Friday, December 02, 2005

Battle Scarred Survivor of IT - II

The following are comments on the article I identified with so much I felt the need to save them out separately. The first one in particular echoes my feelings so much I was shocked I was reading something written by a total stranger as me and a colleague have had the same conversation several times. We didn’t win several proposals this year because we tried to factor in the fact that aggressive schedules end up burning out the team. Other companies won the projects just because they offered lower rates and shorter schedule durations. The technical solutions were not even considered.

“I work for one of the big Indian I.T. companies. When I used to toil for 14 hours a day 6.5 days a week in India, I used to think that when I run things, things will be very different. That the estimates will be realistic and every body will work normal hours. When I got a chance to bid for projects and prepare proposals for clients in the U.S., I could see the root of the problem. It starts right from the moment when the customer asks for a proposal. There is intense competition amongst vendors (most of who are based in India) With little difference among them; the lowest cost becomes the clincher. My efforts to push back on ridiculous estimates resulted in only one thing – loss of opportunity for my company. The competing rival was more than happy take the opportunity since he did not mind making his people toil to produce results. With a number of Indian vendors cutting each other throat alongside the emergence of software factories in China, Eastern Europe, South America I do not see a realistic solution to this problem at this juncture. There will always be some one on the globe willing to work hard for a “lot of money” (from relative perspective). Things like pushing back and learning to say a “plain no” are not likely to produce long lasting results. “


“Here's a tip for any company in the west planning to outsource to India. If you feel that a project can be completed in 6 weeks by 4 people, always demand that it be completed in 2 weeks by 3 people.”

“Companies need to stop hiding behind the excuse that the time difference between India and the west is the reason why people need to stay in office for 14 hours a day. Staying late should be a negative thing that should work against an employee in his appraisals. Never complement someone for staying till midnight or working 7 days a week .”

“If time estimates go wrong, the company should be willing to take a hit and not force the employee to work crazy hours to bail projects out of trouble. This will ensure that the estimates made for the next project are more real and not just what the customer has asked for.”

“The solution is changing the dimensions of the competition. Innovation is the key. When employees come up with ideas to improvise on the work, we need to listen to them and see if there is any merit. We need to commit time and energy to this cause. That's what Kaizen and CMM's level 5 are all about, but do we really implement them seriously? “

“I have seen many young employees staying back at work not necessarily because they have extra work thrust upon them, but just because they have nothing better to do. I think this culture of staying late has been the handiwork of (at least some if not most of) the employees as much as it has been a creation of business requirement for some organisations. “

“I would also put some blame on the employees also. To my experience many of the employees working on the project are technically incompetent, as a result they can not apply or use the technology to the fullest and in the most effective way. The saddest part though is many of them don't consciously take any effort to improve it also.”


“The problem is that the industry neither grooms its developers to become PMs nor facilitates successful PMs from non-Technical background to fit into their new role. The non technical type of PM fails mostly because of the Technical leads who see him as a challenger to their career and ensure that he fails. The organizations also do not recognize this as a cultural issue and try to resolve it.”


“If we try to say something about this to our seniors we are immediately labeled as the ones having an attitude problem! That affects appraisals and salary. Those who play TT in afternoon but sit till 1 in the night are given promotion because seniors see them sit till 1 in night. The hours one sits in the office has suddenly become a scale for how much hard working one is rather than seeing his productivity. “


“I used to go home by 6 am early morning, and be back by 12 noon. This has continued around for more than 6 months. Its like zero invention time. Most of the work that was done during night was scrapped and there was lot of rework.”


“So, the US is great work place? Think again. The IT dept in US are full of politics and cover-your ### attitude. All the glory is taken by the boss and the #### are passed to the guy at the bottom of the food chain... “

“I don't know about Google/ Yahoo, etc. but almost all Indian software firms seem to follow the sweat shop model. The general steps are: 1. Get a project by promising everything the client wants. 2. Assign an impossible schedule to the developer (forget Analysis, Design and start coding ASAP, SDLC be damned). 3. Frown upon any employee that leaves the office on time and wants 5 days a week. 4. Forget innovation, copy paste any code you need to meet the insane schedule. 5. Failure to meet the schedule or bugs reported by the client results in more reprimands. “


“Most of the times the deadlines can be satisfied, if we do quality work for 10 hrs (instead of 8 hr.) and maybe on sat. also, in some extreme cases.”


“As for the new generation earning more money - it is just an illusion. When I started working at the age of 23, my dad and I had the same paycheck. However he lived in a huge house given by his employer, all utilities were payed by the employer, and his pension was the last paycheck that he drew, which needless to say is substantial. If I factor all that in, I made considerably less than he did.”


”Software, being intangible, it is not possible to fix a schedule at the beginning of the project and then try and stick to it. The schedule should always be in a process of modification as the project progresses. *This* is what managers' just don't understand. How can you predict when this project shall end, when so many undefined variables are there? “



To wrap up, here is some humor: “How To Interpret Employment Ads”

  • “Join Our Fast Paced Company” - We have no time to train you.
  • “Casual Work Atmosphere” - We don’t pay enough to expect that you will dress up.
  • “Must be Deadline Oriented” - You will be six months behind schedule on your first day.
  • “Some Overtime Required” - Some time each night, some time each weekend.
  • “Duties will Vary” - Anyone in the office can boss you around.
  • “Seeking Candidates with a Wide Variety of Experience” - You will need to replace three people who just left.
  • “Problem Solving Skills a Must” - You are walking into a company in perpetual chaos. Haven’t heard a word from anyone out there. Your first task is to find out what is going on.
  • “Requires Team Leadership Skills” - You will have the responsibilities of a manager without the pay or respect.
  • “Good Communication Skills” - Management communicates poorly, so you have to figure out what they want and do it.

2 Comments:

Blogger QuaTros said...

Really a correct outlook of the situation!

December 03, 2005  
Blogger Danesh said...

Superb post! Have linked it with a recommendation post.

December 05, 2005  

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