Presentation about IT Outsourcing to India. Held by Karsten Eskelund, Capgemini and Trond Skundberg, Devant Digital Media -for the Norway India Chamber of Commerce and Industry (NICCI) at NHO, Oslo on the 7th March 2013.
Geert Hofstede, a social psychologist / behavioral scientist in 1991 came up with this explanation of culture. In his view, ‘culture’ is like an onion: a system that can be peeled, layer by layer, in order to reveal the content. Imagine the whole onion as ‘culture’ and as you peel on, you see different levels which work on and influence culture (in any particular society).At the core of his onion are ‘values’, in other words, how people believe things ‘ought to be’, what they hold dear to them. This level is invisible and is manifested through the three other layers : symbols, rituals and heroes.- symbols : words, artifacts, pictures that carry a special meaning- rituals : such as festivals, ways of paying respect, ‘hanging out’ trends- heroes : persons admired by the society as a wholeSymbols: Spoken words are the symbols of mental experience, and written words are the symbols of spoken words In the slide where we described Hofstedes model of an onion, we showed the different characteristics. The most important here is that we can only see a very small part about the culture. The rest of it is “behind the surface”. We will need to user our experience and base the information on what we see from the different people on how they behave. Misunderstandings can very easily happen here, as our understanding will always be based on our own values, which will very much be hidden from the person we communicate with.
This is based on what three teams said when asked what they think about when someone say the words ”Norway” or ”Norwegian”. As we can see, they have mostly focused on things that they could actually see and not that much on things that are ”under the surface”. I also think that it is based very much on information they have got from others. And clearly it was written very shortly after 22nd of August. One more note will be added here after a session with the team that will work for Gjensidige.
Can I come up with some other examples here? What about the situation where Anders mentioned that he had to “sleep at the sofa” the night he arrived in Sweden? The Indians thought that he was thrown out of the room by the wife, he just tried to say that he would be so tired that he wouldn’t manage to get all the way to the bed. Also I have seen a situation where teams from India and Norway have managed to agree on estimates, but from the conversation it was clear that they had estimated two different things!
Ambani family. Third richets person in the world. An Indian billionaire would very much like to be seen also as a successfull family person. Olav Thon at the other side like to be seen as ”one of the people” and in a more releaxed positure.
This whole section is about the differences mostly the way I have experienced them. Some of this is also generic information, but most of it is based of what I have seen after 1,5 year in Mumbai
This should be the main section of the presentation. Here I will try to come up with some good ideas on how to overcome the problems that projects might face.
Communication is the clearly biggest reason for confusion and misunderstandings. Even if both parties understand English, the language is spoken differently in different cultures, and, as we have seen above, same thing can have different meanings. And also, people can have different ways to describe things.The first thing to do is to have a strategy or a plan for the communication. This can be both a high-level plan for the whole program or project, or it can be a plan specific for one person. Even if your project does not have any formal strategy for communication, you can prepare your own “mental” plan. Think through what you like to achieve before the communication starts. What are your objectives for a specific communication? Also think through if there are different ways that you can say the same. You can try to say it in one way and then ask some questions. Does the person you talk to respond in a way that you expected? If you ask about someone’s opinion about a specific topic that person will have to answer. You can also try to explain the same in two different ways to see if the other person understands it the same way regardless of how you communicate it.In a culture like India, it is what is written that is the rule. Even if you have agreed on something on phone it will be an advantage if you send an e-mail and confirm on what you have agreed on.You should also have a plan about when to use what kind of communication:Face-to-face (who should travel? Norwegian team or Indian team or both)E-mailVideo conferencePhone meetingsAsk questions in a way that you “force” an answer. In India it is common to use no answer as a way of saying “no”. This is extremely confusing, as you wouldn’t know if the person actually have understood your question or if he/she means “no”If you point out to the Indian that something is wrong, the person might not answer. He or she will feel embarrassed of the mistake and would not like to face it. You have to be diplomatic in the way you handle such communicationIn case of mistakes/defects, it can be a good idea to suggest a solution instead of just point on what is wrongIf you have to point at some specific mistakes, try to do it measurable. Like: “How many buttons do you think that this screen should have?” If there are missing buttons here, the developer will understand this, even if you have not directly told that something is wrongExamples:Misunderstanding regarding Rahouls replacementPeople managed to agree on estimates even if it was clear that they had estimated different things
