How We Brought Our Annual Cyber Security Event To The Digital Space

How We Brought Our Annual Cyber Security Event To The Digital Space

As a tech business, we set cybersecurity high on our agenda. Not just our own security: making sure our customers are safe is what drives us.

That’s why we want everyone in Levi9, not just to be aware of the topic, but also to feel ownership. To achieve that on top of awareness programme, we run an annual cybersecurity event – Secure9. The event lasts a whole week and is a mix of sessions, competitions, and challenges – we make sure there’s something for everyone!

Normally we would do this in each of our offices – across all Levi9 locations, but, well, y’know… COVID had other ideas. But we didn’t let that stop us from pursuing our plans. Instead we asked ourselves: Could we bring the event to the digital space? Would it work even better online?

When it came to doing things like inviting customers to participate in the activities, getting the best speakers from all over the world, and hosting the event in one place, the answer to both questions was… Yes! After all it is not a space that connects us – it’s having the right mentality. But could we inspire everyone?

Active Engagement

At Secure9 everyone has the opportunity to participate in the sessions they’re most interested in. And as we want as many levi niners as possible to get involved, we went the extra mile in preparing some truly insightful content and arranging engaging activities.

For example, we held ‘Special Agent 009’ challenges throughout the week, and a ‘Capture the flag’ competition – a simulation where teams needed to exploit vulnerabilities in a system in order to understand a hacker’s mentality. This experience helped everyone better understand what we can all do to make the life of an attacker more difficult and to protect ourselves and our customers from potential threats. And a hands-on approach is a lot more memorable than an hour-long seminar

Together With Customers

Given the online format of this year’s events we were able to invite all of our customers – not only as keynote speakers but also as participants in our activities. While we’re in constant dialogues with customers around cybersecurity, having teams where customers work together with levi niners gave them a totally different experience and a truly deep insight into our approach to security at Levi9.

Admittedly, inviting customers meant some logistical challenges (like ordering pizzas and Happy Hour packages for the participants - everywhere from Iceland to Ukraine). But it was definitely worth the effort and we were happy to see the dialogue about security continue naturally also after the event.

Same Time, Same Place, Next Year?

Holding Secure9 totally online was a fantastic experience, and it was great to see everyone engaging in the same way, at the same time, in the digital space.

And on top of that we learned that:

  • holding an online event can lead to even better outcomes and attendance than on-site event (according to the evaluation, most people would prefer an online format for next year’s event)
  • including our customers in events like this help strengthening your partnership
  • cybersecurity can be a topic that brings us together, if addressed in the right way.

So see you at Secure9 2021? Same time, same place, next year?

Casual day at work

Futureproofing an E-commerce champion

Online retail is a massive growth industry, boosted by the global pandemic into a wildfire of digital transformation.

With physical stores facing enforced closure or restricted access, consumers have been converting to shopping online like never before at breakneck speed – sending shipping costs off the charts, along with profits, price competition, traffic declines, inventory overages, and overstocking.

Based on annual Twinkle100 ecommerce data, in 2019 Wehkamp was ranked 5th biggest Dutch e-commerce with a total of 530 millions Euros online turnover with more than 11 million orders processed annually. Wehkamp is one of the oldest online retailers in the Netherlands, starting as a mail-order company in 1952. Today is one of the Netherlands’ online market leaders in fashion, lifestyle, beauty and baby/childrenswear.

Fundamental Shift In Wehkamp’s IT Infrastructure

Just ahead of the pandemic, Wehkamp had undertaken a year-long digital transformation – to enable agile development of its core processes across the business: from warehousing, stock control and dispatch; to procurement, invoicing, and supply chain management.

The journey had not been a simple system replacement. At every step, an evidence-based methodology was needed to demonstrate the need for such a radical approach – and how it would benefit the organisation.

With all of this in mind, Wehkamp partnered with Levi9 to bring about what became a fundamental and radical shift in the organisation. The task very quickly morphed from what at first seemed straightforward – a systems upgrade to futureproof and make processes robust enough to cope with increasingly sophisticated demands.

Top Down Buy-In To Change Hearts & Minds

From the outset, a team was established and tasked with changing the way people were looking at things, from the very top (Wehkamp’s CTO) down. The fact that the project gained the full backing of the board was strategically important for future development and profitability.

