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Utility Sets IT Department On Path To Self-destruction

Unknown Lamer posted about a year ago | from the something-about-insanity-here dept.

IT 478

dcblogs writes "Northeast Utilities has told IT employees that it is considering outsourcing IT work to India-based offshore firms, putting as many as 400 IT jobs at risk. The company is saying a final decision has not been made. But Conn. State Rep. and House Majority Leader Joe Aresimowicz, who is trying to prevent or limit the outsourcing move, says it may be a done deal. NU may be prompting its best IT employees to head to the exits. It also creates IT security risks from upset workers. The heads-up to employees in advance of a firm plan is 'kind of mind mindbogglingly stupid,' said David Lewis, who heads a Connecticut-based human resources consulting firm OperationsInc, especially 'since this is IT of all places.' The utility's move makes sense, however, if is it trying to encourage attrition to reduce severance costs." Because it's worked so well for others in the past.

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Just a moment! (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44929487)

Just finishing my last trojans and they can fire me.

Re:Just a moment! (5, Funny)

Tablizer (95088) | about a year ago | (#44929673)

Just finishing my last trojans and they can fire me.

Just outsource your mayhem coding, it's cheaper and quicker.

Re:Just a moment! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44930173)

Make sure to outdo the outsourcing firms. If the firm's own employees have trust issues, just imagine what an outsourcing firm will do.

This is something that has always amazed me about outsourcing. Of course you're going to have one huge gaping constant security breach, doesn't that count for something ? Your outsourcing firm will score point by "suggesting good ideas" to your competitors. Guess where those ideas come from ? And that's assuming they don't outright steal.

Re:Just a moment! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44929787)

I don't think anyone here gets it. First you get a HUGE insurance policy. Then you piss everyone off by firing them all. This "cranks them up". n) ??? n+1) PROFIT!!!!!

Re:Just a moment! (3, Insightful)

eth1 (94901) | about a year ago | (#44930129)

Just finishing my last trojans and they can fire me.

You don't even need anyone to do that. My experience is that competent IT people can pretty easily find a new gig - and they will, now, before all the good local openings are taken. The deadwood that's left has the potential of causing just as much damage accidentally or out of ignorance as someone malicious.

UNITY !! NO !! MORE !! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44929491)

D.O.A. !!

Let me be 1 of the 1st here (3, Insightful)

djupedal (584558) | about a year ago | (#44929501)

. . .to re-emphasize how bad of a decision this will become if put into effect. The issues waiting to occur have been well documented many times here, so I won't bother with them in detail. And know I won't take any satisfaction in saying I told you so later . . . well, maybe a little.

Re:Let me be 1 of the 1st here (4, Insightful)

cavreader (1903280) | about a year ago | (#44929629)

I would have thought every IT professional with a pulse would now know that outsourcing development or support always ends in a gigantic cluster fuck.

Re:Let me be 1 of the 1st here (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44929817)

I doubt any IT professionals were consulted when the company made this decision.

1. Outsource IT Staff to India-based Firm
2. ????
3. Profit

Re:Let me be 1 of the 1st here (3, Interesting)

jftitan (736933) | about a year ago | (#44929995)

I'm waiting to see this all unfold.

  WHat is going to happen is. Pissed off IT people leaving problems for the next guy. The Next guy is from India, so getting that guy to fix it is going to be a nightmare. THEN, after months, maybe years of total upswing in costs to keep the fires at bay, the company will say they are insecure. So very insecure, that politicians will use NU to show how America needs to spend so much more money on Private utility due to insecurities. (As if they were not already saying this)

  After NU succums to failure, it will be bought and sold. We'll hear about the same problems as before, and the blame will be all about foreign cyberwar.

  I could write the book on this, but I think a Tom Clancy book has me beat.

Re:Let me be 1 of the 1st here (2)

amiga3D (567632) | about a year ago | (#44929761)

If it's a public utility failure doesn't really matter because they just raise rates to mitigate errors. It's the taxpayers that'll bear the burden of failure not the brains at the utility.

Re:Let me be 1 of the 1st here (1)

postbigbang (761081) | about a year ago | (#44929931)

Talk about a single point of failure... ye gawds.

Meh, it all works out for the best (0)

rsilvergun (571051) | about a year ago | (#44930051)

you're focused on the short term goal of better service, and completely ignoring the long term goal of better service for less. Competition drives down costs and forces the players (IT employees) to up their game. Hostess did this with twinkies. They shut the company down, throw everything to the wind, and when they come back labor costs are a fraction what they were and the workers work twice as hard. Sure, you lose a little productivity, but you more than make it back with lower labor costs and exempt employees.

Middleman (1)

Rick Zeman (15628) | about a year ago | (#44929531)

Why don't they just outsource to China and cut out the middleman?

Re:Middleman (2)

haruchai (17472) | about a year ago | (#44929613)

Doesn't China outsource this stuff to North Korea?
Send Dennis Rodman to broker a deal with L'il Kim.

Re:Middleman (1)

amiga3D (567632) | about a year ago | (#44929639)

Hardware from China and software from India.

Re:Middleman (4, Funny)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about a year ago | (#44929703)

Hardware from China and software from India.

MBA's from the US
Judges from Italy
Maple Syrup from Canada


Putin from Russia to oversee the project on horseback.

It's a small world, after all....

Re:Middleman (2)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | about a year ago | (#44930045)

Can't outsource the maple syrup.