Decisions are taken at different levels in Indian and in Norway. When you work with an Indian organization it is extremely important that you know how the pyramid is. You need to know at what level the person you interacts with really is. You also need to know if that person really have the authority to make decisions or not. If not, it isn’t really worth to ask. You have to go the a person higher in the pyramid. Asking persons at lower level will not give you anything at all. Decisions in Indian organizations will be taken at a higher level, and they will not be disputed. The boss is the Boss with a big B. While it is common in Norway to have meetings where everyone can come with their opinions, this is quite unheard in India.Can add more about the same here when I speak.It is important to have a separate project manager in IndiaThe communication have to go through official channels. Junior developers in India are not used to face the client directly. They don’t expect to have to do it and might not even know how toGet to understand the hierarchy that you work with. Who is actually the person in India who make the decisions?If something goes wrong, you have to use the hierarchy to fix it. The Norwegian way of trying to get a junior developer to “just fix it” will not work. Unless the junior have been told by his/her manager what to do, the person will just not do what you have asked about
The understanding about what it is to actually complete a task is different in different cultures. Also the importance about completing a task is understood different in different cultures. I have heard situations when Indians have said that “someone have started on this task, so it should be ok”. In Norwegian culture that is not enough, and it is not ok at all. The first thing you should do is to make sure that both teams have the same understanding about what it means that something is actually complete. Only when you have the same target ambition can you have any hope about getting people to work towards the same. When you have actually agreed about what to deliver, you have to be prepared to follow up, and follow up and follow up. In India agreements are very often considered to be tentative. The same applies both at work and in social situations. This means that in order to make sure that things should be done you have to follow up. Ask about status updates more often than what you would have done if it was a purely Norwegian team you were dealing with. And make sure that there are milestones that you actually can measure.Say something here about how to state deadlines. At least two ways of doing it:Confirm, confirm, confirmFollow up and asks questions all the way to check the statusWhat I don’t accomplish in this life, I might accomplish in my next lifeExamplesVisa process that was not started on timeMost people who should come to deliver comes to lateBUT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!We should also take the positive from the Indian organization here. They will absolutely try to deliver top quality, according to how they have understood the requirements. In Norway we might say that this is “good enough”. This is different in India
This should be easy to explain and talk about. It says something about different styles of meetings. I can also try to stress the fact that in Norway we seems to have meetings all the time. In India meetings is much more rare. Team meetings are hardly held at all. The management style in India makes it less important to have the kind of meetings that is so common to have in Norway.
Norwegians are usually very informalThis even affects the delivery process. It is common to say that in Norway we try to deliver more according to expectations then according to specificationsWhen you work with people who are far away, you have to be more precise with your specificationsThis has less to do with culture differences than with practical issues. When you are far away, you cannot just “drop by” the managers desk and have some discussionsBut differences in cultures make these issues even more challengingOne big issue and difference is the way we communicate expectations. In Norway it is common to state the expectations only quite vague, and then expect that there will be some discussion regarding them. It is said that in Norway “we deliver according to expectations rather than according to specification”. This does not really work when we operate across shores and with India. Here it is important to be clear on what is specified. This is true also because the team is situated in different locations and can not communicate as easily as a team can do if everyone are located at the same place.
