c/o Teollisen yhteistyön rahasto Oy (FINNFUND)
P.O. Box 147
00181 Helsinki - FINLAND
tel: +358 9 348 434 (please ask for Finnpartnership)
Tampere-based BearIT found a new partner in Pakistan through Finnpartnership’s Matchmaking service. The level of IT know-how in the country was a pleasant surprise to the company.
BearIT is a Tampere-based software company that provides its clients with electronic data systems and mobile applications on a turnkey basis, or as part of the client’s own projects. Founded in 2013, the company is now focusing on its own product development. It is currently working on a mobile application for logging working time and a digital health care system.
Previously, BearIT’s founder Teemu Karhu worked for Logica, a company offering outsourcing services for the IT sector. His team included IT professionals from Pakistan, which gave him the idea of procuring some of BearIT’s software work from there. The preparations were underway when, in the summer of 2014, Karhu stopped by the Finnpartnership stand at an event on internationalisation for small and medium-sized companies in Tampere. “The people from Finnpartnership told me what kinds of support and services they offered. In the end, things took off at a fast pace. Our collaboration started at a great time, because we had already started to make preliminary preparations to travel to Pakistan,” Karhu says.
BearIT applied for and received Finnpartnership’s Business Partnership Support for identifying potential partners and completing a preliminary project report and business plan. Karhu found the application process fairly laborious, because there were numerous forms to fill in. “Still, the process was definitely worth the trouble. It required us to go over the company’s affairs and specify our targets. Our goal was already clear to us, but Finnpartnership’s support became the starter button for our Pakistan project.”
BearIT looked into two possibilities in Pakistan: establishing a subsidiary or acquiring a partner. At first the latter seemed a better option, when a suitable candidate for a partner was found through Finnpartnership’s Matchmaking service. “This is an IT company in Islamabad, the capital. It has offices in other parts of Pakistan too. The company has worked on software for financial administration before, which is excellent for our purposes.” Karhu explains that the next step in becoming established is founding a subsidiary. The registration process for BearIT Pakistan Ltd has recently been launched.
BearIT has commissioned product development-related programming from Pakistan. According to Karhu, their first experiences of acting as a team were good. “This Pakistani company may become a long-term partner for us. We need to improve the quality of the work a little, but we have already started to work on this together.” In Karhu’s opinion, the Pakistani IT sector has a great deal of knowledge potential, but improvements are needed especially in business competence. Best practices should also be employed to a greater degree in the development and testing of software.
Karhu has acquainted himself with training in the IT sector and the working culture in Pakistan in general. It came as a surprise to him that the competence of local professionals matches the requirements of western IT companies extremely well. “In IT matters, Pakistan has been overshadowed by India. Unlike India, the country has no large players of its own in the IT field. A lot of IT subcontracting has been done in Pakistan, but they don’t yet have expertise of their own in managing large projects.”
The tools used in the IT sector, and the English language, are the same in all countries. Karhu points out, however, that the different corporate cultures have to be carefully considered in projects crossing state borders. “Islam plays a strong role in Pakistan. It has to be remembered that nobody will be working during important religious holidays, for example.”
Karhu emphasises that outsourcing IT programming and services from abroad requires careful planning and strong competence in process management, among other things.
In his career, he has witnessed many projects where the perceived cost savings and other benefits were never achieved.
In Finland, IT outsourcing services are mainly offered only by large companies. Karhu believes that there is a niche also for smaller enterprises that can meet the requirements of small and medium-sized businesses especially. Karhu says that BearIT is seeking even more growth than before from the international market. “We are negotiating with several potential clients abroad. Our collaboration in Pakistan contributes to our credibility abroad, even as a small or medium sized business from Finland.”