In practice, digital transformation required substantial planning and investigation in the discovery phase – through painstaking attention to detail to deliver bite-sized training and implementation handover to Wehkamp’s operational teams.

The legacy system was built on Microsoft’s BizTalk platform. Whilst adequate for the business up until then, it is an expensive solution and tied into processes that needed also upgrading and maintenance.

The alternative – that both Levi9 and Wehkamp team established as the most effective option – was an open-source system, NiFi. This is a software project from the Apache Software Foundation designed to automate the flow of data between software systems – one that’s based on the “NiagaraFiles” software previously developed by the US National Security Agency.

The rationale for the move was demonstrated through the discovery phase, after an extensive search and trial of options in the market, and Proof of Concept workshops that established the operational and business case.

Making The Case For Exploration

Initially, the project wasn’t getting the same high level of support from all teams – mainly because the new way was so different, both in terms of the architecture and processes used.

These factors made the project appear high risk with little chance of success. But thanks to some intense explanatory workshops and demos, the implementation team of both Levi9 and Wehkamp made the case.

From the outset it was understood that in order to hand over such a sophisticated and very different system at the end of the project would not just be unfeasible, but would also create an unfair burden on the operational teams.

That’s why the implementation team adopted weekly integrated scrum and iterative training sessions to bring the operational team up to speed – which helped to create and sustain enthusiasm across the year-long project.

Overnight, through implementation across NiFi, Wehkamp’s systems and digital teams were free to use a range of platforms. This had the added benefit of slashing costs – with no need for licences – and the ability to develop incremental implementation as and when the business needed to deploy or upgrade various processes.

Distributing Data Processing

Probably the biggest challenge was organisational. The move to a distributed environment meant that data could be accessed at various geographical locations and available locally most of the time.

A positive outcome is that data and software processing will become distributed – actively reducing the impact of any particular site or hardware failure.

Most importantly, this strategy empowered smaller teams – providing ownership and installing agile processes – as opposed to the existing centralised team, which although had the expertise, could potentially be a bottleneck.

The spin-off benefit for the smaller operational teams – and also advantageous to the organisation will be the ability to migrate flows; as well as faster problem solving, decision-making, and implementation. This required a substantial leap of faith from the senior team, who had previously considered a radical change to be too risky for an organisation totally dependent upon efficient processes and flows.

Ultimately, the joint Levi9/Wehkamp team proved the benefits of Workflows-As-A-Service – as a cost model for Wehkamp. Maintenance is minimal and there’s no dependency on a single point of failure.

With online retailing only ever increasing, Wehkamp is now set up to provide superior customer experiences, efficient organisation, and can now take on competitors in one of the world’s most dynamic markets: online shopping.

Levi9 Smashes Giarte’s Outsourcing Performance Review Out Of The Park

Giarte is a leading research and consultancy agency, operating in the field of IT services and IT outsourcing. Its annual Outsourcing Performance (OP) is the most extensive benchmark study of IT managed services in the Netherlands.

We’re ecstatic to report that we’ve recently scored great results for the 9th year running in the 2020 Giarte Outsourcing Performance review.

As it turns out, customers rate us very highly when it comes to reliability, communication, skills, empathy, willingness, and openness. Not bad, huh?

This year’s theme was IT experience benchmark, and with our customer focus, it seemed like a match made in heaven!

Obviously, we’re thrilled with the news but we´re never one to rest on our laurels. That’s why we’ll continue to strive forward and keep improving in all areas. That’s just who we are!

Three Big Outcomes For Us

There were several key points about our performance that we were particularly proud of.

1) Trust We achieved very high marks on Reliability and 85% of customers would also recommend us.

The average Levi9 trust score is above our peer group of service providers. This score is curated from trust indicators such as reliability, communication, competence, empathy, willingness, and openness.

According to Debby Jansen, our Chief Customer Officer, “Trust is everything in this game. We treat trust as a currency. If it’s in short supply, then the team does poorly. If trust excels between our customers and us, we all have access to great talent, energy, and creativity. We’re able to innately understand our customers, their business, and build great relationships.”

2) Customer Focused Levi9 has taken third place in the Customer Focused category.

“Finishing third in a very competitive landscape is a big deal for us. We have daily collaborations with our customers, and by having a clear customer focus, we can now see it’s making a positive difference. Our goal for next year will be to reach the number one place!” says Debby.