Re:Middleman (5, Funny)

bmo (77928) | about a year ago | (#44930087)

>>Hardware from China and software from India.
>MBA's from the US
>Judges from Italy
>Maple Syrup from Canada

CHANTING CHORUS: Oil from Canada! Gold from Mexico! Geese from their neighbor's back yard! Boom, boom! Corn from the Indians! Tobacco from the Indians! Dakota from the Indians! New Jersey from the Indians! New Hampshire from the Indians! New England from the Indians! New Delhi from the Indians! ...
BABE: Indonesia for the Indonesians!
SOUND: Cannon shot.
JOE: Yes, and Veteran's Day ...
DC: But we couldn't do it alone!
SOUND: Morse Code sending under.
JOE: No! We needed the Hope, the Faith, the Prayers, the Fears ...
DC: The Sweat, the Pain, the Boils, the Tears!
JOE: The Broken Bones!
DC: The Broken Homes!
JOE: The Total Degradation of ...
BABE: Who?
EDDIE: You! The Little Guy!


LURLENE: Where are you from?
BABE: Nairobi, Ma'm. Isn't everybody?

Re:Middleman (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44930123)

>...Corn from the Indians! Tobacco from the Indians! Dakota from the Indians! New Jersey from the Indians! New Hampshire from the Indians! New England from the Indians! New Delhi from the Indians! ...

No points, please someone mod up this Firesign Theater skit?

Ok (4, Insightful)

The Cat (19816) | about a year ago | (#44929541)

Publicly traded utilities should be prohibited from hiring foreign companies to perform these kinds of jobs, in much the same way those companies are also prohibited from hiring foreign attorneys, architects, construction companies, doctors and certified accountants.

Almost all utilities are regulated industries, since they enjoy government-enforced monopolies. They should not be allowed to leverage taxpayer-subsidized market exclusivity in order to engineer the destruction of those same taxpayer's careers.

This applies equally to cable television providers, ISPs, gas and water companies.

Re:Ok (4, Insightful)

Tablizer (95088) | about a year ago | (#44929641)

Lawyers, doctors, and construction unions have better & more lobbyists than IT workers.

We live in a bribocracy. Pay up or be economic road-kill.

Re:Ok (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44929701)

Lawyers, doctors, and construction unions have better & more lobbyists than IT workers.

We live in a bribocracy. Pay up or be economic road-kill.

And if we would just give that bribocracy MORE tax revenue by making everyone pay their "fair share", we'd all be better off.


Re:Ok (3, Insightful)

Tablizer (95088) | about a year ago | (#44929801)

I'm not sure what your point is.

Generally, the wealthy buy protection from competition and taxation (havens and loopholes), while the rest take the blunt impact of offshoring face first. It's one reason why inequality is ever increasing (even with a "socialist" prez.)

Professional Associations (2)

pete6677 (681676) | about a year ago | (#44929973)

This is what has always frustrated me about IT people, developers in particular. They are CLUELESS as to the need for professional associations, similar to what doctors and lawyers have. Notice I did not say labor unions, as that model would not work for IT workers. Most programmers think they will always have a job just because they are so smart. This is not always the case - legislation bought by large corporations can make good jobs hard to come by. Its about time our industry matured a bit and formed some well-supported professional associations that can advocate for our best interests.

Re:Ok (4, Funny)

amiga3D (567632) | about a year ago | (#44929671)

They have a right to those monopolies. By cutting costs they are able to deliver services to the taxpayers at a reduced rate. Everyone knows that when they cut costs they drop rates?

Re:Ok (1)

AHuxley (892839) | about a year ago | (#44929719)

If one big brand was allowed go to China for IT, why not allow more local US IT services to follow the same long term savings?
The phone call is made, the call logged and a local team of skilled contractors sent out as needed.
Everything is certified within the US, just calls and mapping of tasks is done via a longer network.
Shareholders are happy, skilled contractors are still been guided to issues and on going maintenance.
The fact that a vital sector is now mapped, costed and visualised by other govs and their corporations - does that really register anymore?

Never Never Never out source IT (3, Interesting)

Murdoch5 (1563847) | about a year ago | (#44929543)

Outsourcing IT will only save you money and nothing else. Having a fair amount of experience in IT I already know the challenges faced between the geeks and the normal staff, now throw a thick Indian accent with horrible English on top of that combined with absolutely no skill and computer guided scripts they can't read, you'll be lucky to have a company at all after 2 months. Outsourcing has got so bad that unless I can talk to a Caucasian, with no accent, who is intelligent and well versed in what I want to know, I'll hang up the phone or ask for another person. It's not racism or anything stupid like that, it's purely the fact that 99.9999% out the people who work in these outsourced call centers know absolutely nothing about what they are working on and 98% of the time they can't understand English well enough to understand the problem you want to get across. I say no to outsourcing, it's a cancer to a company, it's make employees hate going to work or having to ask for help, it makes tension grow well at work and it makes everyone hate having to deal with anything.

Re:Never Never Never out source IT (1)

Tablizer (95088) | about a year ago | (#44929601)

What about non-Caucasians with no accent?

Re:Never Never Never out source IT (3, Interesting)

haruchai (17472) | about a year ago | (#44929633)

In India, working it IT? Not so easy to find.
I'll will say their written English is quite excellent so I've always tried to deal with them by e-mail or chat.

Re:Never Never Never out source IT (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44930071)

Kindly due the needful aforementioned and die in a fire, OK. That way the festering gut and armpit bacteria will be destroyed.

Re:Never Never Never out source IT (1)

Murdoch5 (1563847) | about a year ago | (#44929683)

Of course I would be fine with that, my main point is no accent and a great handle on what you're trying to help me with.

