India and the software coolies: When do we learn ?

How many times will the following scenario be played out before we figure out the foolishness of it:

A small team in an Indian MNC is working on a project for a customer.

The customer has just seen a demo of a prototype and goes “Guys, I need this in two weeks time and I honestly do not feel that you will be ready with the final thing in two weeks. So how about, you keep working on this and we take another hack at it next month ?”

Team-lead senses that the customer is losing interest in the project and panics. (What if my team loses this project ? what if the customer picks another vendor)

Team-lead tells the customer: “No guys, I am sure we will have the whole thing ready in a week. You can then take a look at it and take a call. If you do not like it in a week and a half from today, you can go ahead with your back-up plan.”

Team members grimace. They are thinking: “This is 4 weeks of work. Going for it in a week and a half means late nights and weekends ! No man…why doesnt the customer just say no !”

Customer is still a little worried. Customer goes: “Really, are you sure ? I mean, isn’t it easier to plan for next month ? I am sure it is a lot of work…”

Team-lead cuts the customer short and says: “No folks, this work will not take that long. We have experts in this area. In fact, our team is full of experts”

Team members grimace more visibly, but there is still no sound from them.

Customer has now relapsed into what-do-I-care and he-will-not-listen-to-me modes. Customer goes: “OK then guys, let us set up a meeting in a week and a half and see what we have got”

Team says the good-byes and goes into a huddle.

Team-lead shouts over the pack: “This is a question of prestige for us. We have to show them what we are capable of. These customers are just worried about losing their jobs. If we complete this project, everything will be done by the system. That is why these folks want to delay the work.”

Team member A says: “Boss, but this is four weeks of work. Plus, we are not giving any time for understanding the requirements, testing, trial-runs, pilots. The system will not be ready in a week and a half.”

Team-lead says: “No, no. Do not worry. We will sit over the weekend and test it. I am ready to come over the weekend. I will provide you everything you need: pizzas, extra machines, more software licenses…whatever is needed, I will get it.”

A says: “Boss, it is not a question of working hard. All I am worried about is that we will prepare the system in a hurry and there will be a lot of things that we will miss out in that hurry. Unless someone from the business does a thorough testing for a week or two, at the very least, we will not be able to weed out most of the bugs. This is a complicated software with a large prospective audience. We may need more….”

Team member B says : “Boss, I have the same feelings that A has. He may have a point…”

Team members C,D,E and F mumble something about agreeing themselves.

Team-lead puts up a frustrated expression: “God ! And I thought my team was full of optimistic go-getters..! What a shame ! All those perks, promotions that our GM was promising if we delivered this project this time…”

Team again grimaces.

C says: “Maybe, if we can all pitch in…maybe if we can all get our heads and hearts together…I … I am ready to work for this. I will be available when you need me: weekends, late nights, early mornings…I am ready.”

D, E and F murmur assent, again.

A says: “Hold on guys! I am ready to work weekends too…but that will not solve this problem. This software needs time to mature….”

B says: “Come on A…if we have committed to the customer, we have to do it. There is no other option. You can always take a break once we deliver this. We cannot back out now !”

C says: “Yeah, B is right ! We can move mountains if we are ready to sweat it out. Impossible is nothing..!”

D, E and F murmur again. Nobody knows if they are saying yes or no.

A says: “But guys…”

Team-lead: “That is the spirit guys…let us go for it ! I am really proud of you. Let us not waste any more time in these meetings. Let us get to work…we have a lot to achieve. A, you need to be a little more optimistic, man !”

Everyone leaves the room. A goes to his cubicle, types into his computer … klickety klack…klack…klickety…

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