Smarts and execution beat insider knowledge in IT

Do your IT partners need deep knowledge of your industry? Conventional wisdom says yes. When firms outsource IT projects, they typically look for companies with experience of their industry


But conventional wisdom can be wrong. Outstanding programming and engineering skills, robust development processes, and very bright people can trump any level of embedded industry knowledge. “It’s critical to be able to acquire industry knowledge quickly.  But it isn’t critical to have this knowledge from day one, and that’s a big departure for many companies,” says Valeriy Kutsyy (below), chief executive of managed IT services company Miratech. “What’s more important is your skills, capabilities and the maturity of your engineering processes.”

Kutsyy can point to a host of satisfied Miratech clients to support his claim. And the firm has now won, together with Scandinavian financial services company Lindorff, the European Outsourcing Association’s IT Outsourcing Project of the Year.

“We had won a very large, significant outsourcing contract within the financial industry in Finland,” says Arttu Hollmérus, business development director, Lindorff Finland. “As part of our contract, we had to build a robust, modern financial application to enable service operations for one significant part of the contract. We recognised that we lacked the capability in-house to build such a complex application to such a tight timescale. That’s why we turned to Miratech.”

The challenge, however, was formidable. Miratech had to write a completely modern financial system, with advanced functionality as well as secure web access for users. It had to be capable of handling thousands of concurrent transactions. They also had to migrate a huge 20 years’ worth of legacy data from the old in-house system into the new system. And they had to do all this without a single error.

Just to make things even more challenging there were only two time slots annually in which Miratech and Lindorff could make the data migration and the production rollout.

Get anything wrong and the next window of opportunity was far away, which would have put Lindorff’s whole outsourcing contract with their client at risk. In addition, the IT outsourcer had no industry knowledge of the receivables management industry. Nor could any of its software developers speak Finnish.

But what the company did have was an approach to application development that emphasises speed, agility, robust engineering processes, and quality. Miratech brands this approach as the Managed Competence CenterTM, a proprietary framework for delivering services in environments that may span multiple regions, cultures, and organisations.

To make sure everything went according to plan, Miratech created a data migration tool to handle the legacy data and ensure there were no errors, as well as building the new financial application. And in the run up to the production go-live date, Miratech and Lindorff carried out weeks of acceptance testing of both the new application and the migration tool.

In the event, it all went without a hitch. Twenty years of legacy data was migrated with zero errors. The next day the new financial system went live. “How you manage your competencies, that’s the key,” says Kutsyy. “And a focus on increasing capabilities and skills that add value.”

“We have a saying,” says Lindorff’s Hollmérus. “The one who wants to do it, finds a way to do it.”

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