Sunday, December 07, 2008


Indian Outsourcing and Doomed Projects

It is fascinating when a programmer in India doesn't understand the specifications yet still continues to write code...

While developers in many enterprises are considered a commodity, the importance of having a highly competent technical tactician on your side is always underestimated. What if we had a practice whereby we wrote comprehensive documentation that outlined the requirements that gets thrown over the wall but we take it one step further and followup six weeks later and give each assigned Indian developer a test to see if the requirements were actually understood.

In my day job I focus on security which has the benefit that most folks don't pretend to actually have a clue and will therefore ask reasonable questions until they understand. Security is not something you can always make up on the fly and folks know that bad security is discovered very easily. What if we could figure out how to make other aspects of quality within enterprise applications exhibit the same qualities.

Not only do developers offshore in many situations not have a clue but the engine also allows people even further removed from clients such as quality assurance to test applications they don't understand. Now, to be fair to folks in India, it is not their fault that they are clueless as commodity doesn't remove the need to educate.

More importantly, if outsourcing projects are doomed then what are American IT project managers getting paid to do? Should the blame be placed on them to tell the business sponsor that the budget is inadequate and should be addressed before the project starts or should we rely on hope, dreams and heroic efforts?

Maybe all the blame for Indian outsourcing belongs on the shoulders of architects? After all, the vast majority of us know better and are more than capable of seeing badness before it hits the fan. Are we too busy using our favorite IDE of choice busily working on the latest chock-a-block eye candy Powerpoint presentation in order to do perception management?

Let's blame the business and tell them that we are sorry that we can't deliver valuable working software but here is a nice shiny Powerpoint presentation that they can install into production. I wonder how many concurrent users can my upcoming outsourcing best practices presentation can support...

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