Re:Never Never Never out source IT (2)

ebno-10db (1459097) | about a year ago | (#44929881)

I understand what you mean, and I presume you're no bigot, so it is best to leave out the Caucasian part. Obviously there are many Americans, and other Anglophones, who speak Standard English and are not Caucasians. Ironically, Indians are considered Caucasian.

Re:Never Never Never out source IT (1)

Murdoch5 (1563847) | about a year ago | (#44930083)

That is completely fair, I only used the term Caucasian to give a picture of who I would like to talk with, not to say I only talk to white people. My girl friend is Chinese and talks 100% prefect English and Mandarin.

Re:Never Never Never out source IT (2)

thunderclap (972782) | about a year ago | (#44929691)

What about Australians? (Oh, this is no such thing as a Caucasians with no accent. All do. Trust me.)

Re:Never Never Never out source IT (1)

ebno-10db (1459097) | about a year ago | (#44929771)

Of course everyone has an accent, but it's reasonable to ask for someone who speaks Standard English [] :

Standard English ... refers to whatever form of the English language is accepted as a national norm in an Anglophone country.

While that varies from one Anglophone country to another, I can't think of any variety of Standard English that I have trouble understanding.

Re:Never Never Never out source IT (0)

SylvesterTheCat (321686) | about a year ago | (#44929819)

Oh, this is no such thing as a Caucasians with no accent. All do. Trust me.

I disagree.
Midwestern / plains states, i.e. Iowa, Nebraska, South Dakota, Kansas, and some of the neighboring states. There are some pockets of Scandahovian, but for the most part are accent-free.

Re:Never Never Never out source IT (4, Informative)

ebno-10db (1459097) | about a year ago | (#44930061)

To a Southerner, Briton, Jamaican or Australian they definitely have an accent. It's impossible to speak without an accent. You're confusing "no accent" with the General American accent [] . It's considered as neutral of an American accent as you can have, and is widely used in broadcasting. It is, nevertheless, an accent.

Re:Never Never Never out source IT (2)

amiga3D (567632) | about a year ago | (#44929699)

I can't see a problem as long as they can communicate effectively. I've had to call for tech support to foreign call centers and I'd say about 1 out of 5 times I get someone who I can understand and who can also understand me. Now when I find I have no choice but to deal with a foreign call center I simply call and hang up repeatedly until I get someone I can communicate with. It takes a few tries but usually I get one of the few who can help me. It's not that they are stupid it's just they have little grasp of english and I understand even less of their language.

Re:Never Never Never out source IT (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44929693)

" I say no to outsourcing, it's a cancer to a company..."

Outsourcing is a cancer, period.

Consider something simple - like feeding the military in the field. Do Halliburton contractors give a shit about the troops? No. They aren't a part of them: cheapest food, served to minimal standards. Except their *own* food - that's different. And if the base is attacked - yeah, those assholes'll be picking up their weapons and contributing to the base defense in a well-trained manner, well-integrated with a company command structure. Pfft. Actually, what they do is spray the countryside with bullets... they call that 'friendly fire'.

They can't even dispose of garbage without endangering the health of everyone around them.

Re:Never Never Never out source IT (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44930155)

It's obvious you've never been deployed.

Consider something simple - like feeding the military in the field. Do Halliburton contractors give a shit about the troops? No.

Yes they do, as do many other contractors from other companies, especially since a lot of them are veterans.

cheapest food, served to minimal standards.

You must consider surf and turf, jerk chicken, and hand dipped ice cream as "minimal".

And if the base is attacked...

It's "when", not "if". The only reason most contractors didn't shoot back is because they are specifically prohibited from carrying weapons. Those that are allowed are usually highly trained and competent former military.

They can't even dispose of garbage without endangering the health of everyone around them.

You may have a point there, but Iraq and Afghanistan really don't have much in the way of "green" waste management. Most of the locals toss their trash anywhere, so at least the US burns its garbage.

Next time, put your bias aside and learn the ground truth before you open your dick sucker.

Can't fix stupid (4, Insightful)

Ol Olsoc (1175323) | about a year ago | (#44929547)

When Dell outsourced it's help, I tried it a few times, and it was almost impossible to understand "Chris" and "Bob". So I just never bought another Dell product again.

It just doesn't work.

Re:Can't fix stupid (4, Insightful)

sribe (304414) | about a year ago | (#44929731)

When Dell outsourced it's help, I tried it a few times, and it was almost impossible to understand "Chris" and "Bob".

Wouldn't have mattered. I guess I'm better with accents, because I understood them perfectly. But they were flat-out lying to me (on two different issues, several years apart) so the outcomes was the same for me as for you: determination to never buy a Dell product again.

Re:Can't fix stupid (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44929915)

As a former US-based Dell phone support technician, I can tell you it's not US vs India. It's "follow the fucking script and get the customer off the goddamned phone in less than 8 minutes or you're fired." Metrics were a bitch.

Re:Can't fix stupid (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about a year ago | (#44929739)

The typing based systems, as haruchai has pointed out, are actually OK. Not for complex stuff as they're still usually running off scripts, but if you need an activation code or something similar it's much easier to understand. Bandwidth is much lower so connection issues are less apparent.

Re:Can't fix stupid (2)

antifoidulus (807088) | about a year ago | (#44930025)

The bigger issue is that they often times force you to call them for stuff you shouldnt need to call them for(ie stuff you SHOULD be able to do online). They force you to call them to do things that may cost them money(warranty repairs etc) hoping that the frustration of forcing people to wade through menu after menu, spend massive amounts of time on hold, and maybe even the inscrutable accents will convince people to give up. You give up and Dell doesnt have to uphold its end of the bargain.