3) Knowledgeable and Competencies We scored a whopping 83% in the Knowledgeable and Competencies section, an above-average score compared to our peer group.

Debby goes on to say, “We continuously invest in our people, offering them learning programmes and 360-degree mentorship opportunities where everyone can learn from everyone else. We also offer several online learning resources and certifications, as we believe learning never stops.”

How To Stay On Top When It Comes To Customers Debby, like all of us, is passionate about customer-centric culture.

“By looking at each score and focusing on the improvement areas from last year, we were able to increase our overall score, year-on-year. Giarte´s independent research and IT experience enables us to continuously improve ourselves,” she says.

“This year, 39 people responded from our customer list, which is a vast number and says a lot about our relationship with our customers. They are willing to participate and for that I am very grateful.”

One of the main reasons for participating in Giarte´s Outsourcing Performance report is to benchmark how we’re performing internally and externally, so that everyone understands the real story behind our business.

To The Future

Levi9’s healthy development over the past years has been a testament to all the hard work from all our levi niners. Because we’ve placed our customers at the heart of our strategy, we´re even more responsive to our customers’ needs.

Overall, this very positive result reflects Levi9´s confidence and customer-centric philosophy. We can take pride in how our customers express their appreciation – which is testament to all levi niners who work with passion every day to deliver the best possible result.

We would also like to thank all our customers who have placed great trust in us and all our levi niners over the years. That is a massive compliment to us all!

A Bit About Giarte

Since 2002, Giarte Research and OP have recorded customer organisations’ experiences of their IT service providers and currently works with around 42 service providers. They ask their customers all sorts of questions around collaboration, gain detailed insights and analysis on market position, and advise IT organisations on both the supply and demand side.

Walking The Talk With NetDialog: Open Communication Is Key To Success

Agility is a way of life for software and service providers like NetDialog – who work with some of the world’s biggest brands. To do this effectively, they rely on partners like Levi9 to help them keep pace. And does it work? Well, we’ve been working together for 15 years, so…

Custom applications are key to success for global enterprises, where there is no margin for error in today’s highly competitive markets. A major player in this fast moving and dynamic area is Utrecht-based NetDialog.

NetDialog provides a range of business solutions for an impressive list of 1,000 plus customers worldwide through major network service providers like AT&T and GTT.

Given the rapid pace of change and on-demand requests, NetDialog needs partners that are equally as flexible and quick to respond to often short-notice end user requirements: partners like Levi9 who can help end users gain full control over their applications and service delivery; allowing them to optimise and increase the efficiency of their ICT infrastructure.

Longstanding Collaboration

As a service provider, NetDialog offers a managed service to map the performance of the latest and most demanding networks, data centres, applications and chains.

To support the performance journey throughout the chain, NetDialog works in close cooperation with trusted partners.

That’s where Levi9 comes in. Essentially, we continue to support NetDialog as software architects – developing, building, and enhancing its products and solutions. The partnership between NetDialog and Levi9 stretches back to 2005 – and has largely involved the same teams working together: in particular, Tim Rühl, NetDialog’s VP of Engineering; and Dragan Gajic, our Delivery Director.

Levi9, primarily through the development team based in Novi Sad, Serbia, has helped build NetDialog’s flagship SaaS product: NetX – a platform that gives enterprises complete visibility and control of their applications across their WANs (Wide Area Networks) and private cloud environments.

Clear Communication

But, technical expertise aside for a moment, what is it that has kept the two teams working alongside each other for so long?

It wasn’t all plain sailing. When the financial crisis hit in 2009, work paused for nearly a year. However, when the worst was over, the two teams reconnected and picked up where they left off.

The key to this lasting relationship is open communication, shared expertise, and continuous learning.

Another key aspect to making sure that an agile, iterative approach takes precedence is the fact that the Levi9 team aren’t afraid to ask questions. If they need more information or if an aspect requires explanation, they simply ask for one.

This open relationship and interaction enables both partners to be agile and react quickly – to support product development and the rapid deployment of new integrations.

Regular reporting, communications, and face-to-face meetings – or now, in the post-COVID era, through online conferencing platforms such as Skype – keep NetDialog up to date on often complex and multi-layered projects.

Typically this includes development of WAN-specific deliverables such as Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), specific reports, actionable dashboards, and data visualization.

