Outsourcing

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Good news for those whose high tech and software jobs have been outsourced--though it may yet be a bit of time before things swing the other way: http://www.nytimes.com/2004/04/28/technology/28SOUR.html?th
With my own experience with Dell's outsourced phone help, it isn't just the productivity that is a problem. The depth of knowledge is not there, as the guy states. The clown I got finally wanted me to format my hard drive to cure a problem with a worn out CDRW.
When I went back to email help, I had a guy here in 3 days, he replaced the CDRW in about 4 minutes and all is well.
Charlie Self "Wars spring from unseen and generally insignificant causes, the first outbreak being often but an explosion of anger." Thucydides
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snipped-for-privacy@aol.comnotforme (Charlie Self) wrote in message

This article is right in line with my observations on the job. The gist of it is that given the prerequisites of clearly defined requirements and an established design pattern that outsourcing can be effective.
However, those are two very big assumptions that I have yet to see on any project I've been on. I would also argue that given those requirements, you could farm out the work to recent college grads or interns just as cheaply and easily.
I used to manage two FOB Indians that were in house in our company at ridiculously low hourly rates. We dumped them when they spent two months working on a feature that any of the other developers would have screamed, "F*ck it! They don't need that feature anyway" - and have been right.
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<snip>
Nice to see a little sanity in the hysteria over programming jobs moving off shore. I have seen a number of articles like this recently concerning the hidden difficulties and costs in trying to manage software development overseas. I would especially be nervous about the loss of control over the intellectual property. I am sure some jobs will be lost overseas, but I believe it will be the large companies who can set up and control an overseas division, rather than contract type work.

Yikes! These were features their managers had asked for? Then they were fired because they didn't tell their managers the features were unnecessary? That doesn't sound like a problem with the programmers...
Neil
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Neil wrote:

Yeah, Neil. I agree.
Looks like Jays part of the reason these jobs are moving offshore.
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Neil,
I have to disagree with you. Maybe the feaures were part of the original design but one has to look at the return on investment of the feature. Is there maybe another way to perform the same function? What is the value of the function? Is it a 'must have' or is it just one of those things what would either be nice or cool?
I guess what I am saying is somehting like "Is it worth spending that much time on it?"
Also, if this feature was so darn difficult, why didn't the programmers say something? Why did they sit there and spin their wheels for two months?
We outsourced our ERP system to an Indian firm and I must agree that they leave a lot to be desired. We work with a languge called NATURAL on the mainframe. One of the Indians, who we were told was a CMM Level 5 programmer who was experienced in NATURAL (ha!!! What a lie!!!), was told to add a field on a screen (which is called a MAP). This field was on a database file and was already defined in the program. All he needed to do was find a place for it on the MAP, include a label on the MAP. Then, to make everything work, just compile the program using the new MAP and the field will instantly appear--no 'programming' involved.
It took this guy 2 freaking weeks--working weekends, too!--to get it to work. He called us DBAs and told us the database file was screwed up. Then he said it was hsi user id. Then he said there was somehting wrong in the environment.
These guys follow a script and cannot deviate from it. They are like little robots--little confused robots. If those two guys in the original post were told this feature was needed, they just worked to make it happen come hell or high water. They do not seem to have much common sense and they certainly cannot think for themselves.
Sorry. It may seem cruel but it is the truth. Actually, it may be the management of these comapnies that force this to happen. Seems to me they can milk the clients much better if it they force their people to work on a useless feature for two months.
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    I beleive what it all comes down to is the ole addage of book sense vs. common sense. We all know a lot of people strictly from either side, and very few people that seem to draw from both sides. It is the ones that draw from both sides that seem to awe and amaze those that struggle with a task on a daily basis. MOST (not all) business people only look at the short term bottom line and the current metrics only draw from the book smarts (how do you quantify common sense in the accounting books or in the share price ?).
    Some of the same acculades were given years ago to the Japanese. That the were supposedly eating our lunch, and the reason was because of the education system. Now you are hearing the same metrics being lauded with respect to the Indian workers. Sure they are smart, and their eductaion system pumps them out, but book smarts is not where the work gets done.
    I will take a person with a basic knowledge of the problem, and lots of common sense, over a person with a in depth knowledge of the problem and very little common sense any day.
     Ray Kinzler wrote:

