Monday, May 28, 2007

If we were taken over by...

I was just wondering what are the 3 stand-out things that would happen if one of the following “imaginary” companies took over our existing companies…Any resemblances to the top 5 in the not-so "imaginary" Indian IT industry are purely coincidental! As usual, completely on the lighter side of course…

If we were part of IB^^
  • The chair you sit on, the bottle of cola you drink while working, the phone that you use and the under-garments that you wear are all made by us – totally integrated solution offering
  • We follow a 6.5 in a box model and have a business development manager, a sales person, a client partner, an engagement management, a senior business consultant, a junior specialist and an intern as go to people for any problem a client may have
  • We plan to bring down the servers of this client and charge them double for the maintenance since they didn’t give us the software services for a different project

If we were part of A66enture

  • We have just signed up Rajinikanth and Amitabh Bachhan as brand ambassadors for our company – the former would be used in APAC and parts of Silicon Valley; the latter would be used in RoW.
  • We would go in for a joint marketing exercise with Viagra – since they are also High performance, delivered…
  • We have to shed two thirds of our resources since the offshore companies have ruined our direct variation model of placing 3 consultants for 3 days where 1 could do the job in 1 day.

If we were part of TC$

  • We just hired our 1 millionth non-Indian local employee – actually she is a part time hire; her main job is as an immigration officer at the visa office at Bosnia.
  • Though we actually had a good year, we could not give much bonuses - we had to divert our money to pay employees from steel, chemicals, salt, tea, refrigerators and other divisions which were all running at losses.
  • I can’t type more than this because 6 of us here are sharing a room at onsite, and my chance with the 486 is over for the day.

If we were part of In£osys

  • We build the largest football stadium at Coimbatore and have the FIFA president plant a sapling in the middle of the ground during his Indian visit
  • Our CEO stands for President of India, Our CIO may become the Minister for Education and our HR person would most likely get the Defence Ministry
  • I become the CEO of the company next quarter – My turn came after the successive succession planning…

If we were part of Wi9ro

  • I got good ESOPs this time - 2 shares to be exact, given the management is letting go off very few stocks outside of what they hold
  • Our total income stood at $5 billion for the year – 25% from sale of marine products; 30% from coconut oil; 22% from mineral gas; 26% from voice BPO and the rest from software services
  • We crossed Oracle in the number of acquisitions for the year and are still grasping with how many employees we have now

Disclaimer:This is purely meant to be for humour and nothing else! Anyway, I have hidden the actual names very well, so I am sure it would take a lot of time to unearth those :-)

Monday, May 21, 2007

Work Life Balance in the IT World

The topic of achieving a work-life balance is so close to each one’s heart and I am sure everyone would have an opinion on whether current work circumstances allow us to achieve the same in the IT World. I have captured some of the possible theories of the as-is and the desired to-be work life balance situations...

Work-Life balance in the ideal world
Theory 1: The Work – Life Balance

  • 06:00: Wake Up, Brush, Take Bath, Shave etc.
  • 06:30: Update yourself on GK and current affairs with “The Hindu”
  • 06:45: Idly / Dosa / Vada + Sambhar / Chutney cooked by mom
  • 07:00: Travel at 80 kmph to office on your super-bike or fashionable car
  • 07:30: Settle down in place with a cup of “Coffee Day” coffee
  • 07:45: Finish off all previous day mails
  • 09:30: Greet people coming in with a huge grin indicating that you have finished off most of the work in a quiet environment while they are just coming in!
  • 12:30: Hog to glory in the canteen / Dhaba next to office
  • 13:15: Chat about non-work related topics with colleagues
  • 13:30: Back to work
  • 16:30: Travel back at 60 kmph (till Madhya Kailash) & 30 kmph (till home)
  • 17:15: Go to gym to show off those biceps
  • 18:00: The second bath of the day to freshen up
  • 18:30: Time to spend with family, friends, kids, grandpas, grandmas, etc. + Watch Tamil Serials + Eat Light food + Browse the net / computer games / read the latest Harry Potter => Basically have a good time
  • 23:00: Sleep like a good kid after your prayers for the night
  • Weekends: Go for a short trip / Play games / Go to the movies / shopping / restaurants etc.

