The Ribbonfish Guide to Going Global with Salesforce and WSO2: How to set up a dedicated team in New Delhi

At Ribbonfish, we care about delivering brilliant customer service, to brief, on time and to budget. And we’re passionate about being a strategic partner that supports our clients’ teams with specialist skills wherever in the world they are based.

As the business has grown, we’ve needed to expand the Salesforce and WSO2 teams and provide when necessary round the clock support to clients, all in a way that optimises costs and integrates well with our existing, talented UK-based team. But finding a location with the skills required in a time zone that works for clients is tricky. The answer? New Delhi.

Our new company, Ribbonfish Technologies, was set up at the beginning of 2019. Sanjeev Dash, Head of Strategy, explains why New Delhi was chosen.

“It was an easy decision to choose India over another location like the Far East or Eastern Europe due to a wider availability of talent (even niche technology skills like WSO2). There is a partial overlap with UK working hours and a well-established culture of outsourced technology services. An overseas team affords us the ability to offer greater value to our customers in terms of more people, a broader range of services and, as a result of the time difference, an increase in the number of working hours.

Being the capital, New Delhi has excellent transport links and infrastructure and serves as headquarters for several companies operating in India. It is also the base for some of the best universities in the country. As a result, it has attracted a number of technology firms to invest and set-up base in the city. In recent years New Delhi has seen major investments by technology firms including Accenture, Adobe and Google alongside a number of captive offshore centres and start-ups. In addition, it is a base for a number of national and international publishing houses (e.g. OUP, Macmillan Publishers, Penguin Random House and Wiley).”

But all this infrastructure, capital and expertise presents challenges for a start-up.

“While other cities in India have long established technology firms, New Delhi is still growing, and as a result, is attracting a lot of technology talent. This of course means more competition in terms of hiring the best people.”

So how do you set up an overseas company and recruit a top team?

“It is essential to have identified a trusted partner based there before looking to open an office overseas. It is also very important to account for increased management, governance and communication overheads as a result of both the time-zone and operational differences.

The success of Ribbonfish is driven by the people who work for us. Making sure we have an office that fits with our company values is key. The demand for talent makes it a very competitive market and filling positions can take a long time but hiring the right people has been key to the success and culture of the office.

In practical terms, when we started out we leaned heavily on our partner to guide us through local legal requirements and compliance issues. They helped set up a legal entity, put in place office and technology infrastructure, and finally – and most important of all – introduced us to trusted recruitment partners to staff the office.”

Once the company was incorporated, office set-up, and team recruited the next phase was to establish working practices aligned with the Ribbonfish ethos. Paul King is Technical Lead with responsibility for managing the team and coordinating with the New Delhi, UK and US and client offices on a daily basis.

“We use a combination of software and process frameworks to work across teams. JIRA software allows for bug tracking. Scrum and Sprint methodology is used for agile project management.

With Scrum we bring together the project requirements and set-up what is needed to define and deliver the project. We break it down into sprints – scheduled working periods – which have their own set of goals. A limited amount of time is set for each so the team can build the product stage by stage. Within each sprint we also test and inspect as we go to make sure we are on track to deliver and JIRA software is used to track and monitor progress.

For both the Salesforce and Integration development teams in all three locations, workload is coordinated via a scheduled two-week sprint where the commitment is agreed in advance. The India and UK office communicate with a daily Scrum to ensure work is being progressed and to prepare liaison with the customer. The India team then communicates with the client directly, joining the US scrum out of hours on the India time zone.

This structure ensures that development requirements end up as a finished component, either in Salesforce or one of the many integrations. By using this rigorous agile approach, we can deliver value to the client as they see their project specification delivered effectively.”

There has been plenty written about the challenges balancing different work cultures and time zones. How do the teams navigate through them to deliver projects successfully?

“This really has been one of the biggest challenges. Setting clear expectations from the outset is key. The team first and foremost understood at the point of recruitment that they would be working with internationally based clients and agreed that they were willing to work out of hours for daily scrums and meetings.

I’m pleased to say the team has gone above and beyond with clients. They have made sure requirements are understood and development deliverables completed on time. This commitment to good customer service is what is key to our success. There is no doubt that there are challenges balancing the different work cultures, but we will continue to learn with experience and by listening to client and team feedback.”

What is it like to work in the New Delhi office

Anuj Malik and Parul Sharma are members of the Ribbonfish Technologies team in New Delhi. They work with the team and clients on projects and have a particular approach to successful delivery.

“Our focus is on quality rather than quantity. We are a harmonized combination of multiple resources and skills that distinguishes Ribbonfish from other companies. Each day is structured to keep the team and client working closely together. We start with the morning meeting where we identify any blocks or dependencies that will impact the development. We work all together to fix the issues, but it is important to allow downtime for the team if anyone needs to take a break from the work. We often have a game of darts to relax which allows time to reflect and process on what we are trying to achieve. Discussions with the client are on a daily basis and this regular contact has led to a supportive, understanding and cooperative relationship with them.”

How does working for Ribbonfish Technologies compare to other companies?

“Working at Ribbonfish has been a really adventurous and refreshing experience. Even though we are small, we are a strong team that never leaves anyone behind. The company invests in the growth of its employees and people volunteer to mentor others.

Even though we are growing, we have managed to hold on to lots of elements of a start-up environment such as the level of access we have to senior executives within the company. We have a culture of trialling creative new ideas quickly, taking the learnings and then adapting our solutions.

Another thing we like a lot is how we are given the opportunity to work on things that interest us the most as well as challenge us. We also feel we are allowed to build a fulfilling career for ourselves. There is a really balanced work life here. At Ribbonfish we work, we play and we ENJOY.”

But what does the boss think?

Paula Neary has many years’ experience in senior roles across different publishing sectors and having been on the client side she has a deep understanding of what customers need.

“For me, I see the New Delhi office as providing a dedicated team of talented people. They allow us to boost our Salesforce and WSO2 capacity in a way that delivers great customer service around the clock. It’s been a joy to see Ribbonfish Technologies succeed and grow!”

So what are the key steps to setting up a successful global office?

1. Be clear about your business goals: use them to focus the brief.

2. Be realistic about what each location offers: it’s not always about saving money.

3. Be global in perspective: spot the technology hot spots around the world.

4. Find a trusted partner on the ground who can help you set up the business.

5. Focus on people – finding the best to support your existing team.

6. Be upfront about company culture and what is expected from all offices.

7. Set up clear expectations on processes and workflows.

8. Value all your teams and make it a fun place to work.