Saturday, January 06, 2007

“How many people report into you?”

This is what a Project Leader asks another when they meet up at a general body meeting. It could be happening in any big software services company in Bangalore. You are measured by how many people report into you. If you have 12 people ‘under’ you, then you feel superior to another project leader who has 10 people ‘under’ him. ‘Growth’ is the increase in the number of people who report into you. A Division Head with 60 people under him feels more powerful, successful, and accomplished compared to another Division Head with 30 people under him. The number of people reporting into you is the direct indicator of your success. Soon, every Project Leader wants to ensure his team size increases. Every Project Manager wants to increase his team size. So on.

What you end up with is a mechanism which is continuously increasing the ranks of the company. Every Project Leader, Project Manager and the Division Head wants to project that he needs more people. When the mindset is to increase the team size, reasons come out plenty why you need them. Soon, you have an inflated industry, bloated companies, all perpetuating the notion that it needs more people.

A task that can be done by two people in reality is done by eight people. That’s because if you make it work with two people, there’s no reward for it. A services organization does not earn enough. However, if you make it work with eight people, then you are doing something good, because now you earn more for the company. So, in effect, you weed out those leaders who are capable of delivering the same task with less people, and promote and reward those leaders who do the same task with more people.

So, what do you end up with? Leaders, managers and heads who are adept and proficient in projecting more engineers for a task than what is actually needed.

And when this phenomenon happens in every team, every division, every company, what do you get? You get Bangalore! A city filled with thousands of software engineers who get jobs because someone up there wants to feel he/she has succeeded.


Maverick said...

Hmmm I would not have expected you to object to this issue ! After all the more people reporting => the more jobs getting created => all the supporters of non-merit based jobs should be ecstatic, all the lower castes that you are a champion for will not need to work so hard to get jobs. After all since all that the lower castes can do is cry that there are no jobs (I have not heard of any SC/ST saying they are capable of taking care of themselves) - atleast now that low skill jobs are available, as they have not really managed to get any skills in the last 60 years, you guys should not have any issues.

Sujai K said...

You make lot of assumptions about me to conclude that I shouldn't object to this :)

First, I described the phenomenon as practiced in services industry leading to inflated number of jobs. Second, I never said or opined that lower caste students or engineers would get jobs even if they need not work (because of reservations).

Making wrong assumptions and then coming to wrong conclusions based on those wrong assumptions is something that I do not encourage- not even in my blogs. It brings in irrationality.

Rajiv said...

oh.. there is a similar joke in developer circles. here it goes.

a software engg is waiting for his train. a beggar comes up to him and asks

"which platform are you working on?"

Sahodaran said...

What you said is very true, our Services companies are not at all efficient. Under my manager there are about 30 people, and I believe 10 technically sound, common sensical people could have done this easily, efficiently.

Sadly, I find common sense to be lacking in many of my team mates. For most, "technical knowledge"= J2EE. All in the rat race of gaining appreciation-- too many people, too little work, lots of back bites...


It seems, since they (MNCs) are getting such cheap labour, they are not at all caring about efficiency. I say a two commands will do this, but my tech lead says we will run the 700 line script in two parts, and will claim for 1 FTP(one full time person month).Since the client is too careless about 1 FTP of Indian labour, we got it sanctioned.

Anonymous said...

I think this is a common phenomenon in regions of high propulation/density. For instance, in Atlanta, GA, there is a "valet" service in practically every restaurant you go to but I have never seen a valet in Canada.

Indian IT is (1) experiencing very sudden and steep growth and (2) The Indian mentality is to "promote" people when they have put in a certain number of years or grow to a certain age. But you cannot promote people if the base of the pyramid is not expanding. This is working for India right now.

But costs of outsourcing continue to rise and, before long, a company overseas will be able to effectively pay only the equivalent of 1 or 1.5 FTE for work that should be assigned to 1 FTE.

Then the structure collapses and these idiots fall flat on their faces.

This SC/ST story is bullshit - people should be employed if they can produce something of value, not because they are in need.

To each to his ability and not to each to his need.

Veera said...

Mr Maverick must be "Manager"(good shepherd) from an outsourcing company who must have worked earlier with indian Gov or Public sector.