Four years have passed since we’ve started to serve our customers with a new business model. In August 2005 the first NED’s consultant has been appointed to work at customer’s premises in Helsinki. So the journey has begun. Actually, this specific customer relationship is still alive and well developing, despite of multiple ownership changes on customer’s side. The fact that we’ve survived through all those organizational transformations proves the efficiency of NED’s business model and its operability in different environments. Moreover, that first consultant is still playing the key role in the mentioned customer relationship and so do few other people in NED for their accounts. It’s quite typical for us, that a consultant stays with the same customer for years.
So, what makes us capable of performing effectively independent on customer’s size, organizational structure and process model? If someone asks me to summarize qualities that differentiate NED from a variety of competitors, I’d mention the following.
Flexibility. Throughout our history we’ve been able to quickly adopt to changing needs of our customers. That applies to both scale of cooperation and allocation of resources. During the life cycle of a customer relationship NED’s resourcing may change quite considerably. In one customer case it went from 1+4 via 4+8 to 5+1, if we talk about on-site vs. near-shore people. The ability to flexibly scale and relocate resources according to actual situation is one of the key factors that ensure cost-efficiency of services.
Versatility. Our consultants are capable of performing in different roles depending on actual needs of the customer. Changing roles is not causing any major effect on performance level. In fact, depending on current project situation, customers may use same people as solution architects, application developers or even support specialists.
Expertise. In order to be able to efficiently perform in different roles, one has to be a seasoned expert with real hands-on problem solving experience. It’s my honor and pleasure to claim that any of our consultants certainly fulfills these criteria.
Cost efficiency. Of course, our rates are comfortable enough. However, it’s not only about rates, it’s about all those factors that affect the total cost for the customer. I’ve already mentioned flexibility and versatility, but one more thing is directly associated with our service model. Those customers who use on-site + near-shore model do not need to allocate their own resources to coordinate activities of our near-shore team. This role is assigned to key on-site consultant, who handles coordination on top of his normal activities. So customer’s personnel may concentrate on more productive activities, further improving overall cost efficiency.
Selection process. How do we make sure that people we recruit match our high standards in terms of knowledge, experience, versatility and ability to operate as customer interface? For that purpose we apply a multiphase selection procedure that includes written tests as well as detailed technical interview and personal discussion with CEO. As a final step I’m personally ensuring that a person fits into NED’s way of working and communicating with customers. Many candidates whose CV’s looked very attractive failed to pass our selection procedure. We can not afford ourselves any failure in our customer cases, that’s why we have to hire best people. So far it has worked for us.
Scale factor. Funny enough, I’m used to talk about scale factor, even though where’re less than twenty people currently working in NED. In case of small organization scale factor means agility and true service attitude. For us there’re no ABC customers, instead any customer is a key account. We literally live or die based on customer satisfaction, and any failure may become a fatal one. Just to compare it to bigger organizations with traditional scale factor. Can you be sure they supply you with best possible resources if you're just starting cooperation being a prospect, far away from A class? The fact is, however, that on the global market most Finnish companies are by definition not in A class for their outsorcing partners.
Lately, it’s been a great pleasure to realize, that customers have started to use our consultants for mentoring and training their own personnel. That’s a complete new dimension in our offering, which brings additional value to our services and is definitely worth of further development. However, despite of our willingness to explore new opportunities and experiment with new value propositions, our customers may be sure that NED sticks on keeping proven quality of basic services. Namely, providing top level knowledge combined with high efficiency and maximum degree of customer commitment. This is the only way to make sure that our journey continues bringing new exciting experiences together with our customers.