FileHold Systems began its relationship with Euvic at the beginning of its operations in 2005. FileHold hired Euvic’s development team to create its flagship product, FileHold Document Management Software. The software has proven to be a market success and after 10 years FileHold is continuing its partnership with Euvic, now working on version 15 of the software. As a result of the relationship with Euvic, FileHold is receiving high quality product development at a manageable product development cost.
FileHold Systems (www.filehold.com) is a company with its head office in Burnaby, in the Canadian province of British Columbia. The company’s business objective is to manufacture, sell and support feature-rich but affordable document management software. The software has been successfully sold and installed in public administration organizations as well as medium-sized and large enterprises. FileHold software empowers both deskbound and mobile workers to store and find their important documents, including e-mail, while maintaining tight version control and managed document workflow. FileHold is the fast track to the “paperless office”: out of the box it is tightly integrated with Microsoft Office and SharePoint and easily interfaces with other third party applications. The software is currently used by more than 17,000 users in over 300 companies and public institutions throughout the world. Customers include the U.S. Department of Justice, Panasonic, BMW, the University of Maine and GE Healthcare.
The growing use of digital/electronic documents allows companies to reduce their consumption of paper and possibly help reduce unnecessary exploitation of our forests. By converting the stacks of paper lying in every corner of the office into electronic information, organizations can save office space and reduce expense. The volume of documents and information recorded in the form of bits and bytes is also growing very fast. The problem with this growing volume of electronic data is the need to manage the storage space and have a system that will keep these electronic folders, stuffed with digital documentation, secure, version controlled and searchable. This is the business problem FileHold software solves.
The founders of FileHold, Larry Oliver and Dr Jacek Lipowski, aware of this growing electronic document storage and management problem, had a business and product idea to address the issue. They wanted to solve the problem by creating an effective but affordable program for digital document management including document workflow. The target market would be companies and institutions that wanted to be in control of this information and which were looking for this category of software. The planned way to market, and the delivery and support of the FileHold software would be through web-based technologies. Thus FileHold was born.
Our company was a start-up that we were funding ourselves, therefore we had a limited budget to hire a development team and build the software. We decided to take advantage of IT outsourcing.
Larry Oliver, President of FileHold
The CTO, Jacek Lipowski, a Polish emigrant living in Canada, was responsible for the technical aspects of the project and still had extensive contacts in Poland. For this reason FileHold’s founders decided to look for a partner there.
The challenge was to find a partner that would not only be able to develop the software in a cost-effective way, but also give high-level architecture assistance and ensure a quality process. The objective was to have a relationship with a development partner that would persist over a long period. A modern software product like FileHold requires ongoing development to stay current with ever changing IT infrastructures and to develop new features requested by customers. For this reason, it was very important to build mutual trust and to arrive at a precise definition of the collaboration process and software development methodologies.
In 2005, through Lipowski’s informal contacts from his university days, FileHold contacted the then still young LGBS Poland (part of the Euvic Group). His confidence in the competencies of specialists from LGBS, educated at the Silesian University of Technology where Jacek Lipowski studied and received his doctorate, encouraged FileHold to partner with them.
Jacek had personal relations with LGBS, knowing and trusting them from his university days. We met with them and started working together, engaging Euvic’s staff in the preliminary design of the architecture of our software.
Larry Oliver, President of FileHold
Within 18 months Euvic had completed the first version of the system, FileHold’06, using such technologies as:
- .NET Framework 2.0
- Web Services
- Windows Forms
- SQL Server 2008
- SharePoint Server 2010
In parallel, FileHold had been building its marketing program and had made some initial sales of the software to interested clients. FileHold built a sales and support organization and after a couple of years was selling three to four new systems per month. FileHold customers actively contribute to the product roadmap, leading to ongoing enhancements and significant new features such as electronic document workflow review and approvals. With the development support of Euvic, new releases emerged on an annual bases including modern-day features such as full mobile device capabilities.
Process and tools
The Euvic team involved in designing and developing the software consists of five staff, including a project manager, three developers and a tester. At various times, depending on the demand, the number of team members decreases or increases. The team collaborates by using the collaboration and development tool Microsoft Team Foundation Server and communicates via Skype. The efficient development of the software is supported by a well-specified development process that includes several layers of IP protection and back-up redundancy.