The real world offshore – Faced by thousands
Theory 2: The Work – Wife Balance

  • 07:45: Wake up; Brush & take bath if possible and if in mood to do so; Make sure your wife does not find out that you didn’t do either
  • 08:15: Run, run, run till you are just able to shout to the driver to stop the bus
  • 09:15: Stand at the end of the breakfast queue at canteen in a sweaty shirt
  • 09:45: Stare at your angry boss as you enter your place
  • 10:30: Get reminded by wife about dinner outside at night
  • 13:00: Go for lunch at canteen if you have the time, else settle for a bite at the pantry
  • 13:30: Back to more mails and stares from boss and module leaders
  • 14:30: Get reminded by wife about kid indulging in some pranks in school and hence the need to attend the PTA meet this time
  • 17:30: Team meeting where boss says that nothing in the project is going right
  • 18:15: Call with onsite to check out what is the problem (they are the more informed of the people around)
  • 19:25: Run for the bus only to realize that the clock at the security gate seems to be showing a different time today, so you just missed your bus
  • 19:28: Crib to wife about how the bus guy was really mean to you; Hear a bang of the phone on the other end
  • 19:30: Go back to your place since your next bus is only at 20:15
  • 19:35: Pick up the phone to get more requests from onsite
  • 21:00: Finally take the bus back home
  • 21:50: Reach home after a combination of bus + walk + auto
  • 21:55: Listen from your wife on how you had ditched her for dinner
  • 22:30: Settle in to have a cold dinner at home
  • 23:00: Watch TV
  • 23:02: Sleep off with TV and lights on
  • Weekends: Same as weekdays; If the project has good times, then you can hope to sleep a lot of the time if you don’t have to go shopping with your wife.

(Disclaimer: This is applicable to husbands as well for the ladies, just used “wife” for rhyming purposes, so the ladies please excuse)

The real world onsite
Theory 3: The Fork – Knife Balance

  • 07:15: Wake up after the tenth alarm
  • 07:20: Brush, take bath, shave etc. in the biting cold cursing all the while that you don’t have an option to not do these at onsite
  • 07:50: Make your own badly done breakfast with just two options – bread or cornflakes; Practice eating it with a fork and a knife
  • 08:00: Catch a tram + a train + a bus to finally arrive at the workplace
  • 08:30: Stare at the same three faces in office
  • 10:30: Pester the client(s) for a meeting or a project
  • 13:00: Lunch with the client where you have to eat even a chapathi with a fork and knife
  • 14:00: Run around for the nth registration form and the mth office in which you have to reinforce that you are not a native of the particular country
  • 15:00: Settle back in office to maybe talk to offshore
  • 18:00: Finish up all calls, mails and chats with India
  • 18:45: Buy vegetables and other groceries on the way back home.
  • 19:30: Reach home after a combination of the three modes of transport.
  • 19:45: Start the long cooking phenomena
  • 20:45: After multiple design, construction and testing cycles, settle for a rice that is half-cooked, a sambhar that has a vague taste of the sambhar powder and a vegetable that may be a bit too deep fried
  • 21:30: Finish off the food by watching the only English channel on TV, CNN
  • 21:45: Settle down to see what you need to get / buy / finish for the next day both on personal and work fronts
  • 22:45: Iron out a pant and a shirt for the next day; After multiple attempts when ironing one side spoils the other, realize that you can’t do any better and stop for the night
  • 23:30: Crash on your bed
  • Weekends
    : Sleep till evening and catch up with everyone online after that;
    Sunday: Do the laundry including washing, drying and ironing

I am sure a lot of different people would have even more thoughts on the same. Do post your thoughts in the comments section...

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Are you a true onsite return?

