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The Changing Face of Offshore Programming

michael posted more than 10 years ago | from the giant-sucking-noise dept.

Programming 670

teambpsi writes "BusinesWeek Online has an opt-ed piece on the trend in offshore programming pricing going up, with domestic rates going down. As a contractor, I've seen the downward pressure on contract gigs now to rates lower than what I was charging over five years ago. Dell Computers recently announced that it was bringing its customer service back on-shore, I wonder if this might be the start of some bigger trend -- maybe 'buy american' could be our new battle cry ;)"

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Accents (3, Funny)

The Snowman (116231) | more than 10 years ago | (#7853130)

From the article: Some US customers have complained that the Indian technical-support representatives are difficult to communicate with because of thick accents and scripted responses.

Tech support for corporate customers with Optiplex desktop and Latitude notebook computers will instead be handled from call centers in Texas, Idaho and Tennessee, Dell spokesman Jon Weisblatt said Monday.

Let me get this straight. People cannot understand Indian accents, but they can understand Texan and Tennesseean accents? Obviously they've never been to either state ;-)

Re:Accents (2, Funny)

roninmagus (721889) | more than 10 years ago | (#7853307)

Hey now, I live in Tennessee, not far from Gallatin, where the Dell plant is..

And you, sir, are most definately correct. ;)

Re:Accents (0, Flamebait)

slasher999 (513533) | more than 10 years ago | (#7853359)

Well, at least there is a better chance of the person on the other end of the phone being able to speak in complete sentences. US English grammer seems to be lost on low end employees such as those found working these off shore help desks.

Whinging (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7853137)

Stop whinging.

If you won't, please stop acting like liberals or ayn randians. A true liberal would understand the necessity of moving production there where it is least expensive.

You can't both have the cake and eat it. Admit that capitalism doesn't work (for you) or stop complaining when the jobs move abroad.

Re:Whinging (1)

ergo98 (9391) | more than 10 years ago | (#7853164)

Are you replying to the wrong story, or are you just dense? The point is that many of the offshore markets are becoming much more expensive. I just read another editorial by a fervent advocate of offshoring (6 months ago) proclaiming that it now makes more sense to cost-effectively develop domestically (cost-effective meaning that maybe you shouldn't rent a floor in an expensive office tower in downtown manhattan).

Re:Whinging (1)

samdaone (736750) | more than 10 years ago | (#7853195)

I agree. Most people only look at the initial labor pricing of doing offshore work. For example a programmer offshore charging only $10/hour compared to a US domestic programmer charging $75. What most people do not see that their are hidden costs for bigger companies, the above scenario would work for a mom and pop organization asking for some custom programming where they handle all the itneraction. But a bigger company has to add into this the cost of communicating, keeping up to date with the offshore team, crazy hours to keep in order to communicate effectively, hiring a translator, setting up a WAN for the office over there and here etc...

There are hidden cost that the bigger companies didn't think of!

Re:Whinging (4, Interesting)

Alan Cox (27532) | more than 10 years ago | (#7853301)

I would disagree. The bigger companies do think about such costs. Thats why you get a 25-50% saving when the salary difference is way higher. Similarly they are careful what and how they use very cheap but possibly lower quality resources. So for example who you get for a long distance phone billing problem depends on how much you spend a month.

Places like India are getting more expensive because they are getting way better at doing the jobs well. The experience and infrastructure is now there. Much of the really low grade work now goes elsewhere.

Re:Whinging (1)

cubicledrone (681598) | more than 10 years ago | (#7853340)

There are hidden cost that the bigger companies didn't think of!

Middle management was WRONG AGAIN! TELL 'EM WHAT THEY'VE WON, BOB!!

Re:Whinging (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7853305)

You can't both have the cake and eat it.

You mean, you can't eat your cake and have it, too. Remember the arrow of time here. If you couldn't eat the cake after having it, what would be the point?

If you won't, please stop acting like liberals or ayn randians. A true liberal would understand the necessity of moving production there where it is least expensive.

I think you are also confusing liberals with libertarians. To put it in the terms of Karl Marx, a liberal believes "From each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs" while a libertarian is more inclined to believe "From each according to his needs, to each according to his abilities." Liberals believe that group achievement is enhanced by providing for individual security, while a libertarian believes that group achievement is enhanced by individual freedom.

Re:Whinging (4, Interesting)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 10 years ago | (#7853375)

I know you are a troll, and I shouldn't feed you but hey, It's 2004....

The smart companies never moved their programming and tech staff from in house, as they knew that the only way to get the best quality was to keep it at home.

We had a few phb's try and convince the CTO and the CFO that moving the entire development staff to an outsourcing firm... they almost suceeded until the old man (read that as the dude that built this company..) that hold's 51% of the stock said, "no way in hell. there is no security, no quality control, and no way for us to completely control the process." he went on about how only fools would trust another company with their secrets and their future.

The old man did this on one of the telecasts in front of the whole company intentionally making the Executive staff and the phb's look foolish for chasing small dollar returns for giving up the stable.

A company with strong leadership that actually looks toward the future sucess does not chase the easy dollar.

I'm not whining, I'm proud to have a leader in the company that isn't as incompetent as the management that thinks like you do.

Suing slashdot over slashdot.de!!! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7853138)

Does anybody know the chances to get the german slashdot domain back for a german version of slashdot?

The americans are still interested in americaizing us with american news and stole the de-domain.