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snipped-for-privacy@thesafety.net (Ray Kinzler) wrote in message

I agree, but I also think all of these questions should be addressed seriously in the design/architecture phase before a single line of code is written. Since the poster claimed that any other programmer would have screamed "F*ck it! They don't need that feature anyway", it is baffling how this feature made it into the design, possibly made it through several design reviews, and was assigned to a programmer by a manager. If the feature was so obviously useless, why did anyone ever work on it at all?

It is not clear from Jay's post that the programmer didn't say anything. Remember, Jay's post cited a case with an in house programmer. This guy sat in the next cubicle and wasted two months. None of my programmers could waste a week without me knowing about it, and I would expect to be given most of the blame if it went on for months.

Sorry to hear it. Believe me, I understand that you have to fire people if they can't do the things you need them to do in a timely fashion. However, as I indicated, Jay's description sounds like a bigger problem than a programmer who couldn't do the work.
Neil
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I do not want to stereotype Indian, Pakistani's or whoever is involved in Outsourcing. However, they do project themselves as god's gift to computers. Don't get me wrong, there are thousands of brilliant Indians I have worked with over the past 10 years or so. But I have also run into some overbilled consultants who don't know how to code their way out of paper bag or tune a database to save their life. They have a huge network of friends and are very close and call, email, IM each other when they run into problems. You have to admire their determination and their intuitiveness.
If anyone has ever worked in IT Consulting they will tell you that many of the consulting companies oversell the skills in order to get the consultant billable. The same thing happens in outsourcing.
Rich

were
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Rich, I agree. I, too, work with a bunch of extremely intelligent and gifted people from India, Bulgaria, Russia, etc. Each and every one of these people have ajob here because they perform.
On the other hand, there is one (count it: ONE!) person from the Indian outsourcing comapny who has potential. I am not saying is good at programming using the products our ERP is built on but has potential. The others go from bad to as bad as it gets. And, like you said, each one of these people were touted as being something wonderful. Our problem is that they are hard to get rid of. We almost have no choice other than take what they give. I would rather have my mother program here than at least one of them--and she has a hard time nagivating WebTV, for crying out loud!
They do have an extensive network and they use it and cultivate it very well. That is how they get things done. There is no way an Indian programmer--or any other profession--is better than an American or whatever nationality, it is the marketing of them and the way they are marketing India as being the IT Mecca.
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snipped-for-privacy@spamsucks.yahoo.com says...

I was a computer consultant for many years and some of stuff my fellow consultants passed off as work and got very well paid for made me shudder. I suspect the percentage of bullshit artists is about the same across all human groupings - except televangelists where it's 100% :-).
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Larry Blanchard writes:

Ding! Wrong. The percentage of bullshit artists with TV preachers is 175. ALl of them and all of 'em planning to rake in big scores that way--which they will, after which they can whine and sob and drip tears about how sorry they are they screwed all their parishioners out of money while screwing some showgirl in Vegas or elsewhere.
It's a rough life, but someone has to do it.
Charlie Self "Religion is what keeps the poor from murdering the rich." Napoleon Bonaparte
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Ahhh! ADABAS... :)

I'm sure you know this now, but CMM Level 5 has damned little to do with *results*. It's all about process, procedures and policies with an intent to deliver a quality product.
Next time someone mentions Level 5, remind them that NASA was one of the first, and their sh*t still explodes from time to time.. :)
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snipped-for-privacy@donotuse.com says...

