10 Epic Fails when Outsourcing to India

Outsourcing to IndiaOutsourcing to India is no walk in the park. The more advanced your project/tasks the more difficult it will be to succeed. In other words, for a basic website design these points will be easier to overcome and maybe some not even an issue. But as your projects get more complex these points will be more difficult to overcome and if you are not extremely careful any of these issues might cost you your projects and maybe even your business. In some extreme cases your perfectly working business model might be ruined as the management overhead associated with avoiding failure with take all your time and you will neglect aspects or other routes you should have explored.

In follow up articles I will try to detail how each of these dangerous issues, from a business point of view, can be mitigated if not fully neutralized.

I believe it is possible to succeed in outsourcing to India and ultimately this might put your business in a very good place.

I ask my Indian friends to forgive me for stereotyping their great culture, sometimes in a simplistic\caricaturistic way, but in order to help the US readers of this article a bit of stereotyping might be more effective. Please know that I appreciate most of the Indian people I work with every day and I value there efforts greatly.

1) The time difference with the United States is the worst possible.

With about a 12 hour difference with MST (Mountain Standard Time) it is very difficult to find moments to speak. When you are tired in the evening they are just starting their day. When you are just starting your day they are tired in the evening. You are lucky if your developers are in and ready to speak before 9:00 PM MST. In the morning, assuming you are ready to talk technical details at 6:00 AM MST, you will be lucky to talk to a “I just put in a full days of work” developer working late that day.
Outsource to India Challenges

2) Indian culture is very verbal.

They do not like to write things down. Of course it is impossible to fully stereotype 1.2 billion people, but many Indian people do not write much down. This leads you to constantly revisit the same issues. You might even get frustrated repeating the same thing again and again.  Couple this with the time difference and right there you have a major challenge on your hands.


3) India just went through 15 years of “.com boom”

You might remember how in the late ‘90s everyone with a pulse was becoming a “computer programmer”. People were joining these 6 month tech schools and joining .com companies as computer people. Well India just had 15 years of this and it might even still be going on. The result is you have people with the title of “Software Engineer” that should not be anywhere near actual code. Every year since the ‘90s, the US and other western countries have been sending billions of dollars to IT professionals in India. This has created an internal dynamic in India where people with no real computer skills are actually getting computer degrees and finding work, further feeding the Indian Tech bubble. This fuels the difficulty in finding talented developers.


4) Working remotely is a Pandora’s box of potential problems

Hold on to your seat. I’ve actually found people that sell a “get rich quick technique” based on working remotely for US customers and learning on the fly (via those learn online sites). Yes you heard that right. Some people with no skills, create profiles online, apply to jobs and when they get a job they “wing” it. If you try to leave them bad feedback they will actually make you change your mind (using arguments from “you do not have to pay me” to the fact that “you might be destroying their life/career”).

Besides the flat out “scam” artist, it is very difficult to work remotely for 2 reasons:

– Communication

– Honesty/Trust
Outsource to India
Mix working remotely with time zone differences, add some cultural differences and you can see how outsourcing can go from helping your business to eating up all of your available time, energy and maybe even money.


5) Being “smart” is nearly a skill

Have you ever heard the story of a Polish worker who built an entire house from material he stole from his factory job? During those communist years, he was able to build this house for free by grabbing building materials little by little over years. He was a hero in his village for doing this. In communist Poland he was considered “smart”. In the US he would be considered a dishonest employee that stole from his employer. Well you have a little bit of the same “being smart” syndrome with some India people.

For example, a project manager might be able to double his revenue by making your dedicated programmers work on other projects at the same time. He justifies this by saying that your project is not doing badly and that the customer seems like a happy person. For some Indians, that is being “smart”. In other words getting more out of something even at the cost of “some” dishonesty can be seen has a skill to some in the land of Gandhi.


6) The pyramid of salaries = inexperienced developers

In India, a developer’s salary is limited. They must become project managers to make more money or even a manager of managers to make more money. The result is that you have a void of talent in the developer pool. You sometimes end up having very poor project managers that were very good developers. You sometimes find these Indian consulting firms with layers and layers of good managers while the quality of their developer pool is very low. Their best resources will be present during the sales process but when time comes to allocate resources for your project the talent pool will be very thin.

Ultimately the success of a software project will depend on the quality of the code produced. The result is that you will find it very difficult to find a talented developer older than 28. You will end up working with developers that have very little true business experience. The key to good software is having developers that can think abstractly in terms of framework and patterns; this thinking process takes years to develop. It is very hard to find even an Indian developer who can think that way.
Outsourcing to India

7) They are disorganized and extremely difficult to motivate

If you have a sizable project, which will take months or more to develop, you might find that days become weeks and weeks become months with very little progress made.

Indian people seem to have a talent for working while accomplishing little.  I’m not certain exactly why this is, but many Indian developers seem content in what most here would consider a chaotic, stagnant project. This may be due to the fact that they are under 28 and barely comprehend the big picture of what is happening.  They have no clue what the big picture goal is. It is not easy to be motivated when you do not really comprehend why you are doing something.  You will have to constantly monitor/manage your project to avoid having your project become another casualty.


8 ) “Yes” can have a different meaning.

Yes can have a different meaning in India than in the US. If you tell your Indian bricklayer, “we need to have this wall built by the end of the month” and your brick-layer replies “yes”. It does not mean “yes the wall will be built by the end of the month”. It might simply mean “yes I hear what you just said“. Some Indian people have a hard time saying “no”.  Couple that with our different “sense of time” and you have a cultural gap that can lead to many missed deadlines.


9) They have a difficult time taking responsibility

This is sort of related to the previous point. You might assume that telling your bricklayer that he “should build that wall by the end of the month” and him acknowledging “yes it should be built by the end of the month” means he takes responsibility for this and will do everything possible to meet that deadline. But for him it means “yes it would be nice to have it done by then”. Come the end of the month if the wall is not finished he will not even think about it twice. To him he did not really “take responsibility” (in the Anglo sense of the term) for this deadline so he is not even aware of missing any deadline.
Outsourcing to India

10) They are very good at “excuses”

This is a common problem all over the planet but I believe it is very developed in India. Culturally many Indians have evolved in a world where “excuses” (i.e. the facts of life from their perspective) were fine and had not adverse consequences. In other words, when productivity is very low, making excuses for missing issues have very little effect or even no effect on the already low output. So why sweat it? However when you are competing in a high productivity “race” that way of working is not acceptable and will lead to failure if not corrected.

Stay tuned for my follow up article on what steps you need to take to avoid the pitfall in outsources to India and most other emerging nations.

99 comments on “10 Epic Fails when Outsourcing to India
  1. Sagar Gupta says:

    Why Outsource to India?

    1. Cost-effective services
    The numero uno reason why global organizations outsource to India is because India offers cost-effective services. Outsourcing to India can help you save more than half of your operating costs! India has a large, educated, trained and technically skilled manpower and this number only keeps growing every year. Unlike the west, where technical talent is rare, India has a large pool of highly-skilled professionals. Having a large technically skilled manpower has enabled India to provide cost-effective services without compromising on quality. Outsourcing to India can help you save on your operating costs, while increasing your productivity, quality and efficiency.

    2. High-quality services
    Outsourcing companies in India use the latest in software, technology and infrastructure to provide global customers with high-quality outsourcing solutions. India has proved that it is technically superior when compared to other countries that provide outsourcing solutions. So, when you outsource your work to India, you can be assured that the best technology and software will be used for your services. India has the largest English-speaking audience after the U.S. India also has a highly educated manpower that is talented, educated, experienced, technically-skilled and computer literate. Outsource to India and be assured of high-quality services.
    3. Time Zone Advantages
    The time zone advantages between India and countries in the U.S and U.K has proved to be another important factor for companies outsourcing to India. Organizations who wish to provide their customer with 24x7x365 days customer support or helpdesk services can outsource to India.

    4. India’s stable government
    India has celebrated more than 60 years of democracy and has one of the world’s most stable governments. Building up the IT sector has been a top priority for the Indian government. India has a ministry of information technology that quickly approves the implementation of IT projects and streamlines regulatory processes. The Indian government has even released a bill termed as the “IT act 2000” India has been rated to have the most excellent investment potential in the coming years. The Indian government has given complete support to the IT and ITES industry in India. With ample support from the government, Indians have been able to build high-tech IT parks which have the best in technology and infrastructure. The Indian government has even permitted 100% foreign equity. India’s fast growing economy has been yet another reason why companies are outsourcing to India.

    5. The Indian Advantage
    Cost-effective services are one of the primary advantages that India offers, but it is not the only advantage of outsourcing to India. Companies outsourcing to India get access to professional and skilled outsourcing solutions within a fast turnaround time. By outsourcing to India, your organization can concentrate on core business activities and save on time, effort, manpower and infrastructure. More than 20 Indian software companies have achieved the prestigious SEI-CMM level. India also has the highest number of ISO-9000 software organizations. Outsource to India and give your organization a competitive advantage.

    6. Global organizations’ most preferred choice
    India has been the most preferred choice among global organizations when it comes to outsourcing. In the U.S alone, more than 80% have ranked India as their first choice, when outsourcing software and IT services. The U.S has also recognized India as an outsourcing superpower. The number of organizations outsourcing services to India has only been increasing over the years. This is reason enough to outsource to India.

  2. Very good points Sagar. No doubt there are many benefits in successfully outsourcing with India. But it is a lot harder then most in the US might think. Many many will fail, the ones that succeed will be well rewarded, as they will have a serious competitive advantage for years.


  3. Sushant says:

    Agree with both of you guys.
    Will like at add this one too.Indian Outsourcing can be Categorised as Structured & Unstructured Outsourcing. The points which we are discussing are more relevant in the case of Unstrucutured. If you see other side of the table we are doing great in terms overcoming the shortcomings as we have best brains to be filled into each available position & in a way we have the best show runners.

    If you try reading a blue print of an Outsourcing Company in India about the transition stage , or even the Operatioanl stage I think the models are unbeatable & no one can match them.

    Most of the above has come to me as a part of personal experiences .

    Hope you have points to add.



  4. Dev says:

    While everything can be improved & worked on, except the time difference, the one major point, The pyramid of salaries, will never be achieved. I cannot think of a team with very senior developers, well rewarded, working with a less paid Project Manager. I do not see that happening anytime soon, So in effect, unless the pyramid is broken, there will always be a dearth of good developers, who will continue to develop code for decades. Like you say, for financial reasons, even the best coder will want to quit coding and move onto ‘managerial’ tasks.

  5. lol India says:


    That has to be the biggest load of copy and pasted crap I’ve ever had the unpleasant opportunity to lay my eyes on.

    Allow me to destroy all your points.

    1. At face-value, the costs turn out much less. That fact is completely negated when it you realize how much time it takes Indians to get ANYTHING done. Days turn to weeks and weeks turn to months. I had a team of 12 Indians take 2 months to write me a simple bash script.

    2. Quality? BWAHAHAHAHA. Not only did the program not even work, it looked like a 12 year old coded it. My favorite excuse for the terrible coding from them was, “Well, as long as it works right?” Yeah, it’s fine that the program hemorrhages memory and moves slower than molasses in an igloo but as long as it works right? How can I have my guys support the product when they can’t even decipher the garbage the product was coded in? How can they even know what it does when it comes with ZERO documentation?

    3. The Time Zone issue is one of the worst issues. I’ve met very few Indians who can think outside the box and need absolutely everything spelled out for them. If I don’t explain EVERYTHING to the meticulously, I’ll wake up the next morning finding a mail from the team saying, “We couldn’t do X because Y didn’t know how to run the script.” PROTIP: chmod +x. About 2 seconds on google could tell you the same thing.

    4. You can’t even drink the water in India. What do you think the caste system of the government does?

    5. Professional and Skilled. More like lazy and Google. If I don’t see them browsing facebook or some other crap online, I see them on Google trying to figure out how to give access on our PRODUCTION boxes to each other.

    6. Global Organizations’ policies are dictated by the CFO; who of course knows absolutely nothing about the internal workings of the organization. If I had my way in the hiring process, I’d deport every single one of your H1 Visa drones and pick up 1/3 of the workforce from US colleges as interns and get twice the work done in half the time and pay them half what I pay any Indian.

    TL;DR I’ve have 14 Teams of Indians in the past 9 years. One word always comes to mind


  6. “lol India” thanks for your comment!

    I know your opinion reflects many others in the USofA. I have experienced what you are describing. As a software engineer, it is nearly painful to work that way. To make this work, you need to go there, meet and hand-pick candidates. At this point, I’m satisfied with most of the Indian people that work with me. But I think that I was lucky after having tried so many candidates.

