Thursday, March 30, 2006

New Kid On The Block

It was that time of year when existing vendor relationships are studied, analyzed and evaluated. Familiarity breeds contempt, unhappiness and dissatisfaction even when you are one of the outsourcing heavy-weights from India. One morning, the powers that be let it be known that the Indians had been ousted by a Brazilian outsourcing company and that the transition would be completed in the next sixty days.

While desis are very familiar with one Indian vendor being replaced by another in the bitter bidding wars for a large outsourcing contract, being shown the door by the Brazilians was somewhat of a surprise. My interaction with the team from Brazil has been limited but I sense a certain lack of confidence among the outgoing Indian vendor resources as well as the American employees.

They had achieved a certain rapport over the years. Indian festivals were celebrated in the cafeteria, miniature Ganesh and Nataraj idols adorned the desks of American managers. One woman had a colorful dupatta on permanent display in her office. Team lunches were often held at the local desi restaurant since everyone loved the gajar halwa and palak paneer equally. Arranged marriages had been deconstructed to death in the smoking porch as had Bollywood musicals. The desi assimilation of America is naturally presumed. In all that was a lot of cultural bridges built.

The employees are concerned about their ability to communicate effectively with the new team given that very few people know either Spanish or Portuguese. Why they assume that English would not be adequate is hard to explain. They balk at the prospect of learning about a new work culture which they
assume will be significantly different from anything they are used to.

For the Brazilian company, their challenge would be rise to the occassion and allay all concerns stated and unstated. This besides being able to complete a fool proof knowledge transfer in sixty days, make the change of guard completely transparent to the business users and deliver a significant cost saving to the company.

Failing on one or more counts could imperil their tentative foot in the door because the Indians are going to try very hard to regain lost ground. Even as competition heats up in the world of outsourcing, India will continue to enjoy significant advantages over later entrants into the game. Needless to say, complacence could prove fatal.

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