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By eweek  |  Posted 2003-04-14 Print this article Print

I must say that all the arguments in your article against going offshore not only sound defensive but also naïve. For example, one of your arguments was the "frustration of remote project management." I have no idea whether this is just your opinion or a researched argument. At the outset its just that—an opinion. Nowhere have I seen that "remote project management" is different from or [more] difficult than "home" project management. In fact the distinction itself is ridiculous. Any project in which work is done at two physically separate facilities has elements of "remote project management." In such cases, 99 percent of all projects (irrespective of whether they are IT) are "remote projects" requiring "remote project management." If conducting a videoconference sounds "frustrating" then you must have a very frustrating job.
The second argument about "security" is again nothing but an attempt to play into the current paranoia prevailing in this country. "Credit card" thefts have occurred nowhere except in the United States. Moreover, your straight argument about all offshore projects having a potential security problem betrays your lack of knowledge of how offshore software projects are handled. Most of these projects which involve "credit cards" and "medical data" are developed using "dummy data." Never are actual consumer data exposed. In fact this is not only the case in offshore projects but also inshore projects. You may want to attend a software development seminar to see this for yourself.
The third argument and which is the real intent of all these motivated articles is of course the "jobs" issue. I must say that it does hurt when suddenly jobs disappear to faraway countries. But maam, this is globalization that is relentlessly preached by your representatives in the U.S. Congress and practiced by your administration. Your trade representative Mr. [Robert B.] Zoellick recently browbeat the rest of the world into accepting another round of trade negotiations when agreements from previous rounds have not been implemented. And guess whos the culprit? The United States and Europe. Both have stalled on "pharmaceuticals" and "agriculture" which bring untold misery and loss of "livelihood" (and not just jobs) to developing countries citizens. In fact the United States to this very date continues protecting its inefficient textile industry with quotas and qualitative restrictions. Because of the loss of traditional competitiveness of our economies and its disastrous effects, we have to learn your way of the "game." And now that we are beating you at it you start crying hoarse, just like a loser. So next time some "6-ft tall U.S. grad" comes crying to you for a job, you may want to ask him to "look beyond the horizon" for a job in India or China. They are more tolerant of "aliens" than you are. Mainak Mandal Hi Lisa, I would like to respond the response from Mainak Mandal Mainak accuses you of being naive on this subject, when in fact he is the naive one. I work for a major financial corporation as a project manager and work first hand with outsourced offshore resources. These resources are doing functions that were previously handled by onshore (employees and contractors) two years ago, including both software maintenance and software developing. Mainaks first argument of remote project management being no different from home management is completely false to me for the following reasons: 1) 12 hour time difference. Home project management means project managers are available during "working" hours to provide leadership, in both technical and business situations. Too many times I have seen code being developed based on assumptions and then being scrapped when 8 hours later the correct business decisions is made by the onshore project manager. Eight hours of wasted code writing seems small, but when you have a team of 40 offshore resources doing this, thats 320 hours wasted. In some cases where time is of the essence, the code is released as is, thus creating a source library of inefficient and high maintenance code. 2) Cultural differences. It is rare that you find an offshore resource in India who will answer "no" to the following question, "Do you understand?". In India, a "no" answer is a sign of weakness. This makes managing the offshore resources even more difficult because you have to truly read between the lines and with out face to face contact this makes it even more difficult. Writing down the tasks in a detailed format costs just has much as having onshore resources do it, so there is no cost benefit there. 3) Local economic impacts. Its a known fact that IT jobs are being moved from the US to India. The results is a 20% unemployment rate for IT jobs in the US and a IT boom in India. This creates a high turnover rate of offshore resources so that you never know resource availability and also resource experience. Over the past year Ive noticed a decrease in the experience level of the offshore resources I deal with. This is mostly because they are just new out of college as the more experienced resources have gone to other companies that pay more. An example of this is a recent project involved doing CICS work I managed. The offshore resources had little experience with CICS programming. After sending CICS training material, code templates and examples to the specific offshore resources, they were able to get the tasks completed involving CICS programming. However once completed, the offshore resources that worked on this project promptly left the outsource company for a another that offered more money for CICS programmers. Mainaks second argument regarding "security" is also completely false to me. The corporation I work for has the entire software maintenance outsourced to offshore companies. This means production problems are handled offshore and in order to fix the problem in most cases, full access is required to the production data to zap the bad records or full access is required to the source code to apply a emergency source change. Other functions with the offshore resources is performing on request reports, which again requires the offshore resources to have full access to production data. The production data contains everything involving clients and business partners. Another security issue is the sending of "secure" data via unsecured email. Ive seen many email chains going to and from various offshore outsourcing companies with production client information attached to it. The scary part is, that I wish I could say this is just my corporation that is doing this, but I know it is not. There are no controls on what and what can not be sent to the offshore companies. Mainaks third argument is just plain strange to me. The fact that he is saying he is beating the US at its own "game", I find very disturbing. This is some one who obviously does not like the United States, yet works in the IT industry in the United States. Your probably getting a lot of emails regarding this, but I do have more comments on offshore outsourcing. Ill send out more comments as I get time. One last thing, I will say that more and more IT people I talk to seem interested in an union. Heres some sites I have been looking at: Thanks for your support in this issue and please keep up the work. Matt


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