Software Company Nomis Goes for IT in the Philippines

Software company Nomis established a development unit in the Philippines a few years ago. Now, with Finnpartnership’s support, the company has set its sights on expanding into the country’s software market for the education sector.

Nomis Oy is an information technology company founded in 1993 that specialises in software products for work management. The company also offers a comprehensive range of software development and ICT support services. In 2009, Nomis decided to investigate the possibility of establishing itself in the Philippines. This is a common practice in the IT sector. It is referred to as offshore outsourcing and involves decentralising software development functions to teams in other countries. “We had received some contacts in the Philippines via our clients. We found out more about the country, and it turned out that the Philippines is a desirable country also in terms of its cost level,” says CEO Martti Lehtonen from Nomis.

Business Partnership Support clinched it

Finnpartnership granted Nomis its Business Partnership Support for identifying partners, conducting a project analysis and compiling a business plan for the Philippines. “The support we got from Finnpartnership gave us the courage to take the plunge in the Philippines. Establishing your company in a new country is always a big and risky investment,” Lehtonen points out. He says that the Business Partnership Support gave the company the chance to carefully prepare their establishment in the area.
“Without it we might have been tempted to cut corners.”

The alternatives were to find a partner in the Philippines or to set up their own office. Nomis chose the latter option. One of the benefits of the Philippines, in Lehtonen’s mind, is the fact that English is widely spoken there. The culture too is closer to that in Europe than in other countries in Southeast Asia. “But you have to remember that in many respects the Philippines is a developing country. Organisations’ operational processes are often inadequate. They may include unnecessary overlaps, inconsistencies or just actions whose results are not wholly exploited.”

The Finnish company has had to learn many of these things the hard way. One thing that has helped Nomis a great deal in getting started is the fact that Janne Ketola, who is a shareholder in the company, lives in the Philippines. “It’s great to have someone on the spot who we can trust a hundred per cent.”

Recruitment poses the greatest challenge

According to Lehtonen, the standard of education in the Philippines is good on paper, but you have to be careful with qualification certificates and CVs. The majority of the well-educated workforce move abroad, hoping to make a better living. It’s not always easy to find suitable software developers from among the people who have stayed. “This has been our greatest challenge and still requires considerable investment.”

Lehtonen says that finding a suitable management model has also taken some time. “At first we tried the Finnish model, which involves being reasonably open and negotiating things before taking action. It didn’t work. We had to adopt a model where the manager instructs people on exactly how things are to be done.” According to Lehtonen, understanding the management model that was required was a turning point. After that, things started working out.

Lehtonen admits that there have been some difficult moments along the way.
“At some point it felt like it might be better to just give up. But we decided to continue because you can’t achieve anything without making an effort. Now it’s beginning to bear fruit.”

Nomis seeks clients too in the Philippines

In addition to Finland and the Philippines, Nomis has offices in Hong Kong, Sweden and Switzerland. The company also has development teams in Romania and Ukraine. “The Philippines are an important part of the whole.” Nomis now has about a dozen employees in the Philippines and its target is to gradually increase this number.

In addition to software development, the country may also become a new market for Nomis’s products. Lehtonen says that the company is currently working on a business idea to sell their Help Desk software to the education sector in the Philippines. “We are particularly aiming at educational institutions within the commercial sector. We believe that our product would be an ideal tool for them in teaching the service processes relating to business. This way we would also contribute to improving the efficiency and competitiveness of Philippine organisations in the international market.”

Nomis is now seeking partners within Philippine educational establishments to help them implement the pilot project. Finnpartnership has granted the company Business Partnership Support for the project. “Our aim is to test the functionality and suitability of our product in the local learning environment and receive feedback on how to best adapt it to the specific needs of education. The project also includes building a suitable software licensing model for the educational institutions.”
Lehtonen adds that this concept may in future act as a springboard for Nomis to the education sector market globally.

April 25, 2016 – Nomis has signed memorandum of agreement with School of Science and Engineering (SOSE) operating under Ateneo De Manila University. For more information, please visit this link.

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