DVT looks to grow European footprint

Read time 3min 50sec
Mark Buwalda and Jason Bramsden
Mark Buwalda and Jason Bramsden

When ITWeb sat down with DVT’s CEO Jaco van den Merwe in 2019, the specialist software development firm had over 500 employees and had just moved into a new office building in Rosebank, Johannesburg.

Its mission was to be "the favourite to work for, and favourite to work with" software development company in South Africa, and planned to grow its off-shore market.

Then came the pandemic, which has driven digitisation and transformation initiatives in many businesses. Meanwhile, there is a global shortage of software developers.

DVT’s business model is now more precisely defined as ‘near-shoring’, providing remote services to companies in the same or similar time zones. The company already has a solid customer base in the UK, where the office is headed up by MD Jason Bramsden.

A recent move was to appoint an IT industry veteran, Mark Buwalda, to represent DVT in the Netherlands. A Dutch national with decades of experience in the South African and global tech space, Buwalda is well-placed to assist DVT’s expansion into new markets – starting with the Benelux countries.

“In Europe and the UK there's a real shortage of IT professionals,” says Bramsden. “Now that the economy has opened up again, businesses have got all this work. A huge demand has been generated, but there is not enough staff available.”

This is where DVT sees an opportunity, and it’s supplying contract staff to companies in the UK and Europe, which share a similar work culture, and time zone, with South Africa.

“It's not off-shoring; it’s more like near-shoring in reality. Most of them will have worked with or have people from SA, and they know what we are saying is true – there's a good culture fit and South Africans are hard workers,” says Buwalda.

“South African software specialists know what work has to be done, but they are also willing to say no if it's not possible. DVT finds the right fit for an organisation, and they see that it works.”

Buwalda says DVT staff are subject to a rigorous vetting process, and clients can also interview the staff members.

DVT is hiring more than two-dozen new staff members in SA every month, says Bramsden.

“We've got the advantage that DVT has a big name in SA. That helps with employing people. But we shouldn't be employing 30, we should be employing 60 per month. We also recruit specialists from Kenya and Zimbabwe.”

A model that works

Buwalda says the European markets are growing like "‘crazy".

“The amount of people needed in every sector is tremendous. They are all moving to data, and often they have to put projects on hold because they can't find the people.

“What's very important is that we are not acting as a recruitment service but as a technology consulting company. Our people are connected to DVT’s centres of excellence or specialist practices, headed by individuals who are experts in that field.

"Our people remain part of teams with a lot of knowledge that they can rely on, exchange information and solve problems with their peers.

“We’re not headhunters. You want to be able to do something right, or differently from a lot of companies that are massively recruiting and taking people to Europe right now. Our model works well and we are seeing growing interest from UK- and EU-based businesses.”

Near-shore clients

One example of a near-shore engagement for DVT is with banking software company Omniplan in the Netherlands. DVT recently assisted it with a complete rebuild of its software, and also provides IT staff augmentation.

“They’ve gone through a complete rebuild of their software, and they’ve used people from internal, contractors, and they’ve come to DVT. We provide them with some staff as well,” says Buwalda.

In the UK, DVT counts global tobacco giant British American Tobacco as a client, and provides it with Agile services. Other clients include consumer energy supplier Utilita Energy, construction company Keepmoat Homes, Brit Insurance, as well as global law firm Dentons.

Bramsden says DVT is already generating 15% revenue outside South Africa and aims to get this up to 50%.

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