Re:Suing slashdot over slashdot.de!!! (0, Offtopic)

Patrik_AKA_RedX (624423) | more than 10 years ago | (#7853283)

The americans are still interested in americaizing us with american news and stole the de-domain.
And now you want to use the name recognition of slashdot for another site. Its creators have spend their time and effords to build it up from scratch and I can understand they wouldn't like to discover someone else to use a simular name to steal traffic away from them.
If you want a German news site, then go ahead and invent a name for it yourself or start negotiating. But at least show some respect for other peoples work.
(Put "IMHO" at the appropriated places)

SOFT PORN PICS (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7853140)

Enjoy [csmodels.net]

Opposition to outsourcing rooted in racism (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7853144)

The opposition to outsourcing, like much opposition to free trade, is rooted in racism. "Who cares if an Indian can do a job better: they are Indian"

Re:Opposition to outsourcing rooted in racism (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7853158)

There's nothing wrong with siding with your own kind. It's not racism - it's common sense.

Aryans? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7853191)

There's nothing wrong with siding with your own kind. It's not racism - it's common sense.

Racial supremacy is not "common sense". "My own kind" is the human race. Yours must be the Pure Master Race of Aryans.

Re:Aryans? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7853220)

Racial supremacy is not "common sense". "My own kind" is the human race. Yours must be the Pure Master Race of Aryans.

Stop acting naive and hysterical.

My own kind is consists primarily of my family, then my extended family followed by the fellow citizens. Only after that come the other nationals. Race has nothing to do with it. Having such priorities is natural and common sense.

Unreasonable (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7853240)

"Only after that come the other nationals. Race has nothing to do with it. Having such priorities is natural and common sense."

That is the worst type of patriotism. Clearly, if a foreigner does a job better than an American, the foreigner should be favored. THAT is common sense. What country someone lives in has nothing to do with anything in such matters.

Re:Unreasonable (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7853279)

Clearly, if a foreigner does a job better than an American, the foreigner should be favored.

Nonsense. A strong nation is built on mutual trust. When you're given a citizenship, the state trusts you with certain rights and privileges. In turn, you can trust amongst other things that you're taken care of before the non-citizens. If this trust breaks down, the society breaks down.

For a strong Fatherland. Seig Heil! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7853326)

"...Nonsense. A strong nation is built on mutual trust..."

Nonsense. Whether or not a human being is trustworthy has nothing to do with what country they are born in.

"...If this trust breaks down, the society breaks down..."

It sounds like the only thing that breaks down when you learn to trust human beings for who they are is the National Socialist fatherland.

[Getting more and more OT]Re:Aryans? (1)

OrangeSpyderMan (589635) | more than 10 years ago | (#7853320)

OK I'll bite. That your family and friends mean more to you than someone you've never met is not surprising at all. But why should you care more that someone you don't know in Texas doesn't have a job and can't feed their kids than some guy in New Delhi who's in the same mess? Could it be that the guy in New Delhi is Indian?

If you can't care about both, then you can't care about either...

Re:[Getting more and more OT]Re:Aryans? (1)

spooje (582773) | more than 10 years ago | (#7853360)

Pretty simple really. One day the Texan may save my ass in a war or by hiring me where as the Indian will most likely do neither. I like to hedge my bets.

Re:[Getting more and more OT]Re:Aryans? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7853373)

So at the end of the day, you don't care about him, you care about you. Hey, welcome to the US of A

Re:Aryans? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7853316)

"My own kind" is the human race.

We're all part of the human race, yes. It's just too bad the 300 million members of the race you belong to arrogate themselves the right to consume the planet's resources more, talk more, and meddle in other people's affairs more than the 6 other billion.

Re:Opposition to outsourcing rooted in racism (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7853163)

No, the issue isn't that they're indian, the issue is that the companies are doing it somewhere else taking US jobs. I'd also note that they aren't doing the job better.

Re:Opposition to outsourcing rooted in racism (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7853175)

It is not "Taking US jobs": the work belongs to whomever can do it best. If they are doing the same job better for less money, they are doing the job better.

Re:Opposition to outsourcing rooted in racism (1)

DAldredge (2353) | more than 10 years ago | (#7853332)

If that is so, why don't those that make the decision to outsource open up their jobs for outsorcing?

They are (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7853354)

If that is so, why don't those that make the decision to outsource open up their jobs for outsorcing?

They are already open to outsourcing. Those who contract with such companies are perfectly free to contract with foreign countries.

Re:They are (1)

DAldredge (2353) | more than 10 years ago | (#7853374)

No they are not. They are open to outsourcing the jobs of OTHERS, not their jobs.

Yes they are (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7853386)

No they are not. They are open to outsourcing the jobs of OTHERS, not their jobs.

Certainly they are. Nothing stops those who contract with such companies from "outsourcing" their jobs by dealing with another company instead.

Re:Opposition to outsourcing rooted in racism (1)

cubicledrone (681598) | more than 10 years ago | (#7853356)

Notice how quality is never discussed in these articles? It's always "cheaper" when everyone gets their ass fired, but we never hear why it fails.

Re:Opposition to outsourcing rooted in racism (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7853178)

doing it somewhere else taking US jobs

So?

It's free markets and free competition. Free competition and markets are a good thing, aren't they?

Re:Opposition to outsourcing rooted in racism (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7853194)

So? It's still not racisism dumbass.

My preciousss (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7853288)

So? It's still not racisism dumbass.

Racisism is for orcses and hobbitses.

Free trade is bad (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7853207)

Free trade is bad if it means members of inferior mongrel races end up taking jobs that by divine right belong to Americans.

Um (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7853236)

You did know that Indians are Aryans, right?

Re:Opposition to outsourcing rooted in racism (4, Insightful)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 10 years ago | (#7853218)

"Who cares if an Indian can do a job better: they are Indian"

Except that they can't. Here in the US, I can keep track of my team and teach them what they need to know. If the work gets outsourced, then all you end up with is a large number of junior level programmer with no direction. It's simply not effective. Then again, neither is hiring 200 programmers for a project.