In order to be totally off topic, does anyone know where one can find a fairly short description of what the heck CMM and it's levels involve. My bosses boss, just announced in a meeting last week that he wans us to obtain CMM level 4 certification by the end of next year. Nobody said anything at the time because frankly, nobody knew if he was serious.
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kenR wrote:

http://www.sei.cmu.edu/cmm/cmms/cmms.html
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Tim Daneliuk snipped-for-privacy@tundraware.com
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Ahh - anuth'a idiot boss. Has he been there long? If he just showed up, he might be the one we just let go... :)
The only way to make it to Level 4 is by going through Level 3. If you're a 3 shop, then you've got a shot at hitting 4 by EOY 2005. Had an "official" assessment yet?
Plenty of big shops can help you through it - CSC for one [ not an endorsement by any means ].
You can always *buy* a Level 4 rating, if you desire. Might be the path of least resistance.
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Outsourcing is a tough one for me. On one hand I hate to see any jobs leave this country, on the other hand consumers will always have a tendency to buy the least expensive when comparison shopping. We have to be competative. Every time we tack on a government program we make ourselves less competative. Yes I think we need social security and medicare and other benefits, but maybe more as safety nets. I have my ideas on the answers, but more government is not among them.
Charlie Self wrote:

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Phil responds:

It's not a tough one for me in this instance. As noted, Dell's outsourced phone help is, to be polite, shit. You don't want to hear my full description when that twit told me to format my hard drive to fix a CDRW problem.
If being wrong is how another country is competitive, then we are truly in some bad trouble. It hasn't got a damned thing to do with government programs. It does have to do with the fact that U.S. tech people are paid about 3 times what Indian tech people are paid. But, according to the experts, they are then 6 times as productive.
Whoops. Where's the competition?
Charlie Self "I am confident that the Republican Party will pick a nominee that will beat Bill Clinton." Dan Quayle
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Charlie Self wrote:

"Competition" is not defined by your single experience - it is a macro-level activity. The market is not "smart", it just seeks to be efficient. That means market-driven behavior sometimes tries new things that are dumb - like outsourcing support at the expense of customer satisfaction. But, absent goverment fiddling, the market always corrects itself, as it did in this case. You cannot legislate money or economies, they just have to work it out for themselves.
Incidently, all this braying about the evils of oursourcing, led by people like Lou Dobbs, is wildly out of context. Outsourcing has a place. People _within_ the US do it all the time. For example, many busy middle-class people have found it helpful to "outsource" houskeeping to a local service. Corporations are doing the exact same thing, except the service is not "local". But money does not understand geographic boundaries. It flows where it can be used most efficiently. Outsourcing overseas makes sense in some cases, and not others, but competitive markets will figure that out over time.
Where it makes sense, outsourcing has the effect of lowering the costs of goods and services ... which benefits consumers right here. Have you noticed, the cost of many goods is _declining_? The effective cost of large ticket items, inflation adjusted, is also declining when you consider the cost of money to buy, say, a house or car. Inflation adjusted, we pay less for gasoline than ever in history ... even considering the artificial price increases inflicted by gas taxes. There's a reason for this - businesses are increasingly productive, year over year. One way to achieve that productivity is to outsource where possible. So even when outsourcing is done to an overseas entity, it has local benefit.
I remember the hollering in the 1970s when TV and radio manufacturing was outsourced to Japan. People screamed about losing "US" jobs and how the middle-class was getting screwed, ad infinitum, ad nauseum. Well, the displaced workers found jobs, and guess what, the real cost of TVs and radios went WAY down and pretty much anyone could afford them for the first time. Color TVs are now a fixture of almost every home, even for the poorest citizen. This was decidedly NOT the case in, say the 1960s. i.e., Outsourcing, over time, benefits everyone involved.
The only "trouble" we are in as a nation is that the vast majority of the Sheeple want to legistlate success, don't understand economics, and think that a job is a "right". This is cynically exploited by the Congress Critters, "News" Commentators, and other lower life forms to create the impression of impending doom - for which, of course, they have the answer if you'll just vote for them, watch their show, and so forth. No money-grubbing televangelist could every compete with this level of sliminess ...
But that's just what I think...
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Tim Daneliuk responds:

Nor was my experience "single" for the overwhelming majority of business users refused to buy Dell until it stopped using Indian help desks. That worked. Consumers in general don't have that kind of immediate clout, so Dell is still sticking it to us.
I don't recall say legislation was necessary. Don't recall mentioning it, in fact. I don't recall saying anything about "evils of outsourcing."

