Monday, May 09, 2005

Infinitely Over-lapped

Reading the last line in the news item on white collar job burnt out in America due to outsourcing hit a raw nerve

"We can be the ones who put in the overlap time," Gupta said. "These types of schedules are baked into India's DNA. We have to earn our money somehow."

Having played on both sides of the out-sourcing game I know the score. I have had team members in US show up past 10:00 a.m. EST with the Indian side waiting on them to start a status meeting. To add insult to injury these slackers are Indians who are aware of concerns that are implicit with a woman in India staying at work well past mid-night.

I have called the woman to make sure she had transportation arranged and that she would be safe going home at that late hour. I have felt a storm of guilt rage inside when I heard her say meekly "Yes, I will be fine" I happen to know that she lives with her in-laws and has a one-year old. I want to tell her I've been there done that and I know it's anything but fine.

When the pattern of late morning (EST) meetings seemed inevitable I contacted the offshore program liaison to voice my concerns about the woman being required to stay that late for her ten minute update to the team. "Can you guys have her conference in from home ?" With offshore unwilling to pick the tab for international calls from our end that was my only option. He told me they were exploring the possibilities. Needless to say nothing changed or moved past "exploratory".

Outsourcing outfits do themselves a great disservice when they decide "We have to earn our money somehow." It is reflected in every aspect of the engagement. They agree to meet impossible dead-lines, do not re-negotiate effort estimates when scope is significantly changed fearing retribution, agree to put in all the over-lap time - in a nut-shell do anything it takes to earn the client's business.

By the time the deal is inked their availability 24/7 is a foregone conclusion. Cost being the only differentiator between different vendors can make the game dangerously cut-throat. The victims are obviously much further down the food-chain than the deal-makers themselves.


SeaSwallowMe said...

methinks some of this is the consumer-producer equation at play. right now, the dice is loaded, somewhat, in favor of the consumer.

i've woken up at crazy hours (or stayed up) to speak to folks at customer-sites in scandinavia & western europe & aus-NZ. they're customers, that says everything - they would tell me what's the most convenient time for them, and all I'd do is to adjust my alarm call accordingly.

maybe things will change down the road. i've already seen changes with peer-teams in projects spread across countries - teams meet at geographically-convenient times during alternate months. but, that's hard to pull off unless they're peer teams.

Some detailed upfront planning (and sticking to the plan) from the offshore project deployment folks might do the trick. but that again requires companies to mature out of the "i'll do anything, just tell me how high i need to jump" mode :-P

bleu said...

Its a tough situation for the lady.

But with internet calls becoming cheaper, whould not such a phone conference be easier? or are the calls so secure that they cost a lot.

Heartcrossings said...

SSM - Unless there are several metrics for vendor differentiation apart from cost the "I'll jump higher that the next guy. Try me" will continue. In the end they all loose and work likely moves on to Vietnam :-)

SeaSwallowMe said...

crossings, you're absolutely right.

some of that, i believe, is happening right now. i think some of the early adopters are beginning to get more clarity into their numbers, having done this offshoring for a couple of years now. i think vendor differentiation based on a more-holistic ROI (and factoring in all kinds of things, besides costs on paper) is not too far down the road.

and i'm guessing the relationships based on pure cost (i'm sure there will always be some of that in the mix) will move, depending on the flavor of the month.

all this, of course, with a pinch of salt - i'm talking thru my top-hat :-P

Priyamvada_K said...

"The victims are obviously much further down the food-chain than the deal-makers themselves."

Sad...and the victims include families too!