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Outsourcing: Persistent Systems Interview (Part 13)

Posted on Friday, Jun 11th 2010

By guest author Tony Scott

The Challenges of Delivering Globally

Tony: Are selling your services mostly in the United States and Europe, or do you also have clients in Latin America, Asia, and Africa?

Anand: Yes, mostly [in the United States and Europe]. Nothing in Latin America, nothing in Africa. In Asia we are doing many projects in India, but not much elsewhere.

Tony: In Europe, are you only in the UK, or do you also have clients elsewhere?

Anand: We also do work in Northern Europe – Germany and the Nordic countries.

Tony: In the United States, what’s the profile of the people whom you have in market-facing roles? Are they Indian or are they Americans?

Anand: There are some of both.

Tony: So a mix of American-born and Indian-born individuals?

Anand: Yes. But a good number of them are Indians.

Tony: You mentioned the other part of being able to continue to move up the value chain is the project management piece  – the part that makes sure you are not only delivering but actually making money. How have you dealt with that shift in emphasis from a cost savings delivery focus?

Anand: Contracts, finance, monitoring, tracking, making decisions, sudden investments – all of those become our responsibility because now we are sharing risk with our clients. By increasing my investment in the project, I could get a different set of returns. So it’s not just cost. Rather, it is the cost of a flow of decisions over time. Those kinds of decisions, which require somewhat longer range thinking, are hard to make for delivery organizations that are focused on reducing costs and delivering at the cheapest possible value.

Tony: There is certainly an inherent conflict at times when you are looking at how you deliver as cheaply as possible, versus how do you build for value over the longer term –  true value.

Anand: That’s right.

Tony: So how do you manage that part of the management equation?

Anand: We are still a work in progress, and it’s still a small percentage of what we do and so is just beginning to be managed and aligned in some sense with our original existing business. That’s the kind of structure we are trying to create for the future, a structure that will allow us to do this much more efficiently than we have in the past. But this is something that recently I have to worry about.

Tony: Can you tell me a bit about the organization composition model that you have for your value-driven, consultative solutions business?

Anand: It’s still early right now, so I don’t think I can share it clearly yet. It’s one of those things we are building as we are doing, and we need to evolve it further. There are certainly a next set of things we need to do over the next few months.

Tony: What about the overall organization structure, both in terms of bringing in new people to continue to feed this newly growing part of your business, but also with the 4,500 people you already have on board? You have grown substantially over the past ten years, and you have been in a business for only twenty-odd years. Are you finding it more difficult today to find the quality of the people whom you would want to hire?

Anand:  It’s not that difficult to find good quality junior resources in India right now. That’s not my concern at the moment. My concern is more in their ability to serve our customers, and finding people who are willing to think differently. Because of the number of local hires that one can do in India, there is also no shortage of finding lower-level managers who understand the economics of running a factory. Those skills are available, and a lot of Indian companies do well on that score. But if you say, “Here is a deal, go do project management, do product marketing, figure out how to define the product, how do you understand what new features you should include in the time scale that we have set for us – that is a challenge. In that scenario, you don’t have many set requirements; you are defining the requirements. That piece of the equation forces what decisions need to be made, and that kind of skill is the hard part to get in India.

Tony: Have you been bringing people back from the United States to India for those kinds of roles then?

Anand: Absolutely. We have around 8% to 10% at that level that we brought back to India.

This segment is part 13 in the series : Outsourcing: Persistent Systems Interview
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