The real problem is that buisnesses are looking for the sweet spot between quality, productivity and price. It seems counter-intuitive to companies that a smaller team of more experienced programmers will be more effective than a large team of juniors. They think that a senior developer simply costs more, and that they'll still need the same number of developers.

Re:Opposition to outsourcing rooted in racism (1)

pirhana (577758) | more than 10 years ago | (#7853333)

>>Except that they can't

If that is the case , then the companies wouldn't be going there in the first place. Now regarding the quality of the softwares, its better not to talk about it. US companies like Microsoft have been producing notoriously inferior software in many aspects. So was there any issue about it? if the quality of softwares produced as a result of outsouring is "inferior" then customers will look for alternatives. Perhaps they will end up in insisting "made in US" softwares. What I really cant understand is what happens to the "free market mantra" of these guys when it comes to outsouring ? Let the market decide everything right?.

Re:Opposition to outsourcing rooted in racism (1)

polished look 2 (662705) | more than 10 years ago | (#7853282)

I have nothing but the utmost respect for many Indian computer scientist however most of the Indian coders I've met were filled with conceit and their coding ability wasn't all that good.

You haven't seen racism until you've dealt with... (4, Interesting)

vkg (158234) | more than 10 years ago | (#7853369)

Indians, Pakistanis or Chinese. Really.

I'm an Indian, and let me tell you, the culture is racist to the core. Hell, even within the race there's the caste system, and don't for a minute believe anybody who tells you that it's dead.

Most cultures are ferociously racists: the only exceptions are places where there are too few people of other races to even notice (some parts of England, say, are pretty chilll) or America, where the fight against racism is a big historical driver.

This is one thing which I think Americans have got right and can teach the world: how to deinstitutionalize and stigmatize racism to the point where basic values change for many, if not most, people.

Seriously: I think that America has an incredibly tolerant and non-racist culture over all. Festering throwbacks excepted.

Re:Opposition to outsourcing rooted in racism (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7853372)

No. The opposition to outsourcing is rooted in eating.

Re:Opposition to outsourcing rooted in racism (1)

slasher999 (513533) | more than 10 years ago | (#7853379)

No, the problem isn't racism. The problem is most of the people manning off shore help desks - especially tier one support - are completely incompetent.

DOWN WITH ZIONISM! (-1)

cmdr_shithead (527909) | more than 10 years ago | (#7853149)

SMASH ISRAEL! Down with imperialism! Victory to the Palestinians!

The only battle cry companies heed is "returns!" (1)

gregwbrooks (512319) | more than 10 years ago | (#7853150)

... as in, "returns on investment!" and "returns on the stock price!"

If there's a move to put customer service back onshore at Dell, or other "in-sourcing" trends, it's because the costs are lower, or the higher costs are offset by either good publicity / happier customers.

Mind you, I'm as pro-capitalism as they come, so being driven by the battle cry of "returns!" is a good thing, IMHO.

Re:The only battle cry companies heed is "returns! (1)

squiggleslash (241428) | more than 10 years ago | (#7853277)

There's also "If we sold this product at price X, would enough people buy it to make it profitable and therefore worth funding the development of in the first place?"

I think we saw some massively inflated salaries in the late nineties, and a lot of the outsourcing that's happened since was a reaction of panicy companies who knew there simply wasn't a way to manufacture profitable goods at prices that were low enough to sell by paying tech people in the US the salaries they were asking for: this, at a time, when companies in the same sectors were going bust left, right, and center.

What we're now seeing is something approaching a normalization. With the dot-com bust and the fact Y2K has been over-with for the last three years, salaries are approaching levels that employers are willing to pay. At the same time, traditional out-sourcing sources are no dummies, they're increasing their prices to levels the market will bear after many years of charging the bare-minimum to attract business.

You know, this'll sound terribly harsh, but I don't see any real bad in this. India's economy, far behind most Western countries because of circumstance, has been improved radically because of this, and even if outsourcing work were to dry up tomorrow, the skills that those organizations in that country have developed with regard to specing and planning means it stands a good chance of becoming a leading force in the software industry in the future, and pushing up everyone's standards as a result. Meanwhile, US businesses are now securer, they can afford to get software development done for profitable products. And programmers in the US, while not having the opportunity any more to work for a decade and retire (if that situation ever existed), certainly now have better prospects for getting safe and secure jobs now that salaries are sane.

Re:The only battle cry companies heed is "returns! (4, Insightful)

The Snowman (116231) | more than 10 years ago | (#7853289)

Mind you, I'm as pro-capitalism as they come, so being driven by the battle cry of "returns!" is a good thing, IMHO.

I think capitalism is the best socioeconomic system mankind has come up with yet. But some people get into it a bit too much -- mainly the CEOs at the top who think making ten million per year isn't enough, so they do various things to hurt the people at the bottom of the ladder (cut wages/benefits, outsource, etc).

I like the "survival of the fittest" aspect of capitalism, but I would rather have the citizens survive than a business. Outsourcing is painful, but I think eventually, as the author of one of the articles says, equilibrium will be reached. Hopefully few of us Americans get hurt in the process.

About Dell. (3, Funny)

DAldredge (2353) | more than 10 years ago | (#7853151)

Dell didn't move all there support back, they only moved the support back for there business clients.

Re:it's spelled THEIR, for fuck's sake (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7853209)


[slashdot.org]

Re:it's spelled THEIR, for fuck's sake (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7853384)

Thank you, that was bugging the hell out of me too. Some people can't make it past grade 2 english.

