Software Development Newsletter: Q2 2018

Director Message

Welcome to our 2nd Quarterly Newsletter for 2018.

Our featured client this quarter is BTPN, one of Indonesia’s leading banks. We are very proud that we have the opportunity to work on the development of BTPN’s “fintech” application, known as Jenius.

Via this newsletter, we would like to introduce Jeff, our Business Development Manager who is joining our team in Perth and leading the sales team across the Australian and New Zealand regions.

Read full insights on why start-ups should consider using software development partners. The early stages of a startup require a lot more time to tackle each and every problem. Choosing a managed tech partner could be the perfect plug-in for your local team.

Finally, some interesting stories about how Mitrais encourages creativity and innovation amongst its employees through “innovathon”.

BTPN, Not Your Average Bank


Innovation and service. While the global banking industry might not be the first one that comes to mind when you think of these ideas, Indonesia’s Bank Tabungan Pensiunan Nasional (BTPN) is ready to change your mind.

With a history dating back to its formation as Bank Pegawai Pensiunan Militer in 1958 Bandung, BTPN was born in the name change of 1986, and has been listed on the Indonesian Stock Exchange since 2008. But while many of its competitors focus almost exclusively on big business and wealthy customers, BTPN has forged a reputation based on empowering low-income clients including pensioners, micro, small and medium business (MSMEs) owners, and low-income productive households.

To support this vision, BTPN has embarked on an aggressive strategy of innovation, aimed at providing these services to clients no matter where they are. Part of this innovation was the development of the BTPN Wow! system, a high-tech platform which allows branchless banking accessible via the GSM cellular telephone system, and enables banking services to be delivered to clients in remote areas of Indonesia where internet connectivity may be unreliable.

Another highlight is BTPN’s Jenius product, which offers a revolution in banking services through digitalization. This is perfect for digital-savvy customers who seek a quick and comfortable banking experience through the introduction of financial technology innovations. BTPN also has BTPN Syariah, a subsidiary that focuses on serving customers from productive low-income households.

One of the keys to continuing to innovate so strongly in the Indonesian financial sector is to grow and maintain a superior IT group, and to foster strong long-term relationships with a partner who can help. It was in this environment that BTPN initially engaged with Mitrais 2 years ago, with the plan of supplementing their existing IT resources with the proven expertise of Mitrais.

Where it was initially a relatively simple managed team, BTPN now trusts Mitrais to help in the hiring and training of resources specifically for them. This, of course, allows BTPN staff to always focus on their core business.

As an example of a long-term high-trust relationship, it doesn’t get much better than this. Mitrais is excited to continue to be involved with BTPN, a valued partner and one of the most innovative and progressive financial institutions in the Asia-Pacific region.

Why Start-ups Need to Consider Outsourced Software Development

Outsourced Software Development Services

Now that you and your colleagues have identified a great idea for a software solution, whether it be a mobile app, web application or something else, the temptation is to immediately start recruiting a couple of friends to start to develop it. It’s an exciting and energising time, and no one can wait to start cutting code. But there are some very good reasons why you should pause for a moment and consider if that is really the best way to proceed. History is littered with great ideas that have never quite set the world on fire, and it’s often not because the idea didn’t have merit. Regularly the opportunity was missed because the development strategy was secondary to the marketing strategy.

Before you start down this road, let’s consider another possible strategy – forming a dedicated managed offshore development team with an experienced and reputable provider. Here are a few important reasons why this may be a great idea worth exploring.

Time to Market

One of the hallmarks of successful software start-ups is not only having the right idea for the market, but having the ability to bring that idea to that market in the shortest possible time. In a crowded industry like ours, being the first to market is not only a competitive advantage, but sometimes the difference between success and failure.

Getting to market requires the necessary skilled development resources to be available in an “instant on” model. You absolutely must have the right skillsets in the right numbers at the right time, and be able to quickly and smoothly ramp that team up and down whenever you need to. Partnering with the right remote development provider gives you access to a huge range of qualified developers, and gives you flexibility to meet your aggressive deadlines in a way that local recruitment will struggle to deliver.

Having your product on sale in 3 months rather than 12 is a huge advantage that cannot be overstated.