Advance warning may be the best idea (5, Interesting)

Todd Knarr (15451) | about a year ago | (#44929579)

As an IT professional, what angers me is mostly management lying and claiming everything's hunky-dory and then blindsiding me with layoffs. When they do it even once, it convinces me that I can't trust them ever again. That's not a problem if I'm one of the ones being shown the door, but companies rarely lay off everybody in a single pass and this creates if anything even worse trust issues with those who're still working. At the very least this behavior will turn me from someone who considers it only professional to give as much notice as possible if I decide to go elsewhere into someone who a) doesn't feel obligated to give any more notice than legally required since the company's shown that's what they'll do and b) is more likely to start looking before he gets caught in the next round of layoffs. Whereas if the heads-up is given, I'm less likely to worry and be looking to jump ship because I know I'll have advance warning next round too.

That no-advance-warning is only a good idea if you can't trust your IT people in the first place. And if you can't trust them, why are you trusting them to run your IT department?

Re:Advance warning may be the best idea (1)

Anarchduke (1551707) | about a year ago | (#44929727)

The problem isn't whether you can trust them, its whether you can trust them after you tell they they are getting canned in a month.

Re:Advance warning may be the best idea (2)

Todd Knarr (15451) | about a year ago | (#44929927)

If you can't trust them then, you couldn't trust them before. You just didn't have any reason to think about it before.

Why would you even? (4, Insightful)

Joining Yet Again (2992179) | about a year ago | (#44929581)

Why would you outsource like this? It would mean:

1) Different timezones - cannot communicate in realtime;

2) Different culture - harder to understand requirements;

3) Language barrier - even in the unlikely event that the developers all speak excellent Indian English, it is *not* the same as Americna English;

4) Lack of face-to-face contact - being able to watch someone communicate, point at the screen, sit in a room together makes for far faster problem resolution;

5) Lack of mutual value - a permanent employee is entirely your investment, and in return works and trains only on your systems, dedicating their work day to understanding what you need, and spending years at your company becoming intimately familiar with your processes;

6) Lack of open-ended requirements - this is one of the most important things of all: all contractors bit you in the ass by working to spec, whereas permanent employees will be there to do whatever you want, when you want it.

In short, paper estimates of monies saved by outsourcing are always - without exception - a crock of shit. Someone wants a hefty bonus, possibly by fooling executives re apparent saving, or possibly because they have an interest in the outsourcing firm. Most likely both.

Re:Why would you even? (2)

haruchai (17472) | about a year ago | (#44929677)

+2 Insightful
Been there, lived through that and got royally screwed - and not in the good way.

Re:Why would you even? (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44929835)

royally screwed - and not in the good way

So Elizabeth, not Kate?

Queue the Brits w/ mod points ...

Re:Why would you even? (5, Insightful)

amiga3D (567632) | about a year ago | (#44929737)

I think it's that in house IT people constantly frustrate them by telling them why the stupid shit they want to do wont work. The foreign center will simply go "Okay, if that's what you want." This is usually why outsourcing IT doesn't work. Someone in house wants the company to survive because he's invested a decade or so of his life to it while the foreign unit simply works as a contractor and has little interest in the firm he services except to collect the fee.

Re:Why would you even? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44929797)

List of counter arguments:

1) "The beancounters have calculated that we save at least $amount"

Check. Mate.

Re:Why would you even? (1)

ebno-10db (1459097) | about a year ago | (#44929937)

Specify a desired conclusion and you can always find a way to play with the numbers to arrive at that conclusion. Creative bookkeeping is alive and well. Better to trust late night infomercials.

Re:Why would you even? (1)

roc97007 (608802) | about a year ago | (#44929997)

Add: Lack of context. Silo A and Silo B of the outsourcing company don't talk to you, but they also don't talk to each other. In a complex, multi-platform environment, we're always getting one offshore group pulling the rug out from under a different offshore group, or informing the wrong group that a resource is going away. For instance, the DBA group taking down a database that's the back end for an upgrade the Application group is trying to do. We're told it's all supposed to go through change control, but as it's all offshore, they could be writing change notices on the back of candy wrappers and we'd never know.

And because they tend to move on as soon as they get enough experience to get better jobs, the situation never gets better, because nobody sticks around long enough to get a feeling for how things fit together.

Outsourcing saves lots (2)

rsilvergun (571051) | about a year ago | (#44930095)

you're just counting the individual costs. If you were a billionaire and owned tonnes of stock and companies you'd see the benefit. Just the saving from all the extra competition alone is billions and billions a year. I've read that there are close to 300,000 H1-B immigrants in America alone (they're not sent back when the Visa expires). Think about what 300,000 extra workers do to an industries wages? How about 1.2 million (which was the next planned increase until those bombs in Boston derailed the immigration bill). As a billionaire, you pocket all that.

Outsourcing isn't about cost savings, it's about pitting labor against itself. Works too.

Re:Outsourcing saves lots (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44930171)

I've read that there are close to 300,000 H1-B immigrants in America alone (they're not sent back when the Visa expires).

You have read that? Where? Do you really think that engineers and professionals stay on as illegal immigrants once their H1B expires? Your stupidity is mind-boggling.Use data to form conclusions, not neckbeard rants and bullshit.

