IWA’s Last 365 Days in Review – Middle East and Asia Expansion and Initiatives for Greater Good

In March of this year, we celebrated IWA’s tenth birthday. A milestone of this magnitude pairs well with the successes we’ve experienced over the past year. Endeavours such as IWA’s expansion into Vietnam and the Middle East along with our diversification and growth in Thailand made 2018-2019 one of our most exciting years yet.

One of our most significant achievements was the full-scale digitalization case we were selected to carry out by the Ministry of Housing of Saudi Arabia. Our mission, in this case, is to help their organization to create a suite of digital services for Saudi citizens and companies. With over twenty IWAlites working on this case it’s become our most expansive project so far. With this project, our company capabilities have reached a new high, and we feel confident that we can take on similar major projects in the future.

Our team has succeeded in generating at least 30 percent annual revenue growth for five years in a row, while staying profitable and without any outside capital investments. We have made this happen by cultivating a positive can-do attitude and by following our core values of #fellowship, #willpower and #dexterity.

We have also invested in creating the foundation for our future growth by having kick-ass management and executive teams who work tirelessly to improve IWA as a workplace and to increase the value we provide for our clients.

One major highlight of 2018 was the founding of IWA Vietnam and recruiting a team of outstanding local developers to join us on our mission. Our entry into this new market led to Da Nang, Vietnam hosting our annual IWA Winter Office for 2019. Previously, our Winter Offices have been in Phuket and Hua Hin in Thailand.

Da Nang proved to be a beautiful city, and as a personal sidenote, it also allowed me to pick up a surfboard for the first time in over five years to catch some smooth waves in the mornings before starting my workday.

This year we have reached significant milestones in many of our projects. In Saudi Arabia, our client NHC launched its new Sakani portal in April. The portal provides a wide range of housing related services for Saudi citizens, including tools for finding a new home and applying for housing subsidies. Last month we also launched the Noli Studios web service for our client NREP, who are introducing an innovative housing-as-a-service concept in Helsinki later this year.

At the end of March, we had our Spring Kick-off event with the theme of asking ourselves “How to make working at IWA even more meaningful in the future?” We concluded that growing our business should be a side-effect of us following our vision: We want to create the best multi-cultural place to work at for digital service development experts and to provide the best possible value for our clients when we develop excellent digital services for them.

One important theme that came up in our discussions was our company responsibility. In other words, how can we make sure that IWA is radiating a positive impact outside of the work we do for our clients?

To this end we have launched several exciting initiatives: We made our travel to IWA winter office in Vietnam carbon-neutral by purchasing a CO2 compensation package. We sponsor city bikes for our Helsinki team to encourage healthy and environmentally friendly commuting. We plan to give a percentage of paid work time for our team members that they can use for philanthropic activities.

At IWA we believe that we should balance responsibility, excellence and hard work with a good life outside of work. Therefore we provide more free time for our team members at our Vietnam and Thailand offices than is locally required. We also promote flexibility for all of our team members to work remotely and at times of their choosing whenever it’s possible. At IWA we are definitely not advocating the “996 work culture” that has been discussed in the media recently. In fact one of our values, #dexterity, describes our constant search for finding ways to “work smarter, not harder”.

We genuinely believe that our philosophy of working will meet the future needs of our clients. The dominant model of digital service development in Finland in the past five years has been to provide onsite developers for clients to sit and work at the clients’ offices. This “onsite obsession” has created a situation where many projects cannot be scaled up due to a lack of resources.

At IWA we believe that the best results in the future will come from projects where our project management and senior developers work closely, sometimes even onsite, with the client’s team, but the majority of the development team works offsite at IWA’s own offices.

The international decentralized development team model we have built allows us to scale projects fast and to unlock the unique benefits of working across several time zones for our clients. As an example, in projects where our team consists of both European and Asian developers, the project team has 12-13 hours of work time per day while all of our developers can work regular 7.5-hour workdays.

In five years we have grown from a 15 person company to today’s 60 person digitalization powerhouse. To be ready for the next leaps we must keep our culture intact while constantly evolving our unique international and multicultural work methods. We hope to welcome many new team members to IWA this year to join us in building a fantastic workplace while creating outstanding digital solutions for our clients.