New network of consultants helping companies from developing countries to find partners

Finnpartnership’s new network of experts helps Finnish companies and companies from developing countries to begin business cooperation. Software company Craspp found a partner from Vietnam through the process.

Finnpartnership is strengthening its Matchmaking service by increasing the use of consultants in developing new business partnerships between Finnish companies and companies in developing countries. Matchmaking remains a free of charge service for all companies. Finnpartnership searched independent consultants and consulting firms, who would be interested in acting as a link between the companies, connecting potential partners as well as assisting in the initiation of the cooperation. The pilot project started in September 2013, and Finnpartnership organized a workshop for the interested consultants to fully utilize its instruments.

Consultants are selected based on quality

During the pilot project Finnpartnership picked the most potential developing country companies that applied for the Matchmaking service and utilized the work of consultants in finding a Finnish partner for them. The consultant is selected through a tender. The price for the assignment is fixed, so the selection is done based on a set quality criteria. The industry know-how of the consultants, their business networks in Finland as well as their ability to perceive the potential business opportunities for the companies, among other things, are taken in to consideration when evaluating the tender offers. The experiences from the pilot project have been positive. Finnpartnership sought new consultants to its network during the spring, and interested parties may still apply for participation.

A mutually beneficial partnership

One of the companies who found a partner through the consultant network is Unitech, a Vietnamese IT company. Unitech started a cooperation with a Finnish IT company Craspp Oy. “We are looking for Finnish SMEs who wish to outsource IT operations”, says Ta Thi Tram Anh who is responsible for the business development at Unitech. SMART Internationalization, a consulting company run by Juha Merinen, acted as the link between these two companies. Merinen has thus far worked with three different cases for Finnpartnership. In addition to this company from Vietnam, he has found a Finnish partner for a Peruvian and a Columbian company.

According to Merinen, it is vital that the consultant is able to perceive the big picture that benefits both parties. “It is important that the developing country company is able to productize its offering and be explicit in describing what they have to offer for the Finnish company. Also a staff with language skills is a necessity. Unitech had all these factors in order”, describes Merinen.

Vietnamese company caught the interest of Craspp

After receiving an assignment Merinen starts with familiarizing himself with the developing country company and contacting its representatives. Next step is to go through his network and finding Finnish companies that might be interested in cooperation. “Merinen contacted us and inquired if we were willing to look in to the matter. We took on the challenge to see what kind of opportunities there might be”, comments Auvo Severinkangas, the chairman of the board of Craspp Oy.

Craspp is specialized in delivering demanding software solutions, which are usually based on developing mobile applications and utilizing cloud services. This is the first time the company outsources its product development to a foreign company. Craspp’s clients have used outsourcing but the experiences have not been that positive according to Severinkangas. “We were positively surprised by the way Unitech operated and what kind of solutions they could offer. This met well the needs of Craspp.”

Success calls for transparency

Craspp utilises Unitech’s know-how in developing new SaaS service (Software as a Service). In SaaS the software is not installed in the equipment of the client but work through a server that is maintained by service provider via internet connection. “We send a list of requirements that are required from the new features of the service over to Vietnam. The work is done in collaboration with Craspp’s project management. We maintain contact almost daily with Unitech”, says Severinkangas. According to Severinkangas it is important that the Finnish company has done its homework and familiarized itself with the Vietnamese business culture. “Success comes down to two points: transparency and good communication. Also the negative issues need to be discussed as soon as they arise”, Severinkangas reminds.

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