Re:Why would you even? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44930143)

7) Lack of a modern education
8) Lack of intelligence (the intelligent people in India do not do tech work)
9) Lack of 'give a shit', since despite probably being relatively well paid jobs for that particular asscrack of the world, it is still menial work where the level of customer satisfaction is unlikely to have much impact on whether they move to higher positions, and it's unlikely impact firing or layoff decisions either.
10) Lack of cultural integrity and general ethical values. It is well known that natives of the Indian subcontinent and their descendants are prolific liers who will bullshit anything to try and avoid confrontation or get something without having to work for it, even when it is absurdly blatant. Isn't having to deal with fundamentally untrustworthy, lying and mealy mouthed little bitches a recipe for outstanding customer service.

The right thing? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44929615)

Outsourcing issue aside, isn't pre-emptive notification to your employees the "right" thing to do, at least as far as your employees are concerned?

If it was the other way around and the company provided minimum notice after months and months of planning the switch, everyone would say they were callous for not providing enough notice to their employees.

So, just as a thought, perhaps the company is simply trying to do the right thing (again, overall outsourcing issue aside). Not saying it is necessarily the case, just that it could be a factor in their decision to notify early.

If I was the CEO of a company, and for some reason or other had to outsource the majority of a department, I would hope that I was considerate enough to notify my employees as soon as the situation was reasonably likely to happen.

That is how it usually goes (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44929617)

If they are not saying it in public then they are making hints at it internally by the way the department are managed. Making sure it is going to fail.
I have seen different approaches all ending up in outsourcing.

One is not to hire any people when others leave making everyone more busy so they can't do their job right, then they might hire in external help to fill the gaps which is very inefficient and expensive making it easier.
Another one is making crazy demands in terms of uptime, stability and documentation which becomes very expensive and never gets achieved, only to outsource it to a company with a contract that has much fewer demands and therefore much cheaper to achieve.
And the worst must probably be the one where you actually succeeded in streamlining the entire IT department and making it well documented so it is easy to hand over to India.

"Mind-Bogglingly Stupid" #2 (3, Insightful)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | about a year ago | (#44929649)

It's also not a very bright move when you consider that former offshorers have been pulling their operations back to the U.S. in droves.

Over the course of the last few years, on the international software contract boards, I have more and more seen posts that say such things as "N. America or Europe Only" for hire.

There have been way too many bad experiences with offshoring. The main complaints have been: [A] Overselling (i.e., the person or firm really had little or no experience in the particular specialty involved), [B] inferior work, and [C] incomplete work (project simply abandoned after a couple of initial payments).

When other corporations are changing direction in a big way, why would they choose to do this? Are they unwilling to learn from the mistakes of others?

Re:"Mind-Bogglingly Stupid" #2 (3, Interesting)

geek (5680) | about a year ago | (#44929889)

IT is not a revenue generator. Executives right now are in a pinch to justify their ridiculous salaries by ever increasing profits in one of the worst economies in US history. My company just announced a 5% cut in employees across the board. Luckily, the dumb fuck execs realized they cut IT so badly over the last 7 years that they can only cut 2.5% from us. Of course, the only people immune from the layoffs are the execs, who not only got raises this year but have actually multiplied like fucking rabbits. I counted 6 new VP's this year alone.

So yeah, IT doesn't make them any money so guess who gets shit on?

Re:"Mind-Bogglingly Stupid" #2 (4, Informative)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | about a year ago | (#44929991)

"IT is not a revenue generator."

Wrong. IT very much *IS* a revenue generator. It's just not an obvious revenue generator.

Most modern businesses of any size cannot operate long without some form of IT. And if their business does not operate, there is no revenue. Strictly speaking, the only thing that "generates" revenue is sales. Depending on your point of view at any given moment, EVERYTHING else in the company could justifiably be labeled as an unnecessary expense. Including the CEO's paycheck.

I've seen this often before. They're cutting their own throats. They may not know it, because what IT does not show up on the books as a positive, but that's what they're doing.

Executive pay (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44929655)

Note that due to the various interlockings of the various utilities operated by Northeast Utilities, it is next to impossible to know how much people like Bill Quinlan are pulling out of the company, but according to one report, the executives at CL&P (connecuit light & power) get paid 11.2 million. Replacing 400 IT jobs with a contract to India will probably save less than the executive salaries, it is good to be at the top in a modern american company. Bill is a freaking attorney, pulling out about $4 million per year from the rate payers for making such hard nosed decisions as putting 400 americans out of work. Nice guy!

The FBI will love this! (0)

lazylion (101229) | about a year ago | (#44929733)

Now they'll have more opportunities to stage events designed to freighten congress into giving more budget to this fake "cyberwarfare" stuff they're hawking.

Re:The FBI will love this! (1)

ebno-10db (1459097) | about a year ago | (#44929967)

If it'll help stop offshoring, I'll happily swear that Genghis Khan has been reincarnated, and his hordes are now using computers instead of ponies.

Re:The FBI will love this! (1)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | about a year ago | (#44930037)

If it'll help stop offshoring, I'll happily swear that Genghis Khan has been reincarnated, and his hordes are now using computers instead of ponies.

Of course they aren't.

Everyone knows the modern horde uses tablets or smartphones nowadays.

There Aughta Be A Law (4, Insightful)

l0ungeb0y (442022) | about a year ago | (#44929751)

Seeing as how vital utilities are to our Nation's livelihood and welfare, I can't possibly see any scenario in which outsourcing the IT duties to any Foreign National should be considered anything but a gigantic security risk. It's no secret that any given network on the electric grid can cause widespread outages beyond it's customer base. Congress needs to pass a law requiring all Utilities to employ their own IT departments comprised of US Nationals on US Soil.