Radios? Damned near everyone I knew in the '60s had, and listened to, a radio of some sort. The driving force in the sale of radios to everyone seems to me to have been the discovery that FM was cleaner than AM and could be used over long distances, given the right technology. As far as color TV goes, until the '70s, there wasn't a whole helluva lot of use for it because many stations still broadcast in black & white. Yes, the prices came down. Yes, there was a lot of noise.

Everyone I knew in the '60s who wanted a TV set had one. Not color, but, generally, color idjit boxes were hard to find as well as afford, about like HDTV today...you don't want to know my opinion of people who will spend $5000 and up for a television set.

I don't know anyone who wants to legislate success. I do know a lot of people who think that competence should be a basis for transferring work to other countries, if it has to be transferred.

Never watched many televangelists, have you? I remember my first visual encounter with Oral Roberts, when I was just about 16. Magnificent slime. Since then, the sheen has gotten worse, the slime deeper, and the numbers incredible. TV really does draw in the idiots, both in performances and watchers.
There is always going to be an outcry when work moves. The cotton mills (read textiles) moved south many years ago. Now, they're moving from the south to places most of us never heard of a decade ago. Most companies are also getting garments manufactured overseas, a phenomenon that seemed to kick off in the '60s and early '70s with designer jeans makers realizing they could get their 100 buck a pair retail items for $4. Now, even the 25 buck a pair jeans are made overseas.
The displacement this time, though, is across more industries and deeper than I ever recall reading about it being before.
As for a job being a "right," well, why not? I recall a factory owner I knew who felt that when he expanded, which he did with great care and conservatism, all the people he hired had as much "right" to have their jobs continue as did those who were already there. And he felt that any businessman who didn't maintain the jobs he provided was a poor businessman. John did that for a great many years, but he was fortunate to be the owner of the business, without a board or a bunch of stockholders to answer to. He could plan and work for the long term. Today, that seldom happens.
Oh, yes. The jobs that John provided: he ran that place for over 40 years, without a layoff.
Charlie Self "I am confident that the Republican Party will pick a nominee that will beat Bill Clinton." Dan Quayle
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Charlie Self wrote:
<SNIP>
> Radios? Damned near everyone I knew in the '60s had, and listened to, > a radio of some sort. The driving force in the sale of radios to > everyone seems to me to have been the discovery that FM was cleaner > than AM and could be used over long distances, given the right > technology. As far as color TV goes, until the '70s, there wasn't a > whole helluva lot of use for it because many stations still broadcast > in black & white. Yes, the prices came down. Yes, there was a lot of > noise. >
My point was really about color TVs and good "hi-fi" equipment. Prior to these products being comoditized by offshore manufacturing, the prices were out of the range of the masses. Offshoring drove the costs down and almost everyone could (and did) buy this stuff. The meta-point here is just that this is one of many examples of how offshoring produces domestic benefit.
>> This was decidedly NOT the case in, say the 1960s. > > > Everyone I knew in the '60s who wanted a TV set had one. Not color, > but, generally, color idjit boxes were hard to find as well as afford, > about like HDTV today...you don't want to know my opinion of people > who will spend $5000 and up for a television set.
And I probably share that view. There is precious little broadcast or even delivered by cable/sat that remotely justifies a $500 TV imho, let alone one for $5000.
> > >> The only "trouble" we are in as a nation is that the vast majority of >> the Sheeple want to legistlate success, don't understand economics, >> and think that a job is a "right". > > > I don't know anyone who wants to legislate success. I do know a lot of > people who think that competence should be a basis for transferring > work to other countries, if it has to be transferred.
But that _is_ the basis for it - the market ensures that this will happen. Maybe not intially, but sooner or later, it catches up. Your Dell experience confirms this. The fact that Dell was wrong in their original assessment in the matter means that they tried something that did not work. It is not in any sense a general indictement of offshoring.
