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Jumping off the cliff with no soft landing in sight

h3. Some well known facts – Sarcasm here h3.

0.1. Germans – Well they did invent the system.  Let’s repeat they did invent SAP.  The highly complicated multiple tables SAP.  This program has bugs here and there, and even needs an OSS to keep track of them.  They do not laugh and are very serious.  They make things a lot harder than they are.0.1. Switzerland – “Tax Dodgers” Paradise… Doesn’t everyone work for a bank there?

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  • Michelle,

    I think regardless of what model everyone prefers, the key to success as you mentioned is proper communication and involvement of all team members.

    Personally for me seeing the change in the landscape, I realized it was in my best interest not to be just a developer that only cranks out code in the global market.  I’m not saying that everyone should try to be on both sides of the fence(business/functional/technical expert) in their respective area, but it does help your marketablility the more layers of the application lifecycle that you can support.

    Then again I still think that the supply of great SAP generalists outweigh the specialists.  I would call this the people who have the skill+ model instead of just plain skill model will have been luck in the long run.

    Take care,


    • Communications – YES – that’s exactly what I was getting to.  Communications with a twist, it does matter how you talk to people.

        • LOL – I love this comment!

          WIKI – people could add information about what I said.  That’s assuming what I say is factual, and not a story about how I  got there.  Factual?  You really think this whole thing is factual?  Wow I must be really good at predicting the future.

          Blog – It tells a story about my personal opinions.  And so it really is the story about why and not how.

          Aha!  I can argue that it is a blog. 

          I’ve got a more technical running around in my head.  It may be awhile before I put it out there.  Technical ones are harder to write with screen shots, code that is not my companies code, blah, blah, blah… Just a lot of excuses.  I’ll get it done.

          I’m still laughing – thank you for the early morning laugh.  It’s a great way to start the day!

          • But troll’s are always hungry.  And sometimes they look so adorable.

            I love it – my laugh for the morning.  As I’m getting very little comments – maybe people didn’t read this to the end.   I suppose that makes me a troll.  Hopefully, not the mean looking kind.

  • I’ve been in the consulting business for a good 15 years now and have experienced most – if not all – of the models you describe. As you say, communication and the right combo of personal and technical/functional skills is key to survival. True, some programmers are a dime a dozen, but we’re talking “some” programmers – meaning those who possess only the standard (or minimum) skill set, maybe with no intention or incentive to change.

    In our world (the “old” world, maybe Europe more than the US), these incentives are harder to spot. If you’re comfortably stuck in a snug cubicle, it’s easier to skip on polishing and refining your personal skill set – with the result that one day, you’re outsourced and cannot comprehend why on earth it happened… by comparison, some of the “hungrier” countries can inspire people to work harder, just because the payoff is so much greater. Hey – shouldn’t we all be like that? I’m from a country (starts with an “N”, ends in “way”), where kids nowadays seemingly don’t even bother which career to embark on, because they know they’ll be pampered by the social system anyway, even if they fail to land a job at all… sorry, that’s a digression.

    Thanks for writing this – I believe a bit of political incorrectness saves the day. AND, I share your view that the best and brightest are to be found irrespective of geographical boundaries. I’ve worked with a lot of them, and having spent more than a decade abroad myself, I insist on anyone’s right to move & work wherever they want, regardless of their birth certificate.

    Provided they’re good, that is. Which brings me back to the start. If you’re good, you’ll make it. No matter the model.

    From what you’ve written so far, Michelle, I have no doubt you’ll do just fine – even 10 or 20 years down the line 🙂

    • Thank you!  I’d like to think I’ll be fine in the future.  But one never knows…  It would take the fun out of living if you knew exactly what would happen before you did it – although sometimes I wish I could.  Kids?  And I shake my head here.  It’s a hard cry.  Old vs. New.  Another blog.  I just went and deleted 3 paragraphs.  But I totally agree.  We have to keep up with technology.  It’s part of our job – ok – a part of our job sometimes.  Sometimes, I just do it on off hours – you know like lunch 🙂   I’m eating lunch now.<br/><br/>The brightest are all over, you just have to look..  Now if we ever did work from home.  The brightest are now available with no boundaries.  Very Cool?  I think it would rock the world.  (But it would be done a little at a time.)<br/><br/>As far as the “hungrier” countries.  I had never thought of that.  I can see where that would make someone really strive to be better!<br/><br/>Thanks for the comments,<br/><br/>Michelle<br/>