Re:There Aughta Be A Law (2)

DigiShaman (671371) | about a year ago | (#44930103)

Laws are often created as a reaction to an event. The grid must collapse before such a law will be put into effect. It's only a matter of time. But as always, it's a game of "Hot Potato" with upper management. As long as no one drops the potato, all is well. And when it's dropped long after management leaves, it didn't happen on their watch. You see, saving money is a resume' enhancement to ink on paper shortly before shit falls apart. That, and it makes for great endless finger pointing activity.

Re:There Aughta Be A Law (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44930127)

Seeing as how vital utilities are to our Nation's livelihood and welfare, I can't possibly see any scenario in which outsourcing the IT duties to any Foreign National should be considered anything but a gigantic security risk.

You are correct in your assessment of added risk, but you are assuming that those in charge of national security
are not idiots. Second, you are assuming those in charge of national security actually care about national security. All evidence points to those in charge actually being idiots and corrupt idiots at that. So expecting those in charge of
security to do what makes sense is not a realistic expectation.

I reckon it is a good time to not live in the area served by the utility in question, because winters get cold in that area and power failures are serious matters which could threaten the lives of a large number of people.

If I DID live in CT I'd be undertaking to get hundreds of thousands of people to sign a petition which would then be presented to the lawmakers in CT who could then enact a state law making the outsourcing of critical infrastructure illegal. That such laws do not already exist is proof that the US is not actually worried about security but is instead
wanting to be able to control and suppress its own people.

Security through outsourcing? {sigh} (4, Insightful)

JWSmythe (446288) | about a year ago | (#44929757)

Why did this part only make it to page 3?

One issue that has yet to arise is whether offshoring the utility's IT services would create long-term security risks, particularly if work is moved offshore.

Of course it does. IMHO, IT shouldn't be outside of a secure environment's walls. Even with "good" IT people, when they can VPN in from home computers and do things, it can compromise the security of the network. When your entire shop is off-shore, there's no one standing guard to make sure things are safe.

The risks are huge. It can range from malware on a workstation, to malicious actions by a 3rd party or employee.

The "what could possibly go wrong" goes from the confines of their office, to ... well ... the whole world.

I'm surprised DHS hasn't said no to this. They're worried about critical infrastructure, including power utilities, being compromised by outside attackers. When all the work is being done by someone other than in-house staff, it's inviting exactly that kind of trouble.

I guess "best case" here is that they're trying to get a bunch of people to quit, so they can get fresh locals in for less pay, screwing the existing staff in the process.

Re:Security through outsourcing? {sigh} (1)

ebno-10db (1459097) | about a year ago | (#44929989)

I'm surprised DHS hasn't said no to this. They're worried about critical infrastructure, including power utilities, being compromised by outside attackers.

I wish. Their only real interest is in playing security theater by getting tough about the size of the hairpins grandma is wearing when she boards the plane. Actual threats are too tough for them to deal with.

There's dumb, then there's Northeastern dumb (1)

David Govett (2825317) | about a year ago | (#44929805)

I'm sure the Russians and Chinese would never take advantage of American infrastructure information India.

Entrepenuership Opportunity (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44929815)

To any businessmen or entrepreneurs out there. Get ready to move in, a fortune 500 company is about to bite the dust. To stockholders, the backbone of your investment is about to get ripped out and replaced with something on the other side of the fucking planet... just a heads up.

But really though, they will realize it is a terrible idea. Even outsourcing a helpdesk is a bad move unless you really need the money. Hell, I worked in the federal government and the government helpdesk workers were better that the contractors that they got replaced with. That's right something is actually worse than government workers.

Re:Entrepenuership Opportunity (1)

SeanInSeattle (1631449) | about a year ago | (#44929959)

Isn't this a utility, though? How's that going to go out of business? People will always need power.

part of the formula (5, Insightful)

roc97007 (608802) | about a year ago | (#44929825)

There really is a reason why companies make the announcement ahead of time before outsourcing. Really, there is. It's part of the formula. The outsourcing company sells the patsy... client, sorry. Sells the client on the idea that the client tells their employees that they're planning to outsource, so that the employees can then be directed to spend their remaining time in documenting their jobs well enough that an untrained person in a third world country could do the job.

The outsourcing company will insist on this, and the sap, ur... client for God only knows what reason will think this will actually work, and the employees will go "sure, yeah, that's what I'm doing with my remaining time here. Sure. Not spending my entire shift looking for a job in a down economy. No sirree. My job doesn't take any original thought, creativity, or diagnostic skills, it's just a lot of button pushing and answering questions. Here, let me print out ... say ... everything in My Documents. That should stack up real nice." all the regular employees exit carrying their sad cardboard boxes, cutover occurs, and it's a disaster.

...and the outsourcing company says, it's all the abused spouse's... there I go again! Sorry... it's all the client's fault, for not documenting their processes well enough. And for some reason the client will BELIEVE THIS ALSO. So the outsourcing company will say, we can't do this job as originally bid, it'll require many more 3rd and 4th level people (IE, people with actual skills and experience) and will cost more. A lot more.

Five years later, the outsourcing company will assure the chump... what's wrong with this spell checker? CLIENT. The client, that the break-even point is just around the corner, really it is, and will volunteer to help sell this concept to the board. Meanwhile, the victim's argh... client's business has suffered, it's harder to do even the smallest office task, change in any reasonable amount of time is impossible, and employees are saying things like "for God's sake, please don't make me call the helpdesk".

And this will be called Progress.

