Fog Creek Software
Discussion Board




How to start oversea project outsourcing?

I have been a consultant for 5 years with good tracking record and still employed in US. But with no sign of job market turnaround and probably more and more project outsourcing to foreign countries (simple reality of capitalism), I am seriously entertaining the idea of jump gun (proactive!) – to work as liaison/project management on outsourcing projects. Recently I have been corresponding with a consulting company that also wants to do oversea outsourcing (again, simple reality of capitalism). I want to equip myself with more knowledge when the discussion gets more serious.

Can anybody provide me some info on how to get started with oversea project outsourcing, or where I can find information? Any information (legal, tax, ...) would be helpful. I myself is Chinese citizen. Many thanks and good luck to you all.

Jack
Wednesday, November 27, 2002

I really hate this topic. With high unemployment in the US Tech area right now, why in hell should you do this?

The idea behind capitalism/business should not be greed (as it appers to be here) but creation of valid long term sustained economic growth. Small companies in the US support 90%+ of the economy that's feeding you!!! Small compaines that create jobs that create familes who buy cars that need homes, ad nauseum.

Too many people in my backyard (and that poor guy in Jacksonville with 1 pack of balogna, I feel for ya, and hang in there) are hurting for jobs right here. Like their skills aren't good enough - you're just too greedy to help them out. Sure your profit margin will be lower, but that's what's so screwed up now.

Be a human above all else, and possess compassion for those around you. Then get yourself a lawyer who specializes in international contracts and bring that work back into the US!

My 0.02

-j
Wednesday, November 27, 2002

I don't think I like this topic either, but I am nobody and I can't change the fact that more and more companies outsource projects overseas. I just finished a two-day training of WSAD5 and half of the trainees are from Satyam. They are going to get my job sooner or later. And the company's CIO already recommended all software projects to be outsourced (domestic or oversea).

I can't make much difference for the sociaty and I am not a civil rights activist, I in some way just want to see what I am up to.

Jack
Wednesday, November 27, 2002

You may hate the topic, but ignoring it won't change anything.

In addition, it is unfair of you to pick on Jack.  Jack was just stating how the markets work, and trying to figure out how to protect himself.  Smart move, Jack.

I expect I will lose my job and that I will have a very difficult time finding a new one, partly because more and more work is being outsourced overseas.  This is similar to what happened to the textile workers.  I am doubtful that programming is going to be a viable profession in the U.S. 10 years from now (except for very small niches).  I suppose I will need to change careers.  I have no idea what I will do.

For the sake of argument, let's assume you are right.  Companies shouldn't be so greedy.  The reality is that they are.  The philosophical and moral questions you raise are interesting, but are not practical.

Companies are greedy.  Companies have always been greedy.  Companies will always be greedy. 

Companies will try to save costs.  The direct costs of programmers in China, or India are one-tenth of the costs of a programmer in North America, Western Europe, or Japan.  Therefore, companies will outsource to China and India.

You may not like that.  I don't like that.  I don't see a viable way to prevent it.

The next step is to try to figure out how we can be relevant.  Jack has the right attitude.

Apparently, there was a book written in the early 1990's on this topic by Ed Yourdon:
"Decline and Fall of the American Programmer"
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/013191958X/qid=1038433972/sr=1-1/ref=sr_1_1/002-9150676-6564040?v=glance&s=books

From the summary on Amazon, I gather that Yourdon believes that the only way for American (Western European and Japanese) programmers to stay relevant is to improve the quality of their code.  Would someone who has read his book care to comment?

Based upon what I have seen of management decisions, I don't think most companies care about quality.  Most companies treat programmers as grunts.  My experience is that most companies want programmers that can bang out code as fast as possible.  The result is unmaintainable spaghetti code, but it was cheap to develop.  Therefore, I don’t buy Yourdon’s solution.

I’m sorry your thread was highjacked Jack, but it is an interesting topic.

I know this may be another emotional topic, but please let’s keep things professional and polite.  Please take another moment when replying to make sure you use reason, not emotion.  I thank you.

anon
Wednesday, November 27, 2002

Yourdon seems to have changed his mind and later wrote "Rise & Resurrection of the American Programmer".

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0139561609/ref=pd_bxgy_text_1/002-2410317-2533617?v=glance&s=books

But I have not read either one.

mackinac
Wednesday, November 27, 2002

Probably the lead role will go to westeners, with cheap labour doing the grunt work. At the moment industry has a notion about software development that has been created by westeners developing software. What industry does not know is the effect of different  temperments of the Western and Eastern software developer.

Who gets going when the going gets tough, who do you think?

When there's nobody else's idea to steal and you've gotta do it yourself, who will do it first?

Overseas outsourcing will be the worst thing that even happened to IT, eventually it will be stopped for all but the most trivial of developments because in about 5 years industry will figure out that it doesn't work.

...
Wednesday, November 27, 2002

Dear -j,
              If you wish to be a racist, all well and good (though why you should expect somebody who describes himself as  Chinese to take the side of "fellow Americans" is beyond me). However, please don't try to pass off your economic protectionism as philanthropic concern for the rest of humanity. It is even more hypocritical coming from somebody in a profession dedicated to automating people out of jobs -- though as I have said on anoither thread computing hasn't even been that successful at that.

            Jack, as far as I can tell outsourcing to India (China is way behind in software development, but the place where all the hardware manufacture is outsourced to) and to a much lesser extent other Asian countries falls into three categories.

                First very basic data entry stuff; Yale, I believe, outsourced the scanning and subsequent OCR'ing of  much of its library to Cambodia; the company that was given the job of checking up on the criminal records of teachers in the UK brought many educational institutions to a halt this September because it had send off all the paper forms  to Dehli go be entered into computers more cheaply. There are not really many interesting openings there and the work is likely to dry up in the next ten years once the old records are online and people get out of the habit of using paper forms.

                The second is where projects, or software applications, are developed on their own in India. There is a multi-billion dollar Indian software industry with some pretty heavy players in it. So if you feel like competing against some pretty lean and hungry twenty-somethings, and earning a third to a quarter of the salary you get back home, away you go.

                  The third type of outsourcing is where a company sends a large part of its project to be done by coders in Taiwan or Bangalore because they are under the illusion it is economic to have their software developed by people speaking a different language who are a dozen time zones and as many culture zones away. If you're lucky enough to find a large company that has the money to try and clean up the mess it's got itself into then great. If you are in a company that is thinking of outsourcing, then first of all tell your boss it's a lousy idea (not too emphatically but let it remain on the record) and then when it all hits the fan, put on your martyred look and explain that you were against the idea in the first place, but that for the sake of the company you will spend the next couple of years cooped up in five star hotels in tropical paradises (hint - don't let them outsoure to places like Mongolia).

Anyway I'm off on holiday tomorrow to Sri Lanka, which is full of people -j thinks should not be given the chance to have a decent job. If I get an internet connection set up I'll post a few more thoughts on the subject.

Stephen Jones
Wednesday, November 27, 2002

Dear ... (by the way are theseminimalist names some sort of statement I'm missing)

When you count to ten you are using the Hindi number system. I believe about 30% of the programmers at Microsoft come from the sub-continent. the best manual for Red Hat Linux was written by a Bangladeshi, and a long list of etc.s

There are probalby many differences between "western" and "eastern" programmers, but I doubt if they have anything to do with their attitude to code.

Or perhaps, as this is Joel's site, you are comparing the East Coast to the West Coast. Now there you'll have a point :)

Stephen Jones
Wednesday, November 27, 2002

i could be missing something, but I thought the "overseas outsourcing" thing was big about 5 years ago, and has now been discredited?  i don't really think being a liasion between a fucked team of developers in bangalore and a fucked company in the US (or wherever) is really much of a step up from being a fucked developer or consultant, yourself.

nerdles
Wednesday, November 27, 2002

SIGH! I have a feeling this thread is going to snowball into the one like the H1-B thread!

Anyways, to answer the original question:

Many people are trying to leverage their domain knowledge in staring outsourcing projects. Identify your domain area that you are going to work on. Then identify companies that want work outsourced, and finally find companies in India who are interested in such work.

