Managing Indian Resources from outside

The other day I was interviewing this guy for a part time web content development consulting project. This guy is very sharp, young (about 25 years) and based in INDIA. Since I am based in USA, I usually chat online using yahoo messenger. I was interviewing him for my company’s BPO operations. I was interested in outsourcing some content development for this website. I wanted him to develop one page content  for every BPO company in our directory.

The chat went like this:

Day one:

Me: I want one page profile for each CRM company. I need the description, service offerings and Contact information.
Candidate: No problem sir, I can do that.
Me: How much will you charge per page? you may need to spend around X minutes per page
Candidate: sir I have no idea
Me: well you know you can do X pages per day so divide your daily rate by X
Candidate: sir let me do the work first and you can pay based on how I did
Me: I don’t work like that. I need to know before so I can sign a contract for you
Candidate: hmm.. I don’t know
Me: how about Rupees XX per page?
Candidate: ok sir I can do that
Me: Great, I’ll send you the statement of work. Can you start working from tomorrow?
Candidate: Sure, sir I can do that.
Me: Great we will chat again tomorrow.

That night I sent him the statement of work, by email. Next day I was hoping to see few web pages developed.

Day two:

Me: So did you get a chance to go thru the document I sent you?
Candidate: yes sir, I did.
Me: I haven’t received any content from you
Candidate: sorry sir, I am bit busy
Me: Thats fine, when can I expect to see some pages?
Candidate: sir, I just moved into this new apartment. I have to do all work like cleaning, cooking
Me: You did not answer my question
Candidate: sir I did not understand
Me: I mean, when can I expect to see some work
Candidate: sir I’ll tell u tomorrow
Me: fair enough
Me: deliverables for tomorrow: 1. You will tell me when you will be able to start the work
Candidate: sure sir
Me: can we chat tomorrow morning? Say around 8 AM?
Candidate: sir the internet shop will not be open by then
Me: Ok lets chat again same time tomorrow night.

The moral of the story is, as a manager of outsourced resources, you need to:

  • Be very clear on dates and times. Many Indians programmers do not have clear sense of time. Especially the less experienced. They tend to measure time by words like “soon”, “shortly”, etc. Do not succumb to that. When they say soon, ask how soon. Qualify that ‘soon’ with an exact date and preferably a time.
  • Always negotiate the money first. Never agree to let them finish the job first. On the other hand never pay in advance, unless you have done business with them before.
  • In India, work day begins at 10 in the morning. Generally all shops are closed till around 10 AM. So the preferred time to do business is 10AM to 8PM. Yes they stay late! Generally many Indians in ITES and BPO services Industry work long hours from 10AM to 8PM every weekday including Saturday. Sunday is the only holiday. Average work week is about 50 to 60 hours.
  • Even though Indian programmers have different  work culture, the rewards are very high if one can understand them and learn to work with them. Be patient and try to slowly transform them to suit to your work culture. They are very adept at transformation and learn new things quick.
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