Monday, December 24, 2007

Do Software Development Projects Dispersed Across the Globe Deliver the Goods? - Knowledge@SMU

Source: Do Software Development Projects Dispersed Across the Globe Deliver the Goods? - Knowledge@SMU

Do Software Development Projects Dispersed Across the Globe Deliver the Goods?In today’s world, the international flow of investment, people and ideas are increasingly commonplace. Multi-billion dollar infrastructure projects and complex business-to-business software development are implemented across borders and time zones, spanning the globe. Enterprises seek out cost-effective talent no matter the location. Constantly expanding business networks make higher demands on computer systems and networks, compelling technology companies to assign software development duties across many dispersed centres in the US, India, China and elsewhere.

In actual practice, does this distributed development model work well? Singapore Management University information systems professors Narayan Ramasubbu and Rajesh Krishna Balan examined this question in an award-winning paper, “Globally Distributed Software Development Project Performance: An Empirical Analysis,” presented recently at a joint meeting of the European Software Engineering Conference and the ACM SIGSOFT symposium.

Commenting on the purpose of their research, Ramasubbu said, “For some customers the primary motive for outsourcing is savings because of labour cost differences. For some it is human bodies as they don’t have enough capacity -- more than cost [considerations], they want to get the project done within a tight schedule. And for others it is capability; for example an insurance company’s vendor might have done something for their competitor and the vendor might have some knowledge [they could use]. However, our interest was not primarily about outsourcing but the effects of locating software development projects in multiple sites, across borders and time zones.”

More Time-consuming
Ramasubbu and Balan developed empirical models of software project performance and verified these against data and information gathered from forty two large-scale, real-world projects. The projects were executed by a major software company across two development centres located in India and the US.

Over a two-year period, the authors reviewed both qualitative and quantitative aspects of the company which had attained Level 5 of the Capability Maturity Model (CMM, instituted by the Software Engineering Institute at Carnegie Mellon University), the highest rating possible, indicating mature and well documented processes and structures. The company also implemented uniform human resource practices across its global sites.

CMM is a process model based on software best practices which are effective in large-scale projects. Software code size was measured in terms of function points over the entire project code base. According to the researchers, code size is a widely used control variable for software quality models as it captures bother the magnitude of the project and most of the complexity involved in developing the application.

Measuring Dispersion and Quality Management
The research model the authors used looked at project performance from the perspectives of work dispersion and quality management. They measured work dispersion between the two development centres while quality management was measured along three dimensions - prevention-based, appraisal-based, and failure-based approaches. The prevention-based approach towards quality management looked closely at activities such as training that was carried out primarily to reduce the occurrence of errors. The authors computed a score based on the percentage of total development effort spent on training, project planning and configuration management activities.The appraisal-based approach examined progress assessment, performance and the quality of intermediate artifacts at various stages of development. A score was assigned based on the percentage of the total development effort spent on peer reviews of requirements, design, status reviews and code inspection.Finally, the failure-based approach looked at testing conformity of the product against customer specifications and the subsequent error correction process. A score was assigned based on the percentage of the total development effort spent on unit tests, module integration tests and systems tests.

Beyond the hard data they gathered, the researchers were also present in the field to observe the software development process using an ethnographic observation procedure. As they explained, “To complement our understanding of the software processes and culture at the sites, we conducted structured interviews with two senior business development managers, four project managers, and with ten randomly selected project team members.”A key finding of the study was that dispersion, even in high maturity environments, had a negative impact on productivity. This loss of productivity was further compounded and increased exponentially as dispersion increased. According to the authors, what this means for companies who practise dispersed project development is that the marginal increase in yield is much higher as dispersion increases. “Firms should seriously consider this effect when initiating distributed development and increasing the number of sites,” said Ramasubbu.Mitigating the NegativesThe news isn’t all bad, however. For enterprises engaged in dispersed software development, there are structures and processes they can put in place to mitigate the negative aspects of dispersed software development. From the quality management perspective, the study showed that appraisal-based approaches have the highest positive effect on software development productivity with failure based approaches coming in next. Prevention based approaches seemed to have no statistically significant effect.In terms of conformance to clients’ specifications, the researchers found that failure-based approaches have the largest effect on conformance quality followed by prevention-based approaches. Appraisal-based approaches had no statistically significant effect on conformance quality.Bottom lineOverall, the authors found that no one approach can be a panacea for the problems associated with dispersed software development. The choice of approach would depend heavily on the context of the project as different quality management approaches have significantly different effects on the various dimensions of project performance.

