Offshoring and outsourcing of work (previously known as our work) has become what I refer to as a fact of life after the fact. This is not going to happen; it has already happened. Life in the technology field as we know it today is night and day different than it was in the previous century, or eleven years ago. Whatever has occurred, whatever has transpired, whatever exists today is mainly the result of poor (or weak) corporate leadership. Or maybe its slick, covert leadership? It all depends on how you look at it; whatever it takes to improve the bottom line vs. how can I meet my numbers, get my bonus and basically fake out the shareholders?
Top of the house corporate leaders have self entitled power, almost as if they have a loaded gun and the right to use it. As a result, they’ve done a real good job of shooting themselves, us and the shareholders in the foot!
Shortsighted, the plan was to save all kinds of technology development costs by sending work offshore and selling it by saying this “save” will be re-invested back into the company (right!); net/net (in theory); big win for the shareholders; net/net in reality: not true, a big miss and a real mess to control; on boarding, off boarding, turnover, communication issues, visa issues, time differences, etc.
And the “kicker” is that I, we, us the remaining workforce have to pick up the pieces and make this work!
Believe me, the offshore folks (our new partners) are fully aware of this. As a result, the offshore “MO” is to be egocentric, defensive and un-accountable.
Need some offshore resources? Time to be egocentric. Project running late? Time to be defensive. Project leads to huge cost overrun which is exactly the opposite of intentions? Time to be un-accountable. This is the relationship our corporate leaders call a partnership”.
What happens next is the cycle continues. More internal downsizing because we’re taking the blame, which in turn leads to more offshoring and outsourcing of work. After all who would you cut; the last man standing with the courage of accountability or the twenty dollar an hour off shore resource that says “yes” to everything that comes their way?
What the H is going on?
Want another “kicker”? The offshore workers are good guy’s and desperate for teammates. What happens when we engage each other with respect as teammates? Their management reacts harshly because they don’t want their guys getting any ideas; their sole task is to say yes to everything. On our side, our management reacts harshly too; basically for the same reasons.
So, we have a stalemate. Or maybe not, maybe we’re just in the way? I define “we’re” as the remaining workforce, the individual contributors, the ones closest to and the ones doing the actual work, the ones I refer to (above) as the ones responsible for making this (offshoring and outsourcing of work) work. Also the ones taken for granted the most. Now I’m not saying “woe’s me”. There is a solution and I’ll get to it in a minute but to be clear and to state the obvious fact; the individual contributors in the technology field have been taken for granted. BTW that’s on us for letting it happen.
OK so what’s the solution? Be a baseball player! (just kidding)
Ok so (really) what the solution?
The role in technology of the subject matter expert (or SME) has changed and most of us missed it. In technology the role of the SME has always been “technician”; be the best programmer, the best architect, the best systems analyst; be the best technician at what I do. Now that job is had offshore for about twenty dollars per hour! Since this is what we do, this is what we’ve always done, this is what we keep doing. Therefore this is what we hold on to. However this is exactly what’s being offshored and outsourced. The six figure US SME technician is now replaced by an offshore resource we may never even see for about twenty dollars an hour. If we don’t change, don’t get out of the way, we’ll be run over. I know many (100’s?) of SME technicians too stubborn to change and have been run over.
OK so what’s the solution?
Re-define the subject matter expert, this role must evolve away from “bits and bytes” and into business solutions. Solutions like; how to get a small business loan approved faster than the competition, or how to find customer services that customers would gladly pay for, or how to develop software that can be used globally. This is what the companies need (now) to stay competitive and not “bits and bytes” technicians, formally known as subject matter experts. It has been determined that the “bits and bytes” technician is the easiest role to offshore and outsource, the easiest role to replace at twenty dollars an hour. It doesn’t matter if you agree or not, this issue is now closed.
Re-define the subject matter expert, this role must evolve away from “bits and bytes” and into people managers that can actually motivate, inspire and manage people. Teammates are drawn to teammates that care. People managers need to be teammates; trusted teammates. A people manager today that can manage, motivate and gain the trust of others is absolutely an SME! and also in short supply. It’s 2011 and soft skills finally make the SME requirements! People managers that are trusted teammates are subject matter experts. It doesn’t matter if you agree or not, this too has already been determined. This issue (too) is now closed.
Any time spent trying to argue, complain, protest or even reverse corporate issues that have since been closed is time wasted. I know because I was wasting time fighting this when I should’ve been redefining my own career. Having since done this (which took five years) my career is nicely progressing; just like the old days!
Thoughts? Agree? Don’t agree? Don’t care?
Let me know but at the very least, we need to redefine our subject matter expertise and stop wasting time. Make the change, show your corporate leaders you know and understand the business you’re in, show your corporate leaders you’re a trusted teammate and can do more with less. Then (once again) you’ll be looked as a subject matter expert in the technology field.
One more thing; we need to deliver this message to the colleges, the curriculum (or content) writers, the students, the future recruits in the field of technology so their time is not wasted either.