What I try to say here is that it is important to establish the measurement metrics early in the project. If your company already have a standard way to measure progress, then fine. If not, you have to find a method that suits your project. And what metrics to be used must be decided in Norway. If you work in a consultancy organization, you must decide this together with your client. If you work directly as an “end-client” to a pure-player you must insist on what metrics to use.One key failure that I have seen sometimes is that the estimates are being done on-site and then the job is being “shuffled” over to India to be implemented there. By doing it that way, the off-shore team will easily struggle to feel any obligations for those estimates. Early involvement is a key factor for success. The earlier the Indian team will be involved, the higher chance of success.Use the fact that Indians like to be measured as an advantage. If you can find a way to show that they are delivering good, that is a win-win situation! You might need to use a combination of tools to measure the progress in the projectIndian are very concerned but also keen to be measured. The issue you might face is the criteria used for measure. Like number of code lines per day It is important to follow up both quantitative measures (hours) and progress (what is actually done)Things are always easier when you can measure it. This applies just as much in India as in other places. If the requirements are not measurable it is also impossible to test it and to find out what the status is. Is the requirement understood? Have the team started to work on the right requirement. By having requirements that are easily and clearly understood by the whole team it will also be easier to do the follow up job.When you get to know your different team members, it will be easier to communicate with them and to understand in detail how each one of them thinks and reacts. Remember that your team is still a number of individuals who thinks and operates differently. By getting to know them in more detail you will also be able to get the best out of each individual person.Awards is something that Indians are really found of. Already at school and kindergarten they are used to have drawing competitions and things like that. To put up an incentive like a “project star award” or something like that will probably help boost the morale in the team and everyone will struggle to get the award. Yes, I do see that this might hamper the collaboration in the team a bit, but the advantages are clearly stronger than the disadvantages.
IT Outsourcing from Norway to India. Presentation held for the Norway India Chamber of Commerce and Industry
NAMASTENICCI meeting 7th march 2013 The typical Indian greeting NAMASTE (C) 2013 Trond Skundberg & Karsten Eskelund
Norway VS. India-Traffic jam (C) 2013 Trond Skundberg & Karsten Eskelund
Norway VS. India-Roaming around on a scooter (C) 2013 Trond Skundberg & Karsten Eskelund
Trond Skundberg-Started outsourcing to India in 1999-Specializing in web- and mobile apps-Partner in Devant Digital Media, Pune-Lived in India one year with my family-Visiting India 4 times each year-India blogger www.myfantasticindia.com Trying to blend in with the locals… (C) 2013 Trond Skundberg & Karsten Eskelund
Karsten Eskelund-Have lived and worked in India for morethan two years-Responsible for handling thecommunication between Norwegian andIndian project members-Managing multicultural teams in day-to-dayprojects-Given a number of lections about culturalunderstanding Karsten in India (C) 2013 Trond Skundberg & Karsten Eskelund
IT outsourcing to IndiaWhy?-Cost saving-Access to expertise-FlexibilityWhat?-Development (programming)-Maintenence-Support-Business process (BPO) (C) 2013 Trond Skundberg & Karsten Eskelund
Different models-Project offshore outsourcing (offshoring)-Staffing (dedicated team)-Company setup in India (offshoreinsourcing)-Mixed model (C) 2013 Trond Skundberg & Karsten Eskelund
Differences between Norway and India (C) 2013 Trond Skundberg & Karsten Eskelund
Culture – like an onion, has different layers“Practices” are the most noticeable element cutting across the different abstract layers Symbols Heroes Rituals Values (C) 2013 Trond Skundberg & Karsten Eskelund
