I blame powerpoint for a lot of the decline in the American economy. It’s just so damn convincing.
Perhaps Ross Perot was right. We are experiencing a giant ‘sucking’ sound as a result of NAFTA. Jobs are being shipped overseas just like he predicted. There’s been a leveling of the playing field if you will. Cheap labor in Mexico, India, China and other countries has given even the best American corporations like Intel, Nike, and Apple the incentive to ship jobs overseas. Initially the biggest hit was in the manufacturing sector, but it didn’t take long to leak over into many traditional white-collar areas like Engineering.
Under tremendous cost pressures, a plethora of Sr. Vice Presidents opted for the ‘bold play’. The big move. The one that would turn heads at the Sr. staff meeting with the projected savings. Invariably the message was in the form of an Outsourcing Strategy.
Who could argue with the numbers? They looked awesome on the powerpoint.
The hidden down-side of these decisions was soon discovered by the likes of Dell who, after outsourcing their call centers to India, soon reversed the decision after customer complaints piled up, not the least of which was an enormous language barrier.
India is pretty skilled at marketing their cheap labor, though they inflate the educational achievements of their workforce tremendously. India has some top notch schools that develop outstanding Engineers. But they also have diploma mills that pump out sub-standard engineers that work at companies like HCL Technologies, one of the worst offenders in misrepresenting their workforce that I’ve ever seen.
Should you be so unfortunate to get hooked up with HCL as a partner, be prepared to work with Junior Engineers who lack several key skills required to complete a project. Troubleshooting skills, language skills, taking initiative, process improvement, and working across 12 time-zones comes to mind. They are just one of many Indian “rip-offs” out there that promise the moon and deliver magic beans.
The good news is that finally, the trend may be reversing. After extended exposure to just how mucked up projects can get using the outsourcing model, companies ( at least the smarter ones ), are starting to reverse trend.
If it looks good on power-point, ask questions. Lots of them.