Skip to comments.Why I Outsource Offshore
Posted on 07/18/2003 3:52:41 PM PDT by FoxPro
Why I Outsource Offshore
Friday, July 18, 2003
When the planes hit the World Trade Center, I was sitting in my cozy sunroom home office. Living in Fairfax County Virginia, we actually heard the plane that hit the Pentagon fly very low overhead. We knew something else was going to get hit. Then we actually heard and felt the explosion. The next minute my son and I were outside in the street looking up into the sky. We didnt know what to expect.
I didnt know that my life had radically changed that day; I knew the country had, that was quite apparent. But the downward spiral I was about to take wasnt going to be pretty.
I remember telling my sons pre 9/11 about the phone calls I would get from headhunters, at least once a day. I would tell my kids that was real job security, having skills that were readily needed in the marketplace. I actually made $16,000 in about a day, tracking down a bug in a major government computer system. I remember working on another system on my laptop aboard a cruise ship in the Caribbean (the cruise ships had just gotten email capabilities, and my client had no idea where I was, and didnt care). Talk about working from home! We all probably all have many great memories of the good times.
The week after 9/11, nobody returned my phone calls. I had a couple of contracts with a very large city government. We couldnt even get into the building. Of course I later found out that the city was much more interested in detecting anthrax and acquiring and placing cement barriers than the work I was doing for them, tracking the maintenance of the cities trees and processing abandon vehicles left on the city streets. I was instantly unemployed. It was the end of an era.
It was time to send out some resumes, nothing, time to get out the Rolodex and tap into my old boy network, nothing. A month goes by, then two. I remember going to the local shoe retailer, because they had a sign posted looking for a store manager. I showed the current manager my resume, and he told me not to bother applying, they knew I would be gone the instant I got another tech job. Time to send out thousands of resumes, all over the world, nothing. Several months pass. I tap into my homes equity to pay the mortgage, sort of like chewing your own arm off. All my friends are doing likewise. We talk with each other, it deadens the boredom and pain, misery loves company.
Ok, so I am going to re-tool, so I buy some on-line coursework to learn Oracle 9i. I start digging in 8 hours a day, going through the coursework; I hate every second of it.
I actually started reading articles about offshore outsourcing here on freerepublic.com. I was upset by this as most people were. I had lost my wife by then, and it is apparent that the house that I had planned to play with my grandkids in will be gone soon also. I am at my low point.
Just through dumb luck, a complete stranger calls me up one day, and tells me he ran into my resume, and was impressed with my background. He tells me that over the last year, he has cobbled together a team of programmers in Moscow that can write computer systems in just about any language. He tells me they are quite good, and I believe him because I have worked with Russian programmers before. The he told me one thing that would change my career goals forever. The Russians will write computer systems, Including Oracle systems for as little as $15 per hour. In other words, I am beating my brains out to learn a computer database system that can be done elsewhere in the world for about the same price as is paid to a cahier at the local grocery store. This changes everything. I rewrite my rather lengthy resume.
I cobble together a list of email addresses of headhunters and other companies from several job boards. The title I put on my resume is Offshore Outsourcing Project Manager. In my resume under the skills section I put the rather lengthy list of technical skills the Russians posses. The list includes just about every major computer system I have ever come across. It is the ultimate resume. I mail out a few hundred. I dont have to wait for long.
The next day, the phone rings. Another telemarketing call, I am thinking. The man on the other end of the line tells me he is looking at my resume. He starts explaining a project he needs accomplished, actually two projects. I have no idea what he is talking about. And I can tell he is getting frustrated. He tells me that he is going to email me his address, and I should show up the next day at 1 PM. I am excited yet confused. I dont sleep well that night.