> > >> This is cynically exploited by the Congress Critters, "News" >> Commentators, and other lower life forms to create the impression of >> impending doom - for which, of course, they have the answer if you'll >> just vote for them, watch their show, and so forth. No money-grubbing >> televangelist could every compete with this level of sliminess ... > > > Never watched many televangelists, have you? I remember my first > visual encounter with Oral Roberts, when I was just about 16. > Magnificent slime. Since then, the sheen has gotten worse, the slime > deeper, and the numbers incredible. TV really does draw in the idiots, > both in performances and watchers.
Perhaps. But tote up all the money that Oral Roberts, Jimmy Swaggart, Benny Hinn, and the rest of that bunch have soaked their constiuencies out of. It likely would not come even close to what a single bad goverment policy decision costs (like the stupid steel tariffs that thankfully were recently repealed). The big difference here is that televangelists get the _willing_ contribution of their followers. Government extracts money by (the implicit threat of) force - the taxman's gun, so to speak. Government policies are not voluntary - we are forced to abide by them, at least until we can replace the current idiots in government with new ones.
> > There is always going to be an outcry when work moves. The cotton > mills (read textiles) moved south many years ago. Now, they're moving > from the south to places most of us never heard of a decade ago. Most > companies are also getting garments manufactured overseas, a > phenomenon that seemed to kick off in the '60s and early '70s with > designer jeans makers realizing they could get their 100 buck a pair > retail items for $4. Now, even the 25 buck a pair jeans are made > overseas.
And more people can afford even cheaper jeans at, say, Walmart.
> > The displacement this time, though, is across more industries and > deeper than I ever recall reading about it being before.
Perhaps, but this is more a reflection of how interdependent economies have become. 50 years ago, economies tracked the nation-state. Now they track global behavior no matter what individual governments want to do about it. Even totalitarian states like China have come to recognize this and have increasingly chosen to adapt to market economies. > > As for a job being a "right," well, why not? I recall a factory owner > I knew
Because for something to be a "right" it has to have some basis or some authoring agent. Something is not a "right" because I say so. Most all of us affirm that some basic rights are, well, "inalienable" - innate to being human. These include the right to be free from fraud, force, or threat.
But a job is a commerical transaction between employer and worker, entered into voluntarily. So long as both parties abide by their agreement with each other, and neither engages in fraud/force/threat, then either should be free to terminate the agreement at-will. Many of the people who are opposed to outsourcing would vehemently oppose an arrangement that requires the employee to stay with a particular employer (the inverse situation). If a job is a "right", then why does the employer not have a corresponding "right" to a stable workforce that gets paid whatever the employer feels is proper? Rights granted to one side of the arrangement but not to the other make for an iniquitous arrangement that is fundamentally unfair.
> who felt that when he expanded, which he did with great care and > conservatism, all the people he hired had as much "right" to have > their jobs continue as did those who were already there. And he felt > that any businessman who didn't maintain the jobs he provided was a > poor businessman. John did that for a great many years, but he was > fortunate to be the owner of the business, without a board or a bunch > of stockholders to answer to. He could plan and work for the long > term. Today, that seldom happens. > > Oh, yes. The jobs that John provided: he ran that place for over 40 > years, without a layoff.
I once worked for a place like that. On the surface, it was a very nice arrangement. But it also had terrible downsides. There was very little upward mobility in the company because turnover was very low. Incompentence was never flushed out of the system. The company struggled whenever international economic and monetary conditions were not in its favor. I left after 2 (happy) years and did far better in companies where layoffs were the possible.
No employer enjoys laying off people, but it is fundamentally unfair to the shareholders of a company to diminish their return on investment to maintain full local employment at all costs. The employee has a right to be treated honestly, but not to a job no matter what. By contrast, the stockholder has a right to also be treated honestly, and that means maximizing shareholder value. There is a fair debate to be had about whether or not outsourcing maximizes that value, and this will likely vary from situation to situation.
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