    The truth is that we are training them to work by US standards via Skype. When they live in a place where they see very little examples of this high productivity mind set. Even with “good will”, it can take them years before they truly understand why we have to work that way to compete as a business in the US.


  7. Paul says:

    Excellent article. I am with an Indian outsourcing company. Have been running it for 8 years and I have to say, what Christophe says is very true and seems like he has learnt the hard way, like I have.

  8. C-dog says:

    I’ve outsourced many times to India, I can that what Sugar Gupta is not quite correct. I agree it saves money, but I’ve lost much more money do to getting the “bad apples” that this article talks about.

    It is, indeed, an art to getting the right outsourcer. It takes patience, but when you get the knowledge, then you can be effective.

    I’ve found that the personality of the Indians are, in fact, spot on in this article. They give you a great person to talk to, then the work is handed off. It appears they have a person dedicated in monitoring the outsourcing sites and they are good. Then the work that follows up, you can tell that the person you talked to is not the person doing the work.

    I’m also finding that outsourcing is getting almost as expensive as what it is in US. If you can get it cheaper if you use the people that don’t have experience, but if you want the good companies, then you pay the same as the US, which, then there is no reason to outsource.

  9. Jerry says:

    Nicely said lol India.
    Bang on the money on all points.

  10. Ravi Ranjan says:

    I just can laugh over this article…it really is so funny!! It clearly shows the frustration of “good for nothing” people in USA. They are so jealous of their Indian counterparts that they have started getting inferiority complex 😀

    Guys…Please be genuine!! Problems are everywhere..even if you outsource your work to right in your country itself, there is no guarantee that you wont be facing any such issues (as graciously described in this article). And please accept this fact that “COST” is the only decision factor when any company decides to outsource their work to India or to any country.
    I agree, you might have faced such issues during your stint with outsourcing….but its you who should be blamed for not finding right partner!! We have been partnering with various European and US based firms and both of us are so happy that the relationship is going on and on….

    Cheer up guys..!! Don’t be so jealous rather try becoming worth of work which is otherwise being outsourced to India.
    Contact me if you still want to discuss this genuinely: [email protected]

    Ravi Ranjan

  11. Mike says:

    You can argue outsourcing all day long. However, I seen it attempted at 3 companies that I have worked for and it has failed in each case. Bottom line: Reality always wins, and any argument made will not change that reality. Also, it wise to keep jobs in your own country if you want to have future economic growth.

    I think people do not realize how much extra work it is to try to coordinate efforts with people that do not have industry experience you owe companies goals. I give them a credit for their efforts but it simply does not work well in MOST cases, period. Been there, done that….fail!

  12. Kerry Wood says:

    Our company did a study on our sub-project outsourcing and it ended up costing way more to outsource. There allot of “hidden” costs and the projects seem to keep going much longer than expected and they kind of lock you into ongoing cost because you pot vested at some point.

    DO NOT DO IT, it has failed and our manager were let go. The only people that ended up with a win are the folks overseas they collected ongoing monies forever and we never even go a finished product. The language was a huge issue, often the spot person understood the message but as he passed it down to his folks the message was lost and the resulting outcome was a product that was crap and not designed as expected. This happened thru out the entire development stages and it was a huge time sink, it took nearly four times as long to develop the same thing that could be done in the good old USA! Why managers think Americans can not produce this work is beyond me but clearly they think the low hanging fruit (initial cost saving as it appears) is Golden.

    As it turns out the Golden fruit is really the forbidden fruit, as cost will sky rocket and it’s a bait and lure practiced designed to sound good up front.

  13. Steven Stucker says:

    Outsourcing can work! But, yeah, it has to be very limited in scope as the user above points out. The cost will keep going up and up and up. You have to do just a few small projects for it to work with clear goals (BA requirements done in USA), and fixed costs.

    Also, some of the credit card info was stolen oversea’s and it was a major image deal for our company. It’s hard to stop the theifs oversea’s as they have different laws, thank good no medical records were compromised “yet” but if that happens and we can not prosecute over there were sunk.

    I say it can work but it’s totally not worth the reward. It can save a few bucks, make your CIO look like he/she saved the world for a short while but it’s a game that never really gets you any further than had you just stuck with your own team locally.

    Wise move is to pass on trying to cut corners eventually you will get stung HARD.

  14. Ajay Solanki says:

    There are 2 sides to a coin, Chris probably has had or experienced the unfortunate side. what has been mentioned does exist in some form. The other better side does exist there is an endless list.
    Chris you probably need give it one more shot, Like said the gun lobby in US makes it the most dangerous place to live in, we all know to avoid downtown during late hours, you to will learn to manage India.

  15. Arron Jefferson says:

    Outsourcing was a great concept in it’s day. I think many companies tried it and it failed. These guys that defend it are not from the US and have self invested interest in their own job and countries. I would think it’s fair to say that sending jobs overseas did not work and has cost our beautiful countries 10’s of Millions. Your sending future dollars of your kids overseas as well, think about it Americans.

    Whey have plenty of people in this country that are smart enough to fill these jobs. If you are struggling filling the jobs reach out to recruiters, I have not seen one job that did not have multiple qualified US Citizens of all races.

    It’s time to take our country back and outsourcing days were fun but they really have not worked out.

  16. Chrisy McDonald says:

    Ajay is out for his own job.

    We know that Americans can do anything if they want! There is no need for our managers and CIO’s to send our jobs oversea’s, let alone our private information (scary – boycott those companies). I always frown on American manager that even discuss this idea, some will not say it to their face but there allot of people anger at their actions.

    There are 2 sides to the coin like Ajay pointed out:
    1) Send jobs overseas – Where they will be happy to take your cash and jobs.
    2) Keep jobs in the USA and build our own future

    The choice is yours! But remember it will effect your kids and family at some point.

    This country needs more pride!!

  17. Lisa Walters says:

    Outsourcing was a concept idea when there was a shortage of skilled workers. But many studies have proved you do not save money using this concept in most cases, in fact it cost you more when you look at total cost of outsourcing.

    There are plenty of skilled workers that can do the job, if your company can not find good IT folks please email me and we can talk. I have been able to fulfill every opening provided to me in the United States.

    Lisa Walters

  18. George says:

    I recently get an outsource project from a client. A company from India worked on that project for over and year. My opinion about india outsourcing after i seen the code? It is awful, as a programmer you learn some basic stuff. They did not respect anything, a pattern an, idea, no principle of coding, no standard, NOTHING. In my opinion they should never code in their’s life ever, or take some serious programming classes. So please stop brag those who work in outsource from India; is it cheap? yes; is it high/good quality? absolutely not.


  19. George says:

    As a fact, there are more studies on market that reveal something very true. A client sped more money for a software developed in India and then comes in west for a proper code and program, than if he came from the first time in west for hist soft.

  20. Jay (US Virgin Islands) says:

    Programmers from the USA are some of the best programmers in the world. They consist of Everyone in the world from every country including Indians, so the issue isn’t where you are from. The article is spot on and I would suggest to the outsourcing companies in India to grow from the article by looking at it from the perspective of their US counterparts. That is what they really think of outsourcing. There are benefits to outsourcing but there are issues that are intensified by cultural differences, Time zone differences, even differences in holidays.

    Wherever you are you can understanding marriage, and outsourcing is marriage. Now imagine you are married and your spouse is sleeping when you are not and visa versa. Imagine all of your conversations are over the phone and not face to face, and even image you come from to different cultural backgrounds. You can see how that can be a recipe for divorce. Things would be much easier to do if these barriers didn’t exist.

  21. moniker says:

    I’ve used Indian outsourcers several times. Or rather been forced to use due to a CFO who can’t tell one developer from the other and only looks at hourly rates. If one developer charge $30 per hour and the other one charge $120 then the $30 must be four times as valuable. After all, they are both developers, right? I can’t even think about how much code we’ve had to throw out and start developing over again, because it didn’t work and nobody could figure out how it was supposed to work so we could fix it. Big waste of precious money.

    I now work with a mid-size outsourcer in Eastern Europe that is just great. They are not too big (around 250 people, about the same size as us) so they value us as a customer. The quality and professionalism is exactly the same as locally, if not even better. They have a sense of urgency and when they say yes, they attach the same meaning to that yes as we do.

  22. Greenthumb says:

    I’ve been working with India teams for 5 years now. I started with training one team to develop an application previously developed in Finland by a senior team with high quality standards. After that I’ve managed many other India teams. Currently, most of our about 200 developers are in India. Opposite to previous comments we
    have had more or less success in outsourcing. We have many competent teams that can are on par with our domestic teams. Of course we have had our share of quality and HR problems as well. Many previous comments have concentrated on problems, but I try to praise solutions – it’s about the point of view.

    1) Time zone difference: Between India and Finland there is only 2,5 or 3,5-hour time difference (depending on the daylight saving time). This gives us a huge advantage over US. The office hours are tuned to start at 10 am in India so that gives us almost whole work day available for meetings. If you can rarely see and meet your Indian colleagues you will have a hard time. If you plan to communicate mostly asynchronously it might be a good idea to not go any further.

    2) Initial skill-level: My first Indian team was six developers just graduated from the local university. The development was previously done by professionals working in the same room with me. The old team was already on another project so I was alone. It may sound like a nightmare, but as a young senior developer with ambition it felt like a dream come true. I travelled to India and spend one month there with the team. Quite soon I realized a university degree didn’t mean much. There were already two great lead developer candidates, but some others couldn’t understand the difference between value and reference variables how hard I tried to explain it. Learning your teams is the key. Do not blindly trust degrees and work experience in CVs. The most important thing in profiling is to know who you can train and you cannot. In my team there were underskilled
    members who showed great potential and they really started to boost the project. There is a huge amount of geniuses in that country just to be found.

    3) “Bad apples”: When you have them, you want to know it. I spent almost a year guiding some team members via chat, email and phone. The amount of questions was huge and they were mostly from specific developers. Those questions will eat your time and constantly distract you from more important things. In the end, it just doesn’t help. Concentrate your power on potential and reallocate the rest.

    4) Location: Be aware of the city and area where you outsource. If there are a lot of international IT companies already around they will get the good ones first. They have the experience in recruiting and especially the connections. As a small company we chose a small city with a good university nearby. There is less to choose from, but the competition is almost non-existent. Now we have a good reputation and word goes out fast. There are always new candidates available. And remember, a city with less than a million people is a very small city in India.

    5) Resigning rate: This one wasn’t mentioned before, but beware of it. It is very common in India to change job often. They are loyal to the company, but even more to their family – salary matters of course. Resigning may cause severe problems to the project because the knowledge level gets a hit. It is unfortunate, but it’s usually your best professional that will change the company. Keep enough good resources that the knowledge stays inside the project. You cannot do much about the ever-increasing salary demands, but it’s easier to say no if you have a backup plan.

    6) Level of expectation: If you need software for pacemaker or shuttle control system look elsewhere. Split the tasks according the level of difficulty. Most difficult ones are better to be done at home office. This is not just about India, it is true about all outsourcing. Without close-to-perfection requirements you can expect anything.

    7) Contact: It is much easier to communicate with them when you have met them in person. This has a huge positive impact on productivity. There are some people that don’t want to visit India, but they will succeed well with their teams. India people is very kind and polite and welcome you. When you visit their culture it will also help you to understand their world.

    In summary I have somewhat positive feelings about India outsourcing. It has got us huge savings in development costs, but on the other hand more quality issues and management time. I think we will do better in the future when we learn from each other.

    I wouldn’t recommend outsourcing if you are not willing to invest a huge amount of your time to establish the operations. It is too easy to blame others when you didn’t bother to do the basics right.

  23. Greenthumb says:

    Correction to previous: “There are some people that don’t want to visit India, but they will NOT succeed well with their teams.”

  24. Kiers says:

    India is NOT INEXPENSIVE. When you factor in all externalities, it’s a joke. Costs go up is true. India has a long history of profiting from its own incompetence. Take a visit and you’ll see…..it’s a shambles and that very shambles is perennial opportunity to fix….but it never gets fixed.

    Bangalore has not yet discovered Garbage collection. India needs more engineers to handle sewage waste first.
    This is being written from India. Trust me the whole governance “system” is a joke.

    Many times the software business can be a front for laundering IMHO. This certainly happened in a recent military scam. Scams is the way business is done.