Focusing Your Local Team

You and your team are the ones who understand your clients’ needs better than anyone else. You have spent a ton of understanding your market’s challenges, and exactly how to provide answers to client frustrations. And you are still spending time constantly refining and adding to the requirements based on market feedback – exactly as you should!

Is it smarter to split that team between communicating with your clients and all the other necessary jobs as well? Is having half your team busy with recruiting, on-boarding and retaining development staff the best use of their time? How about managing the development day to day, attending stand-up meetings and juggling leave calendars just to keep things on track?

The obvious alternative is to keep your team focussed on the core business – staying close to potential clients and beta programme participants, gathering detailed feedback, and evaluating and funnelling their great inputs to an ever-evolving feature set.

Managing Your Capital

Like other enterprises, most start-ups are not blessed with blank cheque capital, so need to be smart about how that precious capital is invested. That means sourcing the best possible development talent at the optimum price, and trying to produce an environment where the cost of the team is predictable and “kind” to cash flow over the course of the build.

The best offshore development partners can provide exactly that type of consistent value. By keeping only key local staff directly involved with the day to day management of development, testing and documentation of the product and allowing your remote team to undertake virtually all the “heavy lifting”, real savings can be realised. Depending on the length of engagement, seniority and composition of your remote managed team, the best development partners can provide staff at up to a 40% saving over equivalent local staff or contractors. The savings can be even greater when you consider that virtually all the “below the line” costs associated with that team are avoided, since they are built into the monthly rate.

Plug In To World-Class Processes

Your core business is understanding your market, the opportunities it presents, and the nature of the solutions that you can provide to gain your clients a competitive advantage. It may not be understanding and implementing best-practice software development processes, and engaging in the continuous improvement necessary in this industry. Of course, you could aim to create that internally with the right recruits, but locating and engaging them could be a time-consuming task. Once you have them, you will be responsible for retaining them and creating a high-performance quality-focussed culture within that development team – no small task, as anyone who has undertaken it can attest.

In contrast, quality development partners have spent decades doing just this. It is, in fact, their core business. They invest heavily year on year in iterative refinement of these processes, taking feedback from the conduct of hundreds of client projects to stay current. Their businesses depend on them being better at the nuts and bolts of software development and project delivery than most of their clients, and on them delivering all that expertise at a significant cost advantage over DIY development.

There are many reasons why start-up clients choose managed remote teams as the perfect plug-in to their local team; and these represent only some of the more common ones. Whatever our clients’ reasons, Mitrais has an outstanding record of long-term high-trust relationships with entrepreneurs just like you. We are glad to have partnered with a range of SMEs and start-ups to produce outstanding successful products.

At this most exciting time in your career, you owe it to yourself to consider this type of partnership as a key element of your business’s success, and we are excited to work with you to achieve that.

Behind the Scenes at the Mitrais Innov-A-Thon

Mitrais Innovathon 2018

Some History

Mitrais has always been committed to encouraging creativity and innovation amongst its employees, which we feel makes for great teamwork and reinforces our vision that Mitrais should be a fun place to work.

As an organisation we love to uncover the many hidden talents of the people that work for us and give them an opportunity to show off their diverse backgrounds.

As Mitrais headquarters is based in Bali we have always been surrounded by the unique artistic culture here on the Isle of the Gods, where in the 2010 Census over 80% of the population in certain villages declare their primary occupation as Artist!

For many years the staff organised an Annual Party and everyone got together every year to produce a musical or theatrical extravaganza based on a unique theme.

Over the years the Annual Party idea spread out to the other offices around Indonesia, showcasing the diversity of the cultures in our other centres in Jakarta, Bandung and Yogyakarta.

The participants spent many evenings and weekends rehearsing their acts, preparing their costumes and ensuring all the lighting and sound systems would operate perfectly on the big night.

Some of the performances were truly spectacular and, many of us believe, would have received rave reviews on the world’s best stages. Check out some of the productions here.

More recently with the advent of distributed teams and a younger, more “Millenial” demography, our staff started to ask us if we could organise “Hack-A-Thons” similar to those run by the big technology companies overseas like Google, Facebook and Yahoo.

So we listened to them and came up with the idea of an “Innov-A-Thon”.

What is an “Innov-A-Thon”?

Most of us nowadays have heard of “Hack-A-Thons” where groups of developers get together to produce a product or prototype.

These events usually last from several hours to several days and the objective is to create some working software that will be useful either to the wider community or to the sponsor of the event.

