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Tag Archives: Collaboration

Few reasons why you should think twice before offshoring your operations?


If you could hire 4-5 people in China for the same salary that you give to 1 employee in the US, why wouldn’t you offshore your work to China? Doesn’t it seem like a perfect plan to save some recurring operating costs? Trust me; it might not be as easy as you think. Apart from obvious major risks like language barriers, culture differences, and copyright infringement; there are various other risks that can make your offshore venture a failure. In this blog, I will put some light on some of those hidden issues.

Increase in travel expenses: Most of the armature businesses will measure the success of their offshore project through the reduction in their recurring operating costs in the US. Often that performance metrics doesn’t take the overhead costs, such as traveling, in to the consideration. Successful outsourcing requires significant face time during the launch phase to establish the rules of engagement and regularly thereafter to maintain the relationship. And these costs greatly increase as both the client and the offshore supplier make lengthy and expensive trips.

High turnover: With more and more companies moving their workforce to India, China, and Brazil; the demand for offshore workers increases, so do their wages. Salaries in India, for example, are increasing by double digits almost every year. For some overseas locations in China, employee turnover is extremely high sometimes as much as 50%­ as employees are regularly recruited away from their current jobs. For a knowledge-based function such as software development, this high amount of turnover can be disastrous in the long run.

Negative ROI: On an average, it takes approximately 3-5 years before one can see the same amount of productivity from their offshore team. Research has shown that although the advertised savings for offshoring were around 60-80%, actual savings of 0-20% were common and in many cases it was negative. Most of the businesses fail to consider the additional costs that are required to increase their management and training efforts, so that they can have the same level of quality in their end product.

Of course, not everything is bad about offshoring. In my next blog post, I will discuss few ideas about……’why you should consider offshoring’. Until then, if you have any other ideas or comments about offshoring, then please feel free to share it here on my blog. Thanks – Bhavin Gandhi

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New manager’s guide for the inventory check


Have you ever taken over a completely new team? Have you ever had a hard time in finding out what your team has to offer? Well…. in this blog I am going to talk about how to assess your team’s inventory as a new Manager.

Human capital: Most of the new managers always start their inventory count by assessing their tangible items first. For example: computers, machine parts, etc. I would definitely recommend against it. As a new manager and a new member of the team, one should  familiarize himself with all the team members in the group. You should identify their job description, skill sets, work history, recent projects, and major accomplishments. Find out under what circumstances your team will be given access to any additional human resources, such as outside contractors or assistance from other teams. Find out under what circumstances human resources will be drawn away from your group or reassigned to other teams.

Raw materials and office supply: Once you are done with all the human resource information, you should start assessing all the tangible items available to you. For example: computers, furniture, special equipment, office supplies, work space, hardware, software, etc. You should also identify finished products on hand, and try to get estimated values of those products (if possible). While you are going through the process, it would be nice if you can identify future inventory requirements for your current projects. This will not only help you in better forecasting your inventory needs, but it will also give you an idea of how efficiently your raw materials are used.

Shared inventory: Most of the managers fail to count their shared inventory during this process. I would recommend not to do that. Try to determine if there are any other managers who have ownership over any parts of your team’s current projects. If there are, then you can introduce yourself to these managers so that you can begin to develop good working relationships with them. Ask these other managers to explain how your roles intersect and overlap; ask them to describe what they expect you to do (and not do).

Future supply: Once you are done assessing existing supply, you need to identify any new initiatives that your team has planned for the future. What does your team plan to focus on? When do they plan to begin these new initiatives, and when do they hope to finish them? What business need are they trying to serve? Etc. This will not only help you to better predict your future inventory needs, but it will also help you to determine a roadmap for your team.

How would you access your inventory, if you took over a completely new team?

Thanks – Bhavin Gandhi

 
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Posted by on April 30, 2012 in 21st Century, Leadership, Management

 

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Manager’s Guide: How can I make it easier for a new hire to transition in my group? (Part 2)


classic-booksIn my last blog post, I have discussed few ways through which you can make your new hire understand your company’s goals and objectives. In this blog, I will provide you some tips on how you can make your new hire acquainted to your team culture and communication channels.

Talk about the rules: After you have explained your strategic objectives and work culture, now it’s time for you to explain her about your expectations. Some of the managers leave it unsaid. But I prefer to talk to all of my employees about the performance expectations. In this way, they can specifically know what they have signed up for, and you can avoid having performance improvement talks later. You can start this conversation by establishing clear goals and priorities for her; and then you can progress towards expected employee’s behavior, your feedback process, and how her work will be evaluated. Don’t forget to outline the path through which you will help her to be successful.

The Team: Providing an understanding of the team’s roles and responsibilities is very key to the new hire’s success. This will make sure that she doesn’t step on someone’s foot, and she can know who is ultimately responsible and who has the decision making authority. During this discussion, you should explain her how your team supports company’s goals and objectives. This will give her the overall picture of your team, and where it fits in to the organization. And yeah! Don’t forget to discuss the procedures & norms under which your team operates. For example: Our team follows an agile development process, where each engineer is paired with one another team member for the development of a particular feature. Last but not the least, identify the people who can help her during her first few months in the company, and how they prefer to communicate.

Communication: Being a software development manager for years, I have seen various managers failed to provide this information to their employees. As a result, you have a new geeky employee who got herself acquainted to only e-mails, and you have to wait for her e-mail response for feedback. Thus, I would advise you to have these conversations beforehand. Convey to your new employee how you would prefer to be communicated, and what should be the frequency of those communications. For example: I expect an e-mail response within 1-2 hours. In case of a blocking issue, I want you to call me up instead of waiting for me to reply to your e-mail. And yeah! Explain how your employees prefer to communicate with themselves.