  25. Joseph says:

    I wish I had read this article earlier. I was so impressed at the low rates Indian developers were offering, I decided to hire them for a couple projects, however, I have ran into nothing but trouble with them. They do not meet any of the deadlines they are given, they are non-responsive, and full of excuses (not very good ones either). The most frustrating part was they would turn in work that was full of bugs and errors. I don’t think they ever tested anything they coded. Projects that should have taken 3 months end up taking three times longer for them to complete. I would provide very detailed requirement documents, and list each requirement in a detailed fashion. I would provide all kind of guidance to them too. I found out later that they never read the requirement documents and just assigned it to various developers on their team. They just coded what they thought I wanted based on conversations we had, not the official requirement documents they agreed. Maybe I just had a bad experience, but I think there are a lot of Indian programmers offering services when they really shouldn’t be.

  26. Bob Jones says:

    I’ve done a considerable amount of outsourcing and it really depends on the partner. We had some outsourcing forced on us for a portal project. When we did phase 1 in house it was 6 months and $200K. When we outsourced it the project ran over a year and a half and was well into $400K. The two products were virtually identical, the first in java the second in C#. It should have taken LESS time.
    Transactional work is OK when there are clear business rules.
    Jealous of India?! Why do you think they are climbing over each other to come here! It is mess over there!
    Keep your food, keep you gods and don’t try to over sell yourselves.
    We won’t bring up bribes and shady business deals.
    We won’t bring up the cast system, which you are obviously in the upper tiers to have such a high opinion of yourself.
    Good riddance.

  27. Jack says:

    I have to admit when I was working for corporate bank several years ago I was an advocate for outsourcing IT work to India, but having to work with my Indian coworkers in the private sector and city sector these past several years; I would advise against outsourcing work to India. There seems to be too many issues regarding Indian work habits and social habits that I have observed through my job and through my daily interactions outside the job. Some of the Indians at my job are hard working and intelligent workers; the majority of them we can do without. Many of my Indian coworkers lack: english writing and speaking skills, time management skills, work proficiency, and manners. The worst part about it, they live here; but are from mother land. Living in NYC, I interact with a diverse group of people from many cultural backgrounds. As far as social etiquette goes; I feel Indians are one of the most lacking in many of day to day social skills. I think there are a lot of Indians from abroad and U.S born that need to brush up on: job skills and american social skills. I think the Indian culture is very ancient, complex, impractical, and chaotic which then transcends into the workplace and out of the work place. That’s just my 2 cents.

  28. Andy says:

    I’m an experience engineer, 25+ years, running a project with 8 European engineers. We work for an organisation of 800 people, approximately 100 in SW.

    Two years ago our organisation “restructured” and we lost 30 engineers, mostly the low calibre, “entitled” employees – so not such a bad thing.

    During the restructuring we engaged an Indian outsourcing company to provide “cost effective development”. We already have highly detailed technical and functional specifications, so it was sold to us as a guaranteed way of increasing productivity.

    My experience has been largely negative, we have 6 Indian engineers work on our project and the difference between the good and bad is enormous. The best engineer was a match for any of my European team, but he left within 9 months (and has subsequently left his new position after 12 months). From my 6 Indian based engineers, 2 are mediocre and 4 very poor.

    My experience.
    1) Deliveries are promised – “tomorrow” “next week”, but 90% are missed. I cannot trust work to be delivered on time.
    2) Estimates are a joke, I regularly have units of work estimated (by Indian engineer) at 1 week, which could be done by one of my European engineers in 2-3 days, which ultimately takes 3+ weeks from India.
    3) Code quality is low, zero commenting, no structure or pattern use
    4) Written communication is poor
    5) Domain knowledge transfer is a struggle, they seem to want to learn new technology, but don’t want domain specific knowledge. I believe they realise that domain knowledge won’t help them find their next job.
    6) Employee churn. Our company has 38 Indian engineers, last month we lost 5 and employed 7 new ones.
    7) Maybe it’s a culture issue, but they will often say “yes”, “ok”, “no problem” when they are totally lost and don’t understand what you are asking. They will then go away for a day and return with the most basic questions – this never fails to amaze me.

    How I deal with this
    1) Every piece of work is estimated, even down to 1 hour. I then expect the engineer to send me a daily progress report of all estimated work and provide daily updated re-estimates.
    2) I ensure every Indian engineer sends a written summary of every telephone/Skype conversation with any European based employee, so we can see if they understand.
    3) Code review – we review their code very closely and it’s not uncommon for code to be returned 5 times for rework.
    4) I never trust them to deliver critical work, or the complex work, or work which must be delivered by a specific date. They seem to be limited to fixing non critical bugs! (Or creating new ones).

    I used to be able to spend my time reviewing & witting specs & code, designing solutions, discussing issues with my European based engineers. However, I now seem to spend the whole day managing our outsourcing partners. My head-count has increased from 9 (including me) to 15 (with Indian team) with a productively increase of 10% (if I’m generous) – after two years.

    Sorry to be so negative, but I know this is also the experience of other project leaders I speak with. I firmly believe this outsourcing experience will last another 2 years and then it will be cancelled and the layer of management responsible will be push out.


  29. Raja Nagendra Kumar says:

    Suffering with Code Quality is given as it has no place in process.. process only says add more bodies.. as that is the only way we can bill 🙂

    May be it is the time we move into Services 2.0 Business Model .. which may change Business Attitude at either sides.. and hence respective professional changes would come in..

    Raja Nagendra Kumar,
    – Code Quality Re-Engineering expertise of 18 million lines of Java Code

  30. john says:

    Don t ever use an outsource company from India! They will ruin your business! Believe what I am saying! They are shit, the crap I ever meet! They are so stupid!!!

  31. Mike Barrett says:

    Very true article. After having experienced many projects in excess of spending more than $50k + / year…a small fraction of our spend, it seems that over the past 2-3 years communication is far worse when dealing with most firms from India. “Yes” as we all agree, means everything other than what we in the USA know yes to be.

    The results a good person will get with or without an Indian Developer/USA or wherever….what everone must realize is that the path to get the results is far more important than the results, and this is where there is a significant difference with outsourcing to India— after MANY YEARS of hoping it would get better, it has not, and has gotten worse!

    1. Do as you promise and as agreed.
    2. Answer Questions first, then ask if you have any?
    3. Do not tell….please this is an Indian train wreck of outsourced companies….listen and understand, do not tell
    4. Keep deadlines and commitments, do not justify your unprofessional thoughts & behaviors!
    5. Say Thank You & I am sorry….but not too often!
    6. Other will treat you the same!
    7. Do not tell others to be patient when you are 3 days late with a deliverable!
    8. Do not expect to get paid for work not delivered as agreed.
    9. Expect to get a bonus for a nice experience and path to results!
    10. Most of this you really should have learned by the age of 5 in all countries, businesses and families!


  32. anonymous says:

    I’ve worked with Indian programmers for the past 5 years and have been disappointed with all of them all the way. One thing they are really good at is making excuses and they really do not know when to say “No” and everything seems to be good to them until the moment that matters.

    Anyway, whoever said IT from India are the best. they are either drunk or are indian themselves. Yes, they are cheap. But do you get your monies worth? That’s that real question. I would strongly recommend against outsourcing to India.

    BTW. Just to add, Competency and IT literacy is not determined by race or ethnicity. So hope you don’t fall for the Hype. You might regret it.

  33. Digital Noise says:

    My 2 experiences so far have both been negative with Indian associates.
    @ people saying you have to pick them carefully, well you can’t be 100% certain that you’re making the right choice when you ve never met the guy in person, but what i personally looked for was a guy with good ratings from previous jobs and experience relative to the specific job I was posting (Freelance Jobs).

    And even though I did that both indian associates turned out to do a very basic and sloppy job. One of them didn’t even give me a functional website (just a static design with minimum features). He completed the 30% of the features I gave him at the start of the job and when I asked for a refund of the downpayment I made after 2 months of not seeing results he refused finding various excuses to justify the fact that he couldn’t handle the project from the beggining.

    The main problem is that in order to get jobs they will tell you anything you wanna hear beforehands even though they can’t do it.

    And @ indian posters who tried to justify this mess, even mocking all the other posters here and saying that they are jealous of them: I am not American. I still faced the same problems.

    Face the reality and if you feel offended try to change people’s minds with your individual work. Offer people a positive experience and try to discourage any colleagues you have from being sloppy, because they are hurting YOU. Mocking Americans and making excuses will not help you.

    As for the article I think its 100% right. If you have a small project and you can afford the gamble then by all means go for it. If you have a large project though finding the exception will be hard and I think its just not worth the risk right now.

  34. Hi guys,

    I stumbled upon this blog while researching ways to get my business to the US. The comments are not very surprising, as we (in India) face the same problems with “the meaning of yes” and skilled engineers when working with other Indian organizations.

    I suppose one way to identify an effective outsourced service provider in India is to check if they have business from other Indian companies. Cost is not an advantage to the Indian customer, so the developer will have got (and retained) business only if she delivered quality work.

  35. Mayura says:

    Outsourcing to India is not bad, it is ABHORRENT. Every time I get an India IT person assigned to help me with issues, I know it is doomed. They would just suggest “patch” solutions instead of getting to the root of the issue. If not, they would keep dragging and delaying the issue hoping that it would go away on its own. With the operations team, it’s worse. They will never voice out any problems until the magnitude becomes so huge that they can no longer sweep things under the carpet; then they expect YOU to solve it for them since they have no freaking idea what to do about it. Sloth, refusal to take ownership of problems, incapacity to think etc., the attitude problems are abundant. Unless the management only wants cost reduction strategies with no concerns over the quality of work, feel free to outsource to India.

    Note: Technical skills can be imparted, attitude can’t.

  36. Dave says:

    So Company A outsources to Company B in india. Company B subcontracts Company C to do the work and Company C offloads the work to Companies D and F who report all the way back up to Company A through the chain its a freakin disaster.. that and the customers who call india complain constantly that the person on the other end either doesnt understand them or they do not understand the person they are talking to.. I have a better Idea Hire locally.. hire people out of school here. pay less the quality will still be equal but atleast the money stays at home.. outsourcing companies and governments should be tried for treason in this economy

  37. Pomper says:

    I’ve been in IT for over 22 years and I’ve seen my share of Indian offshoring disasters. I actually made alot of money in the early 2000’s fixing failed projects that had to be quietly repatriated. This made me realize that there are probably thousands of these disasters hidden at major companies simpley because exposing them would cause too many managers’ heads to roll.

    My experience has shown me that offshoring to India is akin to putting your IT budget money in a big bonfire. The same goes to hiring those cheap H1B workers to fill the gap of the so called “IT labor shortage”. I’ve rarely seen such mind-boggling incomptence. It’s too bad, because overall, they all seem like nice enough people personally. But I’d advise against letting any of them near your code if you indeed care for your project to succeed.

  38. Maxwell says:

    I have read most of the comments above and almost agree with all the negative as well positive experiences.

    But I have simple question for the author and all critical thinkers:
    Outsourcing was a concept idea when there was a shortage of skilled workers.
    So when you outsource to India or anywhere else… and pay the developer less than 20% of what it would cost you to hire someone in the great USofA… and expect the same quality and standards??? isn’t the idea itself is just amazing?

    To all those who had negative experiences with quality, I suggest you something.
    – Try paying the similar amount of salary that you pay to a developer in India and get it done inside the great USA with your expected standard. Is it even imaginable???

    One thing is simple and most outsourcers should not forget-
    Time has changed and most smart people knows what they worth. So even if some agencies in India promises you that he will deliver your project (by engaging the best talents). This simply is not true and illogical… and if you believe this, then you just want a CHEAP way… nothing more, nothing less… morality???

    If you think about it, the post is quite ironic… like every other things in great USofA!!!

  39. Stacy Allison says:

    What no one has really mentioned is that if you sign on with a vendor, have a foreign company (non-approved) look at “any part of the code”, you are in violation of breaking intellectual property right laws in many cases.

    We learned this lesson the hard way, consult with an intellectual property lawyer regarding your vendor software. If all the software is owned by your company, you should get company approval before letting unknown people overseas look at confidential data. I heard of companies getting huge fines when their clients found out there SSN numbers went to people whom they never even met.

    Best case, you may save a little money, if everything goes “perfect” but it never does, they come back and back with poor communications and questions, then your open the door for lawsuits IMHO.

    Any manager that thinks this is the way to go, should do their homework on intellectual property right rules for any and all software to be accessed. There are probably a few cases where sending the job overseas make sense but they are the 1% times.

