Thursday, November 30, 2006

Technology Companies - Do you need technical sales executive?

I come across employees with non-technical role, in a technology organization who are not even slightly technically inclined. Some examples:

- One executive is responsible for sales through some specific pages on an e-commerce site. Being a sales executive, he found no reason to be technically inclined. Every time, I ask him to open the page, he will go back to an email (no google desktop used here) to locate the mail and go to the page. He gets doubly confused between a QA Server and a production server URLs.

- A Manager banned IM for his team as he was not comfortable using IM. I prefer IM for short 2 line conversation. If a conversation extends beyond two lines, I would pick up the phone or walk up to the other person and discuss.

- Another executive who was responsible for product merchandising and accounting of sales needed a techy to do the formula for her monthly reports in Excel. She wouldn't sign up for classes and took the easy route to the solution by asking for help.

- A senior manager consistently sends out documents with spelling errors for commonly used words and doesn't care to hit F7 before saving the document.

- A top guy asks the people around for my mobile number everytime he needs to talk to me.

When these people are hired, they are not obviously hired for their technical skills. They are expected to do what they are hired for - namely sales or business development. But since the organization is technical (where considerable sale happens through e-commerce), their lack of interest in picking up these skills adversely affects the technology team.

It is necessary for the technical team to help out these people for smooth running of the organization. This affects the planned activities for the team. Technical team is expected to be more responsible in figuring out what to do when software requirements are not clear. This affects the overall quality of software and timely delivery. Overall, the team that is responsible for innovation is expected to play technical support role.

I hope this is a problem specific to only Indian technology companies that have a sizable number non-technical employees.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Joel on Software

Joel on Software

Agreed for most part. Except that the restart button is essential. Even with a restart option I wait nervously every time I need to reboot the server in Virginia remotely from Chennai, India.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Outsourcing Software Development

No, we are not getting into the debate on offshoring or bangaloring a job. Let's talk about the quality of consulting companies in general.

I had worked on either side of outsourcing. It is common for consulting companies to bid low and jack up the cost as the project progresses. It is like the Chennai auto guys demanding more when you are nearing the destination. The Biz Dev team doesn't care about correctness of estimate just as the developer does not care about the correctness of code.

I come across problems that could have been nicely sorted out had the developers been a bit enterprising in looking out for solution in search engines. Because of such a quality of developers, both the parties face loss. The consulting company's loss is low billed time as against the actual time taken by the developers to solve the problem. Customer's loss is on lost opportunity or on living with non-optimal systems.

Consulting companies have a tight grip on Internet access and do not encourage its people to look out for solutions by others. Customers get an illusion that the work is progressing faster by cutting down on wasteful browsing or chats.

Google Co-op - Custom Search Engine

Google Co-op - Custom Search Engine

Looks like Google is going over-board on Search integration just like MS did with their OS integration with IE. Somehow I get a feeling that this is similar to the failed ideas like Active Desktop, push technology, HTML like interface for desktop folders etc.,

Google involvement in every aspect of the web can soon become a pain and a number of such initiatives are bound to be failures. I just hope Google doesn't become a web equivalent of MS.

Monotony can be just as bad as monopoly.