Things to look out for:
. You will be the point man with respect to the domain area, and in most cases explaining the domain area to the people, you are outsourcing the project too. (I am assuming that you do not have a person proficient in your domain working at outsourcer’s site.)
. Give the companies a Pilot project, see if it lives up to your expectations, and then take it from there. Give them clear deliverables, timeline, etc.

If you do wish to outsource to India, I know a few companies who are interested in such work. Drop me a line.

Prakash S
Wednesday, November 27, 2002

-j

The basic tenets of business of business are “make” a product for as less as possible and sell it for as much as possible. This is the basic principle on which almost all companies are based. They continently forget the social responsibility associated.

With software, all things being the same, except that A charges $100, while B$ charges 5 – who would you go with? Obviously, A. Going with B is difficult to justify.

More of development roles will be shifted to places like India for this reason. There are opportunities for people with very good communication skills, computer knowledge and domain knowledge in the outsourcing industries.

Many people have lost white-collar jobs due to automation and more jobs will be lost in the future (See Tom Peters books, Project 50, etc).

Organizations like to concentrate on their core competencies and outsource the rest. Nike does this, they research, advertise and brand. They do not own a single manufacturing unit.

Prakash S
Wednesday, November 27, 2002

"Organizations like to concentrate on their core competencies and outsource the rest. Nike does this, they research, advertise and brand. They do not own a single manufacturing unit. "

The assumption implicit in outsourcing programming is that "software engineering" is like manufacturing, or like some other type of engineering. It isn't. 

software engineer
Wednesday, November 27, 2002

It has not got there yet, but the basics are the same.

Prakash S
Wednesday, November 27, 2002

no, it really isn't. most engineering projects (a bridge, a dam, a car, a pacemaker) you design a lot of shit up front so that you can produce a jewel that doesn't change once you finish. the point of software is that it should be flexible and easily modifiable so that you can adapt it to your needs as you go along. this is not really amenable to the outsourcing model, where you ship off a blueprint and expect a "product" to be shipped back. it works a bit better with shrinkwrap, but even then the upgrade cycle is usually so fast (3 - 9 months) such that it takes too long to communicate with a faraway team, even with the magic of the internet.  even Joel, who is mr. boring engineering methodology, does not outsource, for these very reasons.

software engineer
Wednesday, November 27, 2002

Whats the difference between sitting in New Delhi coding, and sitting in your home office, 20 miles up the road coding?

You have fast internet, fax, phone, copier, and of course the same stuff installed on your PC.

What is different? I mean this seriously, I'm not trying to stir people up.

What is different? Why does one work and the other doesn't?

Alberto
Wednesday, November 27, 2002

I think the reality is that, given a competent programmer who can easily communicate in English there's not much difference in theory. The same types of jobs that a programmer 20 miles away could do, could be done from across the world.  But in my experience the reality is much different.

Successful telecommuters work in roles that respect the fact that they aren't having regular face-to-face communication with coworkers. This might mean that they are working on a very well defined, separate project (e.g. we have a driver for printer X, please write one for printer Y), are the lone supporter of some legacy system (noone else has a clue about this payroll system, so I might as well maintain it from my cabin in the Ozarks), or have some mechanism in place to ensure regular communication (e.g. Fridays in the office).

Managers don't tend to use overseas outsourcing for these types of situations, in my experience. They feel that they can eliminate an entire team (and the associated costs) by outsourcing a whole project or subproject. And I think they achieve similar results as they'd see if they sent half of their dev team 20 miles down the road, and added a 1/2 day delay between all communications.

Malcolm
Wednesday, November 27, 2002

Stephen Jones, how was -j being racist?

analyst
Wednesday, November 27, 2002

<<Whats the difference between sitting in New Delhi coding, and sitting in your home office, 20 miles up the road coding?>>

If you are coding to order, you have much better contact with the users and their needs if you are 20 miles away.  Not a small thing.

From what I've heard outsourcing is fine if the organization knows exactly what they want, can explain those needs perfectly clearly, and can size up the quality of what's delivered for themselves.  I'm sure there is a company like that out there somewhere.  :)

Matt

Matt Conrad
Wednesday, November 27, 2002

I will tell ya why this does not work!!

I as a habit tend to avoid these posts. But, I shall put in my 3 cents worth her also.

First, Ed Yourdon’s book. – Decline and Fall of the American programmer. Gee, too bad old Ed did not release the book this year! There is a defeatist theme in the book from the point of view that we here in North America are doing a poor job (and thus risk loosing the whole industry to over seas companies). However, most the of the book is on software management, and software quality. He did seem to believe that in the early 1990’s we where going to loose the software industry to foreign competition. (the book was published in 1992).  Of course for the next 8 years the industry absolutely boomed in north America. So, it really was  crappy title for other wise a EXCELLNET BOOK. It also was before any hint of the internet existed (which by the way, does/would support the concept of outsourcing).

Ed also was very vocal in the year 2000 speaking tour. So, I have to say that this guy sees publishing opportunities, and likes a bit of controversy thrown in.

However, that book is really not about the decline of the software industry, but what practices should be adopted for good software development. It is very good book on software methodologies, and has good chapters on software metrics. It certainly belongs on any good software developers shelf, and I can see my hard cover copy as I type this. Hence, it is a excellent book. It is actually dated a bit, since the whole PC and net revolution REALLY picked up steam in the mind 90’s. So, much is written about mainframe, and pc type stuff in his book.  Don’t let the title of the book fool you, it is an excellent book on software development, and what good companies should do.

By the way, I was NOT aware of the “Rise & Resurrection of the American Programmer". I never heard of this title, nor seen a review. Hum, perhaps I will order a copy.

Now, back to this outsourcing issues. First, a good many y2k projects were in fact outsource to places like India. However, y2k work was 100% drone dead beat work. Scan and replace code. Add some y2k “offset” to every date value. Real low value in the sense that any good developer would avoid this type of work anyway.  Also, the y2k work was easily outsourced since no usability, and designs had to be communicated to the other end. (this is most important!).

When software has to have a lot of usability, and testing with users, it is has to be done with the target audience. Outsourcing does not lend it self well to this type of development model.

It turns out a lot of system type software does NOT need usability type stuff. Hence, software that does not need “end” user testing, or a lot of user interaction is a great candidate for outsourcing. If you are writing a driver, or a database engine, a large portion of the project has NO UI. These types of software was thought to be a perfect candidate for outsourcing. However, most of that kind of software is also exactly perfect for Open Source. Hence, work on database engines such as MySql, and the ton of “OS” level type work we see is now see is open source. (Linux for example).  Thus, much of the real stuff that is good candidate for outsourcing is also good for open source. This is another reason why I believe outsourcing did not take off. (in other words, much of what can be outsourced is being done already).

The other main problem with outsourcing is the usability/designs/interface stuff cannot occur very well when the project is outsourced. This is especially the case when language barriers exist. Even culture can hamper this. I have had many beers with some project managers who have in fact outsouced software projects. I don’t have time here..but the stories are amazing! (they actually flew over about 30 people from another country!).

Now, if you are going to outsource software, then you need an excellent analyst, and someone who can write VERY GOOD functional specs. If you don’t have those skills, then outsourcing is not possible. To have those skills means you are an excellent communicator, AND also a excellent designer.  If you are looking to become a “outsourcer” person, then you better have great analyst abilities. If you can write up excellent specs and designs, then you can probably do well as an outsourcer. That means that your specs AND designs are very good. (by the way, those companies overseas are desperate for these types of people, since they are the “KEY” to making this whole process happen). With out excellent designers and analysts on this end, the outscoring cannot occur.

Of course, if we have no more programmers here, then we will not have people capable of design something to outsource…will we? You are not going to create a good analyst without that analyst have good designs and programming skills. Hence, if we loose too many jobs, then outscouring will not work. If a compnay tries to get rid of too many develoers, they will also loose the ability to outsource!

The other big issue that that everyone has overlooked:

Coding is a small part of the cost of software! Everyone here is fixed on the idea that coding is the hard part. I hate to bust every ones bubble, but coding is not the hard part. It is the design and the functional spec that is the hard part. The problem thus today is that most companies DO NOT properly design and spec the software. Companies do a TERRIBLE  job of design and specking out software. The problem here is that to outsource a project the spec and design must be done correctly! If companies finally did start specking and designing the software correctly, then the cost of developing software where would drop so much, as to make the need to outsource disappear!  In other words, the second a company gets to the point where they can outsource, they have also reached the point where it will not need to outsource!