We established fixed days in the week when during the Polish evening (beginning of the day in Canada) there is a teleconference between the two teams using a well-established and circulated agenda. If there are several topics, the meeting may last until 2 a.m. Polish time. If there are fewer topics we are finished in less than an hour. During these meetings we share information and learn a lot from each other which allows us to fulfil FileHold’s requirements.
Wojciech Kosinski, Vice President at Euvic
FileHold is responsible for defining the product roadmap and works closely with the Polish developers on the details and prepares prototypes. The team members from Euvic not only build the functions specified by FileHold but over time they have begun to contribute their own ideas – their feedback on new features is highly valued by FileHold.
No problem with time zone differences
Working in different time zones has never been an issue in our relationship with Euvic. In fact, at times it has even proved to be an advantage. The work done by the Euvic development team in Poland gets delivered at the beginning of our working day, giving us time to test a build and pass our comments back to Euvic at the end of our working day. Then, over the next working day in Poland, Euvic is able to implement our changes. So we work relatively independently most of the time, but when there is a need to talk in real time, they make themselves available as needed.
Having a team in Poland has also helped FileHold extend its working hours for customer support. Customer support tasks are primarily dealt with by FileHold Canada, but the Euvic team on occasion supports them by providing customer service for clients from Europe and at times (after the close of business in Canada) from Asia.
Stable and flexible team
Euvic has proven to be a very flexible partner able to adapt to the changing needs of FileHold. At one point, FileHold decided to expand the scope of its offerings with development support services for one of its clients. In line with its needs, Euvic increased the number of staff working for FileHold and when the higher number of developers was no longer needed, it again optimized the team.
During the 10 years of the business relationship, the Euvic project team has included 18 different members, but there was only one change in the key position of project manager.
“Our development team is very stable. There are some new faces, which is natural, but there are also people who have been with us for a very long time. Turnover of staff has been minimal and when there is turnover we have the opportunity to interview our new team members and get to know them before they start working for us. It is like having our own development team.
At the moment Euvic together with FileHold are preparing the 15th version of the FileHold system. It is to be launched in late autumn this year.
About 50 percent lower development costs
In Poland it is about 50 percent cheaper to employ a programmer than in the U.S. or Canada. FileHold, being a start-up, had a limited budget and so recognized this opportunity to manage system development costs. Equally important is that the relationship allows FileHold to run the software development team in a flexible and agile manner.
Access to the best specialists
For FileHold another advantage of the relationship with Euvic is the ability to collaborate with a large number of specialists with many varied skill sets. FileHold can bring any technology challenge to Euvic and there is always a team member to meet the needs of the project development. Euvic has a wide and varied group of experienced employees and consultants that are able to respond to FileHold’s requirements.
Relief from administrative work
Euvic deals with the entire recruitment and human resources process as well as with the provision of the necessary technical infrastructure for the development team. According to FileHold, there is no need to travel to Poland to manage the team, everything is done remotely and the relationship is highly trusting. On rare occasions, Euvic management has visited FileHold offices and in return FileHold technical managers have visited Euvic. These visits are not driven by any problems but are simply to visit in person or to work on complex topics that can be best done face to face.
Possibility to focus on new clients
Outsourcing its software development to Euvic enabled FileHold to save money, time and energy relative to product development, QA and some technical support. Working together, the quality targets of the software and the development deadlines are met without FileHold having to worry about staffing a product development team. The main focus of the Canadian head office of FileHold is product design, marketing, sales and customer support. The existing users of the software now include several prestigious agencies of the American government.
We have a very trusted and wholly satisfactory relationship with Euvic. During the 10 years of us working together they have proven to be a loyal and flexible partner, easy to work with and have provided very high-quality software development services. I appreciate the fact that our development team has been very stable over these 10 years. When there were changes, they were made very slowly and we always had an opportunity to interview and select our new team members. It is like having our own software development team but without the burden of office and IT infrastructure.
Larry Oliver, President of FileHold Systems Inc.