MYTOYS GROUP is Europe’s leading online retailer for family shopping. They have a yearly revenue of about € 550m, and focus on German-speaking markets as well as Russia.
MYTOYS GROUP uses a selective sourcing strategy for their IT. Basic infrastructure services are provided by an infrastructure partner, that also takes care of data centre services. Development and operations of core competencies are kept internally. These core competencies include customer facing systems like shop and app development, the logistics system and data ware house / business intelligence are kept in-house.
External partners are used to add specialized expertise to important projects. An example for this would be the use of a partner to sup- port the migration and upgrade of the ERP software. Furthermore, selectively, partners are used as an extended work bench when the internal IT function is not able to meet short-term peaks in demand.
In order to meet growing demand for internal IT resources, MYTOYS GROUP has set-up a captive TechLab in Madrid, Spain. Focus of this second development location — in addition to the headquarter in Berlin — is the ability to tap into the large resource pool of Madrid. When establishing the TechLab in 2016, it was crucial that the new location became a real part of MYTOYS GROUP IT.
It was important not only to find people with the right skill set, but also people that would be a good cultural fit with headquarter, and that could act as culture ambassadors towards Madrid.
One important element was the selection of the initial staff for the TechLab. It was important not only to find people with the right skill set, but also people that would be a good cultural fit with headquarter, and that could act as culture ambassadors towards Madrid. On top of that, we established a dedicated per- son whose only role was to make sure that the Madrid team was well integrated within the German organization. We intentionally chose somebody from outside IT, to enable this per- son to focus on processes and connections and not technical discussions.
Finally, we had the Madrid team come to Germany every six to eight weeks, staying in Germany for the whole week. These teams also were included in IT town halls, discussion rounds and celebrations. Additionally, we frequently send people to Madrid — especially the product owner whose team were sitting in Madrid. This approach is complemented by the use of technical tools that allow the teams to interact with each other across location, especially chat tools and video conferencing equipment.
From a work content perspective, we made sure that the team for Madrid had a well-defined area of responsibility. This allowed the team to take real ownership of their area but it also established clear interfaces and hand-overs.
The combination of these measures has allowed us to quickly ramp-up the new location in Madrid and establish it as an integral part of our IT organization.
The author: Steffen Heilmann is Bereichsleiter IT (SVP IT) for MYTOYS GROUP, the leading online retailer for family commerce. Previously, he was a senior leader with Allianz, and be- fore that a strategy consultant for The Boston Consulting Group. He holds a master’s degree in computer science from Universität Karlsruhe and an MBA from ESMT. Steffen is passionate about building agile high-performance teams to drive digitization. Steffen has hands-on experience in develop- ing and implementing outsourcing and offshoring strategies.