RHE New Zealand 'manages the pig to get dirty'

RHE Australia did not have sufficient capacity to complete the project, but the New Zealand arm did

Auckland-based services vendor RHE has taken over development of a core insurance system project from its Australian operation after the customer said its Australian management team "couldn't manage a pig to get dirty". RHE Australia did not have sufficient capacity to complete the project, for National Transport Insurance Australia, according to a blog posting on ZDNet. National Transport Insurance has outsourced work to RHE Australia for over two years, and while very happy with RHE’s technical staff, National Transport Insurance's CIO Martin Moore, was not impressed with the company’s management. At a recent conference Moore was quoted by ZDNet saying: "This company we're working with, fantastic technical people. Smart as white rats. They're fantastic. They really know their stuff. Really bright, fantastic guys. "Still, their management team couldn't manage a pig to get dirty." Mark Hamilton, chief executive of RHE New Zealand says there was a difference of opinion between RHE's Australian management and NTI over how best to conduct the project. “NTI was looking for much more of a blended team approach than the Australian [management] perhaps envisaged, and RHE New Zealand was comfortable with adopting that [approach].”

He says that, at the time, RHE New Zealand’s management was more mature than RHE Australia’s, mainly because the company was founded in New Zealand in 1994 and established in Australia in 2000. The project, which involves 90 staff a year from both NTI and RHE New Zealand, is a full, end-to-end insurance system that covers all aspects of insurance, says Hamilton. The final go-live is about to happen, he says. “This project has been a highly positive experience for us,” he says. RHE Australia has done outsourcing to the New Zealand arm from time to time — RHE New Zealand built the Qantas frequent flyer system, for example — but the NTI project has been a good learning experience for how to handle outsourced work, says Hamilton.The company has refined how to “go about remote development”, he says. The partnership with NTI has taught RHE where the communication challenges are, how to manage outsourced work, what tools and environment are needed and who you need, and don't need, on the ground, he says. RHE used that knowledge when it started an operation in the UK in June last year.RHE delivers around 60% of the Australian work out of Australia, and 40% out of New Zealand, he says. When asked about Moore’s comment that compares RHE’s staff to white rats, Hamilton laughs and says: “Our people really warmed to that comment.”

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