  40. V Kuruthers says:

    I’m a software engineer and have the displeasure of having to work with an Indian branch of our company. The management is always boasting to us US employees how then can get the Indians to work for 1/4 the price of an American person (really makes us feel bad when they say that). So we attempt to assign work to them. Uniformly nothing gets done. There is no progress. If *any* problem is encountered they give up and wait till the next day to talk to an engineer in the US on how to fix the problem. They are not even capable of spending 5 seconds to google for a fix even though the answers to these relatively easy problems is readily available online. Engineering development on a complex project usually involves the solving of 1000s of small problems before the product is finished, so you can imagine how this workflow slows things down.

    Even after being told all the answers and handed the solution on a silver platter, they still do not understand and will just come back the next day asking such basic questions they clearly have not understood any part of the problem. You then have to go and waste all your time explaining things in intricate detail all over again, taking up your valuable time. This cycle then has to be repeated approximately 10 times over until the management finally sees that they cannot perform the current assignment. Unfortunately management does not learn, and they are then assigned the next project and the cycle repeats. We could do the projects in 1/5th the time it takes to try and explain to them over and over to these Indian dimwits. In addition, as well as now having to work a standard 10 hour day you then have to make yourself available the entire night to answer questions or do conference calls in the Indian time zone when it is convenient for them.

    Despite all this and complete lack of being able to deliver anything, my company is still on track to reduce the US workforce and move the jobs over to India. Unfortunately there is no feedback in the system to the people who make the decisions. It is easy for them to attempt to save money by using Indian labor, as they are not the ones who have to deal with them, nor are they the ones on the hook when they don’t deliver.

    That has been my experience at several jobs now. It is terrible! Give me an American worker any day of the week. On paper they are more expensive yes, but they have the brains, attitude and work ethic to get the job done successfully in a fraction of the time.

  41. RK Sharma says:

    I will delve into another prospective which western world is not realizing, Read


    Think of it in terms; Culture and person go hand in hand and few people are going to shout at me but that doesn’t make me wrong since I am telling is what I have seen, observed and experienced. This also explains a different context as related to work ethics in outsourcing.

    Go to any major corporation in America, in IT field there are only South Indians, that means people from only two state of India, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu are controlling IT sector, these people only hire people from their village and community and that is why Americans are being discriminated in America, Europeans in Europe and even other communities in India, please understand the words nepotism and caste system. People from these two states control entire IT industry and they never allow anybody else to get the job, they go out of way to make life of other person difficult. Why H1Bs have taken away all jobs in USA, you hardly see an America in any corporation, reason is an Italian like mafia is being operated where others are not allowed, now people who understand the system knows that Andhra Pradesh (call them Telugu) people started inventing fake resumes in IT, CV is 100% ex-aggregated, there is one trick or another and they talk slowly because brain needs to think one lie after another, Tamil Nadu people (which are referred as Tamils) are usually hyper egoistic people and there style of management is just using threat. In a way US corporations have devalued what ever progress was made in social sciences or HR field in last 200 yrs, CEOs don’t understand the ground reality, they outsource and in reality there is no cost saving either but by that the time results are quantified CEO has taken golden parachute and retired, whether system is working or not is not the problem. This trend continues. Indian companies like TCS (read Tamil consulting services), Wipro (can’t finish the project, I saw 5 of them in major fortune corporations getting shelved and Wipro staff getting fired), Cognizant (opening office in New Jersey doesn’t make company American when entire work force is Indian) promote boot licking and regional favoritism as explained by me. Indians simply can’t innovate because culture doesn’t support it and how long this cheap labor phenomenon based on lies can continue I don’t know.

    Then Indians can’t work with others expect only Indians, after all other people are aware about rights, I was a Program Manager in a largest Insurance company in USA, only 1 white person was in whole group (as one can count Americans on fingers these days, they all have been virtually displaced by Indians due to this culture I explained), when a new Indian joined he fired the white guy on next day, I had argument with this Indian manager that why you are removing only 1 last person in group because he has guts and thinking brain to argue, (Indian like “yes sir and yes madam people”); to hell with you and your slave promotion atmosphere and I resigned and joined another company in USA next day, I hear stories from Indians in India and usually when delivery comes, they start coughing, the girls get periods, my mother is sick is another excuse, I am ill and lot of time I had to fix code, a new excuse is I can’t hear on phone since line is bad, I am getting divorce due to martial problems, there is heavy rain, internet or system not working, VPN was not working etc etc. Testers claim they tested but when we go to admin section of tool , we understand nothing was tested, it is all lie and lie, and those who are going to shout at me, please I am talking about all your favorite Indian outsourcing companies and I have seen both sides of coin including IT sales as well.

    I don’t know for how long this will continue, thanks to greed of US CEOs who just know one thing in name of cost saving and improving efficiency (blah, blah….), outsource everything and lay off people locally.

    There is rampant L1 abuse (intra-company transfer visa abuse done by Indians), H1B abuse and now US government is proposing rule to provide Employment authorization document (EAD) to wives of H1B using which they can work anywhere, so Americans who are working even at McDonald also need to run, such is the unruliness and lobby of Indians now, sometimes I feel bad since no management technique works with Indians, it is all lie after another life. Management was invented by Americans but they don’t know how to counter this trend, neither in America, nor in UK or Europe.

    Below is the proposed rule link which is open for public comments and again my fellow Indians are bullying their way to get this rule passed, there are lot of sobbing stories asking Obama administration to pass this rule, only few Americans are commenting against it, afterall who can match 1 billion and two hundred twenty million people.


    I really don’t get it, Americans and Europeans don’t understand or what is the problem ? First thing is American CEOs need to put few Americans or even people from other part of India or Russia etc in teams, this culture monopoly needs to be broken

  42. Kola9999 says:

    This is just another whitewashing article, there as just as many as bad white programmers here in New Zealand. Shit, they don’t even understand what recursion, pointers is. There are horrendous failures of projects like novo pay and nz police software.

    But hey, it’s done by whites so it’s all good and fine.

    Jealous of Indians taking over? How about principal scientists at Google, or Adobe, Intel, etc

    White washing article, and a feel good article by western people to contempt their failures.

    How many articles will you white guys write about other non-white races to feel good? And why outsource to a third world country and then bi-tch about the failures.

    Keep white washing, keep feeling good.

  43. Koala9999 says:

    And you white guys, how about you stop outsourcing and go for your ultra genius people. Because I am amazed how Indians built a rocket at 1/100 of the price and it succeeded.

    Seriously, what about the other side? What if I say your details about project is not verbose and lacking. Your in depth communication is lacking?White people are known for that, but to other white people you will treat them inherently different to a non-white person.

    Why am I saying this, – I have a white teacher and he does not understand algorithms (he’s supposed to be teaching that only), but hey he’s a whitey so it’s okay, it’s perfectly fine.

    White wash, white wash everywhere.

    Dear Indians, let us not forget our contribution to our science, it is everything – the fundamentals of mathematics to surgery to yoga which these white people always gave de-merit too.

    Do not reply to these articles, it is ingrained Ina White man to look at other non-white races as inferior and will go at any cost to do so.

    I could give proof and I can see it here in university.

    For example, we had to build a website. I am an Indian and my website was far beyond any white persons could. And here’s another problem, the white teacher himself did not understand some mechanics of web design and he’s like I will deduct your marks if you don’t this size width here, Etta

    But hey, it was auto-resizing itself, he did not understand that, so I taught him that it is an auto resizing property and is not a flaw. He got angry and gave the medium mark.

    There was another white persons website it was shitty, and it got the full marks.
    Indians, you don’t know whites. They are the most cunning, destructive race ever seen to makind just stealing ideas and making them over self sufficient than needed. You have no idea how much they stole from Vedic scripts.

    Wake up Indians, do you see white people saying their coders are bad? nEVER, they are good at this and this is what you must understand.Do not give yourselves to whites.

  44. Jody says:

    All true!

    I am a foreigner who spent time in US.

    I have been in big corp and involved managing outsourcing to different tiers Indian outsourcing firms. Projects as big as 40 people. The lower tiers are just level of 5th graders – just insane! The top tiers usually have 1-2 good guys and the rest are UTTERLY useless. Turnover is 25-50% a year, and we had way higher. I big companies they rotate people.

    You have to manage them very HARD to get anything. Micromanagement to extreme. There is usually no ownership at all. They don’t care. Whatever you do, still talent level is so low, that I am not about to give them full education from start.

    Costs per employee are 1/4 of US (from our budgets). Productivity 1/10. Frustration 100x.

    A US-based Indian friend of mine who moved back to India to build a team confided he simply could not find good senior talent. All the good ones left to US already. 🙂

    What I don’t like about outsourcing is the CFO attitude that people are just “resources”. It is not just that there is huge difference between good and bad, but also total lack of appreciation of what it takes to build a cohesive team! In India, internally, it is even more of a “resources” attitude.

    They are very social though. Love solving one problem with 10 folks in one conf room. I had to just tell them all go do their own job so many times!

    Our US company does a lot of outsourcing. I have seen only a couple of projects that seemed to have done ok — they wree not breaking new technology ground, but rather extending in existing frameworks.

    The rest of projects were disasters or near disasters. We would take a product that was developed in US for 2-3 years and is fairly mature. Move to India with expectation of adding features. If a product had 500 features, over the next 2 years we get 10 added by India team. Literally no progress.

    Forget innovation. Or creativity. Just does not exist.

    We now have lots of Indian senior management in company (several layers of VPs in some places), and the cycle is impossible to stop. I have several Indian friends in the US and know some awesome talents (eng or management), but unfortunately, I still have to agree with the stereotype expressed here. My Indian friends agree too!

    In some sort of defense of outsourcing… finding good talent in the US is also extremely hard! In one of my US-based teams of 20, we had 2 American-born employees, not for lack of discrimination from American-born managers. Since I was in charge of a lot of interviewing, trust me, I would have preferred folks with perfect English skills. Finding a good developer in US is very hard even in major hotspots. Top talent is scarce everywhere. But still, culturally, folks adjusted in the US are much better fit. And the rock bottom you hit in India you would be hard pressed to find in the US.

  45. Tim says:

    Honestly speaking it is not only for India. Anywhere you outsource there could be lots of disadvantages. This article explains why and how. I can see very patriotic comments but this article adheres the concepts of quality and the cost. Always cheaper labour has down turn impact on the industry.

  46. Nordic says:

    Afraid of being hit by insensitive comments from our American friends, I will anyway try to make a positive post on outsourcing to India. I’m a European from the Nordics and have been working with outsourcing for many years and also lived in India for 7 years as part of the job.
    Many of the comments about India as a country is true. It is dirty in some places to say the least, it is corrupt at times to say the least, yes the caste system exist even though it is forbidden by law, but it is also a beautiful country filled with the nicest, caring people. People and countries are very different and within countries there are huge differences – take US as prime example of the very best and the very worst.
    Take that into account when you judge others – bad experiences or not.
    I have tried outsourcing to India many, many times. In the start some OK but mostly bad experiences.
    After calibrating the model of corporation and having a thorough look in the mirror more good, some OK and none bad.
    What we’ve experienced was that our maturity as a company was low in terms of using our Indian partner the right way. When we got our own processes in place to be much more sharp on requirements, coding standards, documentation etc. things got much, much better. KPI and SLA based contracts with penalty for overrun, bad coding, to high attrition (and much more) did the trick.
    And at the same time it is important to look at the way the outsourcing is organized. Never use a model where no Indian employees from the partner is onsite – and it must be the best. For complex developments 20/80 should be fine for less complex 10/90 should be fine. Yes it taps into the cost but it can’t be done without.
    Notice I use the term partner. Look at the outsourcing partner as – yes a partner and not a vendor. Make him call you by company name and not client. Sketch a way forward where you can grow together and show him trust. In India trust is key to everything.
    A little story from real life on attrition. One of the SVP and ultimate responsible for outsourcing setup in the largest soft drink company in the world – no names named, visited once in India at our development centre. He wanted to know about our setup. When I told him that our attrition was below 7% he did not believe it. They were at 25%+. But when I started telling about our retention program (with costs that was nothing compared to an employee leaving) which was not rocket science at all he was shocked. I think mostly because he found it stupid that it should be necessary and secondly because his managers did not do something like that in the first place. Simple truth – if you want people to treat you well – treat them well.
    In india, there are excellent skilled employees and not as skilled employees as there is everywhere. The earlier remark that the best programmers are from the US made me giggle a bit. You have to choose a partner that can attract good employees and retain them. And at the same time treat the people well. So it is actually more important that you choose the right managers because their employees become a mirror of them – so does their behavior. In India you need to accept and respect the hierarchy of a team. It can be managed by providing enough opportunity in the partner company to appreciate highly skilled technicians. Part of our program with the partner in India was exactly that so compensation hike was not equal to a vertical org. movement.
    I could go on.
    In essence. If you choose to outsource to India: take a mirror and look at yourself and your own organization. Are you ready, are you betting on the right partner, are you having the right outsourcing model in place? The large Indian IT organizations can handle to deliver your projects or application maintenance or whatever. Just remember – you win and you lose together. For these companies continued business is one of the most important factors – so why should the set out to fail on purpose.
    Hope that gave a bit of the other side of the coin
    All the best from the cold North.