I don’t understand why this is not obvious to people.

With good software designs, and good specs, the code practically writes it self. Further, the better the designs and specs, the smaller time is spent on coding.  Have any of you actually looked at a software company today? A VERY SMALL portion of the staff actually write code. Companies with first rate designs and spces can bang out code in less time that you can get the folks across the ocean to read the design and figure out what is wanted.

So, outsourcing really can’t work..can it, since once a company figures out how to outsource, it just eliminated the need to do so…

Besides, you have not heard the stores I have!!

Albert D. Kallal
Edmonton, Alberta Canada
Kallal@msn.com

Albert D. Kallal
Wednesday, November 27, 2002

Stephen,

Let me re-phrase in simple programmer speak since your head is up your compiler:

1. Write a business plan.
2. Periodically revise it.

Now, I will put on my peril-resistant glasses and invert the compiler-head operation according to so I can see the light too:

1. Creating jobs is easy.
2. Running a business is a joke.

If it's so easy to create jobs today in the US, it must be 2x easier to do in another country. And since I can save 0.08 in the process, it's worth every penny.

I'm going to sleep well tonight knowing thus, and have my quarterly estimates revised tommorrow.

-j

-j
Thursday, November 28, 2002

Hi Albert D.,

<<Coding is a small part of the cost of software! Everyone here is fixed on the idea that coding is the hard part. I hate to bust every ones bubble, but coding is not the hard part.>>

I must oblige to the fact that coding is a relatively low-cost process in the software life cycle. However I disagree on the "coding is not the hard part" bit. Mixing "low cost" and "hard" in your statement makes things a bit confusing.

Besides, those are nothing but broad generalizations. Not ALL software is easy to code. Many DB-bound B2B applications today are relatively simple when it comes to coding. But when you work on fields like computer graphics, functional specs are often simple and straight forward. But the coding can be a bitch to write, computer graphics is a very algorithm-heavy field, and the coding doesn't quite do itself. So please, refrain from broad generalizations because they really aren't helping developers in other fields.

In my experience most money spent on any software system goes to maintenance and post-production enhancements, rather than your upfront-spec and coding-that-does-itself.

<<Besides, you have not heard the stores I have!!>>

Feel free to enlighten us. Nothing gets me going in the mornings like a good fiasco story on outsourcing.

Beka Pantone
Thursday, November 28, 2002

Oh sh*t, I am agreeing with Albert. Maybe I need medication. (Sorry Albert, it just doesn't happen very often :-)

Having said that coding is simple, you should see some of the code that an ex employer got when outsourcing part of a project to an Indian company (their people were even sitting in our offices...) *shudder*


Thursday, November 28, 2002

Dear analyst,
                      -j was saying that it was wrong to create jobs for Indians and citizens of other countries when the same jobs could be given to American citizens. You could argue that he is not being racist since he doesn't care about whether the American citizen is of  negro, inciian or chinese origin but there doesn't seem to be a word for being prejudiced against and discriminating against all other nationals, (or people from other States/towns/neighborhoods/streets)depending on how fine you want to tune it). Parochialism describes the attitude well, but doesn't imply the active discirimination -j is asking for, and tribalism, which describes the phenomenum perfectly, might easily be understood.

              It is a pity there doesn't seem to be a term for it, because the combination of pretending to be mutlit-cultural within one's own national boundaries but discriminating in every possible aspect against those from other countries is rampant in the USA and EU.

                If I said why give the job to a spick or jew or chink or wog when there lots of poor white boys unemployed then everybody would be after my blood and not just for the offensive terms. Yet it is considered quite OK to say don't give the job to somebody in Mexico, Israel, China or India because there are programmers in Fort Lauerdale on their last pack of bolognese.

Stephen Jones
Thursday, November 28, 2002

Dear -j
              If your last post is American style "simple programmer speak" I can see why everybody is outsourcing as quick as they can.

Stephen Jones
Thursday, November 28, 2002

Stephen Jones, nothing -j said was racist. His comment was a valid one, and it was about economics.

Decisions identical to those you object to are made implicitly by citizens of succesful economies everywhere. That is, successful economies limit inbound immigration and they refrain from supporting people in poorer parts of the world.

By your definition, that is racist.

Do you donate your income to help poor people in other parts of the world? Are you racist yourself?

analyst
Thursday, November 28, 2002

Dear analyst,
                      We are not talking about limiting immigration here. We are talking about provate companies being expected to make their decisions on grounds of nationality.

                        Both the US and the EU aggressively target export markets and preach free trade to the developing world, while setting up license schemes and giving out massive protectionist subsidies to their own lame ducks.

                          It is true it's about economics. All tribalism is about economics. It's true it often succeeds. The whites in South Africa did pretty welll out of keeping most of the land to themselves.

                          Now, how often outsourcing is a good idea, which is the other disicussion running through this thread is another thing.

                          Biut it was -j who bought up the whole idea of keeping the jobs for the boys.  And, what irritated me, tried to hide his old fashioned protectionism behind the cloak of caring and being against "greedy" capitalism.

Stephen Jones
Thursday, November 28, 2002

This is really funny now.

I was involved for a long time with a multilatteral investment fund (from G7 countries) inside an international bank devoted to creating economic growth in the Americas (all of them).

I think I know what's up on this topic. And I'm tired of words, and should never have to defend keeping jobs in my country.

I wish more pundit geniuses like S.J. would STFU and go try to improve the economy by creating industries instead of belly-hooing. Just look at Ben & Jerry's Ice cream as a company - profitable, ethical, and "protectionist" - no worldcom there, and no layoffs either.

-j
Thursday, November 28, 2002

I want to clarify something I said here:

<<Coding is a small part of the cost of software! Everyone here is fixed on the idea that coding is the hard part. I hate to bust every ones bubble, but coding is not the hard part.>>


First, coding is VERY HARD. The problem is, that most developers DESIGN while they code! If you have a first rate technical spec, then how to write the code is almost written! In other words, if you have a proper tech spec, then VERY LITTLE design occurs during coding, and it is real easy to do. That is how large software houses use their top flight talent. (they write the specs, and the drones write the code). So, the hard part of coding is the proper design part. That is VERY difficult, and takes a FIRST RATE designer/developer. So, to be clear, if you give the programmer something to do, with the design already done, *THEN* it is easy.

The design part is thus very hard (how, is the problem is to be solved). And, you need a good developer to write those kinds of specs. Trying to write a good technical spec for developers takes a FIRST RATE developer. Of course, if you are a one man show…you always do both jobs. With outsourcing, these tasks are now being separated. Thus, both tasks are not being done by one person (ie: the coding and designs parts are now split)

And, by way, since Yourdon’s book was mentioned, does anyone know what the % of code represents the cost of a large project (hold on..let me get up and grab his book…ah, ok here it is:.

On page 179:

    12%

Yup, the cost of coding in a large project is 12% of the total cost. As the project get smaller and smaller, of course the coding represents more and more cost. (however, the number is shocking less than most people realize).

Of course, if you write much better specs (which you need to do when you outsource the coding part), then that cost will drop even FURTHER. In fact..MUCH further. (that 12% is the average, and most companies are not designing software correctly!).

The design,and HOW you are going to solve the problem is the hard part. Not the coding. Of course, as mentioned we normally allow too much design during the coding process. When you outstouce, you better find a way to communicate those designs, or you find that your developers are writing what you need!

I consider myself to be a very strong coder. I apologize to all who misunderstood my comments about coding being the easy part. I meant to say that if you give the developers/coders the designs already..*then* the code part is easy.

Albert D. Kallal
Edmonton, Alberta Canada
Kallal@msn.com

Albert D. Kallal
Thursday, November 28, 2002

opps! I meant to say:
>>When you outstouce, you better find a way to communicate those designs, or you find that your developers are writing what you *NOT* need!

Albert D. Kallal
Thursday, November 28, 2002

Stephen Jones: I believe the term is Jingoism. Never heard it used as Jingoist. But, hey, why not?

Mr Jack
Thursday, November 28, 2002

This would have been an interesting topic had it stayed ontopic.  Having a job as the face of overseas workers sounds like a good US job to me, one that could reduce US unemployment.