The Road Ahead

Post-pandemic, NetDialog plans to rollout other new products – and of course, sees Levi9 as playing a key role in the business’ future, as Tim Rühl explains:

“We have tonnes of ideas – time and resources permitting! The great thing about our relationship is that the Levi9 team can help with our business development strategies too. It’s hard to tell what will happen in 6 to 12 months, but it’s good to know Levi9 is by our side to help us respond to current changes.”

You can’t ask for a better endorsement than that.

Levi9 is pet friendly! Home office at its finest.

Levelling Up Logistics

When Levi9 was tasked with the challenge of building integrated solutions for a ‘smart port’ for a specialist technology customer, we quickly mobilised a multinational software development team and got things moving.

While a project like this would be complex even in ideal conditions, the fact it landed during the COVID-19 lockdown made it even more of a challenge…

Lifeblood For Commerce

Global supply chains have never been more important. Marine traffic remains the lifeblood of international commerce. Given the 24/7 demands, the infrastructure of a busy commercial port has to be, well, watertight.

Every single process – from the moment a ship docks to container pick up; as well as lorry loading and exit to the onward journey – needs to run like a well-oiled machine.

The never-ending challenge to improve efficiency and effectiveness drives the logistics sector – which is why the technology is being fast-tracked in the race to convert shipping hubs into smart ports.

So when we were contracted to help develop software solutions to transform one of the world’s largest, most advanced, and most environmentally friendly container terminals into a 100% automated smart port, the Levi9 team couldn’t turn the opportunity down – particularly given our long track record in the transport sector.

Involving An International Team

However, one major disruption that no-one could have foreseen was the COVID-19 lockdown.

This was to be a multi-country development – one that required a 60-strong expert group, composed of several Levi9 teams – from Kyiv and Lviv in Ukraine, and Iasi, Romania – alongside customer teams based in the UK, so communication was essential throughout.

As a result of the lockdown, physical onboarding wasn’t possible – nor were onsite visits or knowledge sessions to get the team up and running. But as well as teams working remotely from the client, they also had to work remotely from their peers, which posed a new challenge for all.

But possibly the biggest challenge was absorbing the large volume of information needed to understand the customer’s business; which had to be imparted via video-conferencing – not easy given the scale and scope of the smart port and the need to have every function automated.

Results While Working Remotely

Despite all of this, our team carried on regardless; delivering parts of the software in sprints using Agile methodology. This approach actually helped a great deal given the additional challenges, as constant reviews and daily planning were required – helping us stay focused on the mission and ensure prioritisation – even with a project with so many variables and incremental additional requests.

Although our teams missed out on sharing their workspace, remote working also helped in maintaining focus – and in some areas increased productivity. It was important to keep teams together and to share information through online video sessions and scrums.

Our team was primarily concerned with coding the port gate operating systems – integrating this info and making it compatible across different systems. As a result, the range of development tools used was extensive and involved the use of other third-party systems to make the entire thing come together.

Groundbreaking Work

All in all, working under these conditions really helped to shift our mindset. And despite what were initially seen as ‘setbacks’, we remained super-focused and even hit the original deadlines – which were set before the pandemic hit.

This really has been excellent progress, undertaken in arduous conditions. However, it has set the bar for further exciting programmes for the development of solutions at this ‘smart port’ – and for potentially rolling out the tech across other transhipment centres worldwide.

And, for Levi9, well, we knew our teams were great – but it’s been a real confidence boost for them. Remote working under these conditions has been a challenge, but it’s one they’ve risen to.

Encouraging customers to embrace agile way


Levi9 favours agile way of working when partnering with customers. If they don’t have any experience with it, they can rely on expert support from Levi9. ‘Our customers sometimes tell us straight that they are lacking an experience of taking on a truly agile project,’ explains Anamarija Petrovic, Delivery Director at Levi9 Technology Services. ‘However, we will always encourage our customers to consider embracing agile culture, with our full support.’

‘Agile is very much our standard way of working as it optimally meets the ever-growing demand for rapid development of innovative solutions. At Levi9, we adopt a holistic approach that encourages communication and collaboration between the product management, development teams, and operations, making sure everyone is working together to deliver results to the business. It is essentially a technology value stream for transforming a business idea into a product. Over the years, we have learned that principles of continuous improvement, short feedback loops and practices of flow have enabled software development teams to implement quality assurance and shorter time-to-market into their daily routines thus keeping focus to accelerating business value delivery.’