  • Hello Michelle,

    The beginning of the blog held my breath as I thought OH MY GOD! whats going to happen in the later part of blog.However, I somehow agree with whatever sort of complaints you have with the mismanagement in projects being at the client side.
    I think a greater onus of this lies on management of the organisation acting as the vendor.Be it any model (debatable) a client follows, the client should be in a position to trust management first and development team next.

    Now regarding the development team and belligence of developers, YES AT TIMES DEVELOPERS ARE BELLIGENT TO A GREATER PICTURE OF REQUIRMENT. They live in a tiny world where they are asked to do any crap work and they just think they would do it. Now I would like to add here: I don’t do this.
    I discuss the work with functional, client and only when I am convinced I do what is asked else
    if I am not heard with my concerns, I would add all the risks in assumptions/risks section and send to everyone around.And believe me what I find in early stages of development would be found pretty later when regression testing is done.
    But all the developers are not like that.It depends on their behavioral aspects and I am sure it might not be the case only with Indians.They do not argument it with functional people as they might think its not required. OK lets take a case where Client is functional and the vendor is responsible only for technical development. In this case I would expect that client would give better picture to developer. BIG NO. I myself have got replies like ‘YOU JUST NEED TO DO THIS YOU NEED NOT THINK ANYTHING ELSE’. Now what? I don’t stop here , I would try finding from someone else in my client team. But all are not like that. Once if they are discouraged , thats it. Ya many times I really feel bad when I get some negative responses but then can’t help.The design prepared from the client side has got multiple revisions as the requirement was not clear in early stages. Also multiple revisions based on developer feedback. Again I need to ask you Michelle to address a blog stating
    ‘CLIENT ATTRIBUTES (checklist kind of thing).’

    Now was I like that in my first two years of SAP career? No, I was asked not to interact with the client. Only my lead would interact and I was supposed to do ‘word of mouth’ from my lead. I was certainly irritated as I knew the lead did not get things as clearly as me as a developer would have got. Not all leads are like that.(not a generic statement).So how do you expect perfectness in one shot. whom to blame? MANAGEMENT! Had manager been careful of whats happening within the team and not relied only on leads totally, this could have been sorted out.
    If code is going back and forth, it means somewhere a link is broken, management to answer that.
    Another blog on ‘WHOM SHOULD YOU CALL AS MANAGERS’.?

    I think the whole concept of software development is based on revisions.No one can claim to have right thing at first shot.(depens on projects).But the thing to be taken care of is: all the phases are carried out Per client standards/current requirements and ETHICALLY. We had a chapter on ETHICS IN SOFTWARE in my engineering course.Developer should be given bigger picture of their work so that they can understand consequences of malfunctioning of their developed object. What if ATMs start giving double the amount entered?

    I think gradually the world is moving to a phase ‘SURVIVAL OF THE BEST’. Any SO -SO person would not be able to earn a living in future.(I really can’t comment more on this now).
    Now coming to US economy which holds economy of many other nations.Already I think newly elected president is following measures to restrict jobs being flown to other nations. But did you get chance to hear BILL GATES comment.Oh god, I really do not want to talk big facts which are my own mind produced and may seem funny or even ridiculous to you. But what I think there should be other ways of producing jobs rather than following selfish measures. GLOBALIZATION is must in today’s era for any nation to further grow. No one can grow in isolation.(Just my thought).

    Back to software world, I think there are huge/big changes in process itself lined up which we may not think of now.Better transperancy/bond/trust/honesty would be displayed there.Communication beyond doubt is the key with Clients.

    Having said all this,please excuse me in case any of my comments seems to be unacceptable.
    Respect further increases for you.