  47. Rob says:

    I can confidently tell you from LOTS of experience that India software developers are almost always terrible. We have hired probably 100 developers from India over the past 2 years, and we kept seeing the same things.

    1. Absolutely no common sense
    2. Zero ownership
    3. Terrible at following any kind of directions
    4. No sense or urgency
    5. No idea how to write even average quality code
    6. At least 40% were caught falsifying time sheets (and fired)
    7. Give time estimates that are 4 to 10 times higher than a decent developer would need
    8. Excuses excuses excuses.

    You will almost certainly save no money hiring Indian programmers. You will not get the job done right. This is not a communication issue. India is a corrupt, backwards country for a reason. It is full of Indians.

    Now contrast that woth developers from Eastern Europe. In many cases their English skills are worse than developers from India. But that means nothing. A Ukrainian will take more time to understand what you need done, but once he or she gets past the language barrier, they get it, own it, and do it right. The Indian gets the English quicker, understands almost nothing, and then screws the entire thing up.

    Bottom line: you can’t afford cheap programmers from India. Nobody can.

    For more information Google the 2010 Commonwealth Games for an indication of how India manages an international sporting event. They are the same with software.

  48. Kevin says:

    It is not just the IT sector , other engineering sectors suffer the same problem. I worked with a project manager from India.

    1. Absolutely no common sense
    2. Zero ownership
    3. Terrible at following any kind of directions
    4. No sense or urgency
    5. No idea how to write even average quality code
    6. At least 40% were caught falsifying time sheets (and fired)
    7. Give time estimates that are 4 to 10 times higher than a decent developer would need
    8. Excuses excuses excuses.

  49. LAY says:

    Hi All

    I am an Indian programmer in US for the past 15 years. Since last 10 years there has been a huge influx of Indian programmers bringing their skills in light. I have experienced bad US programmers as well. So I would not categorize them. Yahoo Google and Microsoft some of the major software companies have the best Indian programmers. The whole outsourcing model is flawed and both the parties are taking advantage exactly like Indian politicians. Our company laid off the best QA and BA people and offshored it to India. I don’t think the company cared. Poor BA and Poor QA results in Poor Programming. One of the other things is introduction of Agile in all areas even where it is not needed. Constant pressure does not deliver results. Basically a company executive recognizes himself as successful or competent if he uses all the buzz words. That’s one of the reasons the product delivery gets affected. So all the players in this are to be blamed , not just Indian programmers.

  50. LAY says:

    And please don’t compare the Indian current state with an Indian. I felt suffocated there as the governance is totally flawed and corrupt. I wanted to live honestly and I could not. I felt alive when I came here to US. I see Americans too that can turn their colors when they want. It is a talent which is so hidden and they use it subtly. I am not supporting anyone. Whoever outsourced their projects to India did it out of hope to save money otherwise US is not short of talent.

  51. Bahni says:

    I’m working for and with indian people since 3 months ago and is a authentic nightmare!!!

  52. Arjun says:

    Hi Guys,

    I understand the frustration based on your work experience or ‘contractual agreements’ with India. I have 5 years of IT experience and have worked for clients around the world and there has not been even one client who has not recognized my work quality and how much creativity I have placed on the table for them. Here’s some of the points you may want to consider:

    1. Most of the experience goes wrong due to bad or unskilled managers. Lower level employees are therefore left out of the communication loop till the last minute and end up delivering bad quality software

    2. I can say that my clients have always had a prejudice against Indians (includes clients from the US) and it is extremely frustrating trying to have a proper conversation with them without a ‘is that so?’ sort of sarcastic BS from them. I was well recognized because I was usually able to challenge them and prove that I was right, hence they gave me full authority in all projects. However, for any other new recruit, they would immediately assume how wrong the developer/tester/support etc. person is just because they have more experience. The number of times I have had to interject such meetings and prove how stupid their assumptions were, is tremendous and will not be discussed. However, keep in mind that your assumptions can cause problems in projects no matter where you go, so such articles only tend to prejudice people and not motivate them to provide opportunities to developing countries

    3. Do not sum up all Indians on their poor software development skills. I have seen so many foreign developers who have been complete morons and get paid so much with so little skills. If people such as this are allowed to exist in these countries, they can be expected in India too (and please don’t try to make this a competitive ‘I know more than you’ sort of reply to this post). In the end, with such similarities possible, it is advantageous to work with people in India because of the project costs

    4. No one asked your companies to contract to India if they have such prejudice. Why not contract to your own guys? You know why you are contracting to us. Its a developing country and yes, even with its political problems (which can be a pain in the a**), it is improving operationally and quality-wise

    5. I’ve had several clients (not naming places) who exclaim about the quality of deliverables from Indians all the time. If even a small mistake was made, they would send emails to both their organization as well as mine, claiming how they should ‘never trust Indians’ in the same way this article portrays us. If he is truly an exemplary developer, tell him to do a better job. If he is a truly good manager, stop whining and learn to manage effectively instead of blaming everyone instead of giving chances. Risks are present in no matter what task you do everyday. Next thing you know, they would blame Indians for pouring hot water or coffee on themselves

    6. All I had to do once out of frustration, was to tell a client that we can only provide software in accordance to the budget allocated. He would not provide sufficient budget (atleast he would never try to understand in the same manner as intellectual people do), leeway for training of our employees, or the time (as he is constantly micro-managing because of his trust issues) to finish our work. I asked him to come over and see for himself what all we are doing to ensure he gets the best quality worth his money. They sent a guy over to try doing our stuff and he went back soon after after realizing how pathetic his thought process and work quality was

    So you see, I am not trying to say who is right or who is wrong, but unless you can provide statistics which are accepted worldwide (since especially US clients love getting proof for every little thing they request or discuss) and then I will accept (you are right in saying that about some Indians though). But do not sum up a title that says ‘Fails in India’ and then right in a smaller font that it does not apply to all Indians. Many idiots abroad never read everything and end up seeing only the big picture, which then gives a whole new meaning to the article.


  53. Johnathan Levi says:

    Wow Sagar and his “excuses”, I’m truly a believer now of the mere fact that Indians can make excuses whenever they want. I have worked with Indians in the past here in the UK and trust me, they’re not better off even onshore. Talk about off-shoring that’s a whole new ballgame, despite only a 6-7 hour timezone difference. However, professional they try to act, they always end up losing us money. I tried my hand at almost 5 different software companies there (who we made very rich), but it turns out they just were not worth it.

  54. N P says:

    Totally agree with every one. I work for a large multi-national Bank who outsources IT services to India. We have now, due to the lack of productivity and intiative and quality of our Indian resources, decided to change their roles. A ‘Project Manager’ in India is often only a fat resource manager who is never involved in project development and so that is what they’ll be called now. Our project management function is returning to the UK in it’s entirety.

  55. Thaya.Saund says:

    Agree with the article and most of the comment, but then depends on where the customer of the company is located, especially working with scrum/agile methodology and being daily in contact with him.

    I’ve seen brit german and scandi companies trying the “indian way”, it turned out that it’s far better for em to outsource in countries like Poland and Ukraine where the time zone is not an issue and the resources are even more skilled.

  56. Many of these issues vanish away, by Outsourcing work and monitoring of results in agile way, rather than hire people on outsourcing basis. Let Outsource company manage people to show you deliveries. This way all the said noise, pains are either suppressed or handled well by the vendor.

    There is a solution to every problem, however source thinking had to change.. in most of the cases, I have come across, clients think ages of mad approach to work… i.e. people based..

    Switch to Agile and Work based.. see how things can change.. it is cheaper than both T&M and Fixed Bid as intelligence can flow either direction.

  57. Feyette says:

    I’m Indian, have worked for and managed Indians, Americans, Italians,Hong Kong citizens. I’ve worked in software development, software testing, editorial, dub work, etc.
    Here’s what I can say definitively to any typical Canadian, U.S. or european or South American company about to outsource:
    1. Don’t do it, we don’t have enough land left for any more software campuses, any more spectrum, any more money for the bribes to help build your infrastructure. ( Just kidding – or maybe not : ) )
    2. The average size of a first-world classroom is 15-20 kids, maybe? The average size of an Indian classroom in a private, upper-class, English-speaking school is 40. Lower-income govt schooling and “public” city schools are around 60 in a classroom.
    Have you ever tried initiative/independent thinking in that sort of environment? It’ll get you physically whacked (which happens often in the same classrooms.) So will saying No.

    3. Because of our history, we have a spoken-English, urban-based secular class system that overlaps the (older and largely parallel) Hindu caste system that will always, always, always end up echoed in our work and office hierarchy. More egalitarian societies from the west either don’t recognize this or then want to disrespect/ignore it/change it from 9-6 pm. Not going to happen. European firms/ people struggle less with this.

    4. The coders you’re getting for what you want to pay come from lower-middle class to middle- middle class India. They don’t speak English at home, they think in their regional mother tongue, they are deeply culturally conservative. Most are gentle or inert chauvinists.
    If they’re below 25 and male, they’re facing arranged matrimony in a year or so, parenthood in another year, and general imprisonment and misery in a cultural hell of their own society’s choosing by 30. Not their own choice. These are not happy, free, or forward-thinking men, they’re harrowed, devalued, faceless people realizing their country doesn’t give a sh*t about the individual and your company career scope is about as high as they’re going to get. So why care.
    5. If there’s a woman coder in your team, she is probably so fed up with the gropes and the jibes and the stares and the stink – ’cause man do they stink – not something you have to put up with on Skype – that she is going to hit matrimony and baby-making by 28 and hopefully get the hell out of the public male toilet that is the coding room. Promote her and she just might get raped leaving the office very late without any supported travel infrastructure for a commute 3 times longer than it has to be.
    6. Coding languages are often derived from the syntax of English and other anglophone derivatives. Bad English = wobbly coding.
    7. The Indians with fluent English don’t need your money, thanks. (See point 4) Hence the revolving door.
    8. A coder from a country of extreme heat, bad and degrading infrastructure, overpopulation, aggressive stratification, and deep hatred of itself, which all Indians have whether they admit it or no, is never going to worry about the same quality standards that you do.

    What they will worry about is
    1. Individual getting ahead. (Ahead = 1.More money quickly 2. More power or the delusion of power 3. More social pride)
    2. Someone in their same community/ ethnic language group working in the same team.
    3. Moving into real estate of their own so they can get away from uncles, aunts, cousins, brothers, sisters, fathers (never their mothers because she’s the cook) who frequently live all under the same roof. If you think New York real estate is high, try buying in India.
    4. Insurance and subsidized health care for all the relatives mentioned above because then they’ll get off their backs – older people are frequently very unfit, sedentary for various reasons, used to domestic servants, and entitled in a way you have to study at airports ( re the traveling Indian “aunty” and her wheelchair.)
    5. A discounted chauffeur, (I am NOT kidding. Please try commuting like a regular Indian in a regular city like Mumbai, Bangalore, Chennai, Delhi, Pune) in rush hour and you will understand why the frequently barely-literate, frequently un or fake licensed. Most of you travel to India and stay in the hotels or guest houses or serviced apartments close to work. Most of your sub-paid coders will donate an organ (and some have because that’s what it may take) to be able to live close to work.

    If all this is too much information, try Africa for cheaper rates. Let me know how that goes, k?


  58. Hi Feyette,

    Thanks for the enlightening perspective from the “inside”. In my experiences many of your points sound very true. Namaste!

  59. stupid_indian says:

    If there’s so much trouble, then why outsource?
    Get it done in your own backyard mate! Save your time, money and frustration.

  60. Indian says:

    I have gone through all the comments that have been made on this article. Sorry to say but it really looks like one racist article. Incase there are so many issues and problems then why even look towards India for off-shoring your processes/coding/programming etc. Please keep it in your own country and just be happy about it instead of cribbing. I have seen some of the best brains being Indians despite all the issues described above.
    Are you guys trying to say that people in USA are not lazy/complacent and each and every coder that you have is brilliant? I doubt it..may be you should check the numbers again and come back on this.