I wanted to capture some of the most popular mannerisms / characteristics of people returning for a short while from onsite before going back. Clinical research data shows that you cannot consider yourself a true onsite returning dude if you don’t possess at least 70% of the following mannerisms…

  • The guys dress up in ½ or ¾ pants, typically with loose hanging cloth material till the knee levels – the probably didn’t realize that there are a lot of animals on the road in India who take a liking to such attire. Women seem to prefer a combination of an open jacket over a plain top along with a vague skirt / pant. Kids are always dressed crampily despite the heat and taken around stuffed on their baby-trolleys.
  • They feel that the weather is very bad in India and the place is just too polluted.
  • They start using words such as “wazzup”, “high fives”, etc. use words such as “dude” (pronounced dood), “cool”, “hip” etc. a lot more often and pronounce fast, past etc. with a ‘ae’ sound…
  • They can’t take their eyes off the NBA shows on ESPN / American political debates on CNN.
  • They add 2 kg by the time they leave by hogging on home food as if they have never eaten food before.
  • They go to Grand Sweets to buy one or more of the following - vetha kozhambu (a type of dish like sambhar) / puli kaachal (tamarind paste) / mysore pak (special south indian sweet) / murukku (I have already reached the saturation level on translations)
  • They go to the top malls in the city to buy a lot of top quality apparel cause they can get a $8 - $12 reduction in price (converted amount) as compared to what they will spend abroad.
  • They spend the saved dollars in buying original music CDs of Tamil / Hindi movies which they are not going to watch more than once ever – a couple of years back they were wise enough to download mp3s of these songs.
  • They bring a lot of chocolates – specifically Snickers, Kisses, Mars bars (only for the managers and dear friends) and Toblerone (reserved for family) to office.
  • They say that they will never leave the country and will be coming back in probably a couple of years cause this is where “they belong” - they will only return cause their parents are either too old or their kids need to get the “right” schooling

As usual, just for fun… So chill out :-) The original research data of course is very confidential and the researchers have refused to share the sources etc. Researchers are open to any new data in the comments section…

Friday, May 04, 2007

SWOT Analysis of Chennai

Any report as part of B school (or even outside of it) starts generally with a `Strengths - Weaknesses - Opportunities - Threats` analysis of the system / situation. Chennai has turned out to be one of the biggest IT services hubs in the world, leave alone India. There are a lot of other interesting things in the city too! In the following post, I have attempted to do a SWOT Analysis of our good old Chennai city. Please do post in your comments on any of the items I may have missed out!

It is very easy to list the A-Z of the city in such a post but I stuck to A-F instead! (I mean, literally!) You will soon see and realize what I am talking about…

(1) Amma, Appa, Akka, Anna – The conservative family culture still lingers on. Even when you are married, the “sambhar saadham + thayir saadham” that you have at your parents’ home on a Sunday afternoon is always delicious…
(2) Beach: Thenga, maanga, pattani, sundal on a cold evening in the beach is a must for any romantic dude out there…
(3) Carnatic Music: The December season where people wake up early despite the classic one-off climate to listen to the likes of Unnikrishnan, Jesudas, Bombay Jayashree etc.
(4) Dining: Hogging away to glory in one of the many new restaurants is a real must. Also see attached a compilation of some of the best dining places in the vicinity -
(5) Engineering: From ABCD to XYZ engineering college, you have all the options of pursuing everything from stitching clothes to breaking open an aeroplane! All of them may not be great but there are certainly some very good ones such as IIT, MIT, Anna University, SVCE etc.
(6) Foren Opportunities: It is probably one of the best connected places to foren lands including the USA and SE Asia. The number of Srirams and Subramaniams you find in a S/W company in the states is enormous!

(1) Auto: The lesser said the better… Generally recognized as the primary villain of the city.
(2) Big brother attitude: The moral policing by the political bigwigs and some nonsensical people etc. make you feel as though whatever you are doing is watched by a big brother up there with a stick in hand.
(3) Climate: As everyone says, its Hot, Hotter and Hottest in Chennai with the occasional spells of rain that somehow always land up around Diwali time.
(4) Dhadi Pasanga: Goondas that roam around with the political bigwigs give you a feel of those evil creatures from Lord of the Rings!
(5) Entertainment Options: Or the lack of it – You have Satyam, Spencers and Mayajal to count an exact number of 3 options in the name of “entertainment”
(6) ‘Figure’ative Speech: With a deliberate spelling mistake… I can't and don't want to elaborate on this more :-) !!!