Facebook’s Like button for example was created from an idea developed at a hack-a-thon.

Here at Mitrais we felt the term “Hack-A-Thon” was too restrictive and may put off our non-developer staff from participating, so we invented the term “Innov-A-Thon”.

The idea of the Innov-A-Thon is to encourage all of our employees to come up with innovative ideas and then present them to a panel of judges (known as The Dragons) to compete for prizes. The Dragons then assess the teams on teamwork, creativity (innovation), marketability and presentation.

In essence, an Innov-A-Thon is a contest to show off creative ideas. It is based on the concept of a Hack-A-Thon, but anyone can join – you don’t have to be a Hacker or a developer!

The format of the event is based on the UK TV series Dragon’s Den. If you are not familiar with the programme then watch the first few minutes of this video which explains to participants how they should approach their presentation, and gives them a series of Tips and Tricks.

Why does Mitrais run this event?

Mitrais sees enormous benefits in organising this annual event, but here are just some of the reasons that management support the idea:

  1. Foster the company core values of flexibility and ability by encouraging employees to be creative and innovative.
  2. Increase collaboration amongst cross-functional teams
  3. Cultivate a company culture that promotes fun and friendly competition
  4. Improve current products, operations and processes for increased business efficiency
  5. Unleash as yet undiscovered talents in presentation skills, artistic creativity and mobile, IoT and Big Data technologies
  6. A quality video to attract and retain creative and talented employees

Phase 1: Matching Ideas and Teams

Unlike most such events, which are usually run in one evening or over a weekend, preparation for the event starts months in advance at Mitrais, preserving the spirit of the theatrical extravaganzas that we used to run in the past.

The preparation is done in 4 Phases :


All employees are encouraged to submit a brief description of their idea and to nominate team members. To encourage co-operation rather than competition, there is no limit to the number of Ideas that a team can submit, nor to the number of Teams that an individual can join.

In 2017 we received 96 Unique Idea submissions illustrating the amazing creativity amongst our employees, and the popularity of the competition.

Contestants are asked to form teams of 3-6, to encourage teamwork.

As we have 5 office bases some of our teams are distributed around the different locations and communicate via video conference.

To ensure that teams are balanced we recommend that each team consists of at least one of the following personality types:


Hackers are people who can develop code, make things or produce architectural solutions. There are plenty of Hackers to choose from at Mitrais! We therefore encourage developers with outgoing personalities to volunteer as a Hipster or a Hustler on other Teams with an interesting idea.


Hipsters are people who are capable of thinking out of the box – typically designers, natural creatives, artists, musicians, writers, etc. These can come from any part of the organisation. These are the people who can help a presentation stand out from the crowd.


Hustlers are people who are capable of selling and promoting a team’s ideas – typically sales, marketing and consultants, but they can come from any part of the organisation. Basically anyone who is happy speaking in public.

We advise against a team made up of 100% Hackers as they may not be able to impress the Dragons with their presentation and creative skills!

Phase I is the period where all employees get to see the Ideas that other employees have posted and can contact them to join a team if they find the idea interesting.

Behind the scenes the organisers try and match individual with teams, trying to match Hustlers with Hackers, Hipsters with Hustlers etc..

We then ask all teams to create a short draft video briefly describing their Idea, and to book themselves a slot on a Saturday Surgery where they can get tips and tricks on how to improve.

Phase II: Saturday Surgeries

saturday surgery innovathon mitrais 2017

Saturday Surgeries are held throughout the month of July and this is the opportunity for Teams to show their draft video to the Organising Committee members and get some feedback.

The Committee engage in role play as if they were Dragons and probe the Teams with challenging questions about their Ideas, providing them with coaching and ideas on how they can improve their chances of success.

The teams then have a few weeks to submit their Final Videos for selection by the Dragons.

This is the most intensive time for the Teams and some have to drop out due to work or personal commitments. The keenest teams are often seen in the office late at night or at weekends working on their Video and developing the software and/or props that they will need for the Grand Finale.

The atmosphere is similar to rehearsals for a musical or theatre performance, where individuals start to bond with their team members, and get to work with people they would not normally hang around with socially, often from other locations.

In 2017 there were 51 unique Final Video entries representing over 200 employee team members.

