Javelin Group's Journey to Integrating a Remote Development Team

Strategy Consulting,
Digital Transformation Services
United Kingdom
Number of employees:
Quality Assurance
Table of contents

The Background

Javelin Group, part of Accenture Strategy, provides strategy consulting and digital transformation services to the world’s leading retailers and consumer brands. Javelin Group helps clients improve their competitiveness by anticipating and responding to the rapid changes in customer shopping habits and retail technologies.

Steve joined Javelin Group in 2007 and is now an Associate Director. He leads the Development team and is responsible for development methodologies, best practices, and the implementation of multi-channel projects through delivery management. 

The Challenge

In 2008 the demand for Javelin Group’s systems integration services was growing, but there was a need to reduce rates without compromising quality in order to remain competitive. Therefore, Javelin Group set out to establish a remote development centre. The search was guided by the principle that the team could only deliver up to Javelin Group standards if it was fully integrated with the company’s team, which meant that it should operate at the same time as its London counterpart, feel part of the company, and share its culture.

This philosophy immediately ruled out outsourcing where individuals are, ultimately, governed by another company with its own culture and ethos. It also narrowed the search to Europe where the overlap of working hours is considerable. Javelin Group engaged its own consultancy team to conduct a feasibility study of potential cities using the PESTLE (Political, Economic, Social, Technology, Legal, Environment) assessment method.

Strategic Partnership

This provided a short list of locations, including Sofia, which were explored further. What Javelin Group found in Bulgaria was not just a wealth of talent but also a remarkable similarity to the British work culture, ethos, and sense of humour. It did not take long to establish a small team of 4 exceptionally talented developers and the firm has not looked back since. 

Initially, the developers were brought in to bolster systems integration projects led from London, but the talented people who were hired soon progressed, and it was not long before Sofia had its own Lead Developers steering major client projects. With the success of the Development team, Javelin Group branched out to set up a Technical Support team based entirely out of Sofia, and other roles, such as QAs and infrastructure engineers were introduced to further support projects. Six years on, Javelin

Group has a team of 70 people across a variety of disciplines and offices in both Sofia and Plovdiv. What Javelin Group quickly discovered was that clients do not mind where team members live; what they cared about is how they are looked after. Javelin Group recruits very carefully, employing only those who extoll the company’s values, and, as a result, the service provided to clients remains consistent. The setup challenges were relatively few, with Pwrteams providing key support to help Javelin Group comply with local laws and regulations and overseeing recruitment campaigns, but that’s not to say there wasn’t a lot to learn along the way.

The Results

"Integrating a distributed development team into the main office requires considerable time and effort on both sides," admitted Steve. Here is his advice:

  • Ensure staff travel regularly between offices. Monthly managerial trips are essential even when there are established local managers. Employee visits are always beneficial as they foster understanding and relationships between parties.
  • Align infrastructure between offices so all employees can work in any office. This will encourage travel and reduce IT overhead. Use the same color scheme and corporate branding, so the surroundings are familiar and recognisably part of the same company.
  • Invest in a quality video conferencing set-up and encourage its use over Skype or similar, so employees can see each other on a regular basis.
  • And finally, to ensure the distributed team feels like part of the company, treat them like they are part of the company. As far as possible align the benefits and perks, give them equal respect and equal opportunities. Include them on company updates (whether formal or social) and herald their success stories which, hopefully, will be many.
“Integrating a distributed development team into the main office requires considerable time and effort on both sides,”
Steve Newland
Associate Director, Javelin Group

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