Friday, January 3, 2014

The unnecessary overdose of late nights and working weekends in Indian software companies

This morning, as I skimmed through my Facebook wall, I read a post by a friend from school who is now a lawyer. He says that American lawyers would work late nights and weekends to complete some work for a client whereas their German counterparts would treat their personal lives and their time off completely sacrosanct and not work extra hours just to finish off something.

I moved out of software a few years back. Thankfully. Many of my friends are still in software. What my friend pointed out about American law firms holds just as good for Indian software companies. The way a software company is typically constructed is that there is usually a small team in the US who interfaces with the client while large portions of the work actually happen offshore in places like India. The client interfacing team typically makes commitments that are completely unrealistic and would, by design, require the team back home to work extra hours and during weekends.



The unfortunate part of this is that most of the time, the client would not mind something being ready later. Deadlines are artificially created and propagated down the command chain. In this process, everyone suffers. The programmer at the very lowest rung of the ladder works late most days, works through most weekends and his personal life is sacrificed at the altar of a great career and a lot of money. The project managers in India become very unpopular because they need to make sure these artificial deadlines are adhered to just because some guy in a suit in the US made a commitment in a flash of over-enthusiasm.

At the end of the day, the project also suffers because the people working on it are not happy, they've not had their time off, the team hasn't got enough time to think through the design and make sure they have the best solution possible. The whole cycle is highly unproductive and not conducive to innovation and out-of-the-box solutions.

It works out well for the company that is developing the software though because they get to make tons of money and have a good chance of bagging the 'maintenance contract' for the badly created software!

Despite this, the software industry sees droves of people joining it year after year and very few people are actually able to bite the bullet and change tracks midway even though they realise that they are not enjoying this at all!

If Indian onsite project managers would realise that this is helping no one's cause and the futility of artificial deadlines, we could actually do much better work, have much better lives and gain a lot more respect in the world's software marketplace.

2 comments:

Shravan Mahankali said...

This is one of the hot topics in Indian software industries as Kamal has rightly mentioned.

In our company we follow a practise called Agile Scrum methodology, which is aimed to make sure everybody in the team is accountable, responsible and feel comfortable about the commitment they make to the planned work. This practise is supposed to solve this entire gamut of incorrect commitments and there by make sure there is a healthy and sound relationships are built between business and teams.

Many companies are accepting this practise, but needs lot of respect and determination to the successful implementation of this process.

Sharon Seth said...

Shravan ,
Is this not the same methodology that was being followed where we worked together last ;) . How was it that people got burnt up that time?