Retrospective of delivering services during a full Pandemic year

What were the bets for 2021, and what did we accomplish out of them? How did we navigate the year?  How fast did we manage to internalize change? Where and why did we fail? And most importantly, What did we learn? These were some of the questions that we as a Leadership Team considered already this November when we’ve done our Strategy Exercise for the year to come.

Why is that? Well, because, as for many other businesses, the 2020s pandemic context came with a couple of struggles and even project closures. To be sure, we also had our share of uneasiness at the end of 2020, but powered by our history and resilience we were determined to continue providing quality services having also the daring energy to explore new avenues.

In such times, progress for a services’ company like ours, meant a strong emphasis on the care for our people in uncertain times, resilience of the accountable ones, and constant adaptability to the market condition. Nevertheless, below, I take the time to reflect holistically on our  business:

1. We started consolidating our business development capabilities in early 2020, so the efforts started maturing beginning with the 2021 year.

Business Development in IT Services, tends to have a maturing cycle of 9-12 months, depending on how cold your initiatives are.

For us, 2021 meant the continuance of Business Development investments in order to diversify our portfolio, location for services to be delivered, new projects, and growing energy for the teams.

Exciting times came with the beginning of the year as we managed to consolidate our European presence in countries like Belgium, Netherlands, UK, and Spain.

Business Development endeavor continued in North America as well, where we managed to gain clients through referral and reputation captured throughout the years. Our efforts continued throughout the year on the same considerations: we were strong-willed to bring new, exciting projects that could fit our people’s skills and appetite for new.

2. We continued our Hold and Grow strategy with existing customers.

Extended emphasis was put on our existing portfolio, as we wanted to ensure stability and certainty of delivery for our customers.

We felt and empathized with our customer’s contexts either in their desire to dial down their access to technical services due to their financial contexts  – more at the beginning of the year, or assertively dial up on creating new teams – a trend we’ve noticed booming starting with this spring.

In the beginning, we considered that the massive increase in inquiries is an effect of tech budgets not being spent throughout 2020 because of the uncertainty brought by the lockdown. We quickly realized that our client’s regained an optimistic view of their business was corroborated with their need for growth and stability. It is with no doubt that we felt the Great Resignation trend our clients experienced, so we wanted and managed to support them with stable and skilled delivery teams.

Constant communication and care for our customer’s needs made us understand when we needed to prioritize. This is why we strived to even put together a team of 8 in 2 weeks, which at our size meant a huge success!

Now, we are looking to foster the same values for our clients: we either take care of their tech while they take care of their business, or we are active contributors to their tech decisions and execution when we are working as an integrated team.

3. We aimed to bring our people closer this year in mind and in heart, online, or in physical events.

As mentioned above, we’ve seen uncertainty in our client’s contexts, and to be fair it hit us too. As opposed to our client’s context, I am not talking about uncertainty as to the fear of losing jobs, but I am talking of that type of feeling we all experience as human beings. That uneasiness comes from isolation, negative media propagation, lack of trustworthy informative sources, lack of face-to-face communication and interaction. It normally downs even on the strongest of us, but we stayed and fought it together!

Our bets were on increased internal communication. For some, it may sound counterintuitive,  but we did increase the meaningful communication where we discussed the status of the projects, decision-making, new avenues to come, tactics, and many more.

We also ensured minimal physical presence in the offices. Yes, we are running 3 offices and while it is difficult to constitute a relevant nucleus in each location, it is even more difficult to maintain it while remote. However, during 2021 our colleagues were provided with the choice. They could escape the WFH mundane setup by coming to the office.

Furthermore, we allowed ourselves to be together and adventurous again as to each one’s level of comfortableness in participating physically. Whether it was pumpkin carving, trivia nights, or even canyoning, we were in it as a team. We learned, gained certifications, developed as professionals, and established stronger bonds and this is our most valued success as a team!

4. We streamlined our recruitment processes to adapt to the market conditions.

You already know, that spring came roaring with a huge increase in demand for talents, and it struck everyone. Having our hands full, we didn’t have any other choice but to streamline our recruitment processes. Better and faster decision-making, leaner interviews, and enhanced referral programs were only a few of our decisions in this regard. It all paid off as we have the pride to have had successfully onboarded 30 new colleagues!

5. We developed stronger partnerships with fellow companies!

Our Partner Network strategies have been present throughout our existence, but we learned this year the importance of building strong, trustworthy relationships so when the time comes for creating strong teams, we can lean on each other.

6. We promoted lean operation management.

From a financial perspective when running operations, we did take a sharp look at our spending. It was only sane, and in doing so we adopted a zero-based budgeting approach when looking at various expenditures. I can’t say it was easy to internalize the change here, but it was definitely the creative approach much needed in our business lifecycle.

Now, where did we manage to land this year?

For sure in a positive context with growth initiatives, with roll-on-sleeves colleagues and streamlined delivery processes, with more empowered teams and overall great awareness of how we need to adapt to next year’s opportunities.

As a Leadership group, we are here to support our teams and foster initiatives in the best interest of our people and our clients.  We’re grateful for the year that passed as we’ve learned a lot, and we are #still here to make IT happen. Join us in the new adventure that lays ahead of us, I promise, It will be fun!

Marketing Manager at RIA Solutions Group