Thursday, 22 January 2009

do it in house if you can

It seems that organizations are slowly learning (well in the Darwinian way of the dumb die out mostly) of the need to keep business critical elements to themselves.

Why? well because no one will take your business as seriously as you do for one.

Case in point: I once worked for a large organization who developed all their IT requirements in house. We worked with Oracle products and using Oracle Forms and other Unix tools (like SCCS for revision controls tied into a forms based software quality control system) and we made almost everything our organization needed ourselves. Not only did they work but as I later traveled the world in different organizations I came to realize were ahead of the pack.

But then the bean counters started to make interesting decisions about "outsourcing" and suddenly what we estimated could be done with a modest expansion of people, was turned over to a contractor and an off-shore provider doing much of the work. The long term people who worked for the organization began leaving and there started a rapid cycle of employing "training vultures" who joined, got trained and left. The sense of team which had existed vanished and worse noone really knew what things were or what their history was.

The cost estimated by the contractor who "won the bid" was several times what our old team had estimated, and funnier still (years later) I heard the project went over budget by some many millions of dollars.

So when I read this mornings paper that a similar organization has made another "cost saving" outsourcing decision I felt that it was sad to see we're still wasting our resources.

Deakin affected by IT scandal

Andrew Trounson | January 21, 2009

Article from: The Australian

THE $1.5 billion fraud scandal at Indian technology giant Satyam Computer Services has paralysed a $75 million project with Victoria's Deakin University to create an information technology development and learning facility in Geelong.

The scandal also puts in doubt lucrative training contracts that were expected to flow to the university.

I'd really like to know when the managers will stop "saving money" for the organizations and realize that its no simple equation to value having your own reactive and responsive IT staff. The answer is that you must invest in your staff and organization and build core competencies in house if you are going to run your own business. If you let other people run your business ... well you get what they want.

I've worked for a multinational software company in Tokyo with a development section in India and even though we were one organization (unlike above when it was an external contracting developer) we still had problems and issues in unifying the development desires of Tokyo with the development realities in Bangalore.

Further IT industry in Australia is suffering due to the "allure" of off shore money saving in developing countries. I think that its great that places like India are taking leaps and bounds in software development, taking their own futures into their own hands. But isn't this this is exactly what we should be doing?

If its worth doing right ... do it yourself, if its business critical, then don't let it out of your sight.

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