Trend Micro shifting outsourcing focus to Philippines

Von Grace S.

Network security solutions firm Trend Micro Inc. operates almost 30 offices in different countries around the world. Increasingly, however, its global operation?s information technology projects and support requirements are being managed and developed in just one site -- the Philippines.

?IT insourcing,? as Jeremy Liang, Trend Micro executive vice president for engineering operations and information, put it, has become a common practice in the company in the last four years. This practice, he said, has become a highly efficient approach to IT project development, implementation and support. Trend Micro has been growing its IT support team based in the Philippines by more than three fold to continuously accommodate increasing global requirements.

?We have started doing ?IT insourcing? in the Philippines for other territories in late 2000,? said Liang. What started out as a move four years ago to locate one project manager from Taiwan to Manila and recruit five engineers to help him carry out a project has grown into a large-scale insourcing operation today, he explained.

Between 2001 and 2003, the setup for remotely developing and implementing IT solutions for Trend Micro?s global operations ?has grown naturally.? One of the first high-profile IT projects done in the country was the Siebel Technical Support Project. This project involved providing high-value technical support to Trend Micro offices across the Asia Pacific. Liang is hoping that this implementation will serve as a springboard for the global rollout of the project.

Another project currently being worked on by Trend Micro?s Filipino IT team is the company?s internal enterprise resource planning (ERP) implementation. Together with their business analysis counterparts based in Taiwan, the implementing team from the Philippines has been working on the Microsoft Navision ERP rollout in Asia Pacific. The project?s implementation in the US is also ongoing, while the rollout in Japan is set to start by the first quarter of 2005. In the Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) region, implementation is set to begin as soon as the outsourcing arrangement previously entered into with a third-party provider is settled.

?The EMEA territory has been outsourcing their ERP requirements to another provider. We are currently in the process of taking the ERP management from the third-party provider and bringing it into the Philippines,? Liang disclosed.

With this realignment, the company CIO expects that by the end of 2004, 20 percent of all Trend Micro territories? IT spending will be channeled to the Philippines. This, he said, is a huge leap from the 5 percent IT spending budget allocated for the company?s remote IT facility in the country a year earlier.

Although the volume of development and support work being done in the Philippines has been growing steadily over the past four years, Liang said this may not necessarily lead to the IT team in the Philippines entirely managing all of Trend Micro?s IT initiatives. ?Certainly, more IT development work will be done here, but regional management of customer expectations would still have to be managed by the respective territories,? he said.


The rapid growth of Trend Micro?s remote IT management center in the Philippines has prompted Liang to grow the 45-man IT team in Manila to about 150 in a year?s time. He admitted though that increasing his pool of IT engineers by a hundred did not come easy, especially since the company requires ?experienced engineers.?

?Although the Philippines is not short in highly-skilled IT professionals, we have encountered difficulties in hiring experienced engineers and business analysts,? he said.

To compensate for this shortcoming, Trend Micro conducts year-round training for its new recruits. The company has also started an internship program to provide graduating students ?hands-on experience? in IT. The company?s chairman and former chief executive officer Oscar Chang also said they have been partnering with the country?s tier one universities so they can tap the best and the brightest ?IT-professionals-in-the-making.?

In this regard, Chang has called for government support in improving not only the country?s infrastructure but its educational system to ensure that they remain responsive to the needs of the industry.

?There is no question on whether or not we will invest more in the Philippines. The only thing that will hold us back is the availability of the required skills pool in the country,? Trend Micro chief financial officer Mahendra Negi, for his part, said. ?If we can hire more capable people here, then we will continue on expanding and investing in the Philippines.?

To date, Trend Micro employs about 700 people in its facility in Manila. Overall, this is Trend Micro?s largest single operation around the world. ?If you will judge a company?s nationality based on the majority of its employees then Trend Micro is a Filipino company,? Negi said. Almost one third of Trend Micro?s 2,300 personnel across the globe are based in the Philippines.