November 10, 2015Doug Hadden
Reflections on our first CLAD
This is our 9th year participating at CLAD. I attended our first conference in 2006 in Guatemala City where we were somewhat unique: a private sector company that wrote software for government financials. Not a government entity and never a government entity. Not a consulting company that spun off a project into a product. Not a company that sold to the private sector. It took more effort to explain what we were rather than what we had.
FreeBalance had come into the Latin American market at the height of government development of custom Financial Management Information Systems (FMIS). These were subsidized by the International Financial Institutions. It was thought that Commercial-Off-the-Shelf (COTS) were too expensive and required too much customization to satisfy the unique requirements of Latin American government organizations.
It was during this most-interesting event when we first met Aldo Sagastume, now our Vice President of Products. We spent some hours talking to Aldo about the difficulties in commercializing and maintaining software. It was thought that a custom FMIS developed for one Latin American government would work well for others. But, this turned out to be more difficult than it seemed.
FreeBalance was growing as a global provider of FMIS software. We had a need for a qualified PFM project manager, so Aldo joined the FreeBalance team. Then we needed more, so we hired more Guatemalans. And, staff from Argentina, Bolivia, Colombia, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama and Venezuela. These staff members have managed projects in Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean.
We needed to build specifications for the fully web-based Version 7. So, we started an office in Guatemala City to augment our team in Ottawa. Today, the majority of FreeBalance business analyses for our products come from this office. It’s how FreeBalance became a little less Canadian and a lot more Latin.
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