‘Is it possible to adopt any alternative ways of working?

Yes, we always welcome discussion of the optimum approach to specific projects. However, we have a great deal of experience with agile, so we will always advice our customers to consider this approach. Fixed-price and fixed-scope projects are no longer as common as they were ten years ago and nowadays the time frames are much shorter. However, even with fixed contracts, we will always try to apply agile best practices since an iterative approach incorporating interim results also works well in these types of projects.’

Challenging traditional approach

‘If a customer approaches us with this kind of fixed-price/fixed-scope project, we will definitely ask some challenging questions. Why does the customer favour this method? Is it simply their standard way of working or will a classic approach help to manage risks? If they have no experience, then they can rely on us to provide expert support or to guide them through a transformation.

In such cases, we usually start by determining the business outcomes that the customer wishes to achieve, such as a shorter time-to-market or greater innovative capability.

These desired outcomes often prompt discussion of the need for greater flexibility. The initial discussions often provide sufficient information to decide what the best approach will be.’

‘Sometimes we also witness an organizational fear of change. In some cases, customer companies insist they are already using an agile way of working when this is clearly not the case. If our analysis of the customer’s needs and requirements shows that their preferred approach is not compatible with our culture, then we will be honest with them and explain that their approach simply won’t allow our development teams to unlock their full potential.’

Preparing to transform

‘Even though we try to estimate a project as much as possible, you can never rule out every single risk. Risks stemming from people, organisational structures within departments, resistance to change etc. can cause the project to take longer than was initially forecasted. During the preparatory phase, we examine the maturity of the customer’s agile capabilities. Based on this, we clearly explain to the customer what they can learn, and we determine what we will have to invest in organising workshops, events and sometimes also meeting other Levi9 customers who have adopted agile practices.’

‘Customer that does not have any or has minimal experience with such an approach can rely on our support in implementing and maturing agility.

We’ve been leading or supporting many customers in their transition to the agile software development. Implementing agile practices is not a goal on its own. It is never about adopting some specific practices or culture. While those things are important, if you don’t achieve business outcomes, it is not worth the investment. A journey towards greater business agility starts by identifying what outcomes are most important to the company’s success.

This knowledge helps us lay a foundation for making decisions about how to tailor our approach and guide our transformation to measurably show progress towards our critical business goals (an early ROI, innovation, delivering right product, quality, shorter time to market or any other).

We advise our customer on the changes that would help them to achieve their business goals. Ultimately, we advise them how to establish and grow an approach that maximizes productivity and predictability of product development. A culture that complements lean and agile software development practices with the main goal to ensure fast and reliable delivery of useful software.’

The transition to agile way

‘The benefits of bringing together business and software developers at the earliest possible opportunity are not always clear from the start. Incision – a worldwide education and workflow-support platform for surgical teams – wanted to develop a new product based on cloud technology using benefits of an accelerated development. During our presentation on product discovery, it became clear there was a need and strong intention to move towards agile approach to product development. Our explanation also prompted questions such as why do developers want to contact sales staff directly and why are they asking for user feedback? We have also had a number of customers who have built strong agile capabilities, for example, our collaboration with Essent, in which we have been learning from each other for more than four years. With their approach to clearly defined b2b product vision, design process and bringing business and IT together at an early stage, and our experience with predictable software delivery, DevOps principles and architectural transformation, we have been managing to achieve business objectives and bring value. And we continuously improve together.’

‘The transition to agile is never simple, but the benefits are substantial. Agile demands openness and a clear answer to the question of “why are we developing this functionality or this product?”.

A key aspect of agile is to challenge everyone’s perception and perspective of the why factor.’

Levi9 Awarded AWS Well-Architected Partner Status

Pop the champagne corks: Levi9 Technology Services, an official Amazon Web Services (AWS) Advanced Technology Partner (APN) has now achieved the AWS Well-Architected Partner status.

Good for us, right? Good for you, our customers, too!

Here’s why.

Background Notes

The Amazon Partner Network (APN) is a global programme, focused on helping members build successful AWS-based solutions – by providing business, technical, marketing and go-to-market support.

However – this isn’t just the kind of endorsement they hand out to anyone that asks. No way. Achieving the AWS Well-Architected Partner status significantly differentiates Levi9.

