How Does SDH Work in Wartime? Answered by Viacheslav Bukhantsov, CEO
Today, many Ukrainian companies talk about organizing work in the new reality with the circumstance "during the war". SDH would also like to share its story. We believe that sharing our experiences will help us make better decisions, and we also strive to keep a chronicle of events in order to capture this period of Ukrainian business history.
Software Development Hub is an IT outsourcing company and until recently we had our head office in Kharkiv. Viacheslav Bukhantsov, CEO, answers questions.
“The main thing for us today is people and their safety. We are used to looking for opportunities in every threat,”— Viacheslav Bukhantsov, CEO at SDH.
- Did you have a plan in case of full-scale war?
- What problems did you solve first?
- Where is your team situated right now?
- How did you restructure the work of the company?
- Do you have volunteer initiatives?
- How do you maintain team spirit?
- How has the war affected the number of customers and financial indicators?
- What do you plan to do if the war drags on?
Thoughts about the possibility of military action haunted me even before the New Year. But those were our foreign partners, who first started to speak about the real threat of invasion and insisted on our relocation. A month before the events, we began to work out possible scenarios of our actions: primarily, regarding the evacuation of a part or the entire team to the western regions, we also assessed risks and fixed budgets. We had already been prepared to work remotely due to the Covid-19, which we were adjusting to for a year and a half, so we were not intimidated by organizational processes in the current situation.
At one of the C-level meetings, a tactical plan crystallized. We conducted a survey to find out the exact location of every team member, their driving licenses and the cars available. But no one could imagine the scale and bloodiness of the subsequent events.
In the first days, many Ukrainian cities appeared under attack, but the situation with Kharkiv was the most difficult. More than 50% of the entire team was there. Some of our colleagues’ apartments were damaged. It was a rather shocking situation for all of us.
But we needed to mobilize. We focused on solving the three main issues:
- to quickly find out whether employees were safe and whether their families needed help;
- to unite employees who were able to work in order to reduce risks for the most critical areas, primarily, for DevOps work;
- to help with the evacuation of employees.
We tasked our project managers to identify what resources were available, who was able to work and partially continued the work. At the same time, our partners expressed support and understood the delays, so we express our great gratitude to all of them.
Without exaggeration, it can be found all over the world. We estimated that 35% of the company is outside of Ukraine. Our colleagues fled to Germany, the Czech Republic, Israel and other countries. However, most of our team is still remaining in Ukraine, we are currently in the process of moving the head office to Lutsk, where 15 SDH employees are currently residing.
Several developers are serving in the ranks of the Armed Forces. We are supporting them and are extremely proud of their courage.
In fact, not much has changed. The structure and processes that were set up back in 2020, during the quarantine, have remained. However, the office in Kharkiv is mothballed and we are lacking live communication.
The main thing for us today is people and their safety.
Many of the SDH together with their families settled in Truskavets, in the Dzherelny sanatorium, which hospitably sheltered our refugees. Here, together with the management of the sanatorium, the members of the SDH team organized the delivery of humanitarian goods and arranged their daily lives: most people fled just with one suitcase, and some of them had no seasonal clothes or hygiene products with them.
Thus, thanks to the work of our managing partner Vasyl Kuchma, cooperation with the charity Swiss Aid To Ukraine arose. The Foundation has been providing considerable humanitarian support to Ukraine by delivering medical supplies and food products to Ukraine. Get more about Swiss Aid To Ukraine Association.
In its turn, SDH’s contribution is volunteer assistance in website development and digital marketing of the Foundation.
The sanatorium was mostly attended by residents of cities where active hostilities were taking place, as well as displaced persons who lost their homes. Thus, in April, we started another charitable initiative — the Hostline fund for internally displaced persons.
The fund, launched by SDH, provides targeted financial support to displaced families. The main source of contributions is foreign and Ukrainian partners and SDH employees themselves. As of today, we have collected more than 6 thousand dollars and provided financial support to 60 families affected by the war. You can find out about the activities of the foundation on the website.
We are also launching an educational initiative, a mentoring program for women, where those interested can apply to find a mentor at SDH. We are committed to getting more women into the IT industry. The following areas are now available: business analysis, development, testing, project management, and marketing.
Every Wednesday we hold an internal meeting in the format of "small talks". Besides, recently, a professional psychologist has been invited to hold a seminar. He gave a lecture on the topic of psychological adaptation to the conditions of martial law in order to provide qualified support to the team members.
We are trying to do our best to continue our traditional formats: holding interviews for the corporate magazine, celebrating anniversaries and conducting online flash mobs to keep a positive mood.
Our financial analyst and I expected a decrease in advance, predicting certain losses. Thanks to the correct risk assessment, it was possible to prevent the collapse situation through negotiations with customers and timely optimization of financial income, as a result, we avoided significant losses. Yes, some Ukrainian customers stopped their projects with us, but this is quite a small share of the company's total revenues.
The foreign projects have been fully preserved, we appreciate the partnership with US customers, who are now very supportive of us.
Moreover, today SDH announces a partnership with a major Ukrainian healthcare provider. We cannot reveal the details now, but a new national-scale project is starting very soon.
We are planning to do what we are used to: to work conscientiously for the benefit of our state. Most of the workers are still staying in Ukraine.
At a time, when many companies which are similar to SDH have shut down or cut staff and wages, we have retained our team and are meeting all payroll obligations.
Now, our planning horizon has shrunk significantly. However, for 8 years in the IT industry, we have established ourselves as a company with deep expertise in building highly loaded products, such as ERP systems or complex platforms. Our most valuable resource is the people who work in the company.
We are used to looking for opportunities in every threat. We are currently working on expanding and strengthening ties with foreign counterparts on the ground in order to bring the company to a qualitatively new international level.