The nearshoring of SAP services gives the companies that use SAP solutions a chance to make savings while maintaining a high quality of services. Now, companies from Scandinavia can benefit from the combined forces of BCC, the largest Polish partner of SAP, and the Norwegian consulting company Advizory. We talk to Bartłomiej Buszczak, CEO of BCC, and Tom-Inge Aas, Partner and Managing Director at Advizory, about the advantages of SAP nearshoring and the joint offering.
What is IT nearshoring and why is it talked about increasingly often in the context of SAP services?
Bartłomiej Buszczak: The nearshoring of IT/SAP services is a strategy of the system development and maintenance that has long since gained the appreciation of both IT managers and CFOs of large companies, especially those operating globally. This is a specific type of offshoring of IT services, narrowing the companies in countries close by. Compared to the commonly used offshoring of SAP services, in the Far East, for example, the advantage of SAP nearshoring is the quality and price relationship which is very good for the client.
What companies can can benefit from the SAP nearshoring?
B.B.: BCC offers the SAP nearshoring service primarily to large, corporations that are looking for ways to reduce the cost of maintenance and development of SAP solutions, while refusing to compromise on the quality of services. We draw the belief that we are a good and valued partner in SAP nearshoring from numerous experiences in this field. The long-term cooperation with major global players, a gradually growing scope of work performed for them and the acquisition of new clients strengthen our belief that this is a prospective direction of development for our company. The high quality of BCC services has already been appreciated by more than 100 multinational corporations from Germany, the Netherlands, France and Switzerland, among other countries.
Although our SAP nearshoring clients also include companies or divisions of companies in the United States and Canada, because we feel that the arguments of cultural and communication proximity are no less strong, our offer is addressed mainly to the European market. In this market, our offer is the most competitive, and here we feel at home.
And if you were to indicate three most important advantages of BCC offering, what would they be?
B.B.: First of all, BCC has almost 200 SAP consultants, specialists in SAP applications and various SAP technologies. Their competences can meet various levels of expectations. If a client needs someone for simple work, we can propose a junior consultant. Where a task or leading consultant is needed? The company looks for an experienced developer, or may be competences of a programmer with one year's experience will be sufficient. Another task may require the involvement of an expert in a narrow field; we can also propose an experienced project manager.
Secondly – we can work remotely or on site, or in the mixed model, adjusting the proportions to the tasks and expectations of a client.
Thirdly, we are open to various forms of cooperation: orders, a permanent contract, as well as service contracts based on SLA.
To sum up – we are a company large enough to meet almost any SAP related need of a client. On the other hand – we are not a fossilized, overgrown organization with rigid patterns of operation. In fact, our biggest advantage is flexibility: the ability to compose any service portfolio, according to individual expectations of a client.
You say that "we do everything in SAP", but if you were to list a few specific BCC competences or tasks, what would they be?
B.B.: Yes, it's true. We provide clients with module consultants starting from FI and ending with HR, specialists in almost every field related to SAP. The readiness to implement even the most advanced projects in the SAP modules is demonstrated, for example, by the cooperation with the Swiss Von Roll.
There are, however, areas of special competences. Clients appreciate our SAP HANA competences, for example, resulting from one of the world's first migration projects of SAP ERP to the SAP HANA platform, among other factors.
Another special area of competence is the Basis. Here, BCC supports, for example, projects of SAP system migration between different hardware and software environments, and projects of isolation and centralization of SAP platforms. We work for an international group from the aerospace industry based in Canada, among other companies.
BCC is also an excellent partner for ABAP/Java development work. We perform SAP Business Intelligence tasks in a similar model of development center services.
Another area in which nearshoring proves to be helpful is work in the field of integration technologies, such as SAP PI/XI. Here we work both for corporations using SAP, as well as for IT companies offering solutions complementary to SAP.
In the SAP nearshoring model, companies also use the SAP administration support, and the competences of module consultants are used in the form of SAP application support. This is a remote support service for the client’s SAP users in solving problems with the current operation of the system.
A few dozen of our employees work full time for clients (the so-called bodyleasing) in their SAP competence centers. Their tasks include such diverse types of work as participation in internal projects, separate development projects, a helpdesk for users around the world, or they simply work as long-term substitutes.
And finally, SAP rollouts. We have completed numerous rollout projects in different countries and participated in programs of corporate rollouts in international groups from FMCG, automotive and construction industries, among others. BCC consultants often play a leading role in these projects, launching the system in subsequent countries, not only in Europe, but for example in the USA, Africa and the Far East.
BCC also means BCC Data Centers.
B.B.: IT outsourcing services are an important pillar of our offer, not only for SAP systems. Our own modern hardware infrastructure and competences in the majority of popular technology platforms are strong arguments for companies looking for IT outsourcing services.
We are also consistently expanding the catalog of IT services by services that are complementary but necessary for organizations with complex system landscapes, such as monitoring of systems, services related to the optimization of the IT environment.
Another element of the BCC offer, also complementary to SAP, are Software Factory services.
B.B.: For a company with a developed SAP installation, any development of the IT architecture is somehow linked to the main system, even if it is prepared in a different technology. And there are always a lot of needs. The idea of our software development services is based on a simple principle: the client indicates a need – we offer the best possible solution in the chosen technology, providing a guarantee of its compatibility with the SAP architecture.
What makes companies interested in the offering of BCC?
B.B.: In addition to the "hard" arguments mentioned, such as references, competences or a very good relationship between the quality and price of services, clients also appreciate other features of our offering.
