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Outsourcing work from US...Thoughts??

I recently had a discussion with a good friend of mine about his company's decsion to outsource most of the software development to India.

At first that seemed to be a threat to use programmers here in the US.  Folks in India are able to work for a fraction of the pay that US folks require. 

Could there be a win-win solution here?

I'm a developer who's looking to position myself in the future with a future.  What will my job be like if this becomes standard?

Thoughts?

US Developer
Monday, July 08, 2002

Yes let out source everything to india, and stop making anything ourselves :-).

The ultimate in leisure society!

Dull C-Sharp
Monday, July 08, 2002

I second.

Joe AA.
Monday, July 08, 2002

>Could there be a win-win solution here?

Hardly.

I think that this is what happens when you are just counting salaries paid. In my oppinion outsourcing is bad because you do not get the same commitment from outsourced workers than you do with your own staff. Even on a per-dollar-spent-basis.

5 motivated guys produce more code than 30 uninspired outsourcing dudes that probably couldnt care less. I for
one wouldnt feel accountable if I knew you were not in my
part of the world to bitch at me when I didnt deliver in time,
because I decided to go drink beer with my pals instead.

So take your 5 guys and go skiing in Aspen for a weekend
and save your outsourcing budget to give them free coke.

It will surely be more productive.

This is just my 2 cents,

Patrik
Monday, July 08, 2002

I really missed the target; So I will shot again, and call whatever I hit the target :-)

>What will my job be like if this becomes standard?

I think it will be the same as it is now. My point I made before is still kindof valid. If you are good at what you do you will always be able to find work. Im not saying the boom is coming back, but you will be able to pay the bills.

If you are looking at more "mature" braches of business outsourcing has come and gone over the years. So now outsourcing is good, in five years it will be considered bad.
It will come and go in cycles. Nothing says it will stay forever in he IT-industry.

Patrik
Monday, July 08, 2002


Hm... I think the problem here is that we still think too high of our work. C'mon, how many years of study requires to become a so called IT worker? Surely, not too much. Yet we want to have similar salaries to, say, a doctor, or an architect.

We _must_ realize that most of us are like factory workers, with ~2 years of training. Nothing less, but nothing more. Just because we are required to think a little to do our work don't mean we are scientists, or something like that.

I would expect a sustained salary cutting to be happening during the next years.

(And you guys have it easy: in my country, to become an engineer, you have to spend 6 years at university!)

Leonardo Herrera
Monday, July 08, 2002

>Hm... I think the problem here is that we still think too high of our work.

I do not agree. But lets agree its not rocket science. All over the place (world wide) there has been massive layoffs, because at least here (in Sweden), six months ago we had everybody working in this business.

There are basically 2 reasons for getting into programming among the people i know / been working with.

1) Pure intrest. Very motivated self-learning programmers, that can do most stuff and teach themselves new things as they go along. Working by themseleves to keep their set of
skills current.

2) Others, that got their year of classes to make a good paycheck. If flipping burgers would have been as lucrative, they'd be working at Burger King. These are not programmers.

Needless to say, category 1 programmers always wins when it comes to a tight job market. Thats why I said, if
you are good you will always be able to find work.


>~2 years of training. Nothing less, but nothing more.

Im one of those; Do not confuse formal training with the ability to solve problems, and being a good programmer.  I have in some ways a somewhat lacking formal education, but then again I have almost 8 years under my belt to make up for it. In my experience relevant working experience always beats formal education, seeing this is not rocket science :-)

I can agree that I (or we as programmers) will have to lower our standards when it comes to doing intresting stuff. What I mean is that I can see myself creating more reports than before, but I will be able to pay my bills.







Just because we are required to think a little to do our work don't mean we are scientists, or something like that.

I would expect a sustained salary cutting to be happening during the next years.

Patrik
Monday, July 08, 2002

Think a little?  Wow!!  What I wouldn't give to get even that much out of the procedure and checklist following "Software Engineers"!!

Joe AA.
Monday, July 08, 2002

This work actually is complex.  The idea that it is less so than what an atorney or an accountant does is crazy.  People with two years experience usually are not ready to produce quality systems.