To better understand culture and decode certain behaviors,the iceberg model can be helpful Observational level: the doing • Dress • Laws & customs • Skin colour • Institutions Offshore • Rituals • Punctuality • Methods • Language Cognitive level: the thinking ? • Norms • Thinking • Roles • Habits • Ideologies • Interpretation • Beliefs • Attitudes Emotional level: the feeling • Values • Assumptions • Attitudes • Expectations • Tastes • Myths • Desires • Mental programmingOnly 10% of an iceberg is seen – most of it is hidingbelow the surface. It’s the same with culture! (C) 2013 Trond Skundberg & Karsten Eskelund
What does Indians think about Norway? (C) 2013 Trond Skundberg & Karsten Eskelund
Norglish and Hindglish • Norwegians and Indians will use the English language different. This is a source for confusion • Examples – If someone say “bike”, the Norwegian will think about this: – While the Indian will think about this: • If a Norwegian don’t know what English word to use, the person might assume that it is the same as in Norwegian • Examples – “registrere en sak” – “register a case” – “raise a ticket” (C) 2013 Trond Skundberg & Karsten Eskelund
Business (C) 2013 Trond Skundberg & Karsten Eskelund
Typical gap buildingfactorsNo need of trying to fill the gap – we have tobridge it. (C) 2013 Trond Skundberg & Karsten Eskelund
Some cases(C) 2013 Trond Skundberg & Karsten Eskelund
Alpha+Cloud based system for documentation andcontrol. (web, smartphone, mobile apps)Model: staffing (dedicated programmers)The client says: ”…a fantastic cooperation…”Why so successful?-The client knows exactly what theyneed, they document it extremly well, and isgreat in communicating with our PL in Pune. Finne bilde (C) 2013 Trond Skundberg & Karsten Eskelund
DNBNæringseiendomAll consulting and design done in Oslo.Developement and maintenence in India.Complete web publishing system forpresenting their commercial property onweb, on Finn.no and iPhone/iPad app.Advanced integration with Google maps. Finne bilde (C) 2013 Trond Skundberg & Karsten Eskelund
Devant Digital MediaCompany set up in Pune specializing in web-and mobile app development.Slogan:”Scandinavian design – Indian technology”Some clients:Det norske travselskapetDnb NæringseiendomDet norske teatretValdres.noHighland LodgeEiendomssparCocktail SlippersAntra (C) 2013 Trond Skundberg & Karsten Eskelund
Devant Digital MediaSome of the work done for clients (C) 2013 Trond Skundberg & Karsten Eskelund
Devant Digital MediaCelebrating 10 years in India – 10.10.2010 (C) 2013 Trond Skundberg & Karsten Eskelund
Actioncenter-Web publishing, social mediawork, Scandinavain Quality assurance.-Company house in Goa to to attract andspoil Scandinavian consultants and partners. (C) 2013 Trond Skundberg & Karsten Eskelund
Communication (C) 2013 Trond Skundberg & Karsten Eskelund
What is a fair price? (C) 2013 Trond Skundberg & Karsten Eskelund
The importance of knowing the pyramid in India Senior Vice President Vice Vice Presi- Presi- dent dent Director Principal Associate Director Senior Manager Managing Consultant Manager Senior Consultant 2 Senior Consultant Senior Consultant 1 Consultant Consultant Associate Consultant (C) 2013 Trond Skundberg & Karsten Eskelund
TimeIn Linear time culture• Deadline are taken very seriously• Time is structured, sequential and linear• Events are taken one at a time• People plan things in great detail and are very punctual.Expandable time culture• Consider time commitments to be achieved only if possible• Time is unlimited or simultaneous• Time is fluid, elastic• Delays are less important How do you handle this difference? (C) 2013 Trond Skundberg & Karsten Eskelund
Different attitudes towards time becomes obvious in business meetingsAttention diagram for business meetings Attention High Low Time Western cultures India (C) 2013 Trond Skundberg & Karsten Eskelund
The difference between deliver according to expectations and deliveraccording to a specification (C) 2013 Trond Skundberg & Karsten Eskelund
How to measure progress (C) 2013 Trond Skundberg & Karsten Eskelund
The key is not to change but to be able to adapt Is about building bridges and using adapters – not changing values Is about curiosity and flexibility Most importantly, is about mutual Trust and Respect (C) 2013 Trond Skundberg & Karsten Eskelund
Align your organization to the sourcing strategy IT IT IT Operations Development Global sourcing Business IT strategyCore application Back office and Business solution, Integra maintenance infrastructure intelligence tion and Development (C) 2013 Trond Skundberg & Karsten Eskelund