What They Mean When They Say….

they [th ey] Indian Software Development Teams

We do Extreme Programming:- We pair a fresh recruit with an old timer to get the recruit familiar with company process and procedures.
We closely interact with the development team in US:- We fix their defects and ask them to review the fixes.
We work hard and play hard:- We come in late, loiter around the coffee machine during day time and work late nights to match US/EU timings.
We are a product development team:- We manage the release and patches.
We use the latest tools:- The latest version of Notepad.
We build products:- Someone gives us a specification and we do the implementation.

Developer Productivity

One thing Indian software manager does not understand is developer productivity.

Imagine developing and maintaining a 750K loc (lines of code) java project with Notepad/Wordpad and Ant. Yes this is really the situation in a well known financial concern with its development office in Bangalore. The reason: corporate IT approved IDE is Intellij IDEA. Indian manager does not want to spend $500/license to get IDEA. And the team can’t use Eclipse or Netbeans, since the monthly IT audit flags these installations as policy violations.

After hearing the above story, I did an unofficial survey of my friends about how many of their teams used paid software for development. The result, surprising was less than 10%. Even in these cases the client mandated the use of the paid software

One of the reasons for not using paid tools is the cost of these tools compared to developer salaries. $500 is a significant amount of money in the Indian context. Unfortunately, the Indian manager does not realize that the loss in productivity is significant when not using the right tools (Think print statements for debugging instead of a debugger). When faced with lower productivity from dev team, the Indian manager tends to respond by throwing in more developers or pushing existing developers to work late hours (that has its own problems). The result is low quality software with high maintenance overheads.

Note:Though developer productivity is a difficult to measure metric, productivity difference between a developer using Notepad and one using Eclipse is significant.

Sujai Karampuri’s – Need Product Companies for India’s Growth

Sujai Karampuri has posted a blog entry on “Need Product Companies for India’s Growth”.

The author makes the case that to be able to scale to become a global economic power we need to go beyond the IT service model and step into technology products model. Unfortunately, in the last 1yr, I have seen little evidence of that. Sure there are startups coming up here and there, but few are coming up with technology products. In facts less than 10% of the people in IT industry I met in the last 1 yr work in product companies. And none of them worked for an Indian product company.

There are a few people I know who work in product development teams of US companies, but even among them there is a distinct lack of true ownership of product development. (I will write about that in another entry).

So what does it take to make that leap?