Re:part of the formula (1)

real-modo (1460457) | about a year ago | (#44929979)

Thanks for this. I like your characterisation of the, client.

Re:part of the formula (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44930163)

Been there, done that..

Like the asshat who got the job for one of the big financial / credit card companies in Florida.

Got the state to issue all kinds of tax cuts, etc, drekcetra, then, breaks assured for hiring all kinds of Floridians, they immediately outsource (to a company the asshat holds a majority share of), give the outgoing dipshit a huge golden parachute, while the outsourcing company gives same asshat a big contract sell bonus, plus percentages off the top of every monthly payment, all while dipshit asshat tries to get another position somewhere else to do it all over again.

Florida should have revoked the tax breaks with 3,000% penalties, frozen all of dipshit's assets and had him arrested for fraud and embezzling funds... instead, they just ignore the millions in lost revenue, jobs lost, and company going swirly due to mismanagement...

Fucking f-tards

Re:part of the formula (3, Funny)

Livius (318358) | about a year ago | (#44930117)

In fact the employees will carefully document everything about their jobs, and even in a fit of generosity, their previous jobs, in a summary (or résumé, as the French say). They may even have other employers proofread it to get an objective measure of how clear, thorough, and concise it is.

What you say!? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44929829)

You have no choice to survive make your time!

This is why GDP reduces (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44929859)

You do understand that the US economy is hosed due to all these. NorthEast Utilities moves a bunch of jobs from the US to India to stay competitive... Other do the same.... Congrats US economic value reduced forcing further cutbacks and offshoring and in the end the US economy goes down the tubes. Way to go, ensure the US never gets out of this economic mess.

Offshore IT - Lazy, clueless cheats (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44929871)

OK, I hate to say it, but the IT "talent" in India is seriously lacking. My company outsourced some of our support to an IT firm in India. In another move, we outsourced to a domestic agency because we wanted to make sure that native English speakers manned our front line help desks. In what I would call a bait-and-switch, the outsource company then outsourced to an Indian firm. We also have a dozens of contractors from India.

Ten years ago they were pretty good. The average contractor was just as good as some of our best. This is no longer the case. Now we have Java "developers" that don't know that a PowerPC JRE tarball for AIX won't run on Linux on Power. When this is brought to their attention, they send the x86_64 installer. Now of course we have our system JRE installed, but the application requires its own Java stack (mucking with JAVAHOME is not something they know how to do, and since it's not supported by the app vendor, they can't do it).

One of the devs once opened a ticket because the 'ls' command wasn't working. The root cause? His home directory was empty and so 'ls' returned zilch. Now I don't expect that a Java developer know anything about Linux or Unix, but his resume indicated years of Linux/Unix experience.

As for the help desk, well that's a complete joke. They are there essentially to handle first level calls with the understanding that they don't need to troubleshoot difficult problems. They are compensated/graded on the number of support calls they handle so it's in their best interest to "resolve" as many as they can each hour. This means that unless they can fix a problem within five minutes, they will hand it over to second level support.

So in our environment we'd done things like mine the problem queue to see what were the biggest issues. So password resets, full filesystems, failed backups were the main culprits. We fixed those in various ways: central auth, auto resets, logrotate/skulker, backup retries and tiering. As a result, the calls we got all tended to be involved (not difficult, just not easily automatable).

When we ran the help desk, the "first level" support folks would do this process. With the new desk, these jobs are too involved for first level so they go to my team. As a result we get many more calls.

Finally, I didn't want to go here, but their English language skills suck. I'm hardly a gifted speaker, but I do make an effort. We had a conference call last week where we resorted to Gmail chat so we could understand what one developer was saying. It's that bad.

Ten years ago, yes, I would have heartily recommended them. They were more expensive, certainly, but they were quite talented. Now it's a race to the bottom and the firms are taking advantage of that by throwing whatever no-talent ass clown that can say "computer" in the role of an IT developer or admin.

Time for a union (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44929885)

and outsourcing tax

Sham and scam (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44929887)

Onsite teams will be there, unless someone can copy and paste with new date...

Severance and Pensions? (2)

SeanInSeattle (1631449) | about a year ago | (#44929897)

They trying to decrease costs and increase revenue, plain and simple. Some of the first few ways to do this is to try and coerce some to give up their severance or pension to leave early by leaking this news of this outsourcing effort. I doubt that they'll actually do this, though. The lack of security and liability by having a foreign company maintain a domestic utility provider's IT systems seems staggering. This would, IMO, fall into the purview of federal regulators or even defense in the sense that federal regulators and higher-ups in the military would be concerned for the safety of the nation if this actually happened.

Dishonesty is the best policy? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44929903)

I'm sorry, so now we call companies "mindbogglingly stupid" for being open and honest with their employees?

No, that's not right. We're saying that technologists are so untrustworthy that if we ever get laid off, we'll clearly wreak havoc and destroy the company in our wake?

No, wait. Oh, I've got it. Companies facing hard and unpopular decisions can't win. If they're open and honest about it, they're morons out to ruin morale who deserve to be sabotaged. If they don't say anything they're...lying scum sucking weasels to be sabotaged?

Look, I don't like the threat of being outsourced, or laid off, or getting a pay cut, or any of the other threats facing workers. Sometimes companies make those decisions. Sometimes the reasons are bad - greed and short-term profiteering. Sometimes the reasons are good - long-term survival being impossible without change. You don't know their reasons here. Neither do I.

But calling a company stupid for talking to it's employees when making hard choices? Call me crazy, but I'll work for that kind of stupid over the slimy "everything's fine" lying weasels every time. Being honest deserves respect, not scorn.