I am ushered into a boardroom a little after one the next day. I didnt eat lunch, partially because I really dont have much money, and I am a little dizzy (lost 30 pounds through the last 12 months). They start explaining the projects to me, three guys, a marker board and me for 3 hours. The last hour I am just sitting there with my mouth hanging open. I am starting to get what they want, two computer systems for arguably the largest retail chain in the world. They are massive undertakings using cutting edge technology, and it is obvious it will take dozens of programmers and other specialists (maybe more). Then they tell me how much they want to pay for all of this, and it isnt much. But it beats the heck out of what I made in the last 6 months, which was nothing. At this point I am only thinking that I want to just get something going, anything. I just want something to do, any form of cash flow, to make some contacts and get the hell out of my house once in a while.
I instant messaged the Russians the next morning. They couldnt believe whom the project was for or the massive scope of the undertaking. I had my Visio thing going most of the night, and I had some pretty dead on flow charts of what was explained to me, which I emailed to them. They started sending over some very impressive examples of XML scripts based on my previous nights work and the hours of conversations we had. The client liked it all. They were impressed. I could not believe what I was getting into.
We all signed the clients NDAs, and wrangled over some small details in our various contracts. We put together a scope of work, and set a timeline with invoiceable milestones in MS Project (the Russians are very good at this also). My project leads wife had a baby, and we all send each other pictures of our kids. Weeks pass in preparation. I am starting to get to know these guys, and they work together as a precise seamless team (woman are not allowed in there office building). They work late into the night (5 PM EST is 1 AM Moscow time). The client is happy, we are busy and I cant provide any further details for legal reasons. Suffice it to say your mother/sister/wife will probably use this system at a store near you within the next few months. And I get to point to it and say, I did that. I didnt make much money off of it, but it sure beat sitting at home all day playing computer games.
A little information on the team:
They dont speak English, but they read and write it well. In the late 80s the Russian defense industries essentially imploded, and a lot of very intelligent people were left jobless (sounds familiar). It was at about this time the Internet came into its own (well email initially). They started getting possession of US computer systems documentation. Many of them learned English by mastering these systems. It took them several years to do this. Thousands of hours of hard work and study. They are very good technical writers and write proposals and documentation like no others that I have seen. They are very productive, and are slowly getting rich (by there standards). I have never met any of them personally, but look forward to doing so someday. I do enjoy working with them. They are slowly becoming good friends.
Am I taking jobs from Americans, yes, do I feel bad about this, yes, do I have any other choice other than waiting tables, no.
Should I mop floors to keep an American in a cubicle, I will let you decide.
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But you'd better put on those flame-proof underwear... the Buchanan Brigade might drop in.
As much as I might bitch for potential jobs lost to me personally, I can't say I blame you. Rock on, dude...
I applaud your good fortune, and I hope you don't get burned with the bad.
I think the source is FoxPro and you're on the link.
Want me to ping Willie Green?.....heh heh heh.
Ohhh, I'd say that it's a safe bet that wherever there's someone choosing the more economically efficient product, there's some PB brownshirts close by wanting to shut that freedom down. ;-)
Hahaha. Now THAT is great. Best post I've seen in a long time. Thanks.
Oh a vanity...Outsourcing sucks, entrepreneurism rocks...Fox reports, you decide!
My only small quibble (not with you, just with events) is to wonder what we as a country will do with all our wide-ranging committments if tax revenues start to decline as a result of globalization...but that certainly isn't your fault.
I've done exactly that (mop floors), and I replaced an illegal alien who lost the job because he didn't have his papers (score a victory for the anti-immigration crowd--the floor-mopping job went to a real American!). I took it because it was a night job, and I could still send out resumes, do contract work, and go to interviews during the day.
There is no stopping this phenomenon. PCs are cheap, the internet is becoming ubiquitous, and if I will mop floors in grocery stores, I can't fault a Russian or an Indian for getting whatever work they can get their hands on. And I can't fault an honest American for taking outsourced projects like this.
I'm beginning to wonder what real security looks like, and if it was only a temporary, post-WWII phenomenon that began to die in the 1970s. To survive, we are all going to have to get tougher, faster, smarter, and bolder. Bitching about all the little yellow people who will work for less than us is probably a big waste of time.
