NAC’s doubts about nearshoring were put to shame
At first, NAC was convinced that nearshoring in Poland was not for them, based on previous negative experiences with the hassles of offshoring. But after they saw the quality of the two Polish consultant’s work and experienced their work ethic, NAC made a mental U-turn. Today, NAC’s IT manager has nothing but praise for his new foreign manpower.
Interview with Mads Krog-Jensen, IT manager at Nordic Aviation Capital
The relatively unknown but extremely successful Danish aviation company Nordic Aviation Capital operates the world’s largest fleet of smaller regional aircraft. But although business is booming, the IT department has trouble attracting the desired IT resources to NAC’s head office in Billund. A particular challenge is that the LEGO Group, which also has its global headquarters in Billund, is a magnet for many potential candidates.
In 2012, NAC was looking to recruit a full-time consultant to handle development projects on NAC’s .NET-based platform. When the search failed, they hired a consultant through ProData Consult on a temporary basis, explains Mads-Krog Jensen, IT manager at NAC.
“At the end of the consultant’s contract, we did an evaluation together with ProData. This is when they told us about the possibility of nearshoring at their development centre in Poland. It turned out that we could hire two consultants in Poland for the same price as one consultant in Denmark. So we agreed to move forward, and we then received the CVs of a total of eight possible candidates, of which we selected four for interviews in Warsaw,” remembers Mads Krog-Jensen.
Fluent in written and spoken English
NAC was actually only looking to hire one consultant in Poland, but after they had met the four consultants, they decided to hire two of the consultants on three-month trial contracts.
“One of them seemed to be quite a bit better at English than the other. On the other hand, the other one a very high level of technical expertise. So our thought was that they complemented each other and that they would make a good team. As it turned out later, both of them speak and write English fluently – one of them just had some issues with pronunciation, and he was also nervous at the interview,” says Mads Krog-Jensen.
After the trial period, NAC ended up extending both contracts, and today, the consultants handle all kinds of tasks, but with primary focus on development on NAC’s backbone.
The difference between offshoring and nearshoring
Mads Krog-Jensen explains that both he and NAC’s head programmer in Billund were very sceptical about the nearshoring concept because they associated it with their experiences with offshore projects in India.
“In my experience, there’s more hassle connected with offshoring. Partly because of the time difference, which means, for example, that an error reported in Denmark at 3 pm doesn’t get fixed until the next day. And partly because of the cultural differences. In India, a local team has to have 100 pages of documentation before every job. If you want to change a detail, they need new documentation. Working with the Polish consultants is a completely different experience,” explains Mads Krog-Jensen.
“First, they have a very strong work ethic. I usually get to the office at 9 am and go home at 5 pm. The consultants in Poland usually get to the office before me and they leave later. My impression is that they take a lot of pride in delivering a good product. What’s more, they’re very self-motivated. Typically, we provide half a page of documentation, take a few screen dumps and do a sketch, for example to show where we want a button to go. That’s all they need.”
Does this form of communication work, or does it cause problems?
“Recently, I did a talk at seminar where I presented an example of the documentation we prepare for our Polish consultants. We had a spreadsheet with data on 20,000 planes, which is the entire worldwide fleet we do business with. We wanted this data imported into and compared with a database that categorizes the planes by manufacturer, model, ownership, financing and so on.
We sketched out how we wanted the whole thing set up and sent it to our consultants in Poland. Without any follow-up communication at all, we got the finished product back for testing, and it simply worked. They’d designed a world map divided into regions you could click on, and they had made it possible to filter based on year, model, and so on. It was impressive,” states Mads Krog-Jensen.
Easy to try it out
NAC’s biggest concern when hiring two Polish consultants was how to integrate them into the Danish organization so that both they and NAC would feel that they were contributing on an equal footing with everyone else.
“Fortunately, that hasn’t turned out to be a problem at all,” says Mads Krog-Jensen. “It’s definitely also helped that we’re a global company that’s used to working across cultural and national boundaries. You can come a long way with Skype and instant messaging. And it’s been easy to bring the Polish consultants to Denmark when necessary, so that they can work from here. And we’ve also been in Warsaw a couple of times. It all works smoothly.”
Have you considered taking on responsibility for hiring consultants and day-to-day operations yourselves at any point?
“I wouldn’t have the slightest idea where to begin if I had to find the programmers we want in Poland. I also think that there’s very little risk associated with ProData’s nearshoring concept. The consultants can be hired on short-term contracts, so you can always pull out if you don’t get the results you expect. And ProData deals with all the practicalities related to employment contracts, office leasing, taxes and so on. “Generally speaking, they’ve made it really easy for companies to try it out,” explains Mads Krog-Jensen.
“That’s why I wouldn’t have any reservations about recommending nearshoring to companies that are having trouble finding resources in their own country, like us. I would certainly consider giving our consultants in Poland ad hoc projects for a short period if we’re particularly busy,” concludes Mads Krog-Jensen.
NAC has decided to keep on the two consultants in Poland for the time being, and is considering adding two additional consultants at the office in Warsaw in the future.
NAC was founded in 1990 in Billund, Denmark. NAC buys, leases and sells commercial aircraft, and propeller-driven turboprop aircraft are their core activity. The fleet currently consists of 250 aircraft which are leased to 40 leaseholders, including smaller companies such as Jet Time and larger companies such as Lufthansa, Air France, US Airways and Air Berlin. NAC currently has one head programmer in Billund and two consultants employed in Warsaw, Poland.