N-iX Story: How Entrepreneurial Culture Drives Growth

24 Jan, 2019

N-iX has become a high-growth success story in the local IT landscape, and it’s not melting away. For the last three years, the company has tripled in size and has become one of the fastest growing IT companies in Europe. They’ve been opening new directions and gaining industry recognition.

Like many tech businesses, N-iX attributes this success to their culture of innovation and entrepreneurship, but you can’t feel what it really means without talking to the people who stand behind it. As it turns out, the company has never forced any values on its employees. The entrepreneurship culture they boast today has emerged naturally over the course of time. To find the recipe for their success, learn what shapes them into a team and guides them in their daily lives, we approached some of the N-iX team in delivery and sales.

sm1a10831. Freedom to innovate.

 

Freedom to innovate seems to be the key driver of the company’s growth. N-iXers are expected to speak up, take initiative and develop new areas they are passionate about both on the department and on the company level. They will take charge, experiment, gather like-minded people and develop new expertise for themselves and for the company.

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Pavlo Deshchynskyy, VP Delivery, Partner at N-iX explains, “Ideas usually come not from the top, but from anyone in the company. Somebody may discover an opportunity that should be investigated further, be that a new type of client, new technology or industry. This person takes charge of the initiative, gathers people in a working group and runs the process as his or her own startup inside the company. As the owner, this person is fully responsible for any decisions made.

We believe in an iterative approach, therefore, the working group has 3 to 6 months to validate the opportunity. The team has the initial funding approved for at least six months, and a simple enough goal – to break even. If the project breaks even, we start to actively invest in it and try to build a sustainable business out of it. That is how we launched our product-oriented Mobile Unit comprising 150+ engineers, grew our Game & VR Studio to almost 100 people and how our enterprise-focused Professional Services for OpenText and SAP products started.

Basically, these separate directions are like smaller businesses inside a bigger organization. I believe that the synergy between these quite diverse directions under one umbrella gives us a multi-dimensional view of our business. It allows us to borrow validated ideas from one unit to another, be that a business model or a management approach.

Of course, this is a risky endeavour, but we are willing to take the risk, because, firstly, some brilliant ideas might power through. And secondly, people feel more empowered in their work and offer other great ideas even if they failed at first.”

Halyna Dumych, Head of Engagement points out, “Everyone is empowered to suggest ideas and ways to achieve results within their project in the fastest and most effective way. No one creates limits to this. Instead, people are engaged in driving this initiative to success. As it always happens in real life with freedom, you also get accountability for implementing or not implementing your ideas or projects. This gives you a very good understanding of what was right in your decisions and what can be done better the next time you see an opportunity.”

2. Getting things done without waiting for permission.

N-iXers aren’t expected to wait for permission or invitation to be a leader. They act under their own authority, take the lead and “get things done”.

Victor Gabella, Delivery Director comments, “When we detect certain trends on the market, we don’t wait for the endorsement to make a move. A good example would be the development of Scala technology expertise. It was rather a niche technology when I came to N-iX, there were just a few Scala developers. I saw this technology developing, therefore, we hired engineers on the bench before the start of the projects. Now we have one of the strongest Scala teams in Lviv or even Ukraine. There are now over 30 Scala developers in the unit alone. A similar story is with Data Science,  AI and Blockchain – we’re still growing that expertise. Some of the Blockchain projects started in our unit more than 2,5 years ago.

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The majority of the products need DevOps, but clients usually don’t want an allocated full-time person. We’ve identified this need and assembled a team offering DevOps as a Service. This team is currently engaged in more than 15 projects in our unit. As a result, this allowed us to serve the clients better, get the higher quality of a final product, without compromising the price”.

Yuriy Kushla, Delivery Director at N-iX explains, “Our get-things-done approach to work makes management of distributed teams and units within the company extremely efficient and flexible. It eliminates bureaucracy, excludes micromanagement and gives departments the ownership, freedom and flexibility to execute assignments in the most efficient way. Our company management is built around the idea of empowering people and giving them enough independence to push their ideas forward. The performance in such an environment is better in the long run, and more creative ideas get generated that way.

3. Making business decisions based on data.

At one point the company understood that they needed a system to control its new units and improve information flow for effective decision making. Now N-iX relies strongly on data in their strategic and day-to-day decision making. This is one of the secrets that help the company continue its sustainable growth.

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Pavlo Deshchynskyy explains, “We quickly understood the value data brings to a modern organization and its potential to foster business growth. Therefore, N-iX heavily invested into the development of data-analytics and BI reporting tools to ensure the efficiency of all company operations. One of our goals is to reach a stage where the use of data becomes a natural part of the workflow of all employees and departments.

Every meeting we have and each decision we make are based on the data we gather and process. We use our data analytics and BI tools not only for making decisions, but also to see the areas where we are performing better, and where we lack something. This way we can validate some of the proposed ideas even before we implement them.”

4. “Coopetition”.

Another approach that affects the company success is ”coopetition”. Entrepreneurial culture implies competition at its core, but at N-iX, company stakeholders have access to the shared company goals as well as to individual objectives and key results. Mutual understanding of being on the same side inspires them to cooperate and join forces for a shared goal.

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Yuriy Kushla –
“The other delivery manager approached me one day and said, “I am fascinated by your engagement conversion rate, may I attend your next meeting to learn from you?” This shows that my colleague had the access to data about my performance (transparency at its best). Also, while we hold similar positions, one might think we are competitors. That’s right, we are. But we are also open to sharing best practices, to cooperate, as a more beneficial strategy for everyone in the long-term perspective. That is coopetition.”

5. Adhocracy and “healthy bureaucracy”.

N-iX organisational culture is internally described as adhocracy (Wikipedia defines adhocracy as a flexible, adaptable and informal form of organization that is defined by a lack of formal structure). This allows them to adapt quickly to the changing environment, capture new opportunities, solve problems, and get results. For areas where adhocracy doesn’t work, N-iX uses “healthy bureaucracy”, such as in financial operations.

Pavlo Deshchynskyy – “I think every big organisation needs processes. Otherwise, it is really hard to achieve operational efficiency. At N-iX, we try to keep bureaucracy to its minimum. We call it a “healthy bureaucracy”. We implement only those processes that are critical for the healthy operation of our business.

I really like a quote by Einstein: “Everything should be simple, but not simpler”. That’s the rule we follow when implementing new processes.”

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