• Fredrik Sewén, MatHem, on outsourcing: “You need to spend time on communication”

    Fredrik Sewén

    Don’t be afraid to ask questions, and be prepared to spend time on communication. Those are two advice from Fredrik Sewen, CTO at MatHem with many years’ experience from outsourcing with Indpro.

    What are your routines to create a good cooperation between the developers in Sweden and the developers at Indpro in Bangalore?
    “We do a stand-up every morning. Then we go through what the team is supposed to do today, what we did yesterday and what we’re going to do tomorrow. It’s necessary to have good communication and touch base every day. But that’s always true, no matter the physical location of the team. We work the same way with our teams regardless of where they are based, in Sweden or in India.”

    Do you meet IRL too?
    “Yes, we try to travel regularly in both directions. We have tried a few different varieties and what I feel works best is when the developers come to our office in Sweden for a longer period. I am very busy and it’s hard to get much time together if they are only here for a short time.”

    Is it important to meet IRL?
    “There’s definitely an advantage when you sit face to face pointing at a screen. It makes it easier to ask questions. Also, it gives us the opportunity to show how things work in Sweden, for example visit a Swedish grocery store and go to our warehouse.
    On top of that, it’s important that everyone in the team feels like they are part of building MatHem. It’s a lot of fun to work with MatHem, our company is doing well and we have grown incredibly. When I started working here we were 20 employees – now we are over 1.000. Our developer Ullas, from Indpro, has been with us since start and wrote the first line of code. That’s pretty big. I think it’s hard to grasp just how big it is when you’re in India, they are not as close to the business as we are. That’s why it’s important for all of us to gather and be onsite in Stockholm.”

    How does the cooperation work?
    “Very well. We manage our team more or less by ourselves. I think it’s very important to be directly in touch with the developers. We don’t regard them as consultants but as colleagues. We also have regular meetings with Pavel who is our contact at Indpro.”

    What advice would you give someone who wants to start working with Indpro?
    “Make sure you use their Swedish technical project managers. And be prepared to spend time on it. Also be a bit selective when you recruit developers, be active in choosing who you will work with.”

    What is it that you need to spend time on?
    “It takes time to specify your demands. The good thing is that you are required to think things over another two or three times.
    The developers we have worked with for a long time have learnt how we work, and I know that Indpro has many developers like that. But in general, us Swedes are better than Indians at questioning – to do more than just what’s there in writing. And if Swedes don’t solve an issue we ask for help. That’s not a given in India, which means that you need to ask the question “How is it going?”. If you do that, you will get a good answer. But you need to ask the question.”

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