  61. Raju Kumar says:


    this is true feeling you written here and You have great penetration in indian culture.

    1 So many excuses : correct I india is a land of holidays and land of excuses and also Developer give priorities to their family values much but no the job which is their bread and butter.
    2 Fake Degrees : Absolutely correct and developer have engineering degree in computer Science but can not read emails and can’t understand requirements
    3 Very minima Attention to Errors and deadlines.

    So I am also crying and Running a Software developing a software development company.
    What happened with me
    I hired team and so many issues started getting
    1 unskilled and liar developers so missing deadlines and i was completing 20 developers work daily and then sending to clients
    2 leaves , so much on leaves , those developer can’t solve the problem they are on leave
    3 spent $100,000 and On a place where my wife is about to divorce me and sold my property to save the business and have nothing now
    So what was solution

    I took it very seriously and stopped working on profit and stated finding solution
    First step I took I completely wiped out the team , which was not solution
    I did a new recruitment and hired high salaried and experienced developers and result I failed again .
    I again though it what is exact issue and again wiped out team and shut down every thing and sit for 3 month at home and collected money again restarted with a new process .

    While sitting home i watched move “wolf of wall streets”

    And I came to know 3 layer system of developers

    1 Crazy for money
    2 Stable developers they don;t want much and want stable life with salaries on time and sincere but can not do much fast , but always come with solutions and takes time
    3 Crap developer Whom I have to push every day form next level and then they could have do something , need more money without doing any thing and every day they need pressusre
    So Next recruitment I done purely based on phycology.
    and marked them in those 3 level . As i was again a startup for new team so I found the first layer of developer for starting my company i needed them first and when it will work will develop second layer of developers .
    Result :

    I got success and those people i checked only do they have energy and crazy for money , what was their past life in schools and colleges and I could predict their skills . I started in this July 2015 experimentally and This is working .

    Developers whose energy level is down can not do the changing works and for first phase they were not needed.

    any way those problems discussed by Christophe are for freelancer and individual developers and some clients work direct with freelancers and they get those setbacks.
    I would suggest work with companies even though they are small but they are responsible for deliveries.

    Thank You

  62. vish says:

    All the disadvantages must be true. I never experienced them. I worked in 3 services (outsourced Indian) companies, 1 Indian product company and 4 international product companies so far (15 years).

    – In services (outsourced Indian) companies, a “client” is a scary word. It doesn’t need to be but it is. Even a slightest comment from a “client” can screw you mainly because most of managers are pussies. Nobody would stand up for you. But 99% percent of time, it’s not required. The person on the other end understands – I had only one such incident and I gave him what was coming to him. Funny thing: he was Indian.
    – The not understanding what you said part, happens because people are taught NOT to ask questions then and there. They are also told, over the years, mainly because of managers and experience of others and their own, not to care – “client” told me to do so I am doing it.
    – In product companies, people are more relaxed and getting more relaxed. But the term “Client” has not gone away. It’s just not said out loud. I know a manager who doesn’t let his reportees talk to his manager (his boss in overseas). It’s a bad work culture.

    So far I have worked on about 6 outsourced projects, 4 of them as manager\lead position (and no, I am not a pussy; you can try me ;)) and key I am 100% percent certain is ownership. As long as they understand that piece they are working on is “owned” by them, and they are responsible for it, it’s not going to change.

    Outsourcing is a reality and it’s there for a reason. If you want to make it work, when you do talk to them clear your expectations in no uncertain manner about ownership and importance of asking questions. Even after that next time this sort of thing happens, get that manager in conference room and blast him.

  63. Rakesh Mohanty says:

    If outsourcing to India was fail, many outsourcing services providers would have not been this successful as they are now. Many organisations in US do trust Indian service providers and outsource the work. And Indian firms have satisfied them, they have showcased talent in the form of work.

  64. Ashwin says:

    I’m Indian myself and have managed teams in India from the U.S for awhile and to keep this simple working with Indian teams is horrible for all the reasons you mention. The time diff, quality of code and slowness all cost you more in the end. It’s better to go with a developer in the US time zone at least. My experience is that US developers do circles around Indian based developers.

  65. India is Crap says:

    Notice all the comments defending indian our sourcing come from India.
    Indian companies don’t care about quality, take three times as long and in the long run cost exponentially more as a result.

  66. Ronald says:

    Excellent article and all points are (unfortunately) extremely recognisable for me, I worked as a project coördinator for an Indian company, but in Australia, for a global company.

    Firstly the myth that is cheaper needs to be debunked immediatley. Projects last longer, are delivered with less quality, this rework makes it costly. I have found the often relationships are destroyed because the culture gap is simply too large.

    Secondly, the other myth is that we can think we can bridge this gap. Maybe during sales phase it might look like that, but longer term this will always fall through. You can only b****t people for a while before the start to realise what’s happening. The short term thinking of Indian people simply does not fit with a quality long term developments.

    Laas but not least, due to many points mentioned in this document, causing frustration, anxiety, anger, and even prejudgement, I have seen the local markets, and permanent employees effected. Imagine being replaced by a smooth talking but technically incapable person, or having to work, due to bosses only looking at short term budgets, with unreliable people, not an easy task… I have seen work culture break up into “for and against ” groups. And even seen prefectly happy and competent people leave due to this.

    As an independent IT consultant trying to deliver the best informal outcomes it has severely affected my rates as well, which off course I am not too happy with.

    Taking this aside I urge companies to seriously look at the long term effects AND costs before falling for the smooth language…

  67. customrayguns.com says:

    The solution to this problem is Behavior Driven Development. When you start out by creating an automated acceptance test, the programmer knows EXACTLY what is expected. The cultural differences fade away and you are left with $7/hr programmers doing $30/hr work. You guys are complaining about cultural differences, but it’s YOUR PROBLEM, not theirs. Biz stakeholders: It’s not an illusion, there is massive money to be saved here. Hire a real developer, stop getting racists excuses.

  68. Ram says:

    Imagine United States as 1.25 Billion people having almost all religion live together. Imagine, food and language change after every 100 kms,every state has different tradition, culture and having different holidays even. Imagine such diversity and then judge. Put your self into the india’s shoes first.

    The problem with ‘westener’ in judging ‘east’ is age ole and driven by egoism, superiority-inferiority complex, prejudice, etc.

    World is diverse, average indian is highly adoptable and flexible human beign, not like western people who even bombarding and making fun on slight English ascent!! Indian can adopt any person culture and tradition and practices but western are so much rigid that we can’t expect adoption but they are not respecting other’s culture and practices.

    I have suggestion for you, don’t go to India for your outsourcing projects. Do it in other country my friend. I hope you are not doing any project in india as you have so many problems with indian.

  69. Raja Nagendra Kumar says:

    Outsourcing based on Time and People hours is the root of all outsourcing evils..

    Focus on Weekly Budget and let Provider decide his best results for the budgets.. then expect Quality to go up automatically..

    Evil is in Business Model.. T&M, encouraging greed either side and hence we have more managers than technical people to defend non-sense at one end, prove that it is non-sense at other end.. while both sides are working officially on creating non-sense only.. through T&M

    Frustrated clients.. reach us.. we have are a System with 13 years, with 100% success rate through our weekly deliveries to budget approach..

  70. Manager says:

    “Unlike the west, where technical talent is rare, India has a large pool of highly-skilled professionals. Having a large technically skilled manpower has enabled India to provide cost-effective services without compromising on quality. ” – Sagar Gupta

    this sounds exactly like a north korea speech 🙂

  71. Beverly says:

    Everything mentioned in this article is entirely correct, and I share to everyone that had a negative experience in outsourcing to India. My first experience with outsourcing in India was in 2007 when I had my first website developed.

    I hired a local web developer company, and because they had been so busy, they outsource to India in the hope that the would be able to meet their deadlines. The result was a disaster. They have to redo the whole work and the local company I hired refunded me the last payment because they were not able to deliver my website on time.

    In 2008, I had my second website developed by the same local company who is reliable and works with integrity. They had lots of happy customers so they were fully booked. The only problem I encounter later on was that I have to wait longer for some small revisions on my website. I had another friend who had a two-man band web developing company and was not very busy so I transferred the maintenance to them so they can do the small projects as well. All was good until the main developer left and was replaced by two Indian programmers. The previous programmer quoted me the little job on one of the pages of my site and I gave my confirmation to go ahead. Not knowing that he left the company and someone had taken over. Not only that the job was not done properly, but also affected the functionality of other pages. The problem went on for months and because it was very frustrating for me and the visitors, in the end, I closed down my website in 2011.

    In 2012, I started my outsourcing business and I partnered with an American company based in the Philippines. They deliver quality were good, fast and efficient. But with so much competition in hiring a skilled programmer, they have to turn down my project because they don’t have the right programmer that can handle my project. I turned to Elance and guessed what? I hired a company from India.. I took my time looking and reading their portfolio and comment about their job.

    I prefer to hire company than freelancers thinking that company have values and they want long term business so they would look after their customer. They told me they can deliver the project in 3 weeks but at the end of the month they barely touch the project. And the quality was terrible. I gave them an extension and to fix the problem but because there was no improvement after a couple of days, I cancelled the project. It was a total waste of time.

    I have a couple of developers in the Philippines and a three man band company in Bangladesh. These guys are trustworthy and quick to respond to my questions. They don’t take jobs that they cannot handle and they go over my list with them and ask lots of questions.

    Early last year, I was approach by the web developing in India through LinkedIn. I promised never to partner with any Indian company so I ignored them but one of them kept sending me an email about their company, their work and what they can do. Going to their website, reading their company values and all that they do according to their website looks good and they employ about 50 people.

    After speaking to the sales person who passes me to speak to the CEO of the company, I broke my promise to myself and in May 2015, I gave them one of my projects. The project was quoted for four weeks that turn into months and many months. The project manager kept on promising that it will be delivered next week… but then within that week I seldom hear from her and she don’t reply to my emails.

    And it is true that they don’t listen and read any instructions I sent to them. Because if they do, I don’t need to email they same thing four times and talked about it on Skype four times. Dealing with this company is time-consuming and very tiring. That next week delivery never end.

    Unfortunately, the project manager passed away in a tragic accident in October. The CEO of the company promised to handle the project and will have it done very soon. That soon had been few months now and the problem, they never returned my call and didn’t answer my email. So I turned to the other partner of the company. He promised to look at it and promised to follow up on it and confirm that the project will be delivered in the first week of February. I asked these guys to let me help, to tell me if they cannot do it but they never say anything.

    That first week of Feb is over and they never respond to all of my messages and emails. I am talking to a brick wall. The biggest problem is that the client is now impatient and threatening to sue. Does anyone of you have a word of advice into this?

    To those of you who says why outsource in India? All I can say is why offer a service that you cannot deliver? Why hustle people by contacting people like me and make promises when you obviously don’t have the integrity? You don’t know how to keep your word.

    Why outsource? Because of the low cost? Not exactly. Talking to these people is time-consuming. They have no sense of urgency and don’t give a damn and to me, that is money wasted added to the cost. Why outsource to India? So that your fellow countrymen will have a job. I help an orphanage in Tamil Nadu and so even with the bad experience, I was hoping that maybe I can help more by giving you business.

    I gave the outsourcing in India another try because I have few Indian friends here in Australia. If I will be working with this kind of people, I would rather hire locally and have peace of mind and guaranteed service. I save my energy and my emotion and that is priceless.

  72. Mr X says:

    First of all,after reading through this article and the responses, I’m quite appalled at the absolutely dysfunctional state of the vendor management capabilities of all those who have weighed in here. So essentially everyone here is complaining about their inability to adequately define (a) scope of engagement(b) vendor capability assessment (c) ability to decide between short term vs long term solutions in project management (d) investing time in trying to understand a different culture (e) treating iinternational partners as slaves (f) almost never encouraging their international partners to invest in development of the their service/product teams but expecting the world out of them as if their onshore teams never required training & development (g) working with the assumption that outsourcing will solve all their problems (h) working with the assumption that intervention is a a waste of time and last but not the least (i) shamelessly bragging about it here…

  73. Robin says:

    Pro Tip –
    Never ever outsource to south India. We had absolutely no success with out contractors in Chennai and Bangalore.

    We got rid of them a few years ago and got people from a firm in Bangladesh to replace them. We gradually moved to employ more people from Calcutta and Gurgaon, instantly the tables turned , delivery dates were met and the English communication problem virtually disappeared.