What We Had To Do To achieve it, our team had to demonstrate specialised technical proficiency and proven customer success – especially in relation to ensuring customer workloads meet the five pillars of the Well-Architected Framework: operational excellence, security, reliability, performance efficiency, and cost optimisation.

In fact, to achieve the advanced status, our team had to go through rigorous preparation that took up to two years to complete – focusing on a number of competencies such as technical DevOps, ops, data, and analytics.

Our team also scored highly in terms of secure architecture, scalability, and cost optimisation to the customer.

What This Means For You

Well, we worked hard to get this certification, so it’s not going anywhere anytime soon. To maintain it, we need to uphold the premium quality standard that the AWS users have come to expect from using Amazon products and services.

The knock-on effect is that our customers not only get best-in-class development and consultancy as standard – you can also take full advantage of a product supported and endorsed by AWS.

What We’re Offering You

Now we have this status, we’re not afraid to use it!

We’re now able to offer any customer a free preview of their current AWS platform to assess your technical setup, identify any issues that go against AWS best practice, and report on high risk areas – such as security and stability – with recommendations on how to fix it.

As we progress through 2020, we plan to add more AWS competencies to our services. We’re also planning a few customer-focused events to demonstrate AWS at work – so watch this space.

Cloud computing is one of the main strategic pillars within Levi9’s technology vision and market approaches. And AWS is a key element in our services, helping our customers to bring business technology to users with shorter time-to-market, less cost, and instant scalability.

We’re pretty excited. And now you should be too (right?)

Plugin & Scale Up: Working To Help EV Charging Businesses Scale

Who holds back the electric car? No-one per se. But in order to ensure they become more widely adopted, one of the main challenges is developing a network of charging stations.

Currently there are only 175,318 fast and normal charging points in Europe. The European Commission estimates that at least 2.8 million electric charging points will be needed across the EU by 2030 ahead, ACEA acknowledges that, beginning of the next decade.

The gauntlet has been well and truly thrown down. But our customer – Everon, the EV (electric vehicle) charging management platform – is working to propel the sector forward by expanding these numbers significantly.

However, in order to scale their offering, Everon needed to find a reliable, forward-thinking partner who understood their technology – which is exactly why they began working with Levi9.

Providing The Right Resources To Get The Job Done

Everon’s aim is to enable businesses to create their own dynamic charging network, by delivering EVBox charging posts. They’d been doing just great when they got in touch – they’d already rolled out their platform in over 100,000 charging points in more than 55 countries.

However, to meet growing demand, Everon needed to develop new functionality and flexible options within its core application. Basically, they needed a lot of new developers to help them develop the platform, web applications, and mobile apps.

In fact, 16 teams of developers were required: to tackle everything from both a front- and a back-end perspective – including technical debt and developments around data.

“Our charging point management platform is set up to be entirely scalable as a service, and Levi9 has helped us do that. For us, it’s a unique opportunity to grow in this relatively young and promising market,” says Joeri Kamp, COO, Everon.

“Levi9 has a reputation as a reliable partner, so you know they deliver, and you know you can count on satisfaction as a client. All those things played a role in the choice”.

Having A Shared Mission For Future Success

Another important consideration for Everon when choosing its development partners was a shared mission and purpose – as well as a compatible culture. This was certainly true for Everon when selecting Levi9. They were particularly impressed with the fact 40% of our employees are female.

With these shared values giving them additional confidence, Everon continues to push the boundaries of EV technology, develop new solutions, and ultimately scale in a way that’s consistent with their aims and ambitions.

As the world wakes up to new perspectives on work, transport, and mobility; the moment couldn’t be more opportune for the EV sector to innovate at scale.

The need for collaboration is greater than ever. Levi9 continues to work closely with Everon to ensure its technology not only meets, but exceeds, its scope for future growth.

Synergy is key: How a company culture drives success

Synergy is key: How a company culture drives success

Levi9 understands success derives directly from our close relationship to our partners and customers. Building a collaboration based on trust and the understanding of a customer’s vision, incentives and challenges is paramount in building impactful projects. Projects that will ultimately become part of the company’s DNA.

Years of experience showed us our success depends on our customer’s accomplishments and the efficiency of the IT solutions we implement. We can only grow in parallel to the companies we work with; their successes are also ours.

