Sun Asterisk Company operates mainly in the field of offshore development in Vietnam. Besides, the company also develops consultancy for Vietnamese engineers to work in Japan. Within 3 years since its establishment, Sun Asterisk has grown rapidly and reached the scale of more than 400 employees. This is partly due to choosing the right communication tool. Following is our talk with Mr. Kobayashi - CEO of Sun Asterisk - about Chatwork's role and contributions in the rapid development of Sun Asterisk.
- Number of employees
Our company gathers excellent human resources, provides best products for customers
Our company currently operates mainly in the field of offshore development for many types of customers, from large corporations to startups. Our goal is to make Sun Asterisk rapidly develop into a professional IT corporation with leading technology in Asia. At the time of establishment, we decided to move the company's head office from Japan to Vietnam.
Initially, we only developed products based on customer requirements. But after observing the way Vietnamese programmers work, I realized that although they lack overall experience in independent project development, they can develop complex algorithms and reasoning creatively owing to their strength in arithmetics. Since then, I suggested that the company switch to Lab model development.
In the Lab model, we can ensure that engineers, team leaders, bridge engineers are in charge, who thereby respond to the changes of requirements of flexible customers. From having a fixed group in the long term, the quality of communication exchange is improved, helping to increase the quality of products provided to customers significantly.
Our ability in training and providing high quality human resources is highly appreciated from our customers. Thanks to that, within 3 years since its founding, the company has expanded to more than 400 employees.
There’s much difficulty in exchanging information when regular communications such as phone over the internet are used
- What made you decide to put Chatwork into use in your company?
Mr. KobayashiAmong the three companies that we have cooperated in the beginning since foundation, one has used Chatwork, the other two have used the means of making phone calls over the Internet.
With the phone over the internet, we can still use the Chat function, there is no Mention function (to specify who is the recipient of the message). This makes it difficult to exchange information. In addition, necessary functions such as Quote or Task function are completely absent.
Furthermore, as these are common means of communication, most employees already have their own personal accounts. Since the personal account name is pre-set, it is not possible to know whose this account is. In addition, many people do not want to switch to corporate accounts, which makes it impossible to separate clearly between which is private and which is public. This is really very inconvenient.
And the biggest inconvenience is the exchange of information. Due to the lack of Mention function, although messages were sent to the other party, the possibility of their missing reading information, causing work delay often occurs.
Thanks to the great functions of Chatwork we are able to build an effective communication tool
- So you put Chatwork into use for the whole company, right?
Mr. KobayashiAt first, I only considered Chatwork as just a means of communication and did not think that choosing the right communication tool was so important. After starting to use Chatwork, I realized that communication is easier thanks to the Mention feature of Chatwork, of which the tool of phone over the internet does not possess this function.
For employees who are familiar with the method of remote working, they often have the habit of using short chats when exchanging, so Chatwork's Quote and Reply functions are very suitable.
Up until now, we haven’t had any certain rule in calling out each other's names. Since there are many people with the same name, when contacting, it will be impossible to distinguish who is being talked about. After using Chatwork and having conventions on naming and placing avatars, communication has become much smoother and more systematic.
In addition, the majority of employees do not use Chatwork accounts for personal purposes, so it is easy to distinguish between personal work and common work. That is also a great feature of Chatwork. Employees use the official photo of the company as an avatar on Chatwork, so even if the number of employees increases, I can still distinguish who that person is and not be confused. Currently, although the company has 400 employees, I can work with everyone as if in a team. All thanks to the facilities and functions of Chatwork.
The development of Bots and Extensions is unique to companies with an engineering team
- How do you rate the specialties that are only available when using Chatwork?
