Removing the Software Burden
Yonder is helping its clients to focus on their customers by removing the burden of software development, its agile, team-based approach enabling it to innovate at speed and empower employees
Writer: Tom Wadlow | Project Manager: Vivek Valmiki
As a child, I was fascinated by mathematics and pursued this passion ever since I was 10 years old. I entered all the possible competitions at a national level and when I had to decide on my future, I knew it should relate to science and technical education.
“It was back in 1999, after seven years of IT education, when I decided to join an IT company in Cluj, the city that I loved so much during university. At the time, I was looking for a company with a healthy culture, with good values in place and with respect for everyone. In fact, I was looking for a company that matches my personal beliefs.”
Three days later, Cristian Inceu joined Yonder.
His friends from university followed a year later, colleagues who now help to run the company with Inceu serving as one of the firm’s Managing Directors.
“We are still in Yonder and still having fun,” he quips. “It is difficult to say if Yonder shaped us or if we shaped Yonder, because it’s difficult to spot the difference.”
The firm was in its relative infancy when Inceu arrived. The MD helped to build on the growth generated since being founded in 1993, a time which he described as a sweet spot for Romania’s technology industry thanks to a high demand for IT professionals in western European markets.
Indeed, the country’s reputation for excellence in science, mathematics and technical education stands it in good stead today, its culture defined by a clear focus on innovation and results, a positive attitude and commanding language skills.
The Yonder way
These attributes can be firmly applied to Yonder.
The organisation markets itself as a developer of software for the most prominent software companies, this unburdening process allowing clients the freedom to fully focus on market and customer demand.
Such clients are typically vertical market software (VMS) companies which have industry specific solutions, such as software for health, public sector, supply chain and other sectors. Some of the common challenges Yonder helps to remove the burden from include modernising legacy systems, looking after technical knowledge, optimising digital processes and exploring new technologies and architectures.
“We work with our clients in a partnership,” Inceu says. “It all starts with understanding the business goals of our customers. We combine our experience in developing customer-driven solutions based on an agile approach to our clients’ domain knowledge.
“In the end, it is about helping them to achieve their objectives through meaningful solutions.”
Being part of Total Specific Solutions (TSS), one of Europe’s leading VMS companies and owned by Toronto-listed Constellation Software Inc. (CSI), is also a major point of difference.
“Knowledge sharing is a best practice within TSS and CSI,” Inceu continues. “This means we have access to a vast library of knowledge which gives us an advantage over our competition. Many of the TSS companies are our clients, and since we have joined CSI, we have spread our wings to include CSI companies across the globe.
“But we also have non-group companies as our clients as well as some financial institutions and enterprises. Our knowledge, pragmatic approach, focus on the end results combined with Yonder professionals is what sets us apart in our playing field.”
The firm’s approach to business is also characterised by an agile culture and structure. While the MD explains that the company works as one Yonder, its work is carried out by a series of small, flexible teams. The result is a flat structure of empowered business units, groups which are known individually by the senior management who also build relationships with individual colleagues and clients.
Each year customers are also invited to participate in the Yonder Hackathon in a bid to explore new ideas, remain fresh and build relationships.
While not to be compared with the likes of a Google Hackathon in terms of cutting-edge, flashy technology, Inceu explains how Yonder’s versions (which can also be arranged privately with individual clients) have a more pragmatic edge to them.
“In our digital world, you cannot sit still as a software company,” he says. “You continuously need to look at optimisations and enhancements to keep your customer base happy and attract new customers. We discuss the market needs with our clients, what are their competitors doing, and the new technologies that could deliver value to their solution.
“Our hackathons are based on pragmatic innovation, so the outcome should have the possibility to deliver commercial results for the customers. The objective is to come up with a prototype that they can take back to their company and show to their clients, and many of the past initiatives have been developed into products over time.”
As well as providing impetus for customers, these events are also an opportunity for Yonder’s employees to explore ideas, part of an open and trustworthy culture where staff and their input are valued.
In order to attract the best talent in the industry, Yonder invests significant efforts in creating an attractive value proposition centred around building relationships, career growth, mentorship, fair recognition and numerous benefits and wellbeing events.
This all helps create a cycle of continuous learning, with training and development occurring on many levels, from team attendance at industry events and ‘techboard’ gatherings for knowledge exchange to various courses covering management, best practices and soft skills.
The pool of technology talent available in Romania is a large one, and a big part of the reason why Inceu is fervently optimistic about the future of both the country’s tech sector and Yonder.
For instance, every year around 5,000 IT engineers graduate from Romanian centres of excellence in the likes of Cluj, Bucharest and Iasi. Yonder therefore works closely with universities and student bodies, offering full-year internship opportunities to those seeking real-world experience in the sector.
This active hub of learning makes for a promising next chapter in Yonder’s development, although Inceu is equally aware that the coming years will not be without their challenges.
One area which the MD highlights as an issue for the wider industry is a shortage in experienced IT security professionals, a reality which could prove problematic as ransomware attacks evolve in terms of sophistication and volume.
However, this also creates opportunities for the advancement of solutions such as robotic process automation, programmes which can help organisations improve their overall efficiency and free up human capital to focus on data security.
For Yonder, keeping an eye on the security dynamic will be an important factor in its continued growth story, a journey which Inceu is determined to continue through 2020 and beyond.
Looking ahead to the future, the MD concludes: “We have created a global presence over the years with clients in Europe, North America and Australia. Our goal is to expand our foothold in those regions. It makes for interesting engagements working with different cultures, and also makes Yonder an interesting company to work for in Romania.
“We aim to cover more of the verticals and to bring our expertise and new technologies into our clients’ landscape so they will remain competitive in their fields. We also aim to further extend our consultancy services and provide our expertise, best practices and benchmarks to customers to make them more efficient and future-ready.”