Nearshoring isn’t just for big companies
Spillehallen.dk ApS is living proof that nearshoring isn’t just for big companies with big budgets. The Danish game developers recently hired three Polish senior consultants to handle a development project in Warsaw.
And the experience has been extremely positive so far, explains Spillehallen.dk’s R&D manager.
Interview with R&D Manager Søren Thygesen, Spillehallen.dk
Spillehallen.dk ApS is a Danish gaming company that develops systems software and games for all types of slot machines. In 2014, Spillehallen.dk ApS needed to upgrade some of its systems. In light of the size and time frame of the task, Søren Thygesen, R&D Manager at Spillehallen.dk ApS, decided not to have the company’s internal developers handle the upgrade. So he developed a business case for the project and approached a number of Danish consultancy firms about the job.
“My calculations in the business case were based on the expected Danish hourly rate. In my dialogue with a number of these consultancy firms, it was fairly obvious that I couldn’t expect to hire the very best consultants at that price, and they wouldn’t guarantee that the consultants would be 100% allocated to our project. Both of these circumstances gave me a bad gut feeling,” explains Søren Thygesen.
Completely by coincidence, it then occurred to him that a consultant who had previously helped Spillehallen.dk had told him that ProData Consult had a nearshoring center in Poland. So he contacted ProData Consult for information about such parameters as hourly rates, location, process models and line management.
“It turned out that we could get senior consultants for under half the hourly rate of a Danish developer, and that ProData would handle everything from employment contracts to facilities and computer equipment in Warsaw. That sounded interesting,” says Søren Thygesen.
Next, ProData Consult matched the local Polish consultant’s CVs with the technical requirements described in Søren Thygesen’s project description and sent him several consultant profiles. He selected five of the profiles and went to Warsaw to interview them.
“They all made a good impression. They spoke fluent English and had really impressive CVs,” remembers Søren Thygesen.
Ultimately he selected two of the consultants. Both accepted the job offer, and both new Polish employees were invited to an introduction week in Denmark in December 2014.
“We had a long week where we ploughed through all the technical specifications in the project together with the consultants. We had already selected a tech lead in Denmark who would serve as the primary point of contact for the two Polish consultants. Taking ownership of the project in Denmark was important to us. After all, the idea is not to keep the Polish consultants on forever, so we wanted the project to be anchored internally. This has proved to be a good model,” says Søren Thygesen.
Understand Danish irony and humor
On May 1st 2015, Spillehallen.dk ApS hired a third Polish consultant. Today, they have a Polish development team consisting of three consultants. This reduces the company’s vulnerability in case of illness and other unforeseen events as compared to only having two consultants on contract.
Are your new Polish consultants on the same level of professional expertise as Danish consultants?
“They’re completely on the same level – if not higher. And they’re extremely independent and take a lot of responsibility. We’re not finished with the project yet, so we can’t do a final evaluation. But we already have the feeling that the quality of the work we’re having done in Poland is very high,” states Søren Thygesen.
He goes on to explain that on a purely cultural level, there are more similarities than differences between Poles and Danes.
“The way Poles communicate is very European. I’ve done some work with Chinese consultants, and I’ve heard about Indian consultants, and there can be a large difference in mentality from culture to culture. But our Polish consultants understand irony, they understand humor, and they have the same professional frame of reference and perception of their work responsibilities as Danes do. That’s important,” he stresses.
“What’s more, the social status of Danish and Polish consultants is more or less the same. A Danish developer might have a higher hourly wage, but the cost of living in Denmark is proportionately higher compared with the cost of living in Poland. So our Polish employees are not inferior in relation to their Danish colleagues. They have the same purchasing power.”
Have you succeeded in integrating your Polish employees in the Danish organisation?
“Yes, I think so. None of our local consultants feel that our Polish consultants have taken work away from them. I can guarantee that. Everyone in Denmark could see that this was a job we couldn’t do on our own. So there’s been a lot of understanding of our new colleagues all the way round.”
Trying it out is free
So far, Søren Thygesen can’t point to anything that has gone wrong or that they would have done differently if they had a chance to do things over.
“The only thing that comes to mind is that we would have liked to have some dialogue with other businesses that have been in the situation we were in back when we were considering getting started. There was some uncertainty connected with nearshoring for us because we’d never tried it before. Your greatest fear, of course, is that you might end up wasting six months on something that turns out to be a bad idea. It would have been nice to hear what other companies had to say about the advantages and disadvantages of nearshoring in Poland.”
Were you ever worried that you were too small to nearshore?
“Yes, that thought occurred to us. As a small company, you’re very aware of the importance of using consultant hours in the optimal way and not wasting them on something irrelevant. A large company with a team of twenty local consultants is in a better position to tolerate a certain amount of wasted time. But fortunately, we now have three consultants who are extremely dedicated to the project,” says Søren Thygesen.
He sums up with a piece of good advice for businesses that might be considering nearshoring in Poland.
“Go to Warsaw and try it out. In ProData’s model, they’ll send you the CVs of local consultants free of charge, and you can conduct job interviews before you decide whether you want to move forward or not. My gut feeling finally settled down when I went down there and met the consultants. After that, the most difficult decision was actually deciding which of the five consultants to hire, because they were all very qualified,” concludes Søren Thygesen.
Spillehallen.dk ApS is owned and operated by the Gaming Group, which also owns Compugame DAE, the product of a merger of the two largest players on the Danish market for online gambling and street slot games. Spillehallen.dk develops systems software and games for all slot game platforms, from one-armed bandits to 26” touchscreen street slot machines to online slots. The Spillehallen.dk development department is divided into three geographically separate scrum teams: one in Esbjerg, one in Aarhus and one in Warsaw, Poland, with over twenty employees.