When we founded Forward Forever in the beginning of 2020, it was clear to us right from the start that the work we’re doing knows no geographic boundaries. The low-code revolution is spreading across the globe and the technological foundation that we’re focusing on, Power Platform, is “planet scale” (to borrow a common marketing term from Microsoft).
The first physical office that our team established was in Helsinki, Finland. This was an obvious choice, given how our initial team members all lived within 20km from the coordinates of that office space which has our sticker on the door. You’ve got to start from somewhere.
Up until very recently, we had a team of 10 people serving customers from 10 different countries. Yet all of our team members were still of Finnish origin. Sure, we were working from remote offices in cities like Tampere and Joensuu, but on a country level the ratio was 1:10 for team vs. customers.
It’s time to take the next step Forward and make our team truly international.
We are honored to announce that Tiago Neves has joined team Forward Forever from Porto, Portugal. With 14+ years of experience on working with Microsoft Business Applications, Tiago is no stranger to global projects and teams. Having worked in the UK for 6 years, leading a Dynamics 365 consulting practice and delivering solution rollouts across more than 15 countries, he has seen what it actually takes to succeed in such multicultural surroundings.
Forward Forever’s team members are the type of guys you must follow on the Microsoft community if you work with Power Platform, Dynamics, Azure, and Microsoft 365 technologies. The enthusiasm in sharing their experience and knowledge is inspiring to all of us. Due to our shared background in Dynamics, I’ve been following them on the community for many years and I already had the feeling that we were colleagues.
After reading one of their blog posts earlier this year, we had an informal conversation and I immediately felt we shared the same vision and principles regarding advisory strategies and the importance of the Power Platform to transform businesses. The conversation quickly evolved to an opportunity to join the team.
Having the opportunity to join such an experienced team made my decision process very simple and straightforward! I was thrilled!
I am very excited to join this amazing team and very proud to be the first member outside Finland. Being part of the expansion makes everything even better.
Does physical location matter?
Networks are all about building trust. This simple fact hasn’t changed due to the pandemic, rather the methods through which we form our networks of trust have taken a big step. We can no longer that apply convenient “have we met in person” filter criteria to apply when narrowing down the group of people we know and determining how much do we trust them.
Not too many years ago it was quite unconventional that IT consultants would not come to a customer workshop to be physically in the same meeting room. Sure, the communication technology we were using back in the days of Microsoft Lync et al. wasn’t exactly helping people to be remotely present. Remote was a poor replacement for communicating face-to-face and few people even attempted to use a camera to show their faces to meeting participants. It was perfectly normal to defer the establishment of true trust up until a point where physical encounter was possible.
We have always believed in the value of building professional networks far beyond the narrow scope of traditional consulting work that takes place in presales and project delivery related meetings. Many of our team members actively contribute to the global Power Platform community on a personal level. Not only by sharing their own insights on Power Platform related technologies but also by helping to amplify the voice of other community members. The connections we’ve established with the global Microsoft MVP network as well as Microsoft product teams are helping us better serve our customers and support our colleagues every single day.
This “work like a network” principle also applies to Forward Forever as an organization. Sharing openly what we’ve learned is our way of giving back to the network that makes all of this possible. Looking at our own website visitors from the past 12 months, the audience for Power Platform content written in English is spread across the globe. Roughly 55% of the readers come from within Europe, 20% from Northern America, 7% from Southern Asia, 6% from Australasia.
Location matters and yet at the same time it doesn’t. Most people have surely learned to better understand the true value of encountering people in the physical world, now when it has been oh so rare for the past year and a half. Changing your physical location is also a powerful way to gain new perspective on things, instead of just sitting behind the same computer screen and trying to switch to a different context.
Physical location as a boundary that would stop you from collaborating and networking is mostly a mental construct of the past. Adopting a “think global” mindset will not only help the organization grow and develop its processes, it can also be a key ingredient for your personal growth.
Setting up an office or hiring people outside of the home country takes a bit of planning and preparation (months). We see that effort worth the trouble as there’s no sense to limit your pool of talents to a tiny Nordic country. In addition to having our processes ready for international hires, we have now focused on landing more clients outside of Finland.
We do have a bit of an unfair advantage on our international track. Community work is at our core, which is an enormous asset for us from a business perspective. Forward Forever’s professionals have contributed to the community for decades, so the network is vast, and our audience is naturally global.
We also want to offer our team members the possibility to work from wherever they want. That is easier said than done as we feel that the legislation regarding remote work abroad is a bit behind for digital nomads. However, what matters the most is that this keeps us excited – not being just another consultancy agency going the easiest paths – we like to challenge ourselves.