Keeping Your Eye on the Ball: Resolving Business Tensions

by David Skews

Tensions tend to arise when we take our eye off the ball. We need to be constantly asking the questions, Why are we here? Why are we doing what we are doing?

Because we are in business and are employing business methods, it is easy to allow our motivations to become aligned with the world’s motivations, e.g. to make profit for its own sake or only increase shareholder value. There may be nothing inherently wrong with these goals but they do not reflect the primary aims of a BAM business. The focus should be on the benefits generated for people and for pleasing God, which then results in profits and shareholder value.  When our motivations become hijacked, our priorities become distorted and tensions arise, particularly between stakeholders.

Specific actions we have found to be valuable in combating these dangers include:

Clearly define the mission, vision, values and objectives

Spend time to ensure your mission, vision, values and objectives are all very clearly and precisely defined and documented. The idea is that when tensions, arguments or disagreements arise, these clearly defined statements become the arbiters against which differing views can be evaluated. For this reason, woolly definitions are worse than useless since they are open to being interpreted and reinterpreted in different ways to suit and support whatever arguments are being put forward. It is worthwhile revisiting these definitions on a fairly regular basis, first to tighten them up where they have been found wanting and secondly to keep them at the front of people’s minds and avoid them gathering dust on the shelf. Read more

Ask a BAM Mentor: Tensions in Integrating Business and Mission

Once a month, our panel of mentors answer your practical business questions. Send us your questions!

 

Dear BAM Mentor,

I am feeling some tensions as I begin to integrate mission and business goals together in my business operations. What tensions have you felt and how have you overcome them? What practical tips or principles have you found helpful?

~ Tense in Tashkent

Dear Tense,

This is a great question and a common one. You are in good company!

First, let’s think through where the tensions may be coming from. For example, if your business partners or key managers are not believers or do not understand Kingdom Business that creates one set of tensions. Or, if you are burdened with the hangover of the “sacred-secular divide” that creates an entirely different set of tensions. Another source of tension is simply not being sure how to do solid business planning with a missions or kingdom purpose. Read more

7 BAMers Talk About Why Their Industry is Strategic

We’ve been taking an in depth look at BAM companies in the IT Industry in the last few weeks. Here’s what two BAM company owners said about how IT is strategic for business as mission:

The advantage of an IT company for a B4T is that programming is a skillset that transcends borders and language. Code is the same everywhere and can be used anywhere in the world, so in theory an IT company can be set up anywhere in the world as long as there is electricity and an internet connection. It is an industry that is and will continue to be in high demand.  – Yumi, IT, Vietnam

Technology has real implications for humankind, it can be used to enlighten the world and make it a better place, or it can destroy humanity. As Christian technologists we have the awesome opportunity to bring honor and Glory to God in all that we do. We are here to reflect His character in ourselves and in the technology we build. – Joseph, IT, India

BAM practitioners are in many different industries. Here are other BAMers sharing why they have found their particular business strategic: Read more

Lessons from the Edge: A Long-term View

Insights from a BAM Practitioner

Ajay co-founded an IT company in India 14 years ago and regularly coaches BAM practitioners.

Keep a long-term perspective
Having a long-term perspective about what you are doing helps when with dealing with challenges. You can’t just dabble! Having invested many years, we are not going to give up easily when we face problems. When you are starting a BAM company you have to be committed and keep the long-view in mind.

Don’t underestimate the importance of those you partner with
A good partnership has been vital to our company. My business partner and I are different from each other, but we have a long-term commitment to the company and to one another. Our team leadership and the way we are able to work together has made all the difference for our business. Staying committed and on the same page directly relates to sustainability – not only for the business, but to the people and relationships we have invested in.

Invest in your employees
The old adage goes that the customer must come first! While there is truth in that, we’ve found that when our employees feel valued and are thriving, then our customers get the benefit. So we put the customer first by pouring into our employees. When challenges come up with our staff, we see it as an opportunity to spend time listening and to model servant-leadership. Instead of being stressed about the challenge, we want to see it as an opportunity for the gospel.

Pioneering an IT Company in India: Interview with a Founder

It was after a survey trip to a small city in India 20 years ago that Ajay and colleague Jason saw a desperate need for someone to live out the gospel there. They both committed to relocate with their families and went about assessing the needs and opportunities there. One great need in the community was to provide jobs for the skilled IT workforce so they wouldn’t need to move away for work in the bigger cities, which was separating families. Ajay and Jason co-founded an IT business, and over the last 14 years their understanding about how God can use business has significantly evolved and expanded, along with their business model. We asked Ajay to share some of his experiences.

What is the goal of your company?

We say that our mission is to be the best IT company in our region. Ultimately our goal is to do everything with excellence, to exceed customers expectations at an affordable cost and for our staff to see their work as something that they can take pride in. They thrive in serving one another through serving the client. Through that process God is giving us amazing opportunities to share with them what it is to know God and to follow Him. For example, one of the key employees is going through a very difficult time emotionally, and we have the opportunity to share that healing and peace can only come through Christ. So our goal is to have an impact holistically: providing a service with excellence, giving the staff the opportunity to thrive, and being able to talk about life and family – and being able to point them to Christ in the midst of that. We are trusting that God will use the way we do business and build relationships every day in our company.

