Pervasive Follows Apple Out Of India – “Tim-may!” (with apologies to SouthPark)

Ran across an article about Pervasive in Computerworld, and found a link to a
Network World article about the same topic. Seems that there is ever increasing employee turnover, increasing labor costs and insufficient management bandwidth to keep the operation going. In another post on this, the most important blog you will ever read, I noted from another Computerworld article that the boom continues for Indian outsourcing firms. This reminds me very much of the boom times in the late 90s where job turnover was high (along with salaries). But it can’t last forever. As labor costs continue to rise in India, the main value proposition of outsourcing (i.e., onshore labor cost savings) will continue to diminish until even the most braindead board will not want to continue throwing away their shareholders’ money as they are now.

Oh, yes, there’s more.

I guess quality must be a third rail issue in the press because very few want to go near it. But I will because I don’t have to sell magazines (more to the point, I don’t have to sell advertising). I can’t speak to the quality of most outsourced projects because I don’t have first hand knowledge. But I have worked with two of the major Indian firms and believe that if they are the pinnacle of what India has to offer, then they are probably representative of the rest (and I’m being generous here). The projects I managed were always on time, but the quality of the work was terribly poor. Much of the code had to be reworked, but the folks who wrote it were off on other projects by the time we realized their mistakes. Which meant we had to get new people, and because of the way the contracts were written we had to pay for their time, which included ramp up. Our mistake was not managing them sufficiently (lesson learned? You would think so…). Communication was terribly poor. Indian firms like to tout their educated resources, and their proficiency in English. I didn’t see it. In fact, the English speaking skills of 3 out of 4 of the resources with whom I directly worked was so poor I couldn’t figure out WHAT in the hell they were saying. Now, my Telegu is non-existent, and I don’t speak Hindi either, but I’M NOT OUT THERE SAYING HOW GOOD I AM AT IT. They are. And THAT is part of the problem. The guys who are talking to execs are terrific English speakers, and many have spent long periods of time in England or the United States. Execs then take these guys as representative of the rest of their crew (see what I mean about being generous?). Not true. Oh, and third, once we found the mistakes and FINALLY got them fixed, we’d paid 3x (again being generous) what we originally intended because of the way these guys write their contracts. Smart little bastards.

Okay, so what have we learned? Well, it depends on whom you ask. If you were one of the guys that had to work 80 hours a week cleaning up after these clowns, you learned a lot (mostly, “Offshore outsorucing loses”). If you were a middle manager, you learned that your people really stepped up to make the project a success despite “setbacks with the offshoring equation.” If you were an exec, you learned that offhsore outsourcing works. That question was actually asked in a post mortem of a project I worked on, and the managers present said (basically) that the project was a success. I’m reminded of the kid on South Park (Timmy) who, no matter what happens, seems to remain happy and jubilant and shout “Tim-may!!” at every circumstance.

So, managers, as your ship continues to sink, stay positive, keep telling your bosses that things are going well and costs are down, and enjoy those last few minutes of buoyancy. You deserve it. The inevitable drowning, I mean.

Can I get a “Tim-may!!” ???

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