I think that part of the problem with Comp Sci workers is that they don't do a good enough job expressing the importance of their contribution.  The impact I have on my company in terms of productivity and customer sastisfaction is at least as great as my manager's.  My work in difficult and important.  I deserve to be paid well.

vanguard
Tuesday, July 09, 2002

Ummm 99% of programming work done today isn't at all complex, few programming problems seen by the majority of programmers today are of anything other than a difficulty caused by an interface or intersection of interfaces.

Which is not to say there aren't complex problems and there aren't highly skilled, highly experienced people working on them.

But for the most part its point and shoot form building and sending off messages, gathering responses and presenting them.

As for outsourcing 'foreign' development compared to internal or domestic outsourcing.  If it didn't work it wouldn't get used.  Don't mistake far away for worse.

In a time of market slowdown skills become more valuable.  The less common and highly prized the skill the less likely you are to suffer the consequences of a slow down. 

So, if you (the rhetorical you) feel under threat from oursourced development or gastarbeiter folk work on your skills, develop your exposure to different ways of doing things.  And if some heavy filtering recruitment agent asks whether this experience was gained commercially, answer yes.  If you are a professional (given caveats elsewhere about the use of the term professional), _everything_ you do is commercial.

Simon Lucy
Tuesday, July 09, 2002

> The less common and highly prized the skill the less likely you are to suffer the consequences of a slow down.

Caveat on that one.  Having "less common" skills is a doubled edged sword.  True, you'll have less competition, but you'll also have less demand for your niche, seldom used/needed skills.  Just ask all the unemployed XSLT/DHTML/set-top-box gurus out there.  (or just pick any flavor of the week that got loads of media how-to and "next windows killer' writeups,  and lots of uber coder attention, but resulted in relatively little revenue producing production level code)  People are no longer going to get paid to play with neat stuff.  If you're not contributing to the bottom line,  look out.     

If quite refreshing actually, I can't tell you how fed up I got with all the flavor of the week bullshit hype in the coding field.  Back to basics is sometimes a good thing for everyone.

Bella
Tuesday, July 09, 2002

But wait, surely this can't be Bella speaking these words.
Maybe there's hope afterall :-).



<If quite refreshing actually, I can't tell you how fed up I got with all the flavor of the week bullshit hype in the coding field. Back to basics is sometimes a good thing for everyone. >

XJ++
Tuesday, July 09, 2002

Don't get your hopes up .... it's just another Troll pretending to be a reformed Bella.

Troll bait

>>
But wait, surely this can't be Bella speaking these words.
Maybe there's hope afterall :-).



<If quite refreshing actually, I can't tell you how fed up I got with all the flavor of the week bullshit hype in the coding field. Back to basics is sometimes a good thing for everyone. >

<<

Meat tastes Good
Tuesday, July 09, 2002


"This work actually is complex. The idea that it is less so than what an atorney or an accountant does is crazy. People with two years experience usually are not ready to produce quality systems."

Sorry, but I mostly disagree. I know CS can be difficult and complex: compilers, operating systems, medical equipment software, geologic (sp?) stuff, and even 3D games are far from easy to create, and indeed, almost rocket science in some cases. But the bulk of IT is database related, web apps, VB thingies... I can't help myself of thinking "hey, this stuff is absolutely trivial". Sure, years of experience are required, but that's a requirement for any kind of job. Hell, sometimes I think a 30 years experienced carpenter deserves more money than some of my (tech) bosses...

I believe most the overrating of the tech workers is a colateral effect of the dot-coma syndrome. jwz put it very clear:

"(...) People whose sense of self-worth has gone nonlinear, because when they look at their brokerage statement, they forget that, while skill was certainly a component of why they got to where they did, luck was also a huge component. Most of these people have never worked for a company that built a good product and failed anyway. They don't have any understanding of the fact that skill is often necessary, but always insufficient. They believe their hype. "

Now is wrapping time. Companies are starting to cut cost by contracting cheaper workers, and this invariabily will lead them overseas. This happened before with manufacturing, is going to happen again with "mind" workers. Get over it.