(1) Assembly Lines: Hyundai, Ford, Nokia shall soon be followed by the likes of BMW, Motorola and God knows who else.
(2) Bunch of S/W folks: Is a huge growing market for selling everything from trendy phones to toothpicks!
(3) Culture: The traditional and conservative culture that still exists makes 30-somethings in the US come back home to raise their kids.
(4) Divinity: As the gateway to the South, Chennai, and specially the surrounding districts have a reasonable number of very old temples to attract visitors!
(5) Education: Many people move in from up North as well as from the states since the basic schooling here is very good – some of the best computer education CBSE schools are based out of here! Chennai always seems to top in the Std. X and XII CBSE exams!
(6) Filmy Duniya: Some of the best artistes in acting, music, cinematography, dance and direction are based out of Chennai! If they can put their minds together, they may put up something worthy of the Oscars (some day!)

(1) Ayyo Amma: This obviously does not refer to any individual amma but you know who...
(2) Baashai: The love for the language has its negative connotations many a time in the form of arguments in Tamil with non-Tamils to increase BP levels of the listener.
(3) Cheri – The tamil word for slums: They are anywhere and everywhere and government turning a blind eye to them means they get a free hand to disrupt traffic and play jarring music aloud!
(4) Dressing Sense: The hopeless jeans-chappals combinations of the average male and the highly arbitrary colored chudidhaars of our females may give competition to many! But Chennai does have a great saree collection!
(5) Expenditure: Spending on infrastructure is so poor (except for the long overdue IT Highway) that the whole city has taken a big hit and every nook and corner has started witnessing a traffic jam.
(6) Filth: Despite Onyx and the likes, the levels of “kuppai” at various parts in the city is increasing alarmingly. If something is not done about the same, it will become a breeding ground for not just chicken guniya mosquitoes but many more such varieties.

Would be interesting to see similar SWOT analysis for other cities as well...

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Life from the other side...

In our software services industry be it whatever company we are working in, we are so busy with our day-to-day activities and engrossed with our work, I wondered if we ever bothered to think about life from the point of view of the people whom we encounter daily – the bus drivers, the pantry operators, the house-keeping staff, the security folks, the dhaba servers and even our own co-employees! The following post is an attempt (in jest) to highlight some of the grievances that these people may have (more often than not against us!). In the process, there would be a tendency to obviously go over-board! So bear with that please!!

First let us talk about life from our side…

A Leaf out of a typical S/W professional’s diary…
Yo Man! What a hectic day it has been! I almost missed the damn bus – the driver was as usual early by a couple of minutes! He was as slow as a tortoise to the office – thanks to him I reached office just in time for a detailed meeting with my grumpy boss and my team. Oh God - what all the man wants in a single day. Impossible to deliver! After the meeting, I went to my seat and found that there were tons of extremely critical mails to look at. By the time I had responded to those and started working on the day’s tasks, it was around 11:00 am. Then it was lunch time and treat time too since it was my boss’ birthday. Stingy guy – he only took us to the nearly dhaba but food was anyways good! They had everything that crawls, flies, swims or walks on this earth! That was the best part of the day. I then came back and had a strong coffee to stimulate the creative elements in myself! I worked again till around 5:00 pm when we had an important conference call with onsite. Long call it was with lots of discussions. Finally the call ended and we had to finish off the pending work. I was just in time for the 7:30 bus. I am now back home and writing this diary…

Now let us look at life from the other side…

Snapshots from diaries of the other people*
*1 – If they had maintained diaries at all
*2 – In many cases may be translated to English for the sake of the reader

Bus Driver: What a painful day! To add to my traffic woes, the company security has put some new rule that all buses should reach office by 8:30 am. And people take their own sweet team in each stop - “Wait for 2 more mins please”- Oh my God, how many people give me this dialogue everyday. And today to top it all - one idiot who can’t ever get into bus on time, stopped the bus right at the signal. If I had not stopped, this guy will create a big ruckus with the transport department. Painful…

Housekeeping Staff: What gluttons we have in this company! In the morning, this team in my wing met up for a long time. Everyone had a coffee in one hand and a packet of Lays or something in the other. And they act like kids with their food and drink. Chips were strewn all around on the table and coffee cups were lying all around the trash can. Conference rooms have become munching havens nowadays! Next day they do this in a team meeting, I am going to kick them all.

Trainee sitting next seat: Man, I thought only I keep getting forwards from my batch-mates but these experienced guys also get so much forwards. This guy sitting next to my seat spent probably one hour in the morning just going through all his forwards. The fool even takes time out to forward those chain mails asking you to forward the mail to 50 people so that they can see God that night!