I hope these tips will help you to become a better manager by providing a clear direction for your newly hired employee. In the next blog post, I will be discussing about how to familiarize your new hire with the growth opportunities within your organization.

Let me know, if you have any other ideas through which you can help your employees to easily transition to your company. Thanks. – Bhavin Gandhi

 
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Posted by on March 5, 2012 in 21st Century, Leadership, Management

 

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Where will you use written communication over in-person communication?


DocumentsI recently opened up my Google+ account like any other tech fanatic. And one of the feature that got my attention was – Google’s Hangout. I have never seen more than 4 users video chatting at the same time without a premium account (whatever service it maybe). Though this hangout feature got my attention, I don’t think that today’s generation of SMSs and Tweets will use this feature extensively. I might be wrong, people might use this technology extensively and we might find a new generation of “Hangouters”. But this is too soon to predict anything. The only thing that I can say with confidence is – why people prefer SMSs, Tweets, and e-mails instead of in-person talk, phone calls, and meetings. Following are few situations, where people would rather prefer written communication over in-person communication.

Language barrier: As a part of my job, I manage various individuals from different locations. One of the team that reports to me is located in China. While they are very intelligent and technically sound, they have one short coming of speaking English properly. They normally understand my pronunciation of English, but I mostly have a hard time in listing their English pronunciation. Even after closely listening, I miss some sentences. Thus, I prefer to talk to them through Live Messenger instead of through a video conference. This gives me the opportunity to understand them better, while this gives them the opportunity to consume the data, translate it into their native language (through Google translator), and respond me back.

Broadcasting: Written communication is also useful during information broadcasting. For example: if I am having my birthday party, I would rather post it on my Tweeter feeds, Facebook or Google+’s feeds instead of calling everyone to come. And why not? I don’t need to repeat the same message to everyone on the phone. And I can also get the count of expected attendees at my party through these event’s page.

Record keeping: With information overload in today’s world, people tend to forget things which you might have mentioned to them few weeks ago. Thus, most of people like me, tends to follow-up through e-mail. According to me, e-mail is the best way to keep records of your conversation. For example: Let’s say, I talk to “Joe” regarding some IT issue over the phone and he tells me that he will get back to me on next Monday. If I wouldn’t have followed-up with an e-mail explaining the problem, I had to explain him the problem again on Monday. If I would have e-mailed him the details then I can just forward that e-mail and ask the status of this issue. He can then look at the information in the e-mail and find the status of the issue without wasting my or his time.

Speed: Sometimes, people just don’t like to talk in-person for smaller talks. For example: Let’s say, I have just talked to my colleague to see if he is interested in coming to a BBQ at my house. And he told me that he will get back to me today, but he forgot to respond. I would rather SMS him to ask his answer instead of calling him. If I call him, I don’t have anything to say because I just talked to him not long ago. But I still want his answer. So, I will just get SMS him to find his answer. This will be much more quicker and time efficient.

People’s availability: This is a really big question in today’s world. 6/10 times, I want to talk to someone, but I can’t find their free time. Thus, I always end up writing them an e-mail or texting them on their mobile. There can be various reasons for this issue, from time zone differences to their prior commitments to work or personal events. But when I use written communication instead of oral communication, they have the time to consume the information and then respond back to me on their free time. In this way, I don’t put someone in a weird situation by calling them during their working hours.

I hope these tips might have given you some pointers about where to use written communication instead of in-person communication. If you know any other situations where written communication will be preferred over in-person communication then do let me know. I am always looking for people’s feedback to improve my knowledge. Thanks. – Bhavin Gandhi

 
 

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Future of collaboration – The Obama way


TeamOfTheFutureI recently helped one of my clients to create a collaborative application with their suppliers. This piece of software will help them in reducing their administrative costs by huge amount, and improve their process efficiency. During this entire process, I kept wondering about the future of collaboration.

In today’s world, the collaborative possibilities are transforming the way organizations operate. Look at the presidential primary campaign of 2008, Barack Obama became what The New York Times described as the first real “wiki-candidate”‘, with an online fundraising operation that operated in much the same way as social networking sites like MySpace or YouTube. The ‘my.BarackObama.com’ site offered users a practically unlimited array of ways to participate in the campaign. You can register to vote, or start your own affinity group, or download an Obama news widget to stay current, or get text-message updates on your mobile phone, etc. This list goes on. But the important thing to learn here is – Barack Obama’s campaign is a sign of things to come. It involved and connected voters in new ways, allowing mass participation in politics on an unprecedented level.

Now, let’s forget about the politics for the time being. Have you ever had chance to look at one iPhone app – the barcode scanner? This app is a live example of the future of collaboration. Using this app is really simple. You just have to scan the barcode of the product that you like, using your iPhone camera, and it will show you the price of the exact same product in other stores. I personally think that this is the future of collaboration. In the future, people will use technology as their primary resource for collaboration. Doctors will be able to see your complete medical history by just one click; Universities will be able to see your transcripts from another University in a second; business will be able to accurately predict the demand of their consumers. Those days are not far away, when your Doctors will be able to see your payback capacity (credit history) before operating on you.

I hope my article was helpful, and I am eager to hear your feedback. Thanks. – Bhavin Gandhi

 
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Posted by on January 12, 2011 in 21st Century

 

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