Economics, not dogma (5, Insightful)

jmorris42 (1458) | more than 10 years ago | (#7853159)

Don't expect any success with simply screaming "Buy American". Offer a better value proposition.

You are closer to the customer, not thousands of miles away.

You understand their problem better than some Indian programmer who doesn't truly grok the underlying American business practices being codified into software.

You are operating in their time zone.

etc.

That will win business a lot better than trying to shame a potential customer into paying more just because you are an American.

Re:Economics, not dogma (2, Interesting)

JediDan (214076) | more than 10 years ago | (#7853306)

Very true.
Dealing with customers every day I continually hear them expressing their love/hate of tech support, but as long as the person they are speaking with has little or no accent, they immediately calm down.

No slant against the other nations of the world intended - indeed our company offices in India have great technical support records, but there's a reason we don't have customer support services based over there.

It'll be good to see what the trend is for non-software merchandise as well. This christmas had way too many "American" Companies selling new products with 'Made in China' stickers. :/

Dell NOT bringing cust service back in general! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7853161)

Only for large corporate customers -- not for the masses.

Buy american (2, Insightful)

inc_x (589218) | more than 10 years ago | (#7853165)

Although the "Buy American" campaign seems to be a great success in Iraq (thanks Dick!), I don't think it will go down too well in Old Europe.

Re:Buy american (1)

Strudelkugel (594414) | more than 10 years ago | (#7853255)


Buying American is looking better [yahoo.com] for Old Europe all the time.

It will all balance out (4, Insightful)

samdaone (736750) | more than 10 years ago | (#7853172)

This is keynesian economics at its best. Acutal supply and demand. Now that contractors and programmers in the states are worried that all their jobs will move over seas, they are lowering their prices. Chances are US based companies would rather do business with someone they can get of hold of, and I don't know how the legality of the system works, but you can sue people for breach of contract and such here, I do not know if you can do that with overseas contractors, is it more of a "buyer beware" methodology?

Now you can expect the overseas operation to start lowering their prices or adding more value to their service, and vice versa until it eventually balances out, and once that happens most US based companies would probably prefer to work with someone based locally.

Doctors may not have to worry about this problem of oversea contracting since you still need to see them in person to do the best type of work. Lawyers on the other hand may not have the same benefits :)

Re:It will all balance out (5, Interesting)

DAldredge (2353) | more than 10 years ago | (#7853211)

Why doesn't freetrade work for the consumer? After all my goverment wants to make it illegal/claims it is currently illegal for consumers to import drugs from canada.

Why is it ok for large companies to benefit from freetrade but wrong for regular people to?

As for your doctor comment, some hospitals are sending xrays/mri scans oversees to be read.

Re:It will all balance out (5, Informative)

The Snowman (116231) | more than 10 years ago | (#7853350)

Why is it ok for large companies to benefit from freetrade but wrong for regular people to?

How much time and money do you spend lobbying Congress? I thought so.

As for your doctor comment, some hospitals are sending xrays/mri scans oversees to be read.

Processing of medical records goes overseas too. There was a recent story on Slashdot about a woman in Pakistan basically holding sensitive medical data hostage over a contract dispute. Also, within the last year or two an M.D. in Australia or Hawaii or somewhere operated on a patient in the U.S. with a robotic arm and a fat data pipe. I think that was more proof of concept, but still, they may as well outsource surgery now too. Hire a nurse at a fraction of an M.D.'s salary to oil the robot and turn it off if it goes on a crazy killing spree, and save some money :-)

Re:It will all balance out (2, Informative)

cduffy (652) | more than 10 years ago | (#7853221)

I don't know how the legality of the system works, but you can sue people for breach of contract and such here, I do not know if you can do that with overseas contractors, is it more of a "buyer beware" methodology?

International legal battles can be done (though only if the amount in contention is over a certain minimum), but it's very, very expensive.

Re:It will all balance out (2, Informative)

ToddML (590924) | more than 10 years ago | (#7853251)

This is NOT "Keynesian" economics. As written, I doubt the poster has a firm grasp on the differences in classical and keynesian theory.

Doctors were simply imported to do the work here. (1)

vkg (158234) | more than 10 years ago | (#7853257)

In case you hadn't noticed, look how many indian doctors there are who came to the USA, Canada and England in the 1950s through 1970s, and I suppose still today. The work couldn't be outsourced, but the labor could be moved closer to where it was required.

And health care is still absurdly expensive, but that's another story.*

(on average, 75% of your health insurance dollar becomes either profits or overheads, with only 25% going to care for you or anybody else in your insurance pool, I believe)

Re:It will all balance out (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7853315)

Doctors don't; nurses do. I couldn't believe it, but I heard this on the radio in Silicon Valley a few weeks back (1590 AM, I've forgotten the call letters; it was a report from the local business journal).


A Doctor and a local 2-bit CEO of a small company had the bright idea of massively importing people from India, enrolling them in local nursing programs, and then outsourcing them to hospitals.


Personally, I don't think it will fly. Nurses have a Union. And they vote. One would think that the various labor regulations would prevent this; but if it happens, the effect on almost every other single field will be substantial.


Perhaps they were spouting BS and wrapping it up in a press release But it will be interesting to see if it happens. As I see it, outsourcing will either take off even more dramatically, or this is a sign that the bubble is ready to burst.

Re:It will all balance out (4, Informative)

Ezubaric (464724) | more than 10 years ago | (#7853368)

I don't think you realize what "Keynesian economics" is.

Also called "Reaganomics," it's when you run up a deficit during times of an economic slump. It encourages the economy to rebound and more quickly get back on its feet. If you balance it out by underspending when the economy is good, you average out to stronger growth (because if you spend too much when the economy is good, you'll overheat).

