By no means is it the intent of this Blog post or the intent of the author to disparage the great Republic of India and its people. How could anyone disparage a nation that has the most populous democracy, eleventh largest economy and a population of 1.2 billion people. The intent of this Blog is to comment on one single market segment that of engineering / IT outsourcing, which has proven to be difficult due to many factors.
With the recent volume of comments stating, “I can hire a firm in India for much less than what you charge,” I decided to provide some insight into outsourcing software development to India. It is true that a common software engineer’s hourly rate is around $20 in India, but what are you really getting? Although the Indian firm will state that a $20/hour engineer is qualified and is comparable to a senior engineer in the U.S. at a rate of $100/hour, the fact is that in most cases you end up with a super junior engineer (just out of college) that will most likely leave his job as there is around 50% employee turnover in India within the software engineering services market segment. The common result is that one experienced engineer at $100/hour has more value and will be more efficient with project-time than five or more $20/hour engineers in India, half of which who will likely not be there for you at the end of your project.
Hopefully the previous paragraph sheds some light on the nature of resource quality, true cost and project-time in India; however, there are other aspects to also consider. Let’s next take a look at the day-to-day working on an outsourced project in India. Let’s take the language barrier out of the equation as Indian engineers are becoming more effective in communicating in English. Software development is an intense social process with significant interaction by a development team. Although IM, Skype, Web conferencing, etc. are great communication tools, there really is no good time to talk to India from North America. Development involves complex ideas, critical decisions, creative processes and the nuts and bolts building of a solid software system. Therefore outsourcing to India in my opinion is risky. 24-hour development team response rates, which are typical of India firms, are just not acceptable; the complex and creative nature of development simply does not benefit from significant delays in response times.
The spark of ingenuity needs constant focus otherwise that flame may never light.