Vadym Zotov, founder of Devox Software tells us about IT outsourcing.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Vadym Zotov: Nobody expects life to be easy and smooth but COVID-19 went beyond our expectations. The disease spread across the world in no time and neither people nor businesses were ready for such a challenge.
I caught the virus and I must admit it has unpleasant symptoms. But these “unpleasant symptoms” become dangerous in the case of elder people. Probably, it’s the biggest problem; you just have no idea how to protect your family.
I was excited to hear the news about the invention of the vaccine. I hope it’ll save millions of lives.
Tell us about you, your career, and how you founded Devox Software.
Vadym Zotov: I was engaged in the IT industry from the very beginning of my career path. I started as a developer and soon got promoted to a managerial role in one of the biggest outsourcing companies in Ukraine with over 5000 employees.
It was a great experience that allowed me to combine managerial and tech skills but I realized I want to be an entrepreneur by myself. I was doing my MBA program during 2017-2018 and studying and networking boosted my commitment to entrepreneurship. That’s how Devox Software was set up. And I guess the very commitment allowed me to create the special atmosphere and culture in this company that keeps growing despite the difficulties of the COVID-19 times.
How does Devox Software innovate?
Vadym Zotov: If you run a software development company you cannot do without innovations. You always have to stay one step ahead to keep afloat. But when I talk about the innovations, I mean not only the new technology, it’s a combination of IT trends, management, and process supervision. Technologies are changing constantly, moreover, the ones that were trendy just a couple of years ago are obsolete now. But the right approaches allow us to provide our services quickly and hassle-free. And the fact that our company growth, this combination is the right choice in terms of innovation.
How does the coronavirus pandemic affect your business finances?
Vadym Zotov: On the one hand, spring 2020 was a hard period for all businesses, especially entertainment, tourism, etc. Lots of them wound up their activities. On the other hand, they needed to digitize their businesses to adapt to the new reality, including the mere delivery of complex solutions for remote work. It means higher demand for software development services.
Devox Software managed to grow twofold over the year and remain cash-positive. But it happened no only due to the higher market demands. Our company had to adapt too to save partnership with our clients. We made concessions to the businesses hit by the corona crisis. Also, we cut down the expenses on education, salary reviews, and corporate events, but despite the gloomy forecast, we did without lay-off.
Did you have to make difficult choices regarding human resources and what are the lessons learned?
Vadym Zotov: Human resources are one of our assets so we focused our efforts on keeping our staff employed.
Unfortunately, we didn’t hire any administrative staff. What is more, some people had to combine a few roles during the previous year. Also, we had to postpone our mentorship program. Devox Software used to launch a free-of-charge program for software development interns 2-4 times a year. Young talents get an opportunity to work on a real project under the guidance of our CTO and senior fellows. Our company couldn’t afford it in 2020.
We got back to that practice only a month ago and now we are working with 3 interns.
How did your customer relationship management evolve? Do you use any specific tools to be efficient?
Vadym Zotov: Although our business belongs to the B2B sector, it is always about the relationship between people and people. It was a year of flexibility, support, and trust for all our partners. We got stuck in our dwellings but we tried to be connected as much as possible. I would say that our specific tool was communication and personal approach.
Did you benefit from any government grants, and did that help keep your business afloat?
Vadym Zotov: No, we didn’t get any grants and remain a self-funded company. The IT industry didn’t fall victim to the COVID-19 outcomes. In general, we had more beneficial positions and we were more prepared to remote work. Thus, the government focused more on saving small businesses and entrepreneurs.
Your final thoughts?
Vadym Zotov: Just a year ago we needed to hold long face-to-face negotiations in our offices to sign an agreement. Now the contract can be signed without even a meeting in person. It’s convenient, it saves time, it gives us more opportunities to find business partners all over the globe.
The challenges of the COVID-19 changed the world and it will never be the same again. But the hardships help to put the emphasis on the most important things. We know that support is important but we REALIZE this importance only in difficulties. Earnings are good, but trustful relations are priceless. I notice that businesses are becoming more ethical.
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