  • WOW! When I first started reading this, I was like “Oh my gosh! I can’t believe she is saying this stuff!!!!”….and then, I got down tothe “real” part of the blog, and you made me smile. VERY well done and VERY good points in here. I have been on countless projects and heard of many more as well with all manner of “models” as you explained. Time and again, the success and/or failure of each comes down to simply COMMUNICATION. That can often be not assuming that some team members (developers?) should be excluded from meetings because they have nothing to add (communicate). It works well when everyone knows what is going on and why…everyone.
    • I’m laughing.  Sort of… Now I’m sort of worried… I hope no one takes the first part too seriously.  No mentor shirt for me at that point.

      Yes, I’m glad you caught it somewhere in this blog, I want to suggest great communication makes a great project.

      The second point I was in trying to make is diversity, and how well it could work.  As a part of our diversity night at Teched LV we said that people should start taking little steps towards acceptance.  (Our team got the paper that asked how would you help your boss to be more diverse in his / her thinking? I believe a tiger and a cage was in there somewhere.)

      Our community is very diverse.  So it’s hard to think that some people still are not.  I get hit hard when something happens in the workplace, when I pick up my son and assumptions are made, or even hear a comment at Teched.

      Now just think – people don’t write about it.  Or they do write about it. Long – like me – I write long blogs.   We all think about it.  So let’s work on fixing it.

      That’s the two parts I was trying to convey diversity and good communication!

      As far as outsourced…  There is no guarantees in life.  Your job can easily be outsourced anytime to any company.  Even those companies from your country of origin.

      And now I’ve written another long reply.  Thank you for reading the blog to the end!

  • just a 2cents on my personal experience; if it gets too long I’ll blog it and stick a pointer here 🙂

    The current exchange rate between Australia and the USA is about 1-to-1. Several years ago (but less than 10), it took nearly $AUD2 to buy $USD1.  This made Australia a fairly attractive – as a culturally similar, but much cheaper than the US – outsourcing destination, and in fact the international SI company I was working for then picked up a LOT of fixed term / fixed price support contracts via ‘head-office’ in the US. This was welcome work for us, because AT THE SAME TIME we were loosing a lot of work for Australian based customers to our Indian colleagues (in the same company), because they were cheaper than us.

    The key thing that we had to deal with in both cases was communications, but there were two components to that…  The first one was just the simple mechanics of communicating with another timezone, when regular communications was done only by email. Someone just down the hall or standing at your desk ends up getting higher priority than someone who is probably still fast asleep !! The reason for using email only, was in many cases, driven by someone wanting us to keep copies of all communication, but there was also the issue of accents and ‘dialect’ for want of a better word; I can understand most accents when I’m face to face with someone, but some of the stronger accents (both US and Indian) had me stumped when talking over the phone. I was working with a fairly diverse bunch people at the time, so it’s quite possible that our US and Indian contacts had the same issues with us.

    The other issue was the cultural one; We were expecting this with our Indian colleagues, probably because we’d been conditioned / prepared by the stereotypes you alluded to, but this only made the cultural differences with the US more jarring when they occurred. On one project, we had a US based engineer cable up some equipment on the weekend, only for a local Union to insist that their members be paid for REMOVING the wiring (which took all day Monday), and then get paid AGAIN for redoing the wiring on Tuesday !!!

    In short, face to face work will always be better and faster than remote work. The challenge is to honestly determine whether the direct dollar savings from outsourcing are worth the extra costs in longer development times and / or poorer quality service. 

    • I would love to see a blog on this.  I laughed when you wrote about putting in the wire, removing it, and putting it back in.

      Dialect is a challenge. I totally agree.  Culture – Oh boy – I have challenges with that daily.  It’s because I just don’t know what is expected until someone tells me.  And being a brash US person, I expect them to tell me when I’m not doing something correctly.  Depending on the culture, they would think it’s rude to tell me that I’m not communicating correctly.   Dollar savings are always the bottom line for a company.  It would be interesting to see what they save.  Really save.  I wonder if anyone ever tracks that.  The numbers never lie, but the numbers can be slanted.

      BUT – I still believe it is coming.  Eventually, we will be working with people from many different cultures countries.   It probably will be remotely based upon cost. 

      That’s why I would love to see your blog.  What are your thoughts on the future world?  It would be an exceptional read.