    We understood from our onsite partners that India as a country just cant be grouped as a whole and they have huge cultural differences between themselves. It seems the east and northern parts of the country fare a lot better than the others in terms of English Communication skills and average problem solving skills.

    Hope this advice helps.

  74. Mike Shafer says:

    In sum I wholly, at a minimum largely, agree with the points the author is making and with most of the comments I read.

    I recently left a contract position as a network engineer as the company, well at least the CEO that was there for 15 months and was just fired, decided that we don’t need IT as it is. That being a team of very experienced, mostly very long-term employees who have managed to keep the company’s IT up and running for the past 20+ years. The plan they are now pursuing is to move all servers to the cloud (Azure) and virtually all IT functions to Bangalore.

    Let me clarify here that the company has used Indian IT for about 10 years now with various degrees of success. That is, some departments have had reasonably good counterparts in the Bangalore office while other have ranged from poor to disastrous. In short there is ample experience with Indian IT workers in the company assuming anyone above the level of management with direct Indian reports is paying any attention.

    In our own group, Global Telecom, the manager is in Bangalore as are two of the network support people (I refuse to call them network engineers and insult my profession). The track record of one of the gentlemen there is OK and the other largely a disaster.

    Case in point myself, a contractor and the Bangalore team had a conference call to discuss how the resolution of a network related problem. On completion of the call the contractor called me and sincerely asked if I understand “what the hech they were talking about.” This is a professional network engineer of 30+ years experience who holds a top Cisco certification. Unfortunately due to the cultural differences in language as the author notes this was all too common.

    My own experience and as the author and others point out, the ability to communicate well, independent thinking skills, and knowledge of the area in which they are working are frequently absent and certainly were with most of the Indian workers with which I have worked who are located there.

    I would note conversely, the Indians I have worked with who have immigrated to the US are at a minimum good at what they do and in general a pleasure with which to work.

    I do not know of enough of the culture to fully understand the whys for the differences, just that the author’s points are well aligned my own experiences and observations.

    Unfortunately, regardless of the facts, the CFO et alia apparently believe “it will different this time.” What largely has worked for others somehow will. The upshot is another 100+ plus US and European IT jobs lost to a false premise. Hopefully the company, a US based Fortune 1000 entity, will survive this massive blunder.

  75. Martin Kiron says:

    I have just finished a 2 month project with india. It has been pure hell. They have screwed everything up. I have since gone to philippines and they got it right first time.


  76. Ashok Gupta says:

    Hello, I am Indian, living in Europe and born and raised in the USA. I am not offended. I have been trying to tell my European managers this for the past three years, getting PC replies in return that you can’t stereotype.

    The reality is that its all about salary. The good firms, offering top salaries and way to immigrate to a western country, get the best people. They do wonders for Google, MSFT, and many top firms. The firms that don’t pay well nor offer a career path, attract this type of employee.

    Unfortunately, high intelligence with integrity, ambition, and self-awareness occur in only 2% of any given population and software requires 99% of its’ members to have this.

    It is impossible to commodify people. There are a lot of bad companies with bad management, who are Indian, employing a caste system/enslavement business model ready to take your money. Before engaging with these firms, do your homework.

  77. Jim says:

    I’ve managed (been forced to) Indian outsourced labour for near 10 years. All the previous posts say it all. But I’ll add one perspective that I haven’t seen in the previous posts. I liken the Indian resources to a train running down a track. If I lay the track carefully (that is define exactly everything they are to do, script the whole process, turn it all into a defined procedure etc), then they will chug down the track quite well without problems and predictably. However, once they come to a junction in the track, a decision required that I have not scripted, they simply stop ….while telling you that all is well and things are progressing.

    It is a cultural thing, and others have writing much above about this. In my wording, they are a culture that lacks intuition. When presented with a new problem, they simply can’t solve it. They don’t have that ‘sense’ of the problem, nor the motivation to solve it. They just want the answer given to them. They can’t see the interactions of abstract concepts and derive a new path. A complete lack of intuition.

    Now I know a thing or two about software programming. I’ve programmed Defence projects. Software programming requires an enormous degree of intuition. The ability to ‘see’ the abstract frameworks, their patterns, their inter-relatedness. The ability to weigh these to make sound architectural and implementation decisions in the code – from the level of the single line of that code, to the function, to the class, the framework, the architecture, the project and the client’s guiding requirements. The western intuitive programmer write a line of code with all these guiding him/her. A complex dance, of intuition and technical skill.

    The Indian programmer lacks all of this. They programme at the line of the code level – often by goggling the syntax and copy / paste. They have no sense of that line of code in its hierarchy as just noted. They have no sense of that line of code in its function, or class or abstractions. They don’t have that enormous degree of discipline, intuition and organisation that places that line of code in all its hierarchal context, principles and frameworks – and also considering its testability and maintainability.

    After years of conference calls with India. I must conclude that they think very differently to westerners. This is not a judgment but a culture thing. Us westerners have a more ‘linear’ thinking. We see the problem and by intuition see the linear set of actions to fix it; the path if you like. We ‘straighten’ a problem out, structure it and pick it off. The Indians don’t think this way. I don’t grasp how they think, but it is not a linear structure as we westerners do. Perhaps a cursory look at a photo of their roads, cars and people going every and any which way, without apparent ‘linear’ structure and order. This in a loose way is representative of their though patterns. After all, it is their thought patterns that lead them to behave that way on a road. Now this is not a judgment, but an observation. Their thinking is stochastic, creating a weighting of connections between things in a different way to us. Given the same data, they will conclude very different things, for very different reasons of varying different levels of importance to how we in the west do. They don’t ‘straighten’ a problem out in the way we westerns do. Their conclusions (if they make them in the way we think) are all in there together everything connected in a big 3D mesh, – like a soup – everything mixed with everything, no abstraction, disassociation, prioritisation and weighting in the sense of how a westerner may do it.

    The western mind will create a linear hierarchy, the Indian mind will create a soup. All great things, and all to be celebrated in this wonderful diverse world of ours. And none of greater value as a human than any other. After all there is no ‘right’ way to think is there? And so I don’t judge.

    But when it comes to software – yes I do judge. With a western programmer, you get an intuitive linear, structured hierarchical outcome. Because software is intrinsically linear, and hierarchical.

    With an Indian programmer, you get soup! …..curried soup to be exact. And I do like Indian curry !

  78. AProudIndian says:

    Just a few points.

    We do not need charity.

    We need jobs, but don’t expect us to be slaves.

    Please recruit only qualified people. If you can’t, don’t crib.

    A lot of us are doing you guys a favor by working while you are sleeping. So, be human.

    Until we figure out how to come out of this outsourcing vortex, bear with us.

    And dear fellow Indians, its infinitely better to earn a lot less and yet lead a happy family life than adopt a life driven by consumerism, which your outsourcing bosses personify.

    Thanks for reading,

    A Proud Indian

  79. ieatbeefoz says:

    Got a phone call from a Filipino guy I worked with. He was sobbing. As a 45 years old skilled migrant, he has worked in software development for many years. He is now settled in Adelaide with his two children. They go to church every Sunday. He has been bullied and belittle by his Indian manager and last week, the Indian manager found an excuse to demote him to do the work of a graduate. He is now looking for a new job and asked me to be his referee.

    Indians are systematically taking over the IT industry like ant colonies. First they send in the Brahmin caste (the vegetarians) to gain the trust of the white executives by their passive temperament. Then the other castes come, along with the Silkhs. Then they bully other minorities, give preferential treatments to other Indians while keeping in pretence of submissiveness and politeness to the white executives.

  80. Ram says:

    With indian programmer get soup then why google, microsoft and other top ‘linear’ kind of problem solver employs indians and infect they are now CEO of these companies!!

    There so many wired and bullsit customers existed in west world as well. sometimes we were fed up with their ‘robotic’ behavior. it seems like we are talking to robot…step1 do this step 2 do this step 3 do that!!

    Problem solving is not depend upon ethnic group. India is large country with 1.25 billion people. around 5000 langauges we speak, almost all religion of world practiced here, so many people community group, thousands or may be lacs of indian food dishes available but linear thinker like you only see indian curry or chiken tikka masala because your linear mind not able to think circle!

    By mentioned diverse nature of india, if any of western country try to exist like we do then I bet you this country can’t afford to exist on this earth

  81. Jim says:

    In my 30+ years of experience working in the I.T. field, outsourcing to India will decimate your project budget. While the cost appears to be less, it will actually become much more due to delay after delay. I truly believe it is built into the Indian Business Model. On the other hand, working with Indians that have come to this country (USA or Canada) to work is an entirely different matter. Local Indians are hard workers and very appreciative of having the opportunity to live and work here. I have no problem what-so-ever hiring an Indian to work locally and have done so, but to outsource to India is simply not cost effective.

  82. George Talbot says:

    16 yrs working with off-shore teams in India. They just want to be told what to do and when to do it. They will then reply via EMail at least one or twice asking for confirmation on what they should do and when. Not once have I seen an Indian resource think for themselves and add value to a process. Not once have I heard “I think we should do this”. It’s just “tell me what to do, and when to do it”. No value added.

  83. Camaban says:

    Personally, I haven’t dealt with Indian programming teams. Being a Linux Systems Administrator, this isn’t surprising.

    Obviously I have dealt with their Linux teams. Roughly the same. The first team wasn’t so bad. I’d taken the time to mentor some on a large client, and positive results came. However, they wouldn’t try anything really new, because their own management would shoot it down. Additionally, anyone who was outside my direct sphere was impossible to deal with. The account setup team took three months to get me access to all the devices I was supposed to manage. There was a long list of excuses, promises and outright silence. It was setting up accounts. Anyone competent would have scripted it and turned it into a 15 minute job. The overall network was a mess. Device patches were years out of date. Everything was extremely manual and so on and so forth. I was glad to escape that one.

    Now, overall, that wasn’t too bad. Then I came into contact with the Indian team we used for another client.

    Now, I’d been asked to build a server. Simple thing. Just a straight OS install and hand it over to them, they’d do the rest. At the time, I wasn’t really sure why I was needed, but hey.

    So that gets done. As an urgent thing.

    Then ignored.

    We ask them why nothing had been done. Needed to be registered to update servers. Ok. They had the details, but not the command (the easily-googleable one liner to register a device to the Redhat network)

    I supply them with that, then nothing.

    We ask them why nothing has been done. The storage had briefly disconnected. It hadn’t occurred to them to powercycle these completely unconfigured servers that were not being used for any business need whatsoever.

    Ok, that’s done (BTW, the root passwords I’d supplied and asked to be changed immediately still hadn’t been changed)

    Time goes on, still nothing. I’m dragged back in because a minor network configuration change was needed. Fix that up for them.

    Time goes on again (I should mention these weren’t my main clients. Just people my own company put me onto every now and then) then we get a message saying /boot is too small. It wasn’t, but increasing the size wasn’t a bad idea. Again, don’t see why it needed me, but whatever.

    Then once that’s increased, the final straw was that while they were apparently perfectly capable of connecting and seeing that the /boot partition was too small, they asked for screenshot proof that it had been increased before they considered looking at it again. Just nothing but delay, excuse, delay, excuse.

    I also need to be clear that while I’m obviously not going to say what company I work for, it was not a small – or even medium sized – one by any stretch of the imagination.

    As a side note: I previously worked for another place. Left it. A year later the company was taken over and the network team outsourced. Probably saved the parent company about £500k per year. Which, when you’re dealing with about £100m per year is very easy to lose.

    The first major disaster happened a few months later. That saved money was lost for decades to come.

  84. hatake says:

    @Sagar Gupta and other noobs
    Well, you guys should be ashamed. There’s no level you can’t sink into. Instead of be ashamed and accepting your shitty services, you are just criticizing the author who have done a good researching before publishing this great article. At least try to be competent and accept criticism.
    Grow up kids. Everyone knows indians are cheap in IT industry and are killing it. They would offer rates that are below any standard. I just heard an indian company offering $7 website designing/development including domain and hosting. Lols!

  85. hateleaches says:

    i am not Indian nor white, my comment is based on observation, nothing more.

    I have been working with brilliant developers/testers from india, and sometimes horrible ones, like people from anywhere, i don’t have an issue working with indians at all. But when things come to offshoring, it’s a different story.

    I wouldn’t call indian workers unethical or blame it on their culture, but the outsourcing companies i have been dealing with are definitely unethical and encouraging bad culture. They are all big names in their fields, the way they do business is just shocking!