What you're thinking of is perhaps David Ricardo, who developed the idea of comparative advantage. Even though one country A might be absolutely better at doing everything than country B, country A can't do everything, so it specializes in what it does best (activity 1) and country B do the things that country A does well but not best (activity 2) and trade for can trade activity 2 for activity 1, making everybody better off.

But what you're talking about above is more like assymetrical information, where you don't exactly know the true cost of the product or what the market is willing to bear, so until it's resolved, prices are unstable.

battle cry? (4, Interesting)

Slowping (63788) | more than 10 years ago | (#7853179)

maybe 'buy american' could be our new battle cry ;)

Wasn't that Walmart's battle cry for years... until it became convenient for them to forget it in favor of another battle cry that generated yet more money?

Re:battle cry? (4, Insightful)

sirinek (41507) | more than 10 years ago | (#7853253)

Absolutely. They were ALL ABOUT "Buy American" for years and then when they got big enough, they used their size to crush competition by lowering prices by going to offshore companies.

There's a ton of websites out there chronicaling WalMart's abuses.

Re:battle cry? (1)

the_pointman (143482) | more than 10 years ago | (#7853262)

maybe 'buy american' could be our new battle cry ;)

Well, Tom Ridge will be screaming out "those dirty terrorists" as he revokes H1Bs.

Re:battle cry? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7853391)

Tom Ridge doesn't give a flying fuck about homeland security and/or terrorists.

If he did logic would dictate that they do something to secure our borders.

Re:battle cry? (1)

Strudelkugel (594414) | more than 10 years ago | (#7853285)


Wasn't that Walmart's battle cry for years

I thought it was "La Migra! La Migra!"

Heh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7853198)

And what did they study? 4 companies? 5? 8? 10? 20? 50? 100? 500?

Nothing can and nothing will stop it. Live with it!

dollar at historic low wrt euro (no matter) (1)

10am-bedtime (11106) | more than 10 years ago | (#7853200)

of course, the euro has only been around for a few years, so "historic" has less weight, but it is in fact the accurate adjective to use...

back OT, the larger trend to look at is commoditization of "business methods" programs, which is the demand side of the equation. if all these supposedly super-specialized vertical apps can be refactored into a common base plus the specialization, the common base is bound to find footing in some free software project sooner or later, and grow from there. refactoring is expensive but rewriting for each new platform du jour (jour == 5-7 years in this case) is even more expensive.

so, really: just how specialized are these programs? i'm no accountant but it seems to me there are very few ways to combine "plus" and "minus" in a fashion that supports accountability. what's the big deal?

I think this trend can be explained... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7853201)

...by the rise in global sea levels.

P.S. Is that buy American or bye American? I think you may have a misspelling.

Vote with your $$$ (1, Troll)

SexyKellyOsbourne (606860) | more than 10 years ago | (#7853202)

Two of the biggest culprits behind outsourcing are Accenture and Mackenzie. I like one of Accenture's services "Human Performance" and of course they also list "Outsourcing". They are making a lucrative business out of going from company to company telling them which parts of the company to offshore and how to do it. Unfortunately HR consulting can't be easily offshored so they can't get a taste of their own medicine. If you see these snakes...errr...people coming in the door, get your resume and unemployment insurance paperwork in order.

Unfortunately, from the perspective of the overpaid executives the argument is unavoidably compelling. Labor costs are so integral to profit margin that there has always been constant pressure to reduce labor costs. American labor made a lot of gains in the 20th century which started out with conditions about as dismal as most of the third world has now. Unfortunately with the development of free trade, cheap telecommunications and a very efficient air and sea freight expensive American labor has become largely a liability unless you're in a service business that requires you're body be in the U.S. Of course there is also a solution for service, immigrants legal or illegal. Its no secret why there is so little enforcement of immigration law in the U.S and why H1B visas are so popular. It provides a vast pool of ultra cheap labor for service jobs, labor that by definition can't compain about poor working conditions. If you work for a living in the U.S. the good times are over.

Dell's action is commendable until you read that they apparently didn't sack anybody in India so presumably they just shifted all of their inferior customer service in India to individuals who haven't got the clout to effectively complain.

Re:Vote with your $$$ (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7853235)

Asshole.

This fuckturd posts fake "breaking news" annoucements about national disasters, terror strikes and death.

Hunt him down, figure out where he lives and sic some crackheads with a blowtorch on him!

Re:Vote with your $$$ (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7853278)

Two of the biggest culprits behind outsourcing are Accenture and Mackenzie.

Accenture, which used to be Arthur Andersen, the same assholes responsible for Enron. Why wasn't that company's back broken after that fiasco? They single handedly destroy the life savings of ten of thousands of Enron employees and now they're getting paid to tell US employers to outsource?

Oh yeah, and they're incorporated in a tax haven [washingtontechnology.com] , so they aren't paying their share of taxes in any of the countries in which they do business.

I fucking hate consultants.

Broken immigration systems are a political tool. (1)

vkg (158234) | more than 10 years ago | (#7853331)

Germany has one too: labor costs / inflation rise, they import more Turks (etc), but when unemployment gets too high, they start deporting people.

Most economic theories assume that the size of the population is more or less static and that the government has no control of it (Stalinism, Maoism and Nazism of course being exceptions to this rule), but in fact a lot of fairly powerful economies are operating partially through manipulation of migrant labor pools: here we have Mexians, South Americans, and the H1B scheme.

It does suck in a lot of ways, both for the migrants, who may only get a few years of the good life before being punted back home, and for the local labor pool, who can't get what they would consider a good wage any more, but in the long run it may actually support national prosperity.

