. We were lucky in this matter. The communication at OpsWorks Co. is finely tuned, and the guys really feel like they’re a part of the team.
How did your customer relationship management evolve? Do you use any specific tools to be efficient?
Artem Dolobanko: I believe that customer relationship management starts when you close your first client. Our communication with clients has evolved in the way that we interact with them on so many levels. However, it was not due to the pandemic; we always try to keep in touch and exchange feedback with our clients.
Did you benefit from any government grants, and did that help keep your business afloat?
Artem Dolobanko: The Ukrainian government does offer grants to entrepreneurs and businesses due to losses they suffered in the lockdowns. However we did not benefit from it, we tried to keep OpsWorks Co. afloat by ourselves.
Your final thoughts?
Artem Dolobanko: As unfortunate as 2020 was, it did teach us a lot. We all developed a sense of what’s important for our existence and development. 2020 pushed me to view all new challenges as opportunities. Each time we face something new, we can learn from it and become stronger and more prepared for the future. What I’m trying to say is that by facing challenges, we gain more strength and wisdom.
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