MagellanX: Clearing up maritime’s cluttered spare parts cupboard

Jul 24, 2023

When a flight to Singapore begins its descent to Changi, it passes over the port. As the plane drops, cargo ships start to come into view. Closer still, and you start to see dozens of individual containers, stacked up. This is the global supply chain, in physical form. On each ship, an entire crew of people manages the vessel and its operations. On land, a further team manages the fleet, its upkeep and its routes as they traverse the planet with cargo. What looks like a seamless big picture becomes something incredibly intricate and detailed up close.

The underdeveloped parts of digital maritime 

The maritime industry is the beating heart of this global supply chain, powering the engine of world trade. Yet it is late to the digital wave. Across the value chain, many organisations still work with traditional paper and pen processes, hampered in part by limited IT infrastructure onboard vessels. This makes innovating even more difficult. There is limited interoperable data, complex setups occurring at sea with varying (if any) internet access, and very specific system requirements and hardware parameters.

MagellanX offers inventory management for spare parts for maritime vessels. When it works, it is that simple - but the realities of the maritime environment make it an incredibly difficult space to operate in, especially as a legacy industry with efficiency gaps. For example, each ship holds its own inventory of spare parts. If it needs a part that is not onboard, getting a replacement is a timely, and costly, affair. Yet there may be a vessel close by with that very part onboard; a trade which would save a huge amount of fuel and logistical efficiency. The sector is in clear need of real-time, distributed coordination.

The problem MagellanX faced

Developing the MagellanX platform needed a team that could handle the complex technical problems when creating an application ecosystem that would work on ships with inconsistent internet access. Based in Singapore, MagellanX was facing difficulties accessing agile, adaptable and affordable talent in the competitive and confined market. The talent they could find, would not meet their exact criteria. Yet they remained sceptical of hiring overseas teams, uncertain that the quality of talent they needed would be available.

Building the future of maritime tech teams

MISSION+ offers access to a wider talent pool across countries with a lower cost of living, providing a more affordable software development solution that does not compromise on quality. MagellanX’s mission is to streamline vessel management, monitoring, and maintenance across a fleet, rather than individual ship level, through a real-time distributed digitalised inventory. MISSION+ supported the sourcing and interviewing process for developers to join the team building this infrastructure. When it became clear that the local market did not have the right talent, MISSION+ expanded the search while maintaining the high bar for candidates.

A number of mitigation strategies were deployed to ensure the right developers were found. Months were spent planning; ensuring MagellanX were exactly clear on their goals, targets and needs from developers, to ensure only the right candidates were even reaching the interview stage. It was very important to start right, not rush to start first

MISSION+ then sourced quality technical team leads with both the development skills needed, and communication skills to liaise between English and Vietnamese speaking teams. By placing solid team leads, MISSION+ could focus on building strong communications lines with this Vietnam-based talent and empowering them to manage their teams, instead of dividing efforts to manage a full team of individuals. At first, MagellanX were still wary; even with personal guarantees from the MISSION+ CTO. The engagement only forged ahead with a two week guarantee offering alternative developers or a refund if the hand-selected team did not work out. 

With candidates in place, time was spent integrating the overseas team with the onshore team. Beyond aligning on the tech stack, it ensured parity in domain knowledge. Hardware was even sent to Vietnam so team leads could explain the application of the solution to their developers, with industry context literally in hand.

Delivering results

MagellanX was very quickly more than happy with their new team of high-quality developers. In the 3 years this project ran, 15 developers were placed with the MagellanX team, saving US$2,625,000 in development costs and time of hiring equivalent talent locally; not accounting for the time and administrative work of finding and interviewing team members - whether in Singapore or navigating the specificities of an overseas market. Attrition rate stayed low, averaging between 6% and the industry average of 12%, reducing the burden of ongoing sourcing and hiring candidates. 

More than that - MISSION+ put project success a priority, not just meeting their own deliverables but providing insight and suggestions that enhance the final product through a strong cadence on sprint delivery: meeting and exceeding client expectations.

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