Archive for the ‘Industry’ Category

Thoughts and Mindsets

Wednesday, February 20th, 2008

Thought it would be worth to pen down my views on what are the normal thoughts that goes in a person’s mind when he/she plays the following roles in the IT consulting industry.

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Each one of us have strengths and are capable individuals, however in the past 8 years I have seen  people who go through these thoughts and it is very surprising. It is sometimes very helpful to understand the ‘why’ behind the person’s behaviour. Have you come across these ?

Technical/Delivery mindset

  • Technology is my life but I also want to move towards management front in the long run.
  • I enjoy design and coding. Thats what I would want to do all my life, dont want to get into Managerment
  • How will I deliver this project/work with such un-skilled team members?
  • Anyone with no technical skills is a useless person.
  • Sales team is no good, getting a new account is no big deal, the real challenge is in delivering it which we do and that gives more business.
  • Sales team sell anything without any knowledge of the technology.
  • Nothing works on relationships, everything is task based and should be clearly defined.
  • We get the job done and deliver to the client, recruitment is never able to get good talent on time and we are left to struggle all the time.
  • The HR is hopeless; we do not get any support from them.

Sales mindset

  • To meet my target, how does my pipeline look like?
  • How can I make more money on commissions?
  • How to package and position the product/service that I am selling?
  • I need to find-out the decision maker in customer’s management for this deal ASAP and create a good relationship with him/her.
  • Is this person of any use to me for this deal?
  • What extra can I show as a value to the customer, does competition has an edge ?
  • Who should I be influencing internally in my company to help me get this deal?
  • Recruitment takes a lot of time to get people on-board. This is a pain
  • Why cant delivery folks understand the sales situation ?

Recruitment mindset

  • Sales team is crazy and sells anything, how on earth am I suppose to find people with this kind of skills?
  • The job specs defined is unrealistic. Seems they need god and not a person.
  • Our compensation structure is not correct, compared to the industry and that’s why people don’t join.
  • I have candidates, but who will take the technical interview. Chasing delivery folks is a pain.
  • This candidate already has another offer, would he/she join us?
  • I have already exhausted all the job sites, where do I get the resumes from ?
  • Resumes from placement agencies are mostly repeat of what we already have. Also the quality of resumes/profiles provided is not good.
  • The internal referral system is not good, has so much limitations, how do I search for suitable profiles?
  • I have submitted 9 resumes for this position, all got rejected in technical round, what are they looking for? Is the interviewer’s expectation too high ?

Admin/Support mindset

  • Why everybody shouts at us? Are we expected to do magic?
  • As per the SLA, I have 4 days to work on this ticket and I am not going to work on it today as I have other higher priority things to complete.
  • I have done most of my work, how long am I supposed to wait for an update from the customer? I am closing this ticket.
  • The SLA/expectation is unrealistic. I am a person not a machine.

Do share your views and experience using the comments link below this post (on the right hand side, the link would say ‘No comments’ or ‘x comments’).

Recruitment in IT industry – The Dark Side …

Friday, July 6th, 2007

The recruitment function is the most important function in an IT organization as they are the entry gate for people to enter the organization. Of course, technical interviews happen, but at the end of the day, the options that a technical panel has, would be limited to what the recruiter presents. The current pace at which IT industry is growing in India, the pressure to recruit the ‘best’ in the industry and that too in few weeks (days in some cases) creates a lot of internal pressure on recruiting manager/executive.

The external scenario is equally challenging as the entire IT industry is seeing a resource crunch and people can today afford to choose the company they want to join. Typically the candidates/recruits would bargain for both role and money.Normally, the recruitment department is responsible to recruit the person with desired skills. Once the person has  joined , he/she would be assigned to a resourcing manager or project team where he would work. The recruiter has NO clue of the actual work the person does. However, till the recruitment cycle is over, recruiter is the most important person who can decide not to hire and can potentially give any HR reasons.