Willie Green... Sigh...
I won't rehash our conversation on a previous thread, but I not only think you have a choice, I think your better option is finding the right working environment onshore.
It was temporary.
Of course, to get it back, we'd have to pretty much demolish every other major country's industrial base in a six-year-long war.
LOL! I'm a translator, and a lot of my work is going offshore to people who barely speak English. However, I suspect that much of it is the stuff I hated to do and usually rejected (forms, birth certificates, etc.).
The only thing to do is stay competitive. I have seen truly lousy translations by US translators who should have known better, and from the agency point of view, I can see why it would be better to pay .03 a word for a lousy translation than to pay .10 a word for the same lousy translation.
Americans should pull up their socks and either do a job that's worth paying Big $ for or start their own businesses doing something entirely different.
That said, I'm sure there are some agencies that are taking my research and sending it to their .03 per word translators in India and Hong Kong. The theft of intellectual property is a wholly different matter, however.
I did the same thing by moving from mainframes to Imbedded systems which tend to be so small that the companies doing the work don't want to bother with overseas IP work (only the assembly drudgery).
Yes, but there is always going to need to be somebody who grew up eating captain crunch and Twinkies to facilitate communication with American born management.
That's the problem. We had a period where the world was so starved for industrial capacity that we could do low-quality work for big bucks. And we got used to it.
Such a system has very great potential efficiency/effectiveness. I have wondered if it might not serve admirably for a replacement of the factory school. What is the point of the latter if you can hire a well-educated Indian who is fluent in English to individually tutor your child for peanuts?
The obvious question it poses is the "giant sucking sound" it implies--but then, who can stop that tide if they want to? The only obvious thing to do is analyze the benefits, and position yourself to avail yourself of them--exactly what you are doing. Note that in either your system or the education one, the job is done better and the cost is lower--while on the supply side the pay is attractive and American values are exported.
The highest level jobs are in identifying what jobs have the best payoff for underutilized talents. Sales jobs, in effect. And you are selling Russian programming talent/time. Hmm . . . now as you mention it my daughter is fluent (edited translations of Russian technical papers there)in Russian--and could use a little work . . .
It isn't your fault all the jobs are going to the cheap labor offshore. But you found a way to rustle up some of that income for yourself. It's the American way, I'd say.
OK, but you should be sitting in your drafty, drab Russian apartment. It is absolutely wrong to put your country and your fellow citizens dead last on your list of priorities. You are definitely gonna "get your piece of the pie" but you apparently don't care if the rest of us are living under a bridge.
Labor has always been cheaper overseas. Only recently has it been acceptable for American business owners to throw all thought of their country's future to the wind in order to make a fast buck.
It's wrong to send American jobs overseas. It's killing our country. I have no political interest in Pat Buchanan but I do have a burning love for my country and my loyalty is not for sale.
Your personal gain from using foreign workers will be short-lived if your country is financially crippled from the relentless job outsourcing now under way.
I know where I was born. I know the price paid to build this nation. It is not measured in dollars and cents and I don't apologize for demanding loyalty to the United States and its good citizens.
Same lame excuse offered by generations of prostitutes as they spread venereal disease throughout the community.
I have thought of that before. I asked that of an executive at a large tire company recently. The meeting ended very quickly (I could tell they were just pumping me for information on off shoring, and I would never make a dime off of them).
Do you care if Fox lived under a bridge? It's not his, nor my part to worry about your living conditions. I am, however, willing to donate an old refrigerator box.
IOW, why should I care about people living under bridges? That's why we're overtaxed, isn't it?
If I were Fox, I'd be looking at property in the Caymans, to keep people who live under bridges from trying to rip me off by way of taxes. Then I might donate to a nice charity that doesn't object to using the money the way I'd like to see it used.
You and me both, partner. My hat's off to FoxPro.
Drink deeply from the well that flows...
So I should take that job mopping floors at the local church. Great, and will you come and help me, you can be my assistant floor swabber, it will save jobs dontcha know.