By the way, have computers put ma and pa out of business?

Tj
Thursday, November 28, 2002

This question is weird, because: if you actually possessed the skills necessary to successfully manage an offshore IT project, you could probably make a lot more money doing something a lot more straightforward than managing an offshore IT project.

Chuck
Thursday, November 28, 2002

No Albert, I agree with you that coding is easy. It is a trivial, mind numbing thing to do. Even what the others here mention is not exactly hard work - given the same pay etc, what would you rather do, write code, or dig roads? Write code, or watch patients die?

We have it easy
Friday, November 29, 2002

Indian companies are not stupid... They hear all that you say, and then have ways round them.

Objections and Refutations
1. Coding costs are insignificant anyways / Design is the hard part

Answer:
See Infosys and "Global Delivery Model" ... Simply.. put cheaper Indian labor on american shores to do customer interaction, system design, u i design etc.

And ship away all that you can to india where its even cheaper to get it done.

Remember these companies work 24x7... so someone finishes an algorithm outline by close of business in the US, the indian team is waiting to take it up, write code, test it and respond with improvements before our american-shore buddy comes into work the next morning.

Think incredibly tight developmetn timelines, very agile programing teams.


2. Cultural differences:
Sorry... That point doesnt hold. 

Come over meet some people in India... and you'll know what I'm talking about. (I went to an Ivy League School to study Computer Science and Economics... and most of my friends have Masters and PhD's from the best uiniversities in the US)

Young metropolitan India... fits in very easily in the US context... Metropolitan in a country of a billion people means that... HUGE and CROWDED. (I am in a city with 14 million inhabitants... In comparision, Boston felt like a small village)

The people who keep mentioning "cultural differences" usu. seem to speak of dusty village roads and argicultural subsistence economies. As if India was seen thru the lense of a  Discovery Channel cameraman.  They need to wake up and see the metropolitan, corporate india that we live in, (Infact, my life in New York wasnt very different than here. Except maybe the nightlife here is much more fullfilling.)

3. Language Differences?

Most of us have formal educational instruction in English before that in any other language.

Think about it... The first words i learn were "Apple, Ball, etc..."

(PS: Dont mock my spelling... Ask joel to add a spell checker instead. )

4. Communications Issues:
Secure Instant Messaging
NetMeeting
VideoPhones
Cellphones
Airplanes

Need I say more?
(Actually... Havent met my largest customer ever! Only had virtual contact with them)

5. Unsilled Programers?
Can you say CMM level 5. Please check the SEI site and find out how may Indian development centers have that appraisal vs. non-indian development centers.

(I dont necessarily agree with everything SEI says, but we Indians can spot a marketing opportunity when we see it. A SEI certification summararily answers all client questions about competence and quality)


-V
[Run a tiny (25 ppl) software company in India. (soon to be) CMM Level 3 appraised. Main clients all over South East Asia and Australia. Lived long enough in the US to know that there is no difference]

FlyVFly
Saturday, November 30, 2002

Just got back from a 2-day trip. Kind of disappointed because a "how-to" question turned into politics (sigh!). Maybe this forum is not the place for this type of question considering the fact that the majority of us are developers. 

Some thoughts. I do think we are working in a fucked-up industry - software. Bill Joy once said programmers cannot handle software. I think you need bright minds with humble attitude to really deliver quality software. However, the reality of the industry is against us. On the one hand, there are books "Teach yourself Visual Basic in 24 hrs" and oversea programmers who don't even need a H1-B visa to work on projects; on the other hand are the managers who only know playing (down) the numbers. We consultants are squeezed in the middle. And we have to play their rules of the game.

If the management can let go off all agency employees in one day to cut cost (without considering the loss caused by the sudden-death of the ongoing projects), what can't they do!!! Management play number any way they want like Enron does its accounting. Even it may not be a wise decision to outsource to oveasea, they do it and they will.

Jack
Saturday, November 30, 2002

I don’t know what other people mean when they say cultural differences, but I sure as the heck know what I mean!!!

When I say cultural differences, it has NOTHING to do with dirt roads. Cultural differences in my definition are just that: differences in human behaviors that occur between different cultures. These types of differences make the world a wonderful and interesting place.

However, these differences most certainly make a difference in the software development process.

In fact, cultural differences is NEAR THE TOP of the list in challenges that a company will face when outsourcing a major project. The companies I talked too have found the whole process not very workable.

For example, when talking to people from India, they tend to nod their heads in a kind of a approval and understanding  when in fact they don’t understand! In the west, we tend to take this type of behavior as a “yes, I understand and agree”

You don’t think that is a problem? I know of company that had a room full of developers from India, it was only after 6 weeks of intense meetings and seminars did the western developers find out this cultural difference! They had to start over simply because simple body languages is different between the cultures.The developers here had NO IDEA when the person they were talking to understood them, and when they DID NOT!!!

The result was that they had to throw out about two months worth of meetings and work. Once this difference was discovered, then the things progressed a lot better. Gee, the project is now two months behind schedule, because people tend to nod their heads in approval. This is clearly an example of small cultural differences turning into a huge cost over run.

People’s Names:
Some of the names of these people were so long, that in fact I talked to project managers who actually made mistakes in their employee evaluations. They actually reprimanded the hell out of one programmer, and threationed to send him back home. The problem was, that programmer was actually one of their “star” top programmers. Later, it was realized that the wrong person just got totally reamed out. This mistake was due to the first names being so long, that when reading the spreadsheet, the wrong person was being talked too! (the spreadsheet needed to be widened more, to realize that the first name was different!!). You can imagine some of morale problems that arise when stuff like that happens! Both the developer team, and the managers will not respect each other after mistakes like this happen (in fact, the mistake was never actually released to the developer team!).

Names where so long, and caused such problems in simple meetings and phone conferences. On the company intercom, the secretary has difficulty even paging people!! Things go so bad that the company eventually did the following:

You “insert name here that takes up more room this actual comment!!” are now going to be called ;
  Bob

And you, “insert name long name……………..” are now going to be called
    John.

In other words, just to facilitate cultural differences in names, they actually started assigning simple names!

I can write PAGES OF examples where simple cultural differences caused huge problems!. Huge my friend!

So, I not sure what other people mean by cultural differences, but to come here and tell they don’t make a difference has got to even MORE FUNNTY then the  above stories!

Now, don’t get me wrong, I not saying a cultural difference is bad, I simply state that they exist. No one can say the cultural differences do not have a factor in these projects (that is nuts!!). Differences can certainly be dealt with, and in extreme cases, even the peoples names have to be Americanized to facilitate easy communication.

I am sure that any decent developer has heard of, or understands the concepts from  the  Mythical Man Month

The whole book talks about the software process, and very clearly states that software is the result of communication.
Cultural differences MOST CERTAINTILTIY will, and do effect the software process. In fact, it effects it more then most types of human endeavors, since software is NOT a physical product. In fact, software is the result of communication between people.

In fact, the whole essence of software is about communication of ideas between people.

As mentioned, you can certainly outsource, but by the time your figure out how to do it just right, you then reached the point where outsourcing will not save you much money. The companies I know that have done this, will not do it again.

There are certainly some successes in outsourcing. For sure some companies may have had better success.

However, no one can tell me that culture do not make a difference, be it a plus, or a minus to a project…it does make a difference, and more in the case of software.


Albert D. Kallal
Edmonton, Alberta Canada
Kallal@msn.com

Albert D. Kallal
Saturday, November 30, 2002

"2. Cultural differences:
Sorry... That point doesnt hold.  "

I don't think anyone meant ganesh and shiva, public urination, and reverence for cows. What people meant by cultural differences, is that Indian teams typically flake out the minute any thing gets shaky, and that they don't come up with any solutions that are original or interesting. Overseas shops are adequate for solving problems that have already been solved many times before, but not very good at innovation.See "..."'s post above.

"5. Unsilled Programers?
Can you say CMM level 5. "

CMM level 5 has nothing to do with skilled programming. It is a set of procedures to follow so that you dont NEED skilled programmers, you just need someone to follow the recipe so that you don't get sued.

J D Trollinger
Saturday, November 30, 2002

Also, to anyone reading this, I apologize for posting in a thread that hints, or some how even promotes the idea that other cultures by nature do a poor job in the software industry.