The extensive experience of working for companies in the Netherlands, Germany or Switzerland have shown us how much emphasis is placed by mature organizations on the aspect of communication. I do not mean only a fluent knowledge of a foreign language. It's obvious. In addition to this, there are many intangible aspects of communication that we have in common.
The cultural proximity, the culture of a business organization, the work ethic and respect for time are very important. It might seem that these are nuances, insignificant details. The truth, however, is that every day they play a crucial role in the ability to communicate – especially if the goal is to create or develop a complex business and IT solution within a fixed time and budget.
Across Europe, or more broadly – in the whole Western civilization, we similarly understand such concepts as keeping deadlines, commitment to maintain a specific level of quality, we verify competences similarly.
More prosaic issues, such as a geographical proximity, are also important. The same time zone and working hours allow a video-or teleconference and ad hoc contact to be organized at any time. Personal meetings are not a problem now either, with no visa restrictions within the EU and numerous flight connections.
In mid-2014, BCC and Advizory signed a cooperation agreement. What is the offer that BCC and Advizory enter the Nordic market with?
B.B.: For some time, we have seen a growing interest of companies from the Nordic market in the nearshoring of SAP services. It is not a completely new market to us – we have already collaborated in various fields with companies from Finland and Norway. The BCC brand was not widely known there, which was a barrier to establishing cooperation with new clients. The SAP world – although global – is paradoxically not that big. Recommendations and references are the more important, the more the market is mature.
The combination of the BCC offering advantages with competences of Advizory experts and their knowledge of local markets will help us better tailor the offering to clients’ expectations.
I can confidently say that we simple have a good offer of SAP nearshoring for companies from Norway, Sweden, Denmark and Finland.
Tom-Inge Aas: Advizory is impressed by the quality and broad range of services in BCC. Finally, we can go to the market, and both offer the best qualified SAP resource at the best price. BCC has been in the SAP market since the mid nineties, and has served strong global brands. Now we see it as an honor to broader present this team to Nordic clients. We look forward to starting to introduce BCC to the Nordic market. We believe we will see many Nordic companies move their IT near shore in the years to come.
Tom, how could you briefly characterize the Nordic IT services market, particularly in the context of outsourcing?
T.-I.A.: According to IDC, the size of the Nordic IT market in 2014 is approximately EUR 15 billion, and it’s growing by 2-4% a year. The same forecast is seen for Norway, Sweden, Denmark and Finland. The top 3 growth areas in the region are: BI, ERP and ECM. According to IKT-Norway, Norway has an expected growth of 10%, and is with that one of the fastest growing in Europe. The Nordic ERP market in 2014 is expected to be around EUR 2.4 billion. SAP is dominating the ERP market in all 4 Nordic countries.
A growing sector of the Nordic market is the outsourcing market. The Nordic region was an early mover into IT outsourcing, and was among the first European countries that started to offshore IT to mainly Indian vendors.
What is the experience of these companies after several years of using SAP offshoring?
T.-I.A.: The Advizory team has learnt from the market that many outsourcing and offshoring projects have failed. For many companies, a low price was tempting, but some projects show that the low price was more of a theory than facts. Because of the cultural and language issues with working with a vendor from the Far East, the final price of the projects was high. Big local teams were required to manage and guide the low-cost offshore teams. Many companies tried 2 or 3 different Indian vendors with the same negative experience.
Haven’t the managers been discouraged to use such a model of services?
T.-I.A.: You do not give up something that is known to bring – and does bring – major business benefits.
Many Nordic companies have moved parts of their business to countries like Poland and Lithuania. This has been mainly a production and back-office/shared service center activity. Advizory strongly believes that now is the time to do the same with parts of the IT organization in Nordic companies.
From our experience we know that we share this believe with many CIOs in our market.
Could you briefly present your company? What are the business goals of Advizory?
T.-I.A.: We are a consulting company specializing in providing IT services to customers in the nearshoring model. The company is made up of experts in management and IT, with many years of experience in SAP services.
Our team has experience from IT projects and IT outsourcing service delivered from the mid nineties until today. We have background from Top 5 consulting houses, and from management roles in some of the large IT/software companies.
During my own professional career, I gained a broad experience as an SAP customer, partner and employee.
For years I was responsible for the biggest SAP client in the Nordic region.
I know this market very well – and from every perspective. At Advizory, I work as a Managing Director.
Why should Nordic companies get more interested in SAP nearshoring?
T.-I.A.: In addition to the arguments mentioned by Bartek, I would add a solid guarantee of stability that is provided by the common market of services within the European Union and other benefits resulting from the EU legislation. BCC is a stable company predictable in business matters, which is an important guarantee, especially if the client is looking for a partner for long-term cooperation.
I also draw the clients’ attention to a high level of competence and experience of BCC consultants in all areas of the system and the types of SAP projects. And if the client wants to verify these competences a business meeting – whether through video conferencing or a personal one – can be easily arranged. Poznań, where BCC has its main headquarters, has a regular flight connection with Stockholm, Oslo and Copenhagen. Warsaw and Cracow, where the BCC’s offices are also located, can be easily reached by air. And contrary to the inhabitants of the Far East, Polish citizens do not need visas. Such practical "little things" also matter.
And finally, the relationship of cost and quality. For Nordic companies, the use of SAP nearshoring at BCC is simply cheaper than seeking comparable competences in the local market. With the guarantee of high quality provided by BCC, it is a key argument.
Interviewed by: Mirosława Huk, BCC Group