That cheap labor pool may be what helps America avoid the worst of recessions, for example.

A few jobs coming back (5, Informative)

GeckoFood (585211) | more than 10 years ago | (#7853206)

Dell Computers recently announced that it was bringing its customer service back on-shore...

Another poster spoke of the specifics of Dell, so I will not touch that. However, Capital One is beginning to bring back [some of the] work it mailed off to the other side of the planet, as they have been losing accounts hand over fist by customers pissed off about not being able to converse with support personnel due to a language gap. Sure, the labor is cheaper, but is it cheap enough to compensate for lost business? Apparently not, in the case of CapOne.

Re:A few jobs coming back (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7853249)

Capital One are twats. their adverts are appalling too. plus they spam me with about 20 application forms a year for one of their shit cards.

offshore prices going up? (1)

Knights who say 'INT (708612) | more than 10 years ago | (#7853222)

Gosh, is it even surprising?

Please, gentlemen, repeat with me: "supply and demand". "Supply and demand". "Supply and demand".

A good course in general equilibrium microeconomics would serve highschoolers much better than chemistry or physics topics, you know.

Re:offshore prices going up? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7853323)

Yes, it is amazing. It's amazing that whenever circumstance like this occur people can't grasp the exact fundamentals you point out.

SUPPLY AND DEMAND

A free market is a global market. (4, Insightful)

vkg (158234) | more than 10 years ago | (#7853227)

Protectionism is stupid. American manufacturing workers have had to adapt to their jobs moving abroad since the end of World War Two, and it's caused enormous economic hardship here - but given hundreds of millions of people abroad new hope and new life. Sweatshops may suck, but they're better than making a living picking through garbage dumps, and that's often the alternative people face.

In the long run, this is one world, and one market: individuals should be free to trade ideas with anybody they want, and in most cases goods and services too.

Why shouldn't somebody in India, or Taiwan compete with me for my clients? No reason I can think of: it might suck for me, but it's going to be great for them, and probably for my clients too; the competition helps everybody except the losers.

America enjoys it's massive economic and social advantages for two reasons: the huge natural resources of it's land, and the incredible hard work and ingenuity of it's people. I think that asking the Government to step in and interfere with free trade in an otherwise free market (as software is now) simply to keep domestic prices high is exactly what landed us with a moribund and over-subsidized farming system, a largely uncompetitive and second-rate automotive industry and so on.

Repeat after me: government interference in markets, other than to address market failures or personal safety, is bad for the market, and bad for those who buy and sell in it in the long run. We have a history of lobbyists destroying the global competitiveness of their industry: don't become one of those people.

So what does that leave for the domestic programmer? Well, at one end of the spectrum, there's the stuff which is too small to outsource: the transaction costs in specification and organization are too large to make it more efficient to outsource.

And on the other end of the spectrum, there's the stuff which is too important to outsource: areas where people will pay a premium for domestic labor because it has to be done fast, and a risk of misunderstanding or second-rate work makes outsourcing unattractive.

But in the middle? Get used to the pressure, folks, as generations of your forebears have in other industries as the rest of the world began to catch on... First mover advantage only lasts for so long.

Re:A free market is a global market. (4, Insightful)

cubicledrone (681598) | more than 10 years ago | (#7853296)

Sweatshops may suck, but they're better than making a living picking through garbage dumps, and that's often the alternative people face.

And this is what we should aspire to: the object of an honest day's work is either a sweatshop or a garbage dump.

Now let's all sing the company song...

Re:A free market is a global market. (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7853317)

I agree. I'm an American programmer who constantly worries about my job security as my company starts outsourcing more and more to India. So what do I do about it? I try to figure out what advantages there are to other labor markets and how to beat them. No use whining. If basic programming can be sent overseas then start studying topics that can differentiate you. SW archicture and requirements gathering. Take executive training courses. Study sales and marketing. You can keep coding, but you need to be good at the things that can't simply be shipped overseas. The point is, recognize your weaknesses, recongnize what overseas development offers, and make yourself un-outsourceable. And don't spend so much damn time reading Slashdot (oops).

Re:A free market is a global market. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7853318)

"and the incredible hard work and ingenuity of it's people"

TROLL ALERT! Mod down accordingly.

Re:A free market is a global market. (1, Insightful)

scromp (148280) | more than 10 years ago | (#7853394)

it's caused enormous economic hardship here - but given hundreds of millions of people abroad new hope and new life.

So? Since when is it our job to take care of the rest of the planet? Join the fuckin' Peace Corps if you care so much.

There's no such thing as a free market, only different sets of rules. Unless everyone's playing by roughly the same set, it's crooked. Until India has comparable environmental laws, a safety net, reasonable healthcare, etc, offshore work done there should be subject to taxes and tariffs.

Battle cry? (1)

MongooseCN (139203) | more than 10 years ago | (#7853241)

"By American" has been the battle cry of factory workers for years, especially factory workers in the automotive industry. Yet how many foreign cars do you see on the road every day? Consumers and corporations both go to wherever the lowest price is.

Not everyone does. (1)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 10 years ago | (#7853271)

I still buy amercian if there is an option. I refuse to purchase foreign items, unless i have too.