(If I sound harsh, or dumb, excuse me, my english is far from perfect)

Leonardo Herrera
Tuesday, July 09, 2002

Wrapping time.  Maybe catch up time. 

A lot of nothing, meaning "no production" has happened in the last year or so - the dotcoms still fizzling out, 9/11, Enron, Kmart and Martha Steward... etc.

The bills are coming due and the wave of losses have to propagate from one debtor to the next debtor along the chain in hopes of reaching some form of payment. 

The local utility started cutting projects, laying off IT workers in the last month or so... starting with contractors and it may affect some number of employees.  The cause is supposed to be Enron related... an attempt to make up a loss of $30M or so.  The IT department had already outsourced some maintenance and support work to Wipro about a year ago.

No, software development is not rocket science, but the practice has become pretty much brain surgery... along the lines of a comment made somewhere that brain surgery doesn't require intelligence on the part of the surgeon... just a level of manual dexterity.

I agree with Bella to some extent.  I too am pretty sick and tired of the latest flavor of the month... especially in "third party software" products required to make a crop of "Hello World" programs... at least able to say "Hell".

My hope... and probably your fear, is that some business person, maybe a CEO will walk into the IT department and see through the smoke and mirrors, recognizing the maze of artificial complication for what it is - an overly expensive delusion of self importance and job security...

And say "No more".

Joe AA.
Tuesday, July 09, 2002

I agree with the arguments that IT projects may be at times trivial and not "Rocket Science".  It is true that most apps are simple database oriented apps but on the other hand may contain complex business rules that takes a certain level of competence to handle.

I have always believed in returning a value much higher than what I was paid for back to my employer.  That where I see the salary justified and that's what I use to select projects by.  Almost all of my past projects have allowed my customer(s) to make more money while doing less.  The returns from thier investment can be great.  Because of this I feel justified in charging a high rate.

US Developer
Tuesday, July 09, 2002

I'm reformed now? LOL.    I've ALWAYS stuck to KISS, and laughed at the vapor dotcom hype technologies long before it was obvious to do so.    Here are recent posts to remind you of my pragmatism ....

===============

One tip: Dont get sucked into HYPE that doesnt solve your business problems. I feel programmers today sometimes need to be curtailled. Many coders today are more interested in skillsets, then always implementing the most APPROPRIATE solution to your problem. To be fair, sometimes they just don't know any better. It is very easy to be misled all the hype that is prevalent in the tech media these days.

There is also a LOT of misundstanding of what a certain technology is and is not. For example, look all the XML hype. It was commonly asked "Will XML replace Windows?" People lost sight of the fact that it's simply a data file format, no more, no less.

Everyone talks about UNDERengineering a project, but there's a lot to be said for OVERengineering. This article is a great example:

How Scient helped Verde.com go from launch to bankruptcy in less than 60 days
http://www.soundbitten.com/verde.html

Bella
Friday, April 05, 2002

=====================

"The future of applications is HTML: What do you think about software running in a browser? In the next years, Will do I use a word processing in a browser? Could HTML be the next de fact standard to build User Interface? What about Flash?"

IMHO, this conversation is so late 90's. The days of doing something a dozen different ways are over for now. Budgets are being slashed. People will do what they are paid to do, tech 'religion' can take a backseat
Let me clarifiy, my point was rebutting the hype of "the future is this....the future is that..."
The future is what you're currently working on.
Hype can take a backseat to reaility now.

Bella
Friday, April 05, 2002

===========================

If you're a newbie, I'd say stay away from open source projects. You'll just run into rabid, overzealous freaks who have little to none practical business sense. They will cloud you mind, especially if your goal is to get a job. And, it may be worse now, b/c these clueless yahoos are mostly out of work these days, (as the set top box programming market has evaporated,) and can devote even more time to these oft ill fated endeavours.