A typical recruiter would find talent in the outside world through online portals ( naukri.com, monster.com, dice.com … ), internal reference, external agencies, would talk to the candidates, see their willingness to move from their existing job, lot of times motivating people to quit and join. Mostly the focus is on finding new talent and then motivating candidates to join after they have cleared the technical round. The so-called ‘HR round’ most of the times ends up becoming a formality and salary negotiation round. After painful discussions with the management or compensation team on salary, the recruitment team would be able to satisfy the salary needs of the candidate and hands over the associate to the resource management group after they have joined. At this point the responsibility of the recruitment team is assumed to be over. Resource management group based on the demand forecasted and current needs starts looking for projects in the company where the associate can be assigned.

So far as the model is concerned, it works for most of the IT organizations today. As it clearly identifies the exit criteria for the recruitment team which is getting the person on board.

How things go wrong

The recruiter’s view

  • The hiring manager is crazy, how am I supposed to find a person with the given skills and that too in 3 weeks time?
  • Joining time of 4 weeks is not possible to deal with. Let me offer a heavy joining bonus to attract the guy.
  • Let me advice him to join without experience letter from the previous company to meet the joining time needs. I know it would be bad for the candidate in the long run but I have to meet the deadline.
  • I had to show the candidate lot of future in the organization although I know there is not much for him/her here.
  • I need to do my job (perceived to be the motivating and convincing the candidate), I don’t care if there are no projects for him here.
  • I would bargain with the candidate to show that I can get the best talent at least price from the market. After the candidate is in the company, he might find-out that that he is paid less, but that’s none of my problems.
  • Where can I get more resumes from?

In the pressure, recruiter ends up doing lot of things which are not correct and also ends-up playing with other people’s career. Also the internal pressure from the project manager to meet the project deadline and revenue targets is a killer. This results in bigger challenges to everyone else in the organization after the candidate has joined.

In this whole situation, the original purpose of hiring good talent and good people becomes a challenge. The responsibility lies in the hands of Management and the Senior people to keep a close check on the kind of people who are being recruited. Senior Management needs to provide some protection to the recruitment team from the ‘blame’ game and equip the recruitment team with some technical knowledge and management view on ‘what’ the organization is looking for. The hiring of people for the recruitment team should be most closely monitored and controlled as they are the entry gates for people to enter. A good and matured recruitment team can make or break a company.

The views expressed above are based on my experience in recruitment and resource management in small (900 people) and mid sized (7000 people) companies. The issues that I have seen, made me move out of that job profile as I felt that I am not doing any good to the people and to myself. However, you can contradict me or share your suggestions and experiences as this is just my point of view.

Should customer know what they want?

Wednesday, May 23rd, 2007

It’s an interesting question which occurred in my mind. Over the years, I have realized that it is unreasonable to expect the customer to know what they need. 

In IT industry when a customer decides to go for a customized application or implement a software solution for a business requirement, they look for partners to outsource the job. As part of the requirement gathering phase we often realize that the customer is not fully aware of what actually the need is. The Account Manager realizes this and hopes to offer the expertise the company has to the customer. When the project manager gets involved, he/she plans the project based on the initial knowledge and comes up project plan with resource needs. The expectation that this Project Manager typically has, is that the customer should know what they need and there are not too many changes. When the customer expresses that it’s not the case, that’s when the trouble begins and all the mappings of change control, resource needs and meeting the timelines & budget comes into picture. 

Let us look back and understand if we understand what we want, when we make a purchase. Let’s take Car as an example as typically its one of the major decisions like IT implementation for a user company. How many of us really look at technical details of the car before making a decision? Do we look at : 

  • Power (bhp@rpm) 
  • Power to weight (bhp/ton) 
  • Torque (Nm@rpm) 
  • Fuel injection method ( MPFi, carborator based … ) 
  • Bore (mm) x stroke (mm) measure 
  • fuel compression ratio 
  • steering types (Rack and pinion, … ) 
  • suspension type (MacPherson strut, Torsion beam and coil spring ) 

Let me ask a more core question … do we even know the meaning and significance of the above on the vehicle to make a decision? At best we would look at mileage, CC count of engine, power windows/steering, A/C, internal space, other people’s opinion, maintenance expenses, brand image and go for the purchase… 

Moral of the story is that rarely customers know what exactly they need and are able to make a decision based on the technical details involved. We cannot expect the customer to know his/her requirements of the system, rather customers look at us to provide them with a solution and offer a roadmap with our past experience. That’s the real value of an IT partner to a user company. 