We started working with Tele2, a large European telecommunications company in 2012. From the very start, Levi9 was in charge of helping them operate an important change in their operations and allow them to thrive in a highly competitive industry. Aiming to reduce costs and to grow their developers workforce, Tele2 wanted to move away from hiring consultants and maintaining an in-house team. Levi9 expertise with the Scrum framework put us in a perfect position to help the telecom company operate a transition to an outsourced IT model.

With a sizeable team of remote specialists, Levi9 took on the company’s IT support from B2B to consumer side softwares. Our constant communication with their delivery director, to ensure objectives were met at every milestone of the project, stands as an example. It is that constructive feedback loop that allowed us to complete project to the highest standard and make our collaboration a success.

After 7 years of fruitful partnership with a team of more than 70 specialists, an acquisition with T-Mobile put an end to our work with Tele2. We believe a professional handover is part of the customer journey and keeping a close collaboration until the very end is paramount – we aim for an excellent customer experience all through our partnership.

Taking ownership of their projects and making their goals ours, we at Levi9 got to understand how vital our core values were; we owe the success of this venture and our ability to take on such a large-scale project to flawless communication and a true understanding of our customer’s needs.

Collaborating with their team has helped us blossom as much as we helped them. We will always look back fondly at the cooperative effort involving many different teams, bringing their drive and expertise to the table, but also on the laugh (and the drinks!) we shared.

Through working together seamlessly, with common objectives and a clear understanding of the challenges they were facing, we grew as a company and tackled ambitious projects we will always be proud of.

Kid working on levi9 computer

9 Ways To Handle Conference Calls

Albert Klingenberg, Account Manager, Levi9

Remote communication. Right now it’s even more fashionable than TikTok

But it never stops feeling a bit… well… weird. How so? Lots of reasons: frequent tech issues, no sound, out of sync video, unintentional interruptions – those kinds of things.

But let’s be honest – all of this is out of our control. Trouble is, the more people you add into a ‘mass call’ of sorts, the more likely things are to go wrong.

So why is it that we recently had a conference call with over 30 people and everything went according to plan? The call was a kickoff session with a big Dutch telecoms company. We’ve just landed them as a customer and are now one of their preferred suppliers (humblebrag…).

In short, given the high stakes, we couldn’t afford to mess this up. And we didn’t. We just put some ground rules in place: 9 ground rules, in fact.

And we’d like to share them with you right here.

Tips For Success

1) Have A Plan – Make sure everyone understands why you are meeting and what the goals and outcomes should be. Once the call is complete and follow-up actions have been agreed, confirm these by email as quickly as possible.

2) Be On Time – If the meeting is supposed to start at 9 am then make sure it does! Setting this is stone for all your meetings will ensure the meeting remains on schedule.

3) Assign Moderators – Make key members of your team the main conference call moderators. They’ll make sure your meeting stays on track.

4) Ban Tourists – Anyone who wants to be on the call is welcome. But what about those who don’t? Those who aren’t keen to engage, contribute ideas, or express vehement disapproval? As meeting chair you need to know who’s on the call and why. So make it your business to find out.

5) Listen Quietly – Tech tip! Make sure anyone who isn’t speaking is on mute. This will improve audio quality for everyone and make interaction clear and concise. Plus you won’t be subjected to dogs barking/weeping children.

6) Encourage Dialogue – The worst conference calls are those where one person talks endless about something. True understanding comes from interaction. So while it’s courtesy to keep quiet when someone’s chatting, no one should be afraid of raising their hand.

7) Question Time – As per above, you can’t have constant interruptions or questions during a 5 person+ call. You need to make it clear that attendees should signal to one of the moderators if they have a burning question. It might be that they hold off until the end or arrange a separate call to address a specific point.

8) Take Responsibility – Make sure either your moderators or team leads or whoever’s on the customer relationship frontline, are ready and willing to answer questions. They don’t need to have all of the answers, just the confidence to say they don’t know and that they’ll go away and find out the answers, as an action, before the next meeting.

9) Clarify Next Steps – Decisions were made, accords agreed, and next steps were confirmed… weren’t they? Sure they were – you know exactly what you’re doing!

Sounds simple, right? It is!

Put these ideas into practice and we’re certain you’ll see great results in your meetings, and this will benefit your teams and your customers respectively.

We believe when we come out of the COVID19 situation the culture of remote working is going to evolve further and emphasis on quality remote interactions will grow – so make sure you and your team have got your conference call processes aligned.