Trust me. If you want web experience, build a data based web site. Pick ANYTHING. Name ONE interest you have outside computers, and we can think of a good website for you to build. Once you're done, rewrite it in several POPULAR languages. (ASP, perl, java) True value is when a person can determine the most appropriate tool for a task, too many people know one skill, and try to solve EVERY problem with it.

Bella
Saturday, June 01, 2002

===============

Trivia: How many of these companies still exist:
Sybase
Ingress
Novell
Banyan
Informix
Powerbuilder
Borland
Inprise
Symantec

Bella
Monday, April 15, 2002

===============

I don't believe there is any warm body skill that automatically commands insane rates. The boom is over. There is a labor glut. In fact, as I've said repeatedly, all the overhyped bleeding edge, silver bullet niches will, to turn the tide, not only no longer command crazy rates, but simply may be SHELVED. In a time of cost cutting, it back to basics as investment in IT shrinks. Vapor promise laden slick talk technologies are on hold until the "sine wave of life" repeats another cycle. Learn COBOL. Firms make money with it.

IMHO, knowing the latest and greatest isn't going to double your rate. B/c AS WE ALL KNOW, the 'latest and greatest' doesn't always push the envelope and necessarily allow you to do amazing things that other pogrammers CANT.

For example, XML is my pet peeve. XML is a file with data. Yea, it's all neat and genericly parseable, but, it's a raw data flat file. ANYTHING you can do with an XML file, can be done with a flat ASCII pipe delimited file. We've had those for 50 years. Yea, easier and better and more elegant, but CEO's could CARE LESS. And now look, where is the XML hype now? Where are all the XML/XSL/XSLT specialists now? And when is "XML going to replace Microsoft"? LOL, what an overhyped joke. Classic case of TECHNOLOGISTS trying to drive the BUSINESS. A disaster scenario that rarely works out. Companies overspent on IT and most were burned and did not achieve anywhere their expected ROI's. IMHO, they have learned (or will be forced to!) to want systems that help them make money. Period.

IMHO, You will not command insane rates for any raw tech skill anymore. I can't name one IT sector that has a massive severe shortage. The mania is over, and as a result, IMHO, demand would slacken for all aspects of IT.

You can't make a blanket statement anymore. Instead of focusing on a skill, focus on the business. Find a firm with money to burn. For example, find a client who desperately needs your services and is willing to pay a premium. IMHO, this is a better avenue, in the current economic regression to reality, than to find some hotshot shortcut skill.

Your "silver bullet skill" should be providing top notch services to a firm that needs it, and can afford it.

Bella
Tuesday, April 23, 2002


==============================
I leave you with some SQL fun:
==============================
By definition, a manager is the highest paid employee in a department.  Select the lowest paid manager.

create table #emp
(
id int,
salary int,
dept int)

========
And a joke
========
Consulting:    If you're not part of the solution there is good money to e made in prolonging the problem.

Bella
Tuesday, July 09, 2002

US developer wrote "may contain complex business rules that takes a certain level of competence to handle".

I'm going to ignore the fact that the term "business rules" is used as a buzzword these days.

I have never seen nor heard a complex business rule(s).  I have on the other hand, seen overly complicated implementations of simple business rule(s).

I have several theories...

1) The business person cannot tell the programmer how to effectively code the rules, and the programmer just wants to code something.

2) Business rules do form a "priority hierarchy", but the programmer doesn't recognize this and implements something that pretends the rules are "relational".

3) The chosen implementation scheme and rule priority may be in conflict... a situation where the lowest priority rule should be handled first, but in practice the highest priority rule is implemented first.

4) Using the apparent "complexity" of a rule as a substitute for the priority of the rule.

As an example... do you know what the highest priority business rule is for a credit and collections process should be?

"If you don't have to do anything with the account today... then don't".

It hardly ever comes up as a "requirement", especially from the credit and collections department.  It is one of those things that appear "so obvious" that it can't be seen.

But you should see the kludge(s) that can result in the code when the oversight is eventually discovered.