Server at the nearby dhaba: It’s a big enough pain to manage the shouting lady and her loud son. On top of that, we have extremely loud customers whose decibel levels keep increasing for every 1 second the poor chicken waits before it gets into their mouth! Since they come as groups, they all want to take a crack at the chicken and start pouncing on the plate even before I keep it on the table. Hungry (real) pigs would behave better!

Pantry Guy: How much thought these people put into one small cup of coffee! Like the guy today afternoon who asked for a super-strong coffee with less sugar. Even after two or three attempts, the coffee didn’t seem strong enough for him. Why can’t he have black coffee directly instead of paining me?

Employees from surrounding seats: What all these people discuss in conference calls – that too putting the loud-speaker at full volume. 90% of the time goes in talking about the weather in Pittsburgh, the cricket match in Malaysia, the waistline increase of the person who just returned from onsite, the latest Rajinikanth movie etc. Oh I wish I could be part of these productive calls!

Security at the gate: They have the time to see so many cricket and bollywood sites, don’t they have the time to see our own intranet to look at the buses that go near their house? Asking me which bus out of 100 buses goes to Abithakuchalambal Nagar. As if I am some manual Google for them…

Any more leaflets from diaries you can think of, please do post them as comments!!!

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

The Indian cricket team in an IT company

After the extremely dismal performance in the world cup, our cricket team is back and cooling its heels amidst stone and tomato throws at them and their houses. Let us look at a hypothetical situation where this Indian cricket team is recruited into any IT company… The following article looks at the different characters we have in the team and how well they fit into the different roles and people that any IT company services would have!

  • Sehwag: Kicked around resource - Was moved around in six different roles in one year to give an indication that he improve his work or quit; Has lost a lot of hair in moving around the different jobs but it has still not got into his head to go and find a different job.
  • Tendulkar: Technical Career Path (TCP) Member - Long-time member of “Tendulkar Cricketing Path (TCP)” which is very strong on paper but is very weak practically; High time something is done to also show results practically else at least the hype around the whole path can be reduced.
  • Dravid: MBA grad - He is the front face of the team and talks very well but actually does not have a clue what to do with the team; Is the wall of the team many times in client facing roles abroad and has helped the team conquer a lot of foreign lands
  • Laxman: Module leader – Too slow to run and do any work and typically watches from one end as associates come deliver their work from the other end and go; Stays on till the end but does not seem to do any useful work.
  • Ganguly: Company alumnus – Was a bad performer initially, got the message, quit and went off somewhere else before returning soon at a higher post and much better pay and recognition for a perceivably higher value though the quality of work was how it should be for anyone part of the team.
  • Kaif & Raina: Forced Attrition - Got two consecutive lowest appraisal ratings after miserable performances over lengthy times and have been kicked out of the company.
  • Dinesh Karthick: Fresh trainee - All enthusiastic after topping college and performing very well in all entry trainee tests and is also shining in his first project.
  • Zaheer Khan: Onsite return - Pretty useless initially at offshore and was hence packed off to onsite but has now returned and is working with fresh vigor after having faced solid bashing by client at onsite.
  • Irfan Pathan: Rejected trainee - Rejected after the training program on account of extremely pathetic performance even in the training grounds leave alone actual projects and hence sent back to college to re-learn his fundamentals.
  • Anil Kumble – The typical IT company technical associate – The old warhorse of the whole team and keeps fighting in all encounters year after year despite win or loss however old he gets; Signifies the true fighting spirit of the team always… But has now retired after being dumped all work as well as the blame when things didnt go well.
  • Harbhajan Singh – Offshore great but onsite hate – Has performed splendidly at home turf winning a lot for the team but then performs so poorly at client site that he’d rather never be shown in front of the client and better left at offshore.


  • Greg Chapell: Project Manager – Talks a lot and promises a lot but when it comes to final delivery has a special knack of goofing up. Realized that he was going to be fired for the huge goof-up and so put in his papers immediately!
  • Krishnamachari Srikanth: Quality Group Member – Analyzes every bit to the utmost unnecessary level of detail and is very good at finding fault with everything…

Any more of our Indian players that you can think of in such situations, do post in the comments!!!

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