I in no way doubt, or even question the ability of countries like India to produce first rate developers. In fact, they clearly have above average number of math and computing people as a culture. This is something to be proud of, and India is knowing through out the word as nation strong in math and computing.

I do of course stand by my statements that cultural differences exist, and will effect projects.

However, this is a huge difference than other people in this thread commenting that somehow as a nation India’s software developers cannot cut it. That is kind of statement is absurd!, and find even the fact that I participated in such a thread makes my stomach turn!

Once again, I do apologize for just the “fact” of participating in a thread that would somehow hint that these people can not develop first rate software.

Sincerely,

Albert D. Kallal
Edmonton, Alberta Canada
Kallal@msn.com

Albert D. Kallal
Saturday, November 30, 2002

Oracle will moving most of their corporate accountiing operations to India. All professional work that can be done over networks can be moved to where qualified labor is less expensive. It's a reality. The thing to do is learn how to operate effectively in this new environment. Resisting it is like resisting technology itself...whether it's good or bad from your percpective, it marches relentlessly forward.

Understanding other cultures and how to work with globally distributed teams is becomming mandatory. Whether or not you would prefer that things revert to a previous comfort zone is irrelevant.

never look back
Saturday, November 30, 2002

Being one of the fellows j is talking about, being unemployed and hating it, it does stir up my anger when I hear of outsourceing simply because we have so many here willing to take pay cuts just to survive in this shitty economy. We didn't create it, but we have to live in it. We want to feed our family, pay our bills, pay our taxes, etc. So if there are so many here in the US that are unemployed then why do comanies insist on outsourcing jobs to other countries? Because it's cheaper right? So if that money goes to another county doesn't that make our own economy suffer even more? It's a circle just like any other in life. If the US economy goes to shit there will be no h1bs and no outsourcing to other countries. Where is the money going to come from? How is anything going to happen in the US if we outsource everything?


I think his point was valid and you tried to put your own slant on it putting words into j's mouth. Before you go making another preconceived opinion maybe you should check you own opinion about what he is trying to saty actually means. Maybe it does have something to do with tribalism. Lets peer into that thread a bit more .. what kind of leader would sell his own tribe out simply to for financial gain? That's not the kind of leader I want. Yes I think home should come first, that's not being selfish or racist or even jongoistic. Would you not care for your own tribe before you cared for others? If so does that make you a bad person for thinking that?

Not everyone thinks the way you do Stephen and that does not mean we can be dismissed with the racist label. Some of us are against internationalization because we know that it only helps the few elite, not the whole.

Ian Stallings
Saturday, November 30, 2002

Prakash, the argument that something is OK simply because it's more profitable for private companies is not valid. Companies are just legal abstractions intended to protect shareholders from risk. The ability to make profits derives from many privileges we, as a society, grant to those legal abstractions. For example, we grant the right to define and own something called intellectual property. Our police and courts will enforce that abstraction to the benefit of those legal abstractions.

So profit is not some magical thing. It's the result of a negotiated social agreement. We frequently re-negotiate that agreement. For example, we require companies to avoid harming citizens in the conduct of their business, even though it might be more profitable for them to do so. We require companies to provide safe workplaces for their workers, and to pay them on time. We have a set of conditions to maintain a fair social contract between profit and society.

Large scale outsourcing of IT work is a relatively new issue for our society. If it causes excessive damage to our society, then there's no reason our society shouldn't renegotiate the social contract again.

Remember too that outsourcing benefits a relatively small part of society, being managements and shareholders. In IT at least, it does not usually result in cheaper products. It just results in higher profits. In economic terms, it is a transfer of wealth from workers to management.

analyst
Saturday, November 30, 2002

CMM-5, like certifications generally, means nothing. There are only 12 companies worldwide with CMM-5, and seven of those are Indian. Match that up with the structure of the IT industry and ask yourself how relevant is CMM-5 as a useful indicator of capability.

analyst
Saturday, November 30, 2002

Seen the movie "Office Space?" Now, imagine a "Bollywood" version of that movie. That's the end result of overseas outsourcing. I say let the Indians build payroll apps and take care of Oracle's internal accounting. If you are building backoffice apps for an insurance company, getting laid off is probably the best thing that could ever happen to you...

dont be such a dork.
Saturday, November 30, 2002

Why don't we let the guys building backoffice apps for insurance companies decide what's best for them?

analyst
Saturday, November 30, 2002

ananlyst,


I agree with u wihich is why I mentioned social responsibility, which these companies "forget".

Prakash S
Saturday, November 30, 2002

Let's get some things straight.

-j
You want me to find jobs for AMERICANS. I've never even been to the USA. I'm a UK citrizen who works in Saudi Arabia for nine months a year and spends the other three months in Sri Lanka. I haven't lived in the UK since 1978 and the two towns I have lived in longest in my whole life are Madrid and Barcelona. My doctors are Sri Lankan and Egyptian, my dentist is Sri Lankan, my boss is Saudi, my office mates are Americans, my students are Saudi, my cleaner is Sri Lankan, my electrician is Bangladeshi, amd my sys admin is Indian. Who are the "my own" I'm supposed to be looking after.

Ian
Putting "one's own first" is the definition of tribalism or racialism. You can argue whether it's a good thing or not and it doesn't imply all of the nastier accretions that you probably associate with racism but that is what it is, so if the cap fits, wear it.

Analyst
All the people I mentioned at the top of my post have one thing in common. The software on their computers is nearly all  American. The rest of the world has been payng billions to the US for its software. Has it not ocurred to you that if there is an "implied contract" the rest of the world is not going to be very happy if one of the terms is "you pay for us to discriminate against your workers". And one of the main reasons America is top for software development is that it made it so easy for people to go over there and work.

In General
Nobody here appears to have read Adam Smith. He made the obvious statement that the butcher doesn't provide you with meat because he likes you but because he stands to gain. The whole point of classical economic theory is that the common good is achieved by everybody following their own self-interest, and it is the self-interest of the employer to maximize his profits and minimize his expenses. You can argue that capitalism is a bad idea but don't expect the leopard to change his spots.

The IT market was deformed by the .com mania. People were hired to do work that was uneconomic, and now that sanity has prevailed there is a glut. Yet most of the work that is still available cannot be outsourced because it's either system administration or customizing. Albert is quite right in that respect.

Albert
Your story is too good to be true! But what it does show is that there are some pretty dumb Canadian companies. Didn't the head honchos even think to ask "What problems am I likely to have outsourcing to India?" They could simply have posted on this forum and Prakash or me would have told them straight off that saying "yes" and then trying to find out later what you have said yes to, would be number one problem. It is a survival technique caused by bad management; exposure to good "western" management cures it in a couple of months or less.

And they can't even be bothered to learn the guys names and think they can try and assess them. And they made the spreadsheet too small; I suppose the system would have choked altogether if they hired Indonesians because they normally don't have a surname. Simple rule for personnel work in a multi-cultural environment; have a separate field for moniker and ask the worker what he wants to be called.

Jack
Your original posting is too general for people to give you specific advice. The devil is in the details, but I think you're getting some idea of the pitfalls. I would tend to agree with the other poster who said domain knowledge is the key.

FlyVFly
You certainly honed your marketing techniques in the USA. Yes, your vibrant metropolitan India does exist at one level, but it exists somewhat like KDE exists on top of an X-Window manager which exists on top of a bash shell which ......... Joel wrote an excellent article on the phenomenum; he called it the "law of leaky abstractions."

Stephen Jones
Sunday, December 01, 2002

>>Albert
Your story is too good to be true! But what it does show is that there are some pretty dumb Canadian companies. Didn't the head honchos even think to ask "What problems am I likely to have outsourcing to India?" They could simply have posted on this forum

Gee, now there is an answer eh? The problem was that the Canadian company was dumb!!

So in other words, if I outsource to a good company, the solution is post on “Joel on Software”, as one cannot expect that company to provide any kind guidance in these types of situations?. So, in theory, the Canadian company is dumb, and to use the India company, you need to first post on this board? Gee, ok…that sounds real good to me.

>>would have told them straight off that saying "yes" and then trying to find out later what you have said yes to, would be number one problem.

