I was thinking about the nature of quality in IT work and came across an interesting white paper by IDC, sponsored by Wipro, that’s worth reading. It provides four brief case studies, including one about an international forest products company (must be Weyerhaeuser) that stated that the firm doesn’t include quality as a requirement in its outsourcing contracts, because it’s a “somewhat subjective criterion.” Instead there’s an underlying assumption that the service providers it works with will be quality minded.
What’s interesting to me -- and kinda cool -- is what’s encompassed by the concept of “quality” by this client. Some things you’d guess: “meeting cost and scheduling requirements,” for example. Those are aspects of the work you can quantify. But other aspects are important too: having a good work ethic and being courteous and flexible. I don’t know about you, but those things are really important to me in the day to day interactions of a business.
The paper proves handy in another way too. It includes a single-page encapsulation of these terms: ISO 9000, CMM, PCMM, CMMI and Six Sigma. Useful if you need to learn some talking points about the concepts before you start talking with service providers (who are bound to fling them about with wild abandon).
The one problem I have with CIO’s latest “Outsourcing World Tour 2004,” which is otherwise highly informative, is that it doesn’t include a rundown on the U.S. among the countries covered. Since most companies in this country outsource to other companies in this country, it makes sense to evaluate this country as part of the comparison. To fill the gap, I offer my own write-up, though without access to the same sources used by the CIO editors:
United States Leader
Geopolitical risk: 1 ticking bomb
English proficiency: 3 stars
Average programmer salary: $$$
Pros: Business-friendly environment, though some states are more attractive than others by varying standards. Excellent pool of engineering talent. Well-educated workforce. World-renowned universities. Diverse economy. Many multi-nationals headquartered here. English and a potpourri of other languages widely spoken. Everybody knows the time difference between the West coast and the East coast.
Cons: Unions do silly things at times. Corporate integrity is tough to find at times. The hotbeds for technical genius are frequently also the most expensive places to live, work and hire.
Insider tip: Offer the wages you’re willing to pay on the big tech job sites and you’re bound to find takers. After all, the citizenry is a creative, can-do lot!