Why did you choose the IT industry?

The city where the company started is a relatively small city with very little direct influence of the gospel, there is no gospel ministry and very few believers. Even constructing a church building would not be welcome in this place. We saw a need for the gospel in this city so we explored the question, what would be an opportunity here? Read more

Tips for Hiring and Staff Training in the IT Industry

by Joseph Vijayam

Information Technology is a knowledge industry that relies almost entirely on the knowledge of people working in the industry. If you are setting up an IT company you will need to look for people with skills and experience that are aligned with the services you aim to provide.

If you are unable to find people with the right skills and experience, I suggest elevating the skills of people living in your region by setting up an IT training institute. I assume you are an IT professional and that you would have the skills required to teach. Additionally, you might want to recruit one or two staff members or volunteers who are able to teach IT as you prepare a workforce. IT training in itself can be a profitable business, depending on the ability for students to pay for courses, and you can ultimately benefit from your end product of trained IT professionals. From among this newly trained workforce you can recruit your staff for providing IT services in the long run.

I have seen the rise of the IT industry in India over a period of 30 years. It all began with the establishment of numerous IT training institutes across all major cities of India back in the early 1980s. Some of the same training institutes moved up the value chain in the IT industry and have now become global IT businesses. There is now no dearth of trained IT professionals in India, but it all started with a few entrepreneurs who set up institutes to train people who often ended up working with the same team responsible for their initial training. Some examples of Indian companies which followed this model are NIIT, Satyam (now Tech Mahindra), HCL, and so on. Read more

4 BAM Job Opportunities in South East Asia

IT Jobs

Project Manager – Software Development Company in Vietnam

We are an IT outsourcing company located in SE Asia and are currently looking to hire a Project Manager to join our growing team. This person will help us plan, schedule and control all project activities to ensure project requirements are met, and provide leadership while building positive professional relationships with clients and team members. We are also looking for someone who can take an active role in discipling our staff and interns. Previous work experience is important but we are open to training and working with this individual if we feel that they have the right heart and personality fit for our company.
Link to detailed job description

Production Manager – Web Essentials in Cambodia

The Production Manager is responsible for the planning, scheduling, monitoring and delivery of all projects delivered to the customer, ensuring that all customer requirements are met, released on time and within budget and meet or exceed quality standards. S/he is also responsible for optimizing resource utilization within the company; prioritizing and scoping scheduled releases with completion dates for each phase; serving as a liaison between project management, developers, quality assurance, and customers, to guarantee smooth, predictable, and timely delivery of projects.
Download detailed job description Read more

Want to Upgrade Your IT Skills? Useful Resources for BAMers

Whether you’re preparing for a career in Tech, looking for resources to train your employees or just need to upscale your own IT skills, here are some helpful tools:

Learn to Code

Treehouse
Treehouse delivers ‘tech education redesigned’. A huge selection of online courses are available for a fixed monthly cost. A free 14 day trial is available. Treehouse’s mission is to bring affordable, technology education to people everywhere, in order to help them achieve their dreams and change the world.

Code School
With a mission to help you ‘learn by doing’, Code School is very similar to Treehouse. Code School offers a whole range of courses, and directs you through various training paths. There is a monthly cost for unlimited access to courses, or try their free package with 10 courses included. Read more

God’s Technologists: Learning from Eighteen Years of Olive Technology

Interview with Joseph Vijayam

Joseph VijayamJoseph Vijayam founded Olive Technology 18 years ago. He is the CEO and Managing Director of the company, now based in Colorado, USA and Hyderabad, India. We asked Joseph what got him started, what are some pros and cons of being in IT, and what advice does he have for up-and-coming BAMers looking at the IT industry.

What got you started in business as mission?

My inspiration is Paul in the Bible. Like Paul I wanted to be involved in evangelism and had a plan to use IT as my “tentmaking skill”. With that in mind, I studied Computer Science in college. I started out in the workforce as an employee in a company, but the constraints of my job made it impossible for me to be involved in the kinds of ministry activities that I was interested in. I decided then to become self-employed as a software consultant. The first project I signed required a team of three programmers in addition to myself. Now, I had to incorporate a business entity to employ the other programmers. The first project led to another and then another and soon the team size grew and the business became established.  Since my goal was to be a tentmaker, I started to ask the question, “How do I use this company as a platform for ministry?” That led me down a path that eventually positioned Olive Technology as a BAM company. Read more

Seven Keys to Finding Hidden IT Aptitude in Developing Countries

by David Stone

I think there are seven keys to finding the right people with an aptitude for IT in an underdeveloped country:

  1.           Keep relationships primary
  2.           Share your motivation
  3.           Develop a very close Friend
  4.           Be a close friend to Christian expats and their NGOs
  5.           Know the owners of other local IT companies
  6.           Serve the head of the IT department at local education institutions
  7.           Empower nationals to hire other employees

I co-founded an application software company in the USA in 1991. We’ve been ‘impact sourcing’ programming jobs in Afghanistan since 2007. We currently have six programmers in Kabul helping maintain and customize our application.

My journey to Afghanistan began in 1978 as a college Senior. In August of that year, I felt that God called me to business, missions and Afghanistan. The first two calling unfolded immediately after graduation. I had to wait 24 years for Afghanistan. Read more