No, I DID NOT SAY the problem was accountability, and understanding what management said.  I did not say the problem was remembering what was agreed to. (again, a common problem in all companies). Every company in the world has that above problem.

I CLEARLY said, that the problem was developers here could not get clear feedback as to when the other teams “got it”. If I am explain something to you, I need some kind of feedback as to if you understand the problem, so then I can go on to the next problem/concept. That is not the above issue of accountability, and “remembering” what management said. Totally different issue. If I am explain something to you, and if no indication of you not understanding the problem is given, I will as natural course of the matter go on to the next concept (this is simply how humans communicate). As mentioned, this is a critical process of communication of ideas. If I can’t tell when you do, or do not understand the problem..then we are in big trouble.

And, oh by the way..I was being rather nice here..as I do have more stories!!!

I mean either the company has to write out a perfect technical spec, or do as suggested in this thread, bring over part of the outsourcing group over to help with the designs (and then send parts of that back home). Right now, I doubt this whole process from what I know now.


Albert D. Kallal
Edmonton, Alberta Canada
Kallal@msn.com

Albert D. Kallal
Sunday, December 01, 2002

>>> On the company intercom, the secretary has difficulty even paging people!! <<<

The problem here is not that the names are too long, but that the company had paging.

mackinac
Sunday, December 01, 2002

Stephen, no-one's asking you to do anything. The discussion is about the operation of firms in the American economy. In terms of economists, try Keynes or Galbraith.

analyst
Sunday, December 01, 2002

Dear analyst,
                    -j is asking me to do things. To quote: " I wish more pundit geniuses like S.J. would STFU and go try to improve the economy by creating industries instead of belly-hooing."

                        -j was just presuming I am American, as he doesn't seem too interested in whether jobs are created for Sri Lankans or Catalans.

                        The discussion we are having here has nothing to do with Keynes or Galbraith. A Keynesian solution would be to create employment by public spending projects such as road building. Not exactly what you guys have in mind.

                        The point is that most software development can't be outsourced. Albert's story gives a good idea of why.

Stephen Jones
Monday, December 02, 2002

Dear Albert,
                  You don't seem to be understanding my point.  I have been working with Indians for nearly ten years, and the biggest problem you face is the tendency to say "yes" when they don't understand something. They will then ask around and try and find out what you meant, and if they don't will do nothing and hope that management will forget. As bad management is inconsistent and often does forget this strategy can pay dividends.

                    So the first few months you are working with Indians I would advise you to make daily checks on understanding, until they realize that you don't mind their disputing what you say.

                      Now this is the very first thing you are likely to find out when working with Indians in Saudi or India, and had your company not been so arrogant as to think it didn't need to ask, it would have found out. People normally ask more questions about the problems they will face when they go to Inida on holiday than your company seems to have done faced with sending off a large chunk of its core business.

                      Now, possibly your company isn't a software company but was getting software such as a data base application. In that case it is even more stupid because it is sending out half-way across the world for mutual co-operation in a field they don't even  understand.

                      The point is that you can only easily outsource a packet (say produce ten thousand blue jeans, or OCR all these paper forms) or a process (manage the call centre, produce the backgrounds for these animations) and most computer programming does not fall into those categories, because it requires clearly shared ideas, and when you are trying to share the ideas over continents then any weaknesses your company has that are papered over by a homogenous development team are going to become blindingly obvious.

Stephen Jones
Monday, December 02, 2002

" The point is that you can only easily outsource a packet ..."

I worked in japan for about 7 years, and in japan, software of the enterprise/desktop sort is usually outsourced to somewhere in china. I've also worked with a company that produces snowboard outerwear, also outsourced to china. Stephen claims that you can "easily outsource a packet." It is only "easy" for things like textiles, where this sort of thing has been going on for longer. And it only seems "easy" because the garment manufacturers have somewhat wrapped up the process into a neat tidy package, so the western people doing the outsourcing don't have to see the seamy underside of what is actually going on.

The nice package hasn't happened yet in the software industry (but seems to be getting close with some gigantor Indian firms) , so when I was in japan, I had the misfortune of becoming intimately familiar with the whole shady software outsourcing enterprise. Basically, you are dealing with a huge chain of sleazy middlemen, each trying to take some percentage of the total project sum. No one ever gives you a straight answer, it is impossible to get ahold of people by phone or e-mail, and you never really know what is going on. It is an enormous headache, because you end up dealing with 4 different sales persons, each giving you different quotes and promising different things.  Now, people in east asia seem to be more accustomed to these sort of shenanigans, because they have 2000 years of ingrained cultural respect for shady business dealings, but if you are an American, this crap will DRIVE YOU NUTS. The amount of time wasted is absurd, and you will wish you just paid your younger brother and his high school friends to do the project during summer break.

So the point i'm trying to make is, people seem to think that "oversea outsourcing" just means passing off a spec to someone, and calling them on the phone once in a while,when in reality it is a hugely complicated and shady affair, which isn't really worth doing, unless you are at some link in the chain where you are making some obscene amount of money. However, with most of the outsourcing I've been involved with, that link in the chain simply does not exist.

slim shady
Monday, December 02, 2002

So the real Slim Shady has stepped up!

The greatest idea the Americans have given us is things should be easy.

For example if the price of something changes according to the buyer as is common throughout the Arab world, then shopping can become an incredibly time wasting experience until one has been round long enough to work things out.

If traffic signs are deficient or non-existent then you will end up not going places, or having to take the chance that the guide you have paid for does know where he is going.

Now, America, and 20th century Europe were both places where you could significantly increase wealth by labour. So people are less likely to waste their time trying to get hold of nebulous commissions. And people don't always need to be on the look out for imaginative ways of making money.

Basically, the attitude in the West is that information  is so valuable it should be shared with everyone, whilst in other places there is the feeling information is so valuable you should make sure nobody else gets hold of it. Thus the greater transparency in the West makes it easier to decide whether it is worth getting a middleman or not.

I doubt if there is "2000 years of respect for shady business practises"; the people most often harmed are the people the next rung down, who get their reward savaged by "Commis".

And only about three years ago the pattern you describe was going to be the pattern iof the future with everything becoming a virtual company that didn't do anything but collect obscene commissions. And wouldn't you describe "Management Consulting" as a shady business practise?

I knew some Spanish guys who got T-shirts made in Egypt (they maintained Egyptian cotton was the best for T-Shirts). I think they had the promotional franchise for Marlboro in Spain and that was what the T-shirts were for. They thought Egypt was a great place to do business in, which amazed those of us in the bar who had spent long periods there. But all they did was come to the Hilton in Cairo once a month, check out the batch of T-Shirts, pay for it and put it on the plane. All he hassle went to the other guy. Now until software development starts to get that easy there will be problems - not nsurmountable problems, but still problems,

Stephen Jones (pedants rule OK!)
Monday, December 02, 2002



"Now, people in east asia seem to be more accustomed to these sort of shenanigans, because they have 2000 years of ingrained cultural respect for shady business dealings, but if you are an American, this crap will DRIVE YOU NUTS. "

Hey Slim, heard of companies called ENRON, WORLDCOM????

Prakash S
Monday, December 02, 2002

The Keynesian solution recognises that the economy consists of more than the actions of individual firms. That is why we have central banks and why we measure GDP.

analyst
Monday, December 02, 2002

prakash, yes. one point being, the USA has only had 200 years of shady business shenanigans, and the enron spectacle made most people upset. In china, they have had 9 more centuries to get used to it, so no one there cares or even notices anymore. Being very opaque and somewhat less than honest is simply the way business is conducted, at every point in the chain.

slim shady
Monday, December 02, 2002

[Ian
Putting "one's own first" is the definition of tribalism or racialism. You can argue whether it's a good thing or not and it doesn't imply all of the nastier accretions that you probably associate with racism but that is what it is, so if the cap fits, wear it.]


So If I put my own kids first I am guilty of racilism? Thank you Jesse Jackson for your commentarialism. Of course you probably don't have kids and aren't unemployed so you can't relate to the feeling of your back being against the wall. Just as J said your simply a pundit trying to stir up emotions.

Ian Stallings
Monday, December 02, 2002

WHen companies establish offices in other countries and put people on the payroll there, is that outsourcing? The line between, another entity doing the work and a single entity doing the work in many places is going to blur over time.