F-em

Carry on, the rest of the world will benefit (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7853263)

maybe 'buy american' could be our new battle cry

The louder you shout that, the more advertising you make for people who make anti-US products, such as Mecca Cola and, well, all manners of violently exploding devices.

war! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7853310)

I wish pakistan and idia would just masacre each other

Buzz word compliant (2, Interesting)

synergy3000 (637810) | more than 10 years ago | (#7853311)

It is all buzz word compliant. I bet if you had set up shop in some low cost city in the US and claimed you had outsourcing capability you would have had plenty of contracts lined up. Heck, call your company Outsource Synergies. Of course you don't have to let them know that what is outsourced is your ATT billing and only because ATT did so. You can hire local programmers, admins at a decent wage and still make a profit. It is all about the buzz word. In certain cases the buzz word does become the reality without necessarily having to be.

levelling the playingfield, Hummer madness (0, Offtopic)

MarkWatson (189759) | more than 10 years ago | (#7853321)

Like some other posters, I have watched my consulting rates drop drastically after the the dot-com bust, then slowly rise to about two-thirds of what I used to charge.

In the U.S., I think that we as a country have been going a little crazy with materialism and greed - there is some justice for salaries to slightly equalize with developing countries.

a little off topic, but: what is the deal with the tax break for large gas guzzelling vehicles? I was amazed at an article in the Arizona Republic this mornig of local Hummer and SUV sales sky-rocketing because of a Bush-$100,000 tax break for any 'business' (own a motel? - get a free Hummer!) to buy large fuel inefficient vehicles.

I may be a little off base here, but I don't think so: I believe that our addiction to buying foreign oil with borrowed money (making our foreign debt crisis occur much sooner, rather than later) is a worst threat to our national security than terrorism.

Anyway, Happy New Year! I wish you all health and happiness.

-Mark

Buy American??? (1)

deadmongrel (621467) | more than 10 years ago | (#7853325)

Honestly could you tell how may things you buy are actually make in USA? I am not trying to TROLL here but be fair and think about it. Just like any other industry the goods are made by the lowest bidder.Capitalism.
There would be problems with IP violations because the code is proprietary and there is little chance that companies would find out about violations.
The lesson here is you really pay for what you get.

I am not afraid. (5, Insightful)

Apoptosis66 (572145) | more than 10 years ago | (#7853327)

I work for a major company which is now trying to outsource my J2EE programming position to Brazil.

Its almost too funny watching it go so wrong.

Our group has for years fought with the business group over software requirement specs. What we end up building almost always diverges from what they had in there minds. Yes we create software requirement specs with mock up and all that. Yet most of these are in business speak, and can be interpreted in many different ways.

Now they are attempting to outsource to a CMM level 3 development group. The thing is the Brazilians require the software requirement specs to be in precise use cases covering every function that can possibly take place. In fact they will not even start working on a project until this document has been created and signed off on by everyone and their mother.

What has instead happened is the business has no idea how to create software engineering specs. They can't effectively communicate this through the middle management hell that is spread out over 3 countries. The Brazilians effectively sat on their asses for 3 months, and documented the fact that they did. Once they finally wrote something it didn't integrate correctly with all the systems that we have in place in the USA, because there was nothing spelling out the fact in the specs. Now the project is late and everyone is pissed.

Somehow this is better than paying me extra to know the systems, to interpret what business really wants (and sometimes get it wrong), and get things out on time.

In short I am not afraid, in fact I am looking forward to the time the come back to me needing help and I ask for a big fat raise!

The Yahoo Article (1)

voncheesebiscuit (10243) | more than 10 years ago | (#7853334)

Reading the comments here, I'm wondering if people read the linked-to Yahoo article, or just read the reporter's comments. The Yahoo article actually makes some interesting arguments to support what alot of people are saying here (essentially, that is in an open market, and Americans need to compete fairly with the off-shore developers).

The author cites several ways in which current American development costs are actually on-par with off-shore costs. Sure the actual cost of a single programmer is higher in the US, but when you factor in 'hidden costs' (more project management, risk of legal issues with IP, etc), the overall cost of the project can not only be the same in the US, but it can be alot more hassle free (and less hassle has value too).

I thought it was particularly interesting at how these factors can really hit a small company hard, since small companies generally lack strong legal teams, and strong internal development processes, and these are two areas where off-shore development has some risk.

Pronounciation... (1)

Phaid (938) | more than 10 years ago | (#7853338)

Na-yeen-anajad

Nayeenanajad

Really, it's NOT that hard!

Re:Pronounciation... (1)

NeoGeo64 (672698) | more than 10 years ago | (#7853370)

Samir (spelling?) from Office Space was middle eastern, not Indian.

Dell phone support still sucks... (1)

NeoGeo64 (672698) | more than 10 years ago | (#7853347)

Even back in 2001 before they moved some of their support operations to India, Dell's customer and technical support had very long hold times and rude agents.

When I called to order my computer, after 50 minutes on hold, I got a sales rep; he told me that he would call back because he had a large amount of sales paperwork (???) to complete, and that he'd call me back within an hour. I gave him my contact info and hung up.

Five hours later, with no call from Dell, I called sales back and ordered my computer with another (friendly!) sales rep.

A week later the sales rep who promised to call me back finally did -- cussing me out and threatning me because I didn't order my machine with him.

I'm glad to hear Dell is moving their support staff back onshore, but hopefully something has been done about their rude customer support.

Project Management! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7853364)

I've realized that with programmers under my own roof, I used to get away with a lot of shaky project practices in scope management, discovery, documentation, and testing. If you don't have these processes well under control, outsourcing will burn you severely.

This is hilarious. If you don't have these processes under control, you will burn yourself far worse than a _competent_ outsourcee. I believe any kind of outsourcing for non-core services is good, as long as it doesn't put your IP in jeopardy. Does Amazon run their own shipping network? No, they outsource it to Fedex or UPS or USPS. Those vendors have to be good in what they do, to do it properly. If you want to go somewhere will you start an airline?