Mr. KobayashiWhen preparing to start a project, the overview information will be noted on the information section in the upper right corner of the Chatwork screen. For example, the GitHub repository is here, Redmine is here, what the meeting schedule is, all information is recorded, and this information is shared to the group. Then I will assign the necessary work to the members to implement and finally decide the Kickoff Meeting date of the project. The feeling of starting to create a group chat in Chatwork also means that the project was started well. Previously, it took about 2 days to announce and share information when the project started, but now thanks to Chatwork, it only takes about 15 minutes.
Besides, after the project ends, only 1 person on the client side and 1 team leader on our side stay, other members are allowed to leave the chat group.That also helps to avoid the risk of information leakage of completed projects.
In addition, within the company, we also create chat groups such as those for individual departments, for managers, and for whole company group chat. Among branches in different countries, there are also chat groups for communication between managers, groups of people working on office management. In addition, there are also chat groups for discussing Form-page improvements, for marketing, for branding and for corporate events. Our company puts a lot of investment in organizing events, there is quite a large number of chat groups related to the organization of event planning.
People often use emoticons whenever there is a mistake which will make the conversation quite embarrassing. In conversations between Infrastructure engineers as well as office workers, they often use emoticons to easily express their feelings.
Furthermore, we also invest in using Redmine in conjunction with API linkage at work. I really appreciate the combination of Chatwork and Redmine. We develop quite a lot plugins and publish them on Qiita site.
- The link to download Chrome Extension integrated for Chatwork developed by members of Sun Asterisk is published on Qiita.
Lately, the vast majority of people have been wondering where to have lunch, so we have developed a specialized Bot for that. This Bot will collect information of the dishes that people think of and their satisfaction of them. Thanks to that information gathering, BOT will be more and more complete and offers a lunch spot that suits everyone's preferences.
The cooperation in training and retraining high-quality human resources is the strength of our company
- Can you share the secret that makes the number of good employees increase so fast?
Mr. KobayashiSince the establishment of the company, we have cooperated with the leading university in the field of IT in Vietnam, Hanoi University of Polytechnic, to implement human resource training programs for the company. We recruited 120 students from 600 freshman of IT faculty to train for IT and Japanese. Initially, we took over the training program starting with JICA's ODA and assigned about 15 staff including engineers and CTO to be in charge of training.
The reason that we invest in human resource training is because I believe that people from Asia are very good. In the training program, we mainly let students use Ruby on Rails techniques that best suit the Agile development model, and the students have a lot of opportunities to collaborate with well-known engineers in the Ruby world. Even people in this world also made a compliment that "The code written by Sun Asterisk is very good".
Writing beautiful code is an effort of our company during the process of encouraging and mobilizing engineers to implement. In addition, Vietnamese engineers can take advantage of their strength in arithmetics and write interesting code. A girl, graduated for just 2 months, but has written creative code, very different from the usual way of thinking. I think this is a great potential and decided to train human resources in Asia.
After 5 years or 10 years, if you want to become a company with hundreds of thousands of employees with a scale that surpasses current industry leader Infosys, the human resources will be in serious shortage, it is impossible not to invest in training human resources. Recently, we also decided to bring training programs to cooperate with Da Nang University of Polytechnic. At the same time, we also decided to open IT training courses of Sun Asterisk in Bangladesh and the Philippines.
Sun Asterisk not only trains human resources for the company, but is also highly appreciated in providing human resources for Japanese market. All Vietnamese engineers who come to Japan can communicate fluently, surely the quality of Offshore development projects will be increased.
We consider Chatwork is a strategic weapon to improve the effective communication
- Can you say something about Chatwork?
Mr. KobayashiWith our company, Chatwork is an indispensable strategic weapon to gain work efficiency. Example, Gragon Quest Game considers the important role of Chatwork such as Hayabus Sword. The time of sending one mail is similar with the two times of info exchange from Chatwork. Besides, communication management is is also easier. After using Chatwork, the workload speed run fast rapidly. If we choose Seven Gragon Balls Manga sample, it likes Songoku gains his strength at Saiya level.
I can't imagine how hard it would be without Chatwork.