Monday, August 11, 2008

Quality Vs Indian IT

This title may be awkward for those who literally portray IT as a boom in Indian economy for the last two decades, in which GDP of India increased from 4 to around 8% per year. This is more than four times when compared to our GDP in first thirty years after independence. Its is evident that it has improved our standard of living, and it rejuvenated the beliefs of middle class people to pursue their goal of owning a house or a secure job. Dramatic change is the last generation's jobs in government offices, running small business in a town, agriculture and their sibling are working in computers in centralized air conditioned room. IT industry is certainly a boom for a developing country like India, which needs to provide jobs to million of its young generation to keep its rate of growth in a constant level. But I feel this view of IT Industry as a boom is just abstract and without deep insight. We need to have a deep insight of anatomy of the change this IT is making in India. It would provide the panoramic view of India's standard in delivering a product or service.

I was unfortunate to not to read a mail sent by my friend before being part of this industry.It vividly explained my future, what I am witnessing now. It would be highly pessimistic to just hate anything without any substantial reason.So let me put my view delicately in Barney's style.

Indian service industries are recruiting students from best engineering colleges from India by showing attractive packages and tempting perks. As most of the students are from middle class background they are naturally attracted towards these high paying jobs and landed in one of the metros polis in India. Colleges are also keen in getting more companies for recruitment irrespective of its domain and background. It has become a business strategy for colleges to show its placement cout in their pamphlets and web sites.

Any fresher recruited by an IT industry usually will undergo a training program, where he/she will be inculcated with soft skills, computer basics and probably one technology in which the so called expertise is required by the company for billing the client.Indian IT giants like TCS has its in-house training center in Trivandrum and Infosys own an impeccable center in Mysore in state of Karnataka.TCS traninig center is getting the requirement from global HR and mending professional accordingly.Its counterpart in Infosys also follows almost the same logic and the latter has been perceived as a quality trainer compared to the former.

After getting trained for couple of months in a particular technology employees are assigned to totally unrelated projects.So their training is merely a paradox.Ironically the cost involved in training a resource is getting wasted because of improper training plan and execution.More than 95 percent of the projects of any major Indian IT company are Maintenance and Support.Clients from west are out-sourcing the low graded support and maintenance to India and the jobs like design,where quality matters are out-sourced to foreign consultancy.

In support most of the jobs are like running scripts once in a day;monitoring logs for exceptions or alarms;report generation sometimes it is like attending user calls and providing support on call.This is terrible.isn't it ?.Indian engineers from IIT who learned cutting edge technology in signal processing or hydrogen fuel or system on chip will be solving trouble tickets raised by clients.People are doing this because they are getting money and socially they are respected as software engineers.Calling any guy doing this work as an engineer is the peak of ignorance or stupidity.

My points are not lopsided by explaining only the adverse part of the industry.I do accept that there are some projects with high standard.Companies are working on designing enterprise application for Telecom, Health care even some mission critical applications.But overall quality of a company has been decided by majority of its work.It shows that work these companies are providing to the young engineers are not exciting.Inspite of the quality of work they offer , they are not ready to compromise on the quality they except from freshers.Everyone might aware of the conditions being imposed on the college managements by the companies before they visit for recruitment.They are desperate to be the first company to visit for recruitment.If you need cream layer of students from the universities then you should be able to provide the work the cream layer students deserve.It is quite obvious from the recruitment strategies,traninig plan and allocation plan that these companies need resources to slog for them.It hardly matters for them whether the resource is he, she or it.

I have a friend working in IT who has done his masters in Communication systems.He was very much worried about work he is doing.He was forced by his family condition to not to quit and do his Phd.He was hilarious while we discussed about the usage of the word R&D by IT guys."Even reading a pdf on java scripts become R&D here" he laughed.

Even if anyone understand the real situation after getting in to these companies he can't even think of the moving out as he has been tied with a lock called service agreement.I don't understand how it is possible in India as we have a law against bonded labors.Mostly ignorance of students along with attractive packages results in engineers doing these menial works.

My views are not against Indian IT industry.They should understand their current strategy of getting whatever project west offers to you will not work on the long run.So we should realize that its not about quantity, when we release our quarter results.Its a matter of quality, which will sustain your growth in long run. It also provides motivation and challenge to your associates and get the best out of them.So we need a commitment from our IT managers to shift their mode of business from evil support and maintenance to a more conservative job, which helps us to compete with our counterparts in other countries.

Finally.As I mentioned, It has transformed the living standard of million of Indians.But the question is should we compromise the quality of work we are doing for the money we are getting ??


Hariharan Ragunathan said...

Hey Karthi,
Today for you and vivek I had just posted two links.. i did not know whether u checked that.. those links i sent you in delecious... you can check here.. We had a labour law class discussion on Contract Labour Regulationa and Abolotion these topics we discussed....The IT People are called as " Cyber Coolies" here :)...thats the term used by people in western countries too... thats not the only the other two articles ..problems in it faced..

Karthikeyan said...

It was an unexpected coincidence between my blog and the article from Economist