Outsourcing software development is just like that. What American development firms should really think about is why can't they compete in bagging these outsourcing contracts. Is it only the cost? Hell, no! Like the author points out, top development firms in India like Wipro or TCS doesn't bill you far less. What they do have is good manufacturing practices that are under control and an army of flexible engineers who can be moved around.

IT departments in US generally don't invest much at all in business analysts, who can understand users' needs and match it up with company's long term goals. Majority of the analysts here run around making useless PowerPoint presentations about "change management", "communication initiatives" etc. Add lack of accountability and the general hesitation of this crowd to hook up programmers directly with the users and you have tons of "failed" software projects as a result.

Failed because programmers/designers seldom know what the user actually wanted - rather they are given requirements that are mostly whims and fancies of the analysts.

Next biggest issue is project management. Few PMs I've seen here actually excel in managing "projects". Rather, they are way too much tied to the people they get to manage (or boss over). With this scenario, techies get micro-managed, stagnated and generally restless. Add the "business requirements from clouds" and you have programmers who quickly develop "i-don't-care" syndrome.

This is very evident when the guy writes about programmers under my own roof. Hello, if you had thought about projects for which I am responsible, you would be more practical :-)

Most users don't care if you preach XP or waterfall model or whatever else! They just want to know what can they get for how much in what time. Business users don't even care much about the quality of code (I know, surprising and hurting, but hey, they pay us!). Can they get those numbers from an outsourcee? If they can, they will go there. Then they compare the numbers. As of now, TCO of projects developed in India is still slightly less than what is developed here. That margin is enhanced by the comfort managers feel about having armies of programmers, willing to be flexible, available in India. For a US company to maintain such an army is difficult, for monetory reasons and the prevailing HR culture.

Anyway, to summarize, there are lot of businesses out there who would like to get trustworthy IT support. We should be figuring out how to market our strengths like communication skills, response time etc. However, these strengths along are not good enough - which is probably why IT consultants are beginning to replace used car salesmen as the most suspicious lot ;-)

Silly Programmers (3, Insightful)

Perdo (151843) | more than 10 years ago | (#7853376)

We were all to "special" to form a union back when we had some power. Now we have no power because of the ease of offshoring, but we want to pick up the union battle cry "Buy American!"

All of you Overpaid twits that were worried that a Union would not help you because you made more money than the average joe, well some jerk in India has your job now, because you didn't want a Union.

On-shore not dead? (1)

JorenDahn (670270) | more than 10 years ago | (#7853380)

*fingers crossed* Please-oh-please-oh-please-oh-please-oh-please-oh- please-oh-please-oh-please-oh-please-oh-please...

Inhouse vs outsourcing revisited? (3, Insightful)

SmallFurryCreature (593017) | more than 10 years ago | (#7853382)

I think I read this article before. Exactly the same things can be said about having something inhouse vs outsourcing it.

Outsourcing always seems cheaper on paper but it often turns out that it is not as flexible as inhouse or that the costs for being as flexible are actually higher. Not that it matters by this time the manager who signed the contract has had its bonus and is busy on the next bone headed move.

Let me give an example. Local school wich also gave night classes had a cafeteria. It would do cheap cheerfull dinners so you could go straight from work, eat there and then go to class. Or if your class was early the other way around. GREAT. Then they outsourced the caferteria it promptly closed this great service.

I seen the same thing in other companies. They outsource the cafeteria lady and all of a sudden the office staff has to do things like arrange cake, late night food for when a department has to work overtime and so on. Worst case I seen had us using our own Microwave and cooker since we were not allowed to touch the equipment in the kitchen since it didn't belong to the company. Great fire hazard.

There was once a time when companies did everything themselves. They maintained their own cars, had their own doctors, had a few holiday places to send employees too. This was boomtime. Then companies started to focus on their core capabilities and outsource or sell anything that didn't belong. We been in a downward spiral ever since.

I WANT MY BLOODY DINNERLADY BACK! An old fat woman who knows everyones birthday and gives them a little cake at lunch and puts up a x-mas tree with cookies.

My outsourcing experience (5, Interesting)

Bozdune (68800) | more than 10 years ago | (#7853387)

I moved four projects to India with reasonable success. We did not use a lowest-cost provider; instead, we used a company that charges more than Wipro or Infosys, but fields better talent than they do (in fact, they cherry-pick from Wipro and Infosys for new recruits).

Here are my conclusions:

1) We were able to ramp up faster than if we had tried to hire locally.
2) We were able to overcome personnel issues more quickly -- the vendor was able to add higher-powered programmers very quickly when they got into trouble, and "swarm" the problem with bodies. In our case (simple Web apps) it worked, although there are situations in which it obviously would not have worked (mythical man-month, blah blah blah).
3) The quality of the finished product was reasonable. Call it B/B-. Which was OK for us, maybe not good enough for some, but acceptable.

It turns out that if I had hired a much smaller number of local programmers as permanent employees (consultant rates would not have worked) -- very good ones at market prices -- and they had performed up to expectations -- I could probably have brought the same projects in on the same schedule for the same price. I probably would have ended up with a better architecture, and better code.

So maybe it's a wash. Except, I would have had the following problems:

1) Hire/fire. When the work was over, I didn't need the teams any more. With the Indian vendor, I could cut back without worry. With permanent hires, I'd have a serious morale problem.
2) Risk. If my gunslingers ran into a problem, I wouldn't have been able to "throw bodies" at it. My budget wouldn't have allowed for that.
3) Maintenance risk. The Indian teams can be scaled way back, but I could still keep 3 people on the project for continuity. If I scaled back my own teams similarly, I'd only be able to save one job, and if that person quit, I'd be hosed.

So there are a lot of subtle factors that play here. The Business Week guy alludes to them, but doesn't really itemize them well.

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