Are all shareholders of American companies American?

Is an American company obligated to protect ALL shareholders interests?

Do the MS, Oracle, Sun offices in other countries exist to benefit Americans?

The very nature of communications technology is to globalize.

never look back
Monday, December 02, 2002

>>Dear Albert,
You don't seem to be understanding my point. I have been working with Indians for nearly ten years, and the biggest problem you face is the tendency to say "yes" when they don't understand something. They will then ask around and try and find out what you meant, and if they don't will do nothing and hope that management will forget. As bad management is inconsistent and often does forget this strategy can pay dividends.

So the first few months you are working with Indians I would advise you to make daily checks on understanding, until they realize that you don't mind their disputing what you say.

---------------------------------------------

Ah, ok. Maybe  I do understand.

The problem here is:
>> They will then ask around and try and find out what you meant, and if they don't will do nothing and hope that management will forget.

The problem here is that they DO NOT ask around!!! The problem is that they don’t ask for further clarification. THAT IS EXACLTY MY WHOLE POINT!!!!.

I don’t really care if you actually nod, or shake your head during a conversation. That is not the end problem.

The problem here is that if I explain something to you, and you do not understand it, you don’t go, hum, ..ok..sure. and nod your head.

The next day of course is going to be based on the previous days work. Ok here is more info on the project. Response: Hum, ok..sure and nod your head.

This went on for weeks!.

What you are supposed to do is ask and say, I do NOT understand what you are trying to do here Will you please explain further. Why should this be such a big problem?

Simply put, what is so hard about saying, I do not understand this? What is so difficult about saying, I don’t get what you trying to do here. Surely, you can’t tell me that nodding your head in approval  for weeks on end is a good idea?

(of couse, this seems to be the way to make problems go away as mentioned).

How complicated can it be to tell these people before coming over that if you do not understand something about the project, you raise your hand, or just simply ask for a better explaination? That is how it works here in the west.

If you don’t understand somthing..you ask!!

None of the other teams had this problem….

Simply put, if you do not understand something  tell me!!! Don’t nod in approval. All that will do is dig one self into a very large hole.

What then, hoping the clouds will open up and then a understanding will occur in a ray of light after a few weeks?

The solution is very simple:
If you don’t understand something, you just simply ask for claification. That how the software industry works in north America.

Perhaps else where in world when people do not understand something they nod their heads in approval, and hope the problem will go away as has been suggested. I am amazed since the experiance and behavrour is actually being confirmed here!!! Wow!!!

There is not much else say here if you are telling me that these people are not capable of asking for a explanation when they don’t understand something. I am also amazed that somehow management is supposed figure out when the people DO NOT understand something, and when they do?

Managment calls that running a  kindergarten over here!

Gee, if people do not understand something, they simply have to learn to speak out. I can't think ofanything else more to say on this subject!!

To put it mildly, this kind of behavior makes project management near impossible.

Albert D. Kallal
Edmonton, Alberta Canada
Kallal@msn.com

Albert D. Kallal
Monday, December 02, 2002

Albert,

I knew some people who had to work for some Japanses company in Japan. They underwent a 2 day course, which gave an insight into what is their comfort zone, how do you greet them, what do they mean when they say "whatever", etc.

It worked fine for them.

In hindsight, I can tell you, that to bridge the gap, the canadians should have undergone such a course about the indians, and the indians about the canadians.

Just those 2 days would have helped a lot.

Prakash S
Monday, December 02, 2002

Outsourcing, and mixed teams ensures that the quality of the project will be around the 'lowest common denominator' of the skilset within the teams.

Great opportunities are always missed.

Remote teams very rarely understand the business issues, removing any scope for error detecting or software improvement.

We outsourced a project to England last year, naturally by definition they speak perfect English, it was an unmitigated disaster, later we found out that the company we outsourced to outsourced some of our work to India.
Never again.

Mike Wainright
Monday, December 02, 2002

Mike,

the solution is not, not to outsource; but to have proven methodologies, certain steps or process, etc and then outsourcing it (if to begin with the work could be outsourced).

One of the reasons it did not succeed in the case you mention is due to the number of communication paths.

Prakash S
Monday, December 02, 2002

I've worked for a company in Cologne and we used Romanian coders.  It was a success despite all communication being in English, which was a 2nd language for everyone but me, and despite the obfuscation tricks on the code sent to them.

The smart thing done was have them them visit until their tourist visas ran out.  That way they could soak up our communication styles.  Maybe Europeans instinctively understand that different cultures are DIFFERENT, so no one hollered when misunderstandings developed.

It's sort of like kicking the wind if you complain about foreigners being foreign.  You're not getting a cost savings for free.

I don't know what to say, it looks like some (not all) of the anti-outsourcing arguments are motivated by fear and I know how scary it is to be American and thinking your life will fall apart without money.  But fear can make one irrational and see nightmares.

Tj
Monday, December 02, 2002

Albert

You're not getting it. They almost certainly did ask around. The problem is that they asked around among themselves, and avoided asking anybody who would actually know the answer because THEY DIDN'T TRUST THEM.

You're right; you can't work with this permanently. But you don't need to. You just need to persuade them it's OK to say I DON'T KNOW.

I've actually seen Brits do the same thing. You go out of a meeting where you've busted your 'ass telling the management they're talking crap and ask everybody else why they think you're wrong, only to find everybody else agrees with you but don't want to run the risk of actually saying so.

And if you do outsource to India allow for the monsoon. It just started here ten minutes ago and the cook had been sent out to get beer and the cleaner on another errand and neither are sowing signs of being able to get back, so if you hear of an English tourist who either stared or drowned to death in Negombo, you'll know who it probably was.

Stephen Jones (pedants rule OK!)
Tuesday, December 03, 2002

Dear Prakash,
                    You're right about it being possible to allow for the lenghening of the communication line. The problem, though, is likely to be that by the time you've made allowances for it outsourcing no longer provides any significant cost savings.

Stephen Jones
Tuesday, December 03, 2002

Dear Ian.

" So If I put my own kids first I am guilty of racilism? Thank you Jesse Jackson for your commentarialism. Of course you probably don't have kids and aren't unemployed so you can't relate to the feeling of your back being against the wall. Just as J said your simply a pundit trying to stir up emotions. "

So what you're saying is that because being unemployed with kids has made you emotional and irrational the world's ows you the job that would otherwise go to some Indian guy who also has a kid and a family.

Hasn't it occurred to you that if looking after family is the only criteria for givng you jobs nobody apart from our own family is ever going to give you one?

Stephen Jones
Tuesday, December 03, 2002

Stephen -

I think you miss Ian's point, and miscontrue the points many others have been making in this thread.  The original poster, a US resident, wanted to explore taking part in the outsourcing of IT projects overseas.  J, a US resident, appealed to his sense of community (in this case, the community of US Americans) to NOT involve himself in such activity.  You instantly accused of racism -- but have since backtracked to 'racialism' or 'tribalism', the act of putting the interests of "one's own" above those of others.  Ian's point was that, if favoring 'one's own' is inherently bad, then isn't putting your own kids and family first bad?

This position is, of course absurd.  Of course you put your own kids and family first.  This doesn't mean you expect other people to give you a job because you have kids.  But it does mean that you give your own child help with his homework before you give the neighbors child help with her homework.  It might means you give your kid an allowance, perhaps in return for mowing the front lawn, and don't give the neighbor kid an allowance, and don't offer him the front-lawn-mowing job.  This is just how families work.  There are points at which putting-the-family-first becomes wrong: if you coach the local football team, you shouldn't play your daughter more than the kid who is better than her.

So it *is* okay to sometimes put one's own first -- this is obvious, and is Ian's point.  Does this not extend at all to one's local community?  To one's nation?  Certainly it isn't clear that it is fair or reasonable or even sound economics to favor local industry over foriegn industry.  But to throw loaded words like racism, or even "racialism" at people because they suggest protecting jobs in their community is a bit over the top.

rg
Tuesday, December 03, 2002

The question is whether outsourcing is even significant compared to the dotcom fallout.  Which lost more jobs -- outsourcing or the dotcom implosion?

I doubt these companies would have hired US coders if there weren't any overseas programmers.  They possibly would have just held onto much of that cash.