In most of the cases the customer would have an idea of the end-result that they need and how the system is expected to solve their business problem. A lot of times it’s a long order to achieve the end result as their are a lot of back-end processing and business process change need. Once the project commences, customer is able realize this and then real requirements evolve. Then the project goes through the changes from the original scope.

Hence the development methodologies used for software development becomes very important. Water-fall model is tightly compartmentalized and rarely near to reality while other new models are Rational Unified Process (RUP), eXtreme Programming (XP), Agile Methodology, etc. All these approach focus on the iterative nature of a project from different angles because of the base reason which is ‘changes’ in requirement during the project development. 

In my career of 7 years till now, I realize that the companies, who understand this, succeed much faster and are able to position themselves well in the market.

IT consulting – India story

Saturday, March 10th, 2007

As a fresh graduate I use to wonder and dream of becoming the best in software design & analysis world. My impression was that IT consulting is very high-tech and respected job. Good blessed me with a job in an IT company soon after my graduation. My high aspirations and the big US dream was very much alive and true.

Entered the industry and realized that the reality was something else. Use of computers and electronic in the US is common because of high cost of manpower, hence the effort always is to automate the processes in an organization. This mindset leads to very high level of automation and computerization. Another fact of US is lack of skilled and educated work force. Although the government has provided free high school education BUT graduation and higher studies is very expensive even for an average American to afford. The US economy is rich and technology surly offers convenience to people and makes ‘work’ people independent.

To solve this manpower issue and to further automate things, organizations spend millions of dollars. Technologies take birth and die faster than the speed of human birth rate in India. In the web programming space CGI was hot then came PHP, then XML on the web followed by ColdFusion, JSP and ASP, then ASP.NET … soon distributed computing also became the buzz word with RPC, RMI, COM, EJB, CORBA then web services were HOT thing and now service oriented arch. Its a non ending story …

Technology is a broad term and is always meant to solve a business problem ! business problem could be of multiple kinds … need of a new technology for enhanced security at home gave birth to virtual security systems which allow you to control your house over the net. Now that sounds cool … but some smart person thought about this concept which will sell and mean a lot of business hence the need for such a technology. Similarly, their are other scenarios when business houses has already implemented systems and that needs further enhancement or revamp due to expansion of business and inability of the existing system to handle that volume, again the need for better technology. Then we have scenarios where the technology implemented is excellent but is obsolete now and the organization cannot find people with those skills, hence they have to consider upgradation of the systems although their is no change in the business process. So in every perspective, a technology lives and dies with the business need in the US.

You might say … great, nice to know that US angle, but how does this lead to growth of companies in India ? The answer is that Indians are smart and intelligent people available for cheap. Higher education is not that expensive and we have lot of hard working people with a dream to grow in life willing to take that extra pain to learn. And most importantly we CAN communicate in English. Its like a discount store where you get good stuff at a lesser price and hence US companies see dollar savings. A person in the US might charge anywhere between $90 to $100 per hour for utilizng his skills in a given technology or subject area. In India, companies offer the same skilled resources for $25 to $35 per hour which is 3 to 4 times cheaper. Internet has proven a boon to India for connectivity to US systems and the time difference of 9 to 12 hours makes it possible for us to work during our day time when it is night in US.

How do Indian companies afford to pay high salary ? a typical $25 per hour billing rate coverts to Rs. 1125 per hour @ Rs.45 per dollar. A simple calculation revels that Rs.1125 per hour becomes Rs. 9000 a day (1125 X 8 hours a day), Rs. 45,000 a week (9000 X 5 working days in a week) and Rs. 1,80,000 a month (45,000 X 4 weeks) !!! Even if offer a salary of 90,000 a month you still have another 90,000 to look forward to in order to meet your business expenses. We are till now talking about 1 person at $25 per hour. TCS has a workforce of 83,000 employees and many others in the range of 7,000 to 40,000. Even if you leave aside the support staff (non-billable) which is typically 10% to 15% of the workforce, this model means a LOT of money !!

My original dream of becoming best in design and analysis is still there but the perspective has changed. US dream is not live anymore as I have visited US 3 to 4 times now and understand that its not my kind of place. Its just a different place with people belonging to a different culture and mindset !!