Why offshore Indian programmers are a lot less productive than American Indians?

I write about Indians without any disrespect intended. I picked them just because this nation produces the largest number of the offshore coders-for-living in the world. But Indians living here are not the same as Indians who are still there.

Local Indian programmers belong to two categories: those who are still in the process of getting the US permanent residency(5-6 years) and those who already got it. Those who are in the process know that they have to work hard and be loyal to their employer, or else hellip; Those who already got it, just keep working well. To put it short, the vast majority of the Indian programmers I “ve been working with in the USA are good and hard working IT professionals. I “ve met and learned a lot from highly educated people from India, who are fun just to spend time with.

That other group lives in the gold-software-rush India and is called “our offshore partners rdquo;. American programmers casually complain that dealing with offshore partners is pain in the butt, because they are slow, deliver not what “s expected, require a lot more detailed specs, and time difference can result in days of email correspondence just to clarify what has to be done.

What do you think comes to mind of a typical American enterprise development manager when s/he realizes that lots of tedious code has to be written to retrieve the data from a database, massage them a little bit and display the result on the Web? India-the-savior comes to mind. A typical manager still believes that Indian programmers are dime a dozen. As Julia Roberts said, “Big mistake. Huge! rdquo;

So why any non-deaf corporate US programmer hears constant complains about those Indian teams from overseas? Why an Indian-born entrepreneur asks me, if I can recommend him a team of programmers but not from India? What “s the difference between Indians here and there?

The difference is not in them. The difference is in us. Poor performance of the offshore teams is a mirror of the poor job of the incompetent US project managers. They pretend that there is no difference in managing local and offshore teams, and it “s their fault that offshore projects are more expensive than the local ones. If you bring in an offshore team to your project, be ready to seriously improve the quality of your project documentation. Also your project will loose agility, if any. If a local developer can understand what has to be done and what are the priorities just by short phrase or a body language, this does not exist in the overseas communications. Do not go by this stupid book by Thomas Friedman “The World is Flat rdquo;. Yeah, right! The world is freaking round.

Sure enough, Bangalore is not a city of angels either. First, many of them have a heavy accent. Second, it “s the time to make a quick buck there, so if anyone offers them one extra dollar an hour, they “ll flee your project in a heartbeat. Do you know what “s going to be the two most popular words that you “ll hear from them? “I thought hellip; rdquo; These two words should give you goose bumps. This means that you “re not going to get what you “ve expected because your overseas partners did not understand the assignment, and very inexpensive rates become a huge burden to your project. Three people (just $20p/h) offshore programmers spend three days working on your assignment. Then you hear “We thought hellip; rdquo;, which means the $20*8*3=$460 just this very moment went down the toilet. And even more importantly, if a local developer would have questions about the job to be done, s/he would have casually stop by and asked. But your partners from overseas are often shy to ask, which might be a cultural thing. They are afraid to ask wrong questions and prefer not to ask any.

Indian vocational schools keep baking new programmers every three months beefing up their resumes with a fake industry experience, but do you care? Do you have a choice? Can you find local programmers that have real experience and demand rates that can be squeezed in your budget? Can “t? So shut up and sit down. American-born programmers will soon become a myth anyway. If I interview a programmer and like his technical skills, I do not care what “s written in his resume. If s/he “s good for the job, get on board. And do not give me this baloney that a seasoned Java programmer who was predominantly working on HR applications is useless if you are working on a Wall Street trading application. Do not worry, they “ll quickly pick up the difference between long and short sales.

OMG, you do not have derivatives in your resume! It “s a rocket science and we feel superior here. BS. Pretty soon all these snobs will be happy to find a person who understands how the bubble sort works and what “s the difference between a class and interface. The secret rolls revealing the bubble sort algorithm have been stolen from the USA and relocated to India. Accept this fact and move on.

Alex Iskold has written an interesting blog concluding that a few good developers can do any job. But he “s not accounting for the garage factor. Yes, a few good men can do the job if they are in the garage, which is the most productive place to develop software. But if you place them in an enterprise environment where covering your manager “s ass is more important than finding the right technical solution, these good men will soon suffocate and die unless they are supported by a good team of mid-level apprentices.

Try to find a small number of very good local developers (pay them premium) and an EXCELLENT LOCAL MANAGER of your offshore team that speaks their language to lower the chances of your project “s failure. And what “s more importantly (c “mon, admit it), your career won “t be in jeopardy.

Long Live India, and God Bless America! Amen.

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