Protectionism is occasionally a useful tool.  But is there really a need here?  My model is that there's a market correction, and some great people are out of work while some incompetent ones are still hanging on.

Basically it's not right to demonize Indians for something that they didn't do.  In fact, improving these countries probably opens new markets slowly.

anon
Tuesday, December 03, 2002

[So what you're saying is that because being unemployed with kids has made you emotional and irrational the world's ows you the job that would otherwise go to some Indian guy who also has a kid and a family.
]

Oh, so because I wish to be employed I now think the world owes me something? Stop putting words in my mouth. Yes I wish to be employed but I want nothing for free. I am both a hard and skilled worker as I have proven in the past. I'm not looking for a hand out, I just wish to be employed like anyone else that lives in a society that doesn't take "I'll pay you Tuesday" for an answer.

Yes I think local jobs should stay local, that does not make me a racist. If that were racist wouldn't all American Unions also be racist and thereby unlawful?

The simple fact is companies wish to save money and it comes down to simple greed. They could easily hire local workers and still sustain a profitable company (as has been proven time and time again by local companies) but yet choose to outsource cheaper labor so they can up their profitability. They have chosen to ignore ethics in favor of another nickel. Are you honestly defending that? Call me crazy, I think greed is a bad thing.

Lets look at this situation in reverse. Say there is a job in India that a local citizen can easily fill. But I, working oversees in the US, can do that same job cheaper in the US. Now the local citizen suffers because of the corporate bottom line. From an company stand point that might help them save X amount of dollars. But the local economy now suffers because that money has now left the country and will be spent in America. In turn this makes the economy suffer even more because the amount of local spending dwindles. Is this how you would run an economy?


Your argument Stephen is full of holes and if this was a moderated forum it would be marked "Troll". You don't wish to debate the local vs outsourced labor argument, you wish instead to label others and make ASSumptions. Yes cheaper outsourced labor adds to profitabilty. Does that make it right/ethical when your local economy is suffering? Tell it to the guy eating his last pack of baloney that it is the right thing to do.

Ian Stallings
Tuesday, December 03, 2002

anon, where exactly have Indian companies been "demonized" in this discussion? Discussing the role of different players in the economy is not "racism" or demonisation.

Also, it is wrong to say that corporates would NOT have hired more Americans. If they need to get the work done, of course they would have hired more Americans. Corporate profits are booming, in case you haven't noticed.

analyst
Tuesday, December 03, 2002

Ian:

Family always comes first. And should do everything to look for and get a job. All the best and hope you find a job soon.

I have experienced times when my parents did not have jobs, and the tension in the house, and though you try hard you do not get a job. It's really tough!

Let me know if you are looking at any particular company. if so please send me an email, I have a few contacts in certain companies, I could give you their email id's.

Now to the point about outsourcing:

Lets say you have your own company, and you get a project. You decide to outsource the project, Pure Economics, you make a more money.

It boils down to perception; one tries to look at things which are most favourable to them. (nothing wrong with that)

Prakash S
Tuesday, December 03, 2002

"Corporate profits are booming, in case you haven't noticed."

If many of your competitors die and you're left standing, your profits will boom.  (more marketshare - higher prices - less r&d)

I find your arguments well thought out, but I don't see any reason why there aren't strong dominating factors that dwarf Indian competition.

By the way, I do know that the US plays extreme hardball with protectionism.  So if you have a reasonably airtight argument that IT protectionism will increase US jobs, I'd be interested to hear. 

anon
Tuesday, December 03, 2002

Dear Ian,
              If this forum was 90% Indian you would be the troll.

                We are not talking about keeping local jobs local. Software development is not a local job. You want a local job go down to the Ben and Jerry's -j likes so much. Most countries implement asinine immigration policies to ensure you get preference on those jobs.

                  Let's put this clear. The USA is part of a global trading organization that has rules (most of which have actually been devised by the USA and work in its favour). The idea is that if everybody follows these rules everybody profits in the long run.

                What you don't do is pretend it's "ethical" to ignore them and accuse others of being  "greedy" because you're not prepared to bring your salary expectations down to match that of the Indian.

                  If you had got laid off because your company had lost the whole Japanese market after the Japs decided only to buy local software for local businesses you'd be screaming blue murder.

                 

Stephen Jones
Wednesday, December 04, 2002

Dear Stephen, if there was truly open competition, there would be no immigration limits, world trade organisations would not force developing nations to be strict in protecting intellectual property and wealthy managements and shareholders would have difficulty defending their nice homes from marauding hordes.

analyst
Wednesday, December 04, 2002

[What you don't do is pretend it's "ethical" to ignore them and accuse others of being  "greedy" because you're not prepared to bring your salary expectations down to match that of the Indian.]

Stephen: Again you are putting words in others mouths. Did I ever say I wouldn't bring my salary expectations down? No. You like to dance around the issue at hand and make accusations about me. You have implied that I am expecting too much because I want a job, implying that I am simply being greedy. You have flat out called me a racist because I want to keep local jobs local. Keep making ASSumptions on who I am and what I think.


[It boils down to perception; one tries to look at things which are most favourable to them. (nothing wrong with that) ]

Prakash: You are right. Those in charge have an obligation to others to increase profitability and cut bottom line costs. Both to the shareholders/stakeholders and to their employees. From my point of view it might seem unethical but from their point of view they might be trying to defend the life of the company and the people that rely on it. It's a tough issue that I'm sure will continue to be debated until a fair globalization of the market comes about.

Ian Stallings
Wednesday, December 04, 2002

Overseas (or any Outsourcing ) is done by Companies to try to improve their profitability. Some of this is driven by the greed of the higher levels of Corporate management. that this greed exits in most coporations is pointed to by the recent Corporate scandals (Enron, WorldCom). Unfortunatley the Corporate Bigwigs have hated the price they pay for Data Processing services for 30 + years. They have hated it because it was a payroll they were required to pay to keep up with the compition. With few exceptions  Corporate Management never learned how to properly exploit the power they had at their command. They emanded and got near miracles from their DP professionals at the same time damning them for their demanding Corporate users explain (in detail) what they thought they wanted and needed. Since the Users could not adequately do this it fell to other DP professionals to extract the requirements and produce a starting vision of what the users wanted as a starting talking point.
Having said that it must also be said that int that same 30 + years many a DP charlitan some bearing heavy duty acedemic credentials promised a bunch of panaceas that somehow never quite lived up to the sales pitch. Again the DP grunt got the blame.
One of the most difficult and persistant problems in dealing with the Engineering discipine the is know as Data Processing is ambiguity. Over the years I have noted two people speaking the same language can use the same word and come up with two (or even more) meanings for the same word. This is exasperated by two persons from differing departments within the same company. image then the difficulty communicating between differing companies within the same country even when based in the same general area. Needless to say thei gets worse the further two individuals are when the distance physical distance (implying cultural differances) made even more difficult by even wider culteral differances imposed by religion, Language, national beliefs, mythology, values systems, etc. The jist of this is the savings associated with the outsourcing of the software consrtruction and engineering will not be anwhere near as great as the corporate biggies will beleive. Indeed the costs to their companies and this nation will be very high. Unfortuantely most ot the CEOs and CIOs will be long retired to find out.
 

Owen Duehr
Tuesday, June 24, 2003

I think you mave have missed the point. No specs are perfect. The costs for correction, re-do as it were at prices 1/4 of the U.S. price would allow a complete rework at half the US delivered cost.

The real impact is the loss of the 'add on' jobs. Where Joe finds a missing aspect of say Oracle DB, quits Oracl;e and starts Joes company marketing the Oracle tool he developed.

When I was up north in the 70's (old mainframe guy) we calculated 7 related jobs (suppliers, vendors, contractors) and 5 local independant jobs (waitress, cook, car wash)lost for each factory worker who lost their jobs.

Entire towns were wiped out. Then Walmart/Others came and wiped out the local mom and pops.

In the 70's, Computer World magazine did a survey and over  70 percent of the respondents said they did not want their kids going into IT.

Bob
Monday, October 27, 2003

Hi,

Pls mail us if u r still intertested.

Rgds
Ramesh

Ramesh Rao
Tuesday, April 06, 2004

*  Recent Topics

*  Fog Creek Home