Joe AA.
Tuesday, July 09, 2002

Everyone is talking about how so many Software Engineers are "over-rated", and that the tech boom is over, and people who code arn't worth what they're making right now (or what they were making, or whatever). 
    If this is the case, why do so few companies succeed at making good software.  Hell, most companies have trouble putting together a moderatly large web application that can scale.  Sure, I agree that there were tons of overpaid, half-technical nobodys who jumped on the dot-com boom and were over paid.  But to say that programming is rather trivial, when I know maybe 3 out of 100 pogrammers who are competent enough to put something together is outrageous. 
      If any of you claiming that SE's are over paid ever get a chance to put together a development team, you'll see.  By the end of 10 interviewing sessions you'll be willing to trade your first born for a good SR. Developer.

Vincent Marquez
Tuesday, July 09, 2002

Vincent Marquez
Because everyone is so busy playing games and wanting to short circuit the process, that very few cycles is actually spent solving problems...

There you go, it out in the open!!

XP Man
Tuesday, July 09, 2002

But we have to sit in these all day committee meetings!

Joe AA.
Tuesday, July 09, 2002

No one is intrisically worth anything. It's like real estate...people go around complaining that they can't sell their house for what it's worth. Join the clue brigade! You (and your house) are only worth what someone is willing to pay. Read that agin.

While the trends will generally be upwards, short term there will be volatility. And even long term there are no guarantees. If you don't like your income, find something that has a better income and get on with your life.

And stop whining.

"asset"
Tuesday, July 09, 2002

Gee... I wonder how this works?
So will employees in ASIA be allowed to contribute to PACs now


http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A41510-2002Jul8.html

Uh Okay
Tuesday, July 09, 2002

We can all join PACs and have laws passed to set minimum  wage standards for all types of work and require American companies to purchase all goods/services from other American companies. Maybe we can get our own planet and be rid of this pesky globalism. Earth's wages can all spiral down while planet America's only spiral up. We'll have to leave the economists behind. Yeah...our own planet...that's it.

"asset"
Tuesday, July 09, 2002

"asset"
move to ASIA ... at least then we'll know where your allegence lies :-)

Uh Okay
Tuesday, July 09, 2002

I was part way where last week...does Hawaii count?

Actually, like manufacturing, software jobs are going to go. It's not that I want them to go. I've earned a good living as a software engineer (okay...programmer) the last 10 years. But when I look in my crystal ball, I see changes. Nothing specific, just changes (that look like light reflecting in a glass ball...okay...it's a marble). I plan to ride the changes rather than to join the "aint it awful" and "remember when" crowd.

My software skills will server me well whatever I do but I will expand my potential employment market to include ooportunities that leverage my skills but are not constrained by them. Change is opportunity.

Seize the delta.

"asset"
Tuesday, July 09, 2002

ooportunities? I have been doing this too long.

"asset"
Tuesday, July 09, 2002

"No one is intrisically worth anything."

Good point Asset.


hmmm.....I hope I didn't come of as a whiner...that's wasn't my intenet...it's just a few thoughts I had over the weekend...

... all in all this has been an interesting thread.

US Developer
Tuesday, July 09, 2002

I shouldn't call anyone a whiner. I was echoing another thread. My intent is to get people to step back and take a look at things with the assumption that things will change.

As you can tell, I go off, get sarcastic and out of line frequently. But to get someone to see the middle, you sometimes have to pull hard from the opposite side. Also known as exageration.

My preference would be to build cool applications for the rest of my unretired life at the income levels that I have been enjoying these last 6-7 years. Maybe in some context I can. But I will be prepared for other outcomes.

"asset"
Tuesday, July 09, 2002

A part of me admires the chutzpah it takes to post a bunch of one's own posts seemingly for no purpose other than self advertisement.

Its a very small and sad part of me though and its going to therapy.

Simon Lucy
Wednesday, July 10, 2002

No worries...it's easily cured.

"asset"
Wednesday, July 10, 2002


chutzpah! Every time I read that word I almost collapse. Funny jews :-)

Leonardo Herrera
Wednesday, July 10, 2002

Ah to be jewish and funny, I'll just have to make do with being funny, perhaps not even that.

Simon Lucy
Thursday, July 11, 2002

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