This post is a rude reminder to all of us involved in outsourcing. Just a few weeks ago I talked about fundamental laws of outsourcing (FLO). And yet I just escaped from being hit hard by one of them, the ominous Second FLO, by the skin of my teeth. Quick note – the second FLO as the same as the second law of thermodynamic – entropy always increases. In offshore outsourcing the second FLO exhibits itself as consistent degradation of quality of services in absence of non-stop energy applied from the on-shore.
In this particular case it was about sourcing. I have an agreement with my current provider that I can interview any resources prior to them being assigned to the project and I can stop that assignment from happening solely on the results of the interview. I have to say that is a somewhat unusual agreement – most of the vendors would fight tooth and nail against it; that did not stop me on many of my contracts though.
Anyway, my vendor has been good in many respects, with quality of the resources being one of the top. So when I did not see any red flags on the resumes of a couple developers about to be assigned to the project I was ready to give the green light. I am not sure what stopped me and why I decided to interview them. But as soon as I asked for the interview all kinds of red flags stared coming up: scheduling delays, preparation phrases, language and cultural difference discussions… Making the long story short interviews were a complete disaster: the guys were not only exceptionally green, they did not have the foundations I was looking for, no grip on technology, no relevant background… they were good guys ready to learn. Sorry, but I do not pay for on-the job training…
So what happen? Why my trusted partner was about to put these spring chickens on my project? Well, just because. The second fundamental law of outsourcing is as strong as the gravity laws. You know, you can fight the laws of gravity as long as you want and yet you will end up with you face in the dirt… Uninspected deteriorates. [Dwight David Eisenhower]
Here is a metaphor for your consideration. A long time ago I was in the far north of Siberia, in Eskimo country. I saw an amazing event there – sleds led by sixpacks of reindeer were competing in a traditional race. That was indeed a fun race and a very vigorous exercise for the jockeys – they had to use a very long stick to control the deer, and make them run. Interesting thing about those deer – they do not run if you do not hit them, and, unlike horses, they would stop the second you stop hitting them. So the only way for the jockey to win the race is hit them non stop all the way to the finish line. Little did I know that many years later I would have to use the same technique on all my offshore engagements.