Navision goes east for skills

Danish-owned Navision Software will recruit and train experienced IT programmers from India to work as software consultants in the UK, it emerged last week (23-27 November).

After arriving in the UK, the consultants will have one month’s training on Navision’s financials, manufacturing and distribution software and will work for the company on one-year contracts. The first seven consultants arrived two weeks ago and Navision aims to bring in up to 20 consultants a month to the UK for the ‘foreseeable future’. Three IT services companies – Euroinfo in the UK and Indian-based Satyam Computer Services and Eurolink Systems – will supply the consultants.

The Indian software market has flourished over the last few years. In 1996 and 1997 more than $500m of software development work was outsourced to India. In September, German ERP vendor SAP set up an Indian subsidiary to undertake development activities for the future releases of its core product, R/3.

Yash Nagpal, managing director of Navision in the UK, said Navision needed around 500 consultants for the UK market and that India provided a wealth of experienced consultants.

‘We’re still recruiting UK graduates but we need more people and India is used by the US and a lot of major banks for the quality of its IT staff,’ said Nagpal.

He added that the year 2000 problem was the main reason for the project.

‘The UK market is in dire need of year-2000 compliance and our products can be implemented in four to eight weeks,’ he said.

Skills shortages have cut across the whole IT market.

In addition to its Indian subsidiary, SAP established a dedicated ‘SAP Academy’ near Heathrow, which can take up to 240 trainees at a time through a five-week R/3 training course.

Neil Robertson, managing director of US-based Great Plains, one of Navision’s main rivals in the mid-range market, said Navision’s recruitment drive was ‘enterprising’. But he questioned whether a one-month training period was long enough to produce specialist consultants.

‘We couldn’t achieve it in 30 days and it seems a remarkably short time for Navision to say to customers that this is an expert,’ said Robertson.

He suggested that Navision needed to take special measures to address its lack of experience in working with Microsoft’s SQL Server database.

‘Until this month, Navision applications ran on proprietary databases so they didn’t need any SQL Server skills. However, 80% of our revenues now come from SQL Server Solutions,’ he said.

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