Offshore Management Framework: The key to managing outsourced IT projects across time, distance and cultures.

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October 30, 2006

Death of a Salesman... long live Offshoring Salesmen

Over the weekend, I was watching “Death of a Salesman,” the drama on DVD based on Arthur Miller’s American classic, which, incidentally was a required reading for us in school when I was growing up in India.

Though it has been decades since Miller wrote the drama, it captures the essence of salesmen (and women… I will refrain from being Politically Correct, and not use “sales person”); And why do I bring up this topic? Because most of us in the offshoring space are essentially salesmen.

You don’t have to agree to this argument but let us start at the bottom of the pyramid: The offshore developers, programmers and coders: these are the folks who write, build and test software programs to specifications. One might think that they are not really “selling” anything. Yes, they are primarily selling their skills and talent to employers. If the employer happens to be a software services firm like Infosys, their skills are in turn packaged with their peers to “projects” for clients. This is a two-way selling: they are sold on the dream of working for world-class organizations, opportunity to interact with smart peers, work on cool technologies and… get the drift.

A few rungs above the developers are Project managers, team leaders, group managers who “anchor” offshore initiatives. One could argue that these folks are also not really “selling” anything. But there again, they are selling. Right? They sell ideas to clients and ensure that their teams are able deliver on the ideas. Lest we forget, responding to proposals, RFPs and RFIs involves selling (and pre-sales).

Beyond this level, especially when you turn to the client facing folks (onsite folks)…now, they are the ones selling all aspects of the life-cycles, living in the sweet spot where selling and delivering software solutions to clients converge.

Flattening of the world (as Friedman calls it) also means all of us in the offshoring space are salesmen. Death of a Salesman? ….long live Salesmen. 

October 17, 2006

On becoming a Global Manager

Richa, in her recent blog posts about her first-hand observation on how “The War for Talent Heats Up” in India. Although I can completely empathize with Richa’s frustration, I can also see why the “hot” techies are running after employers who profess to offer “a few dollars more.”

Young and aggressive, many of them are perhaps oblivious to the longer term opportunities that a global career in IT has in store. Surprisingly, programmers and software professionals in America seem to be more astute about globalization.  

The recent article in Fast Company magazine “You're a new tech grad looking for work. Check out Mysore” makes for interesting reading. The story talks about how new graduates like Brandon Pletcher -- a 23-year-old computer-engineering grad from the University of Arizona and Nicole Dun, A freshly minted 22-year-old computer-science graduate of the University of California at Davis, are globalizing their careers.

In 2003 after a decade of eventful career in the global IT arena I decided to head travel to Bangalore and observe first hand what offshoring phenomenon was all about. What better place to do it than at Infosys? My observations and research lead me to write Offshoring IT Services. In the book, I have given several case-studies on how individuals embarking on a software career, even in the west, are closely observing the globalization of the industry. Many are also positioning themselves to acquire the right skills.

I had talked about some of the attributes that Global Managers should acquire; the key skills include:

  • Project Management Skills
  • Strong Communication Skills
  • Technical and domain knowledge
  • Open to Travel
  • Cultural Sensitivity
  • Outsourcing experience
  • Updated on Geopolitical trends

It is apparent that Pletcher and Dun have already taken a page out of the chapter, and are walking the talk. They are already experiencing the intricacies of working in multicultural teams and will probably graduate to managing global project soon.

October 6, 2006

Random thoughts on Offshoring Enterprise Architecture (EA)

In my previous blog “Strategic IT talent: Why Offshoring is not the answer?” I tried explaining how offshore outsourcing can be leveraged to provide technical work of various genera including some high end tasks like Research & Development and innovation and Enterprise Architecture Definition.

In my day-job, I straddle the thin line between working with clients and Infosys teams on translating sourcing strategies to actionable projects and programs while also consulting on high end (well, I can call define “high end since this is my blog, right?) Architecture definition including Enterprise Architecture (EA). [I am with the System Integration practice’s Technology Consulting Group]

I don’t want to dwell too much on EA definitions since gurus both at Infosys and outside -- [Re: Craig Borysowich, Robert McIlree’s blogs -- have done a stellar job. The sweet spot I am seeking to address is on leveraging offshoring to provide EA services.

Let me try and explain my thinking; Enterprise Architecture attempts to align business goals and “’IT strategy,”   essentially help manage innovation. EA governance also tries to create an atmosphere where IT Investments are optimally utilized. There are distinct opportunities to leverage globalized (onsite, offshore) and geographically distributed teams in EA teams that include:

  • Offline research : including research on industry trends, emerging technologies
  • Developing and testing Proof of Concept (POC) to study technical viability of solutions

The business goals that globalized EA teams work towards are the same that offshoring can provide, and include leveraging a wider skill pool, cost-benefits and the like. Though the thoughts here are more in the form of a SWAG, I have seen some of them work in the field with varying degrees of success.

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