Offshoring Development — My Thoughts

The other day I noticed a posting on LinkedIn, in the Lotus Notes/Domino Technology group by a Joseph Roblee asking "Does anyone know of a talented offshore Domino 8.5 development group you can put me in contact with?"

I find it interesting that Mr. Roblee, who happens to live in Austin, TX, is looking at India when there are so many US developers looking for jobs”…” I wonder what his neighbors (a simple google search for his name reveals an address in Cedar Park, a suburb of Austin) would say if they were told that their nice neighbor is exporting jobs away from the US, while the country has record high unemployment.

Perhaps I will see him at Lotusphere, because surely "one of the leading Lotus Notes developers in the United States" will be there”…”

I notice that Mr. Roblee proudly tells that he got an MBA (as well as MCSE). I know a CEO who went back to school to get his MBA, and he came back with the "knowledge" that one can hire brilliant developers in India, with MBA and higher degrees, for $5/hr or similar. Is that is what is being taught in MBA trainings across the US?

There are a number of responses/comments to his posting from people who either have Indian sounding names or identify themselves as from India (as well as a few from Latvia, South Africa and some other countries). What I heard from people who actually been involved in offshore development is that the culture is very different in India. You have to be aware of that. Not oly is the actual development process different, other cultural differences also comes into play. If you are not aware of those, and have a very strong project leader, the project can easily get larger/longer/more expensive that projected.

Also, from judging at what I been reading in the past in the (now pretty dead) usenet newsgroup comp.groupware.lotus-notes.programmer (and to some lesser extent in the DeveloperWorks forums), it seems like many of the most basic questions came from people with Indian sounding names, or identifying themselves as from India. Often the question is extremely basic, or showing that the person has no clue about what Notes is or how it works. There is often a comments saying "I never programmed Notes before, but I was put in this project for a client”…”" or similar, the proceeding how to do relational lookups or similar. To me that sounds like they took on a project, and now want the very same people they just put out of a job to do the training or actual work for them”…”

I also found it very interesting that Kirankumar Nellore from Bengalure [sic!] is commenting and trying to get the business from Mr Roblee. In another Lotus-related group on LinkedIn, he asks What is difference between lotus notes normal application and composite application??. Shouldn´t a certified Notes developer and administartor (as he claim he is) know that? Or am I just setting the bar too high for what the certification indicates?

I can understand the lure for business owners to save a few dollars by developing a project in say India. But the loss for the US is greater. Americans lose their jobs, and this will eventually force the taxes to be increased for everyone to cover unemployment. The interest rates to borrow at the bank will be higher du to the increased number of foreclosures when people lose their jobs. And of course the loss of knowledge. We all know that if you don´t work with something, you get behind and lose knowledge.

So the companies makes a profit while the tax payers foot the bill. Why not add a "offshoring tax" for companies to cover the additional cost for the country? Any US-based company, or company with a major US presence (say more than 10,000 employees or more than 25% of the workforce in the US), who employs a call center or development department/company outside the US will pay an additional tax. I will leave it to the bean counters to decide the actual amount, perhaps 5% of the profit before taxes and deductions? Perhaps 10%? Since money is the only thing CEOs seem to understand, hit them where it hurts since they can´t do The Right Thing without being forced”…”

For the record, I have nothing against people from India or any other countries. But I think it is wrong to export jobs from any country when there is high unemployment.


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