May you get the employer you deserve.

Why would this work? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44929905)

If you do not consider all the risks, then offshoring seems like it might work. The problem is that they don't know who is who and you don't know who is who.

That lack of personal contact means that they might know know that Fred in accounting is a dreamy-eyed idiot, while Alice in HR is pretty sharp.

The service may cost pennies compared to a regular local staff, but they won't solve problems any faster. Never mind the language barriers, the lack of inside organizational knowledge, or the understanding of what the organizational unit does; not being on site will cost BIG in the long run.

The managers that oversee this transition will be promoted out of the company and then they'll leave the sinking ship like rats. I've seen this before --just not with a utility. The managers of this debacle are going to be a interesting case study of how NOT to do this.

Someone's finally honest (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44929943)

And you tear them to shreds.

Don't be shocked next time you get fired with no warning as part of outsourcing: it was entirely your fault.

Bait and Switch Indian Outsourcing 101 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44929949)

There are good workers to outsource to in India, and there are crappy Indian workers. Problem is they will switch out these good workers and replace them with crappy ones who they can pay 10x less. What kind of real checks in place are there to prevent this? I have even seen 'good' Indians pretend to be someone else and do FULL phone interviews so the crappy Indian could get the job.

encourage attrition?? (1)

roc97007 (608802) | about a year ago | (#44929955)

Saying they're considering outsourcing might be seen as a good move to encourage attrition and reduce IT costs... if YOU'RE A COMPLETE MORON.

Consider: When outsourcing is in the air, employees can be easily divided in the following classes by what action they take or don't take.

(a) The professional. He sees the handwriting on the wall, and immediately starts soliciting headhunters and calling in favors to get interviews. He does this RIGHT AWAY because the longer he waits, the more competition he'll have from former co-workers. He will be gone soon.

(b) The Wally. He has been gliding along on inertia over the past several years, has no usable current skills, and no hope of convincing people otherwise. He's doomed. He'll stick around, but whatever help he'll give during transition will be hampered by the fact that he has nothing to contribute. He may slip into another job through sheer luck.

(c) The scaredy cat. He may have useful skills, but is afraid to make the leap into interviewing, so he'll wait until it's way too late to start looking in the vain hope that his master will retain him or maybe call the whole outsourcing thing off. He'll contribute to the best of his ability during the transition in the vain hope that the company will appreciate this (they won't) and find a way to retain him (extremely unlikely).

So other than the increasingly hysterical output from sparsely populated category (c), brain drain commences immediately and tribal knowledge flies off the premises. The company ends up with a much smaller IT department, achieving the goal, (oooh, managerial bonus!) but with the unintended consequence of becoming a much smaller company.

Been though this... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44929977)

I work for a fortune 500 company. As part of a cost saving initiative, IT was outsourced to well known IT management company. As these things typically are, they were horrible at any IT function. I am not sure if they just hired anyone off the street who know how to type on a keyboard. Their performance was abysmal in every aspect. It only took 2 years and countless sev breaches for management to see how bad of a idea this was and "in source" all the jobs again.

So much fail (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44930005)

I haven't read so much total fail in one tree of comments since the early 2012 Bitcoin stories. Perhaps we should consider basic economics in schools.

Watch me spin down the tubes! (1)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | about a year ago | (#44930019)

Because there are absolutely zero terrorists in a country with more than a billion people.


Guess the nuclear power plant just went critical!

Fantastic Idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44930029)

It's a great idea. After all, we do not need jobs in our country. We can all claim benefits, right? We do not need to feed our kids, right?

It's a Utility (1)

Sally Bowls (2952007) | about a year ago | (#44930067)

Due to the government regulation, utilities are quite different. Their profit is a percentage of their approved costs. Being an average utility or the best run in the world does not change that. Nor do I see where the unhappy utility customers will go if they do not like their monopoly.

I'm confused? (1)

msmonroe (2511262) | about a year ago | (#44930135)

Are they trying to increase the cost I don't get it? In all seriousness they should just take 2/3's of the money they are spending now to their IT budget, yeah let's count 1 2/3's the cost they're not saving money, and have a big Bon fire. Then let everyone keep their jobs. Huge waste of time and money, I've never seen it work.

Forwarning the Utility Companies.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44930145)

Outsourcing doesn't save money.

Let me restate this clearly...

Outsourcing COSTS more than you've ever spent on IT before.

It costs money to randomly, rapidly turn-over negligent, non-talented, non-inteligent, non-motivated workers with the same name as previous workers, which won't do anything but sit there day in and day out, complaining about the workload that they themselves cause due to their own ineptitude.

I've seen it in multiple companies... The outsourcing company rakes in money hand over fist, all while telling you things will get better, until you decide to take the business elsewhere, to an even shadier, worse outsourcing company, finally, when the wheels are about to fall off of everything, you'll be bringing things back in, and having to pay more per person than you did with the outsourcing companies, but these talents will be able to get things up and running again.

You, your managers, your boards will look foolish and inept, and the IT workers that you excitedly rushed out the door will be laughing their asses off at your problems as you try to keep from falling apart.

Good luck with your impending IT crash... You're GONNA NEED IT (pun intended)

Outsource IT jobs = BAD | Everything else = Good (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44930175)

This is the trend i come to see here in slashdot.

If there's outsourcing of manual labor skilled or unskilled, it's good overall for society more so with automating everything possible.

IT outsourcing? Capital no.

karma or whatever, there sure is a quick change in the trend of opinions here when it's the IT derriere that's is to be replaced.

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