    The disaster happens right on the beginning, the vendors fail to provide quality candidates. the resumes all look good, the candidates all can talk, but when it come to simple coding test, even the “experienced” coders got stuck. they would put down a line start with for loop statement and sit there nervously for next 10min make absolutely no progress. Is it too difficult? once i gave the test to my tester (who also happen to be an indian), he solve it in 30min without any hint nor guidance, and he is a tester!

    If i complaint about the quality of the candidates, the vendors sure will offer me someone better, however, once I happily engage them onboard, they either “resign” before project starts, get reassigned to a different project 2 mths after projects started, or they look so different to whom i interviewed I start wondering they may not be the same people. I always insist have VC on for interviewing. Once I agreed to audio only because vendor claim the VC is broken. I can hear the candidates recite the question, silent for mins, whispering, then came back with right answer. awfully suspicious!

    Like the article points out, india is facing technical bubble, i believe the vendors have trouble finding quality candidates themselves. They are saving the best to get clients “hooked”, after that, they give you the bottom of their barrel, they don’t care about your delivery, longer the project takes, more money for them, so why would they?

    We have also tried the strategy, no outcome no pay. This time management told me not to bother with interview, so we end up with a team, the technical lead doesn’t even know how to setup internet proxy. The team spend 3 weeks investigate on an issue, we eventually find out they have been looking at the wrong code repository, the code of totally unrelated product (hey we were instructed to hand over the clear instruction in black and white and walk away from it), for 3 weeks non of them realize that.

    At last we still have to assign someone to help the offshore team. They can afford not to be paid, but we cannot afford blue screen.

    I feel sorry for the offshore workers, I can see they try to do a good job but really struggle with it. I also feel sorry for my team who been struggling baby sitting them. Simple tasks drag on week after week, eventually my team has to take over and rewrite everything from scratch. No matter how hard we try, the output from them are simply unusable. Not to mention myself working double shift and public holiday to understand what’s missing, is it spec? it’s requirement? It’s extremely painful experience for both parties.

    I blame the vendors, they are blood sucking leaches, they assign incompetent candidates and leave them hanging. I also blame the upper management who decide to outsource to “save money”. Trust me, no money is saved, the cost skyrocketed, the offshore team worked for months chew on our budget and nothing came out, and the onshore team waste valuable time baby sitting rather than being productive. and why should we pay to babysit? shouldn’t it be the other way around?

    The upper management shamelessly announced outsource is the right approach to save money, if it doesn’t work, it’s team leads fault that we couldn’t make it work. easy for them to say. I would like to see how they can take a team of 12 school kids to send someone to the moon. When project fails, we bring talent back onshore, CxO walk away with huge paycheck, new CxO came, few months later he got this brilliant idea of offshoring, history repeats again. I guess that’s how the leaches survive.

  86. Anton says:

    Well written article. As personally I tried outsourcing 2 projects and they were a complete failure and disaster. My colleague warned me of some of the facts listed. Indians might be smart and they have exceeded in a lot of areas but overall noted most of the projects run by Indians are prone to higher failure. Now I don’t know the complete reason to it but there is an element of taking responsibility and getting a job done with complete perfection and creativity. I also found that Indians are the least creative people as compared to the modern world.
    We ran 2 projects 1 based in India and the other in Netherlands. The project delivered from Netherlands was far much superior in completion quality and output.
    But this is just one example but I would not and never work with Indians any more.

  87. Adrian Green says:

    Sick and tired of having tiptoe and be careful about being ‘insensitive’ to cultural differences.
    The fact of the matter is that I can and my peers can produce code that is correct, maintainable and of high standard. Code that can execute in process for years without significant error. This is normal and is what we work towards.

    The daily reality is that unbudgeted time is spent ‘fixing’ the complete and utter garbage that is spewed out by outsourcing. That is a massive overhead and spend that by far outweighs a properly managed project.

    It is not worth it. The cultural quirks discussed are a definate stain on already shitty situation – if you want and value truth and quality then go local. Your local development teams are probably worth the investment. If you are set on Indian coders then get LOCAL Indian coders who have absorbed the value of being creative, honest and proactive instead of the usual misdirection, time wasting, rote ‘learning’ and copy/paste. Of course then you need to pay accordingly.
    Otherwise you are burning your money in a fools gambit.

    Oh no… did I end up saying you get what you pay for?

  88. Jatin Arora says:

    I found a wonderful conversation leading to myriad number of experiences from teams across India 🙂

    I am an Indian. A happy one. Proud to have been talked about.

    Feeling a Little bad about some bullshit comments here, but trust me, I am not feeling only bad. I am feeling guilty with sorry-stuck face.

    2 years back and beyond I was working in software development teams, that were stuck to numbers, dollars and ‘How to make a Western stupid’ – succeeded, as my management would expect. We had short-term goals, we receive short-term love, we receive short-term trust and we receive short-term gesture of appreciation.

    The End was fatal then. We lost customers trust, sometimes his money and long-term commitment.
    We were very high on attrition and filled with poor reviews.

    For a project coordinator or a sales guy, it simply made nights sleepless and day shouting about what we are doing – IS NOT CORRECT. And you got it, he was shouting to deaf.

    Outsourcing was then about money (not respect, not trust, not output). You make some and at the cost of someone losing many. This was all not intentional, this was cultural deficits and ignorance of a product (no more a bliss).

    I am finally at peace (as I can see things changing here), slowly though, and only in some “structured” outsourcing companies who tends to stay low profile – highly agile and productive partners in developing and DELIVERING values.
    The relationship now has lesser loopholes – more transparency.

    The Indian team now has young, more reliable technical leads who are coming with better “product(not-just-another-project)” ownership and responsibilities.

    Make a checklist of following –
    – Good college grads. Check that, double check that. They fake well.
    – Interview them technically. Written test papers of real people with real identities
    – Ask for POC, give them a task(Pay for it Albeit)
    – Do not trust on sales team. They don’t know technical/product development. They are the people who are doing sales not “business development”.
    – Do not trust the previously developed project, they are fake and mostly lies.
    – Talk to a human, do not trust the name as – “Steve Taylor” in India, as he can be another Ram or Shyam
    – More, find more legible western references, talk to them, in details about their experiences and challenges.
    – Ask them to share User stories
    – Partner with them (at least for short terms) in regular sprint grooming and backlog grooming session.
    – Many of them don’t even have or know (ignorant) how to use project management tool. Train them if you have to.
    – Take objective deliveries, Indians excuses includes that “we are working on it”, “we have set up”, “we are deploying next week”
    – For UIs, Indians are not extremely competent. UX – lower. So try to get the UI done at your end.
    – Presentation is everything, everything is presentation.
    – Many Indians would fail to answer this – https://www.ted.com/talks/simon_sinek_how_great_leaders_inspire_action They don’t know why they are here…
    – Make sure the vision of product is aligned with the vision of your outsourcing partner.
    – If you find anything, anything missing the above stances – reject the partner before going into partnership.
    – Partner with young budding companies. Older one are there as they continue working on support and maintainence projects only.

  89. Just a 30 year veteran says:

    Two words – British Airways… oops. Welcome to the future of IT outsourcing – 10 times the people, 10% of the ability.

  90. Cat Rixer says:

    I worked on a project that started in India. We had to can it and bring the programmers in to the UK … Still the code was rubbish and the builds kept breaking. We fired 70 of the most useless ones and put them on the plane home. Productivity improved.

    Have you ever BEEN to India? Having been there I am astonished that the MBAs trust our high tech to a country where there is human waste in the streets. The MBAs drive Audis and BMWs from the most expensive country to manufacture on earth. They would not be seen dead in an Indian car.

  91. FlukeLSX says:

    I have just one thing to say:

    Ever wonder why Comcast has the worst customer service out of all ISP’s in the world?

    Outsourced to India, that’s why.

  92. FlukeLSX says:

    I work in the IT field, and from a technical standpoint, these people are the most clueless people I’ve ever had the displeasure of working with.

    They wouldn’t know their arse from a hole in the ground.

    And here I am unemployed looking for a Desktop Support job with 12 years experience under my belt. And I scratch my head wondering why?

  93. alex says:

    Whateve Indians say is 99% lies. Its due to culture. They simply quote cheap rates and promise developers they dont have. I nowdays simply bypass all businesses owned or run by indians. Same applies to Pakistan. Russia Belarussia Poland there yes you may save a bit.

  94. Ira says:

    I don’t think any of the point are true exclusively to Indians.

    Most Americans (white people especially) are flakes when it comes to work. They have super poor work ethics and leave the company sharp by 4.00 PM regardless of whether projects get completed or not. That is just not acceptable.

    At the end of the day, Indian outsourcing is a 200 billion dollar industry. That number says one thing – Capitalist America loves Indian outsourcing. Which means, it works.

    We don’t want Americans who are finding it tougher to get work to complain, when the company that is footing the bill for Indian developers don’t find the need to do so. Nobody goes for cheap labor because it’s cheap. Everybody loves cheap labor because its cheap and it works. You have complaints? I have 200B USD to show you.

    Now go back and learn some strong work ethics.

  95. Rajesh says:

    What you are, decides what you get. If you are the useless and hopeless candidate, you hire the same team, not only in India, anywhere in the world.

    Don’t forget that the worlds best companies have their development centres with the best candidates here in India. Then whey the outsourcing scene is different because there is a saying, you get monkeys for peanuts not the best developers of India.

    So, please don’t stereotype the entire nation for your foolish decisions. Thanks

  96. That is a bit harsh. I have no doubt India has some of the best and brightest people in the world and that you get monkeys for peanuts.
    In many cases we did not pay peanuts. We are simply trying to learn by our experiences so we can improve things even more. Please read the entire article. Pointing out challenges is a way of making them less of a challenge by learning how to mitigate them.

  97. mike says:

    maybe 1 year ago i would have agreed with most of those here that say the majority of these comments are racist, closed-minded and unfair. however after having worked for 2 indian companies (not consecutively i might add), i can with certainty say i really REALLY miss:

    -hygiene (embarrassingly,…even the women)
    -space (ie, not standing in my face to talk to me)
    -knowledge of an ‘inside voice’
    -colleagues who were willing to learn (ie, figure it out together or themselves, not use google or mibuso)
    -management who understand staff development
    -the ‘lessons learnt’ attitude
    -colleagues who knew to keep their hands and snakey fingers to themselves (btw I’m a dude…and some of these touching me indecently were fathers ffs)
    -self-awareness and self-reflection
    -productivity (ie, not ‘working’ till 10pm and having nothing to show for it)
    -respect of standards (ISO etc) {AFTER beguiling yet another customer into signing}
    -people who knew that open and loud gossip and slander of colleagues or customers are not meant as tools for bonding
    -people who knew that being devout doesn’t just mean dressing up like santa claus or wearing a smurf hat or whatever, but..like…behaving like you mean devotion to your beliefs (note, I know religious ppl in the west are a**holes too)
    -people who knew to close their mouths when they chew or not slurp like livestock when drinking (again….even the women)
    -an emphasis on quality and best practises attitude (ie, my price is low therefore you WILL sign…take me dammit!!)

    oh…and my favourite one….BEING PAID ON TIME….i REALLY miss this

    this….is my short list. as much as i can say that management in the west can work their staff hard, or have high expectations, i liked that both were a 2 way street as a standard

    it’s been real, it’s been a learning curve, and i can honestly say i’d rather get shot in the face than have to repeat any of it again. good thing is, i learnt how to get a flexible neck from watching the indian version of ‘yes’

  98. USITTech says:

    Corporate America outsourcing overseas with consumer confidential information accessible to foreign workforce brings about huge risk factors. The IT technical staff overseas are not vetted .. i.e. Us workers have to go thru background checks and drug testing. Seen tech specs literally spelled out in such details to a foreign developer that the coding could have been done already and yet the overseas developer still manages to screw it up. Seen them in US office learning what they should have already known on company’s dime. It’s all down to not paying benefits to the us techies so they lay them off and replace with h1b. Then h1b leaves and so does the project and system knowledgebase. Corporations are short sited and their declining customer service and quality and reputation takes a nose dive.

  99. gaz says:

    I was on the phone to a guy in India with the job title “UNIX System Administrator”. There was a minor config snafu that needed a quick edit, so I says “Anup, start vi and …”

    Eventually he goes “what’s vi?”.
    This is a UNIX Syadmin, by the way.

    So that’s me at 10pm on a Saturday night in Canada giving an hour long tutorial on how to use the most pervasive text editor ever seen in the IT industry. To a “UNIX sysadmin”. Never again.

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