Can you successfully manage a huge corporate project remotely from a different hemisphere?
Learn about the digital transformation at Home Credit Vietnam that was led by a group of managers from Central Europe and how they overcame technological and cultural barriers.
Implementing radical changes in a culturally diverse corporation is really challenging on many different levels. Our team experienced it first hand during Google Workspace (formerly G Suite) adoption project at Home Credit Vietnam.
“The biggest challenge of this project for me personally was overcoming a lot of communication barriers. I quickly learned that the Vietnamese and European mindset and culture differ quite a lot. After a few initial bumps on the road however, we managed to develop a great relationship with the Home Credit project team.”
Jakub Jan Kučera - Project Manager, Revolgy
Most of the initial misunderstanding came from different values that our cultures prioritise. Vietnamese culture puts a big emphasis on keeping harmonious relationships in the workplace and outside of it. Jakub, Alexandra, Vlasta and Pavel learned about it first hand a good few times.
“The project manager of the Vietnamese team spent the entire Saturday taking care of us and showing us around the city. He even introduced us to his family. It made us feel very special, welcomed and appreciated. It was hard for me to comprehend that he was willing to devote so much of his own personal time and attention to us. I was told, this kind of hospitality is a big part of Vietnamese culture”
Jakub Jan Kučera - Project Manager, Revolgy
Revolgy team spent 2 weeks in Ho Chi Minh City, managing the technical part of the project and leading training for their employees. Our project managers Jakub, Xana and Pavel expected some cultural and language barriers, this is why they also asked our colleague Vlasta to come along. She was born and raised in Prague to a Vietnamese family and knows the languages and customs of both countries very well. She became a crucial member of the team who helped not only with translations but also to overcome some cultural differences.
“Vietnamese people are very friendly and would never criticise you or give you negative feedback. This is why our team had to rethink some of the aspects of our change management strategy. It was a truly challenging and humbling experience”
Vlasta Phamová - Change Management Specialist, Revolgy
The importance of maintaining good relationships with people also manifests by avoiding conflict at all costs. For example, our Vietnamese colleagues would never say “no” to our team, as it is considered extremely impolite. This led to a few humorous situations when trying to organise meetings for example. Thankfully, Vlasta was there, and her insight into both mentalities and undeniable people skills proved to be priceless.
The roots of Czech - Vietnamese friendship
The Czech Republic and Vietnam have a lot in common too. The history goes back to the communist period when a lot of Vietnamese people, encouraged by their authorities migrated to Czechoslovakia with the intention of gaining new skills and then returning to their country. However, following the collapse of Communism in Czechoslovakia, many Vietnamese people decided to remain in the country. Today Vietnamese are a 3rd largest ethnic minority overall in the Czech Republic.
Throughout the years strong business connections between our countries have been built. A good example of that could be seen in corporations such as Home Credit - it was originally founded in the Czech Republic, but expanded to Asia where their business became even stronger than in the country of origin. Home Credit brought their core competence in Consumer Finance mainly in risk management. It allowed the company to scale fast on markets that were underserved by other financial companies lacking such competence and therefore ASEAN countries are risky for them.
Building technological and cultural bridges
With the expansion of their business, Home Credit Vietnam underwent a general digital and agile transformation of the entire company structure. Migration to the Cloud and adoption of online communication and collaboration tools were only a part of a much more complex project.
“The vision was very clear - to let computers do, what they can do better than people, and let people utilise their talents on more important things than repetitive administrative tasks.”
Jiří Maňas - CTO, Home Credit Vietnam
People, in general, (of any nationality, gender, age or beliefs) have a tendency to be reluctant towards major changes. This proved to be especially true for the Vietnamese. Their culture values tradition greatly, so any big change is quite difficult for them. At Revolgy, we believe that a successful digital transformation can take place only by shifting peoples mindset. The change management and project management methodology used in our projects reflect just that.
Some of its aspects include activating employees themselves and igniting their initiative to search for creative solutions to the problems they face every day in their work.
Our experience has taught us that people feel much more comfortable asking their peers for advice when they need help with new tools. This is the core of Train the Trainers part of the project, where eager representatives of different departments received thorough training, guidance and later became ambassadors of change for other employees, or as we call them “Google Guides”.
Based on the feedback from them on the most common issues their colleagues were facing, custom manuals, piles of tips and tricks and best practices have been put together and published on a specially designed website, available to all employees. This website has become a sort of go-to resource centre for all current and future members of their team.
Focus groups with employees across the organisation and interviews with stakeholders have been organised. The aim was to understand how the company works and identify possible improvements in the collaboration between departments.
Together with the Home Credit team, we deeply analysed use cases specific to their business and review selected business processes. Then, prototypes and roadmaps of solutions were designed.
Going above and beyond to keep sensitive data safe
Due to the nature of the company, who deals with the most sensitive personal and financial data of their clients, there was a very strong emphasis on the security of any new solutions implemented. The complexity of their infrastructure required some custom tweaks. One of the requirements was to find a way to enforce tagging each document on Google Drive to ensure compliance with the company's security standards. At the time of the project, this option wasn't available for Google Drive, so we developed a custom Chrome extension that was made compulsory for every user and forced them to tag each and every document accordingly.
To ensure the highest possible security when working remotely Mobile Device Management platform has been launched. In order to make the usage of different independent software and tools easier, yet compliant with the highest security standards Single Sign-on (SSO) has been set up.
Collaborating real-time across the World
Home Credit Vietnam quickly realised the tremendous impact Google Workspace adoption have on their way of working in the following stage of the project. Our team went back to Prague and the rest of the works needed were managed remotely using newly implemented tools such as Hangouts, Meet and making the most out of real-time online collaboration on project documentation in Google Docs, Sheets and Slides.
“We finally have a modern communication tool of the 21st century – easy to use, mobile friendly and allowing for collaboration across the company that truly empower our people. Google Workspace implementation was an important step in the digital transformation of our company.”
Jiří Maňas - CTO, Homecredit Vietnam