Phase III: Run up to the Grand Finale

innovathon mitrais 2017

Once the deadline for submission of Final Videos is reached the Dragons and organising committee have the daunting task of viewing all of the videos and selecting the 6 winning Teams that will go through to the Grand Finale to compete for a first prize of up to IDR 35,000,000!

The decision is always difficult as the quality of the entries is so high and we recognise all of the hard work that goes into the preparation of the presentations.

There are of course additional prizes for those who do not quite make it through to the Grand Finale, and we encourage people to continue improving their presentations and resubmit their Idea the following year.

However, as the event only runs for a few hours we can only accept the best 6 final entries. The teams are notified and flights and hotels are booked for those team members outside of Bali to join us at HQ on the big day.

Phase IV: Grand Finale Day


On the morning of the Grand Finale the organising committee are busy setting up video communications, sound systems, lighting and planning camera angles.

Admin staff are running around checking that the venues are decorated, that there is enough food and drinks to go round and that there are seats for everyone. There is a buzz of excitement as everyone is keen to attend, and over 450 people start to gather for the event in all of our offices in Bali, Yogyakarta, Bandung, Jakarta and Hanoi (in Vietnam). We also provide video link ups for any staff who happen to be on client site or overseas on the day to ensure everyone gets involved.

The event proper kicks off after lunch and our MCs for the day are Abu and his Business Communications Team.

They keep the audience animated organising Team Activities and Games while the Finalists make last minute adjustments to their presentations, and the Dragons prepare themselves for the event.

At 3pm sharp the Finalists start their presentations. Each team gets a 20 minute slot, allowing time for them to explain to the Dragons why they should vote for them, and to answer any difficult questions raised by the hard-nosed Dragons.

At 5pm the Dragons retire to decide on the winners and Abu’s team continues the Fun and Games, each office putting on an impromptu dance and song routine!

innovathon winner, hackathon by mitrais

Eventually the Winners are announced, prizes are handed out and there are plenty of photo opportunities for the winning teams to share with their friends and family. Meanwhile celebrations commence in earnest while everyone enjoys a well-earned feast and starts to think of a Killer App entry for next year!

If you are interested in organising a similar event in your organisation then feel free to drop me a line at Nigel.Jones@mitrais.com and I will be happy to share our experiences with you.

Featured Employee: Jeff Graham

Jeff Graham

Mitrais Appoints New Business Development Manager (BDM for ANZ)

Mitrais, Indonesia’s largest offshore developer and leading provider of nearshore software development services to the ANZ market, has further invested in its Australasian operations by appointing Jeff Graham as the new Business Development Manager for ANZ.

Jeff Graham joins Mitrais from a successful career in his own Software Development start-ups and Project Management and Business Development assignments with many market leading providers such as Bentley Systems, Mincom and SAP. Jeff will be servicing the region, and is responsible for leading the sales team across Australia and New Zealand.

David Magson, Group CEO of Mitrais says, “We’re excited that Jeff is joining the team in Perth to lead our sales activities for Australia. The appointment is important because Mitrais was established 18 years ago in Bali specifically to service the nearshore software development requirements of the ANZ marketplace. We are looking forward to working with Jeff and benefitting from his 30 years of global experience with Software development and Enterprise Software Systems companies and Tier-1 clients from the Mining, Oil & Gas, Defense, Aerospace and Utilities sectors, across this and other regions.

Jeff Graham says, “With prominent clients including Technology One, IOOF and Infomedia, I am looking forward to building on the Mitrais competitive advantage with their unique Competency Management System (M-CMS) and mature approach to consistently delivering quality Software Development and tangible value for their clients. Given their nearshore location to Australia, which includes benefits like proximity, the same or a similar time zone, an English-speaking staff, Australian & Indonesian management, and 450 people, businesses looking for offshore development services are smart to think of Mitrais. They are large enough to deliver scale, yet small enough to provide personalized service.”

With AT Kearney rating Indonesia as 5th in its 2016 Global Services Location Index™ (GSLI), and a 2014 Forrester Research paper indicating Mitrais as top Indonesian-based software outsourcing provider, Mitrais is a solid choice for ANZ companies seeking a development partner. Boasting offices in Indonesia (Bali, Bandung, Yogyakarta), Singapore, Vietnam and Australia, Mitrais has APAC covered.

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