The researchers also caution that even though the study was conducted in a high maturity environment, and data was tracked for a two-year period, not all the subtleties of software development were captured.According to the authors, `internationalising’ a project has many consequences. Dispersed project teams must contend with distance, culture and language differences. In terms of the basic systems development life cycle, internationalised projects tend to consume more time. Behavioural research has also indicated that distributed projects using remote teams, even with the support of advanced communications technology, suffer decreased productivity due to problems with administration and synchronisation.The study findings indicated that the more project sites, the lower the productivity. Firms therefore should seek to mitigate these drawbacks by using structured processes and appropriately balancing their quality management approaches. As more companies outsource scores of functions that make up day-to-day operations in the modern business world, firms need to take a close, hard look at the implications of locating projects across their global locations.Ramasubbu advised, “The bottom line is that firms need to account carefully for the inevitable reduction in productivity and quality when determining whether to move software production to a second or even third location. Firms that institute high standards of software development will have a higher chance of mitigating the effects of dispersion.”
Published: November 3, 2007

Thursday, December 13, 2007

India, a Stirring Giant, Is the New Place to See and Be Seen - New York Times

Source: India, a Stirring Giant, Is the New Place to See and Be Seen - New York Times

India, a Stirring Giant, Is the New Place to See and Be SeenIndranil Mukherjee/Agence France-Presse —

HEATHER TIMMONSPublished: December 13, 2007NEW DELHI — If it’s Monday, it must be Romania — and Finland and Minnesota.Skip to next paragraphEnlarge This ImageTiago Petinga/European Pressphoto AgencyJosé Sócrates, right, Portugal’s prime minister, with Peter Mandelson, left, a trade commissioner, and José Manuel Barroso of the European Commission at a ceremony in New Delhi last month.A soaring economy and crumbling trade barriers are making India a “must visit” destination for foreign politicians and executives. The crush of visitors, often first-timers but also companies seeking to expand their existing operations here, lands daily. They all hope to sign deals, find local partners, sell their wares or just soak up the contradictions that characterize the world’s largest democracy, a singular melding of chaos and opportunity.Bald demographics make India impossible to ignore, and the slowdown in the United States economy adds to its appeal. About half of the country’s 1.1 billion people are under 25, and its rapidly expanding middle class is already estimated to be as large as the entire population of the United States.

A rocketing stock market and a fast-growing class of the superrich add to its appeal.Trade experts compare the rising tide of interest to the wave of outsiders who flooded China a few years ago. This year, Felipe Calderón Hinojosa became the first Mexican head of state to visit India in 22 years. Angela Merkel, the chancellor of Germany, President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva of Brazil, and Henry M. Paulson Jr., the United States Treasury secretary, have all paid their respects.But official delegations are arriving from unexpected corners of the globe, too. On a recent typical Monday in New Delhi, the government played host to Minnesotan businessmen led by Gov. Tim Pawlenty, a Romanian delegation led by the senior counselor in the ministry of small and medium-size companies, and Finns led by the minister of trade and development.Privatization of major industries, a quickly Westernizing, youthful population and the prevalence of English draw a wildly diverse group of prospectors.On a recent visit to Mumbai, Donald Trump Jr. pledged to invest in real estate there, Jägermeister held parties in New Delhi to introduce consumers to its herbal liquor, Prudential Financial partnered with the Indian real estate giant DLF to create an asset management business and Fiat announced tentative plans to import the Alfa Romeo.India is like the “proverbial bus in today’s business world,” said Suhel Seth, managing partner with Counselage India, a New Delhi-based branding consultancy. “No one knows where it is going, no one knows whether there is space on it for them — but no one wants to miss that bus.”Given the vast and varied interest, Indian business leaders can sound overwhelmed. “Iceland is suddenly on our radar screen,” said Supriya Banerji, the deputy director general of the Confederation of Indian Industry, one of the country’s largest trade groups. “Malta is coming in and Cyprus is clamoring for us.” So are Trinidad and Tobago, Uganda, Vietnam, Kazakhstan and Mozambique, all of which have sent delegations.It is too soon to tell what impact the visits will have economically. They rarely yield immediate results, and sometimes they produce negative reactions.

India’s mix of poverty and areas where vast, fetid slums edge newly refurbished international airports and barefoot children beg outside of $500-a-night hotels, has left more than one Western visitor aghast.The realities of India often surprise even first-time visitors who have studied the country. Signs of social upheaval — strikes, dangerous roads and electricity that flickers off even in the most luxurious hotels — are common. One recent morning in a five-star New Delhi hotel, bleary-eyed Minnesota executives puzzled out a scene from the night before. As they had returned from a visit to the Taj Mahal, thousands of protesters blocked the road, police conspicuously absent. The Americans did not make it back to New Delhi until after midnight.“We learned a lot,” said Jonathan B. Farber, president of global underwriting for Travelers, the insurance company, picking his words. It was interesting to see “how the logistics worked themselves out,” he said, recalling that as protesters laid down in one lane of the highway, two-way traffic seemed to intuitively share the other lane.In spite of such hiccups, most visitors are optimistic about India’s future and the opportunities it offers their companies. To date, “trade has been rather modest,” acknowledged Asko Numminen, the Finnish ambassador, tall and blue-eyed, in an understated gray suit that complemented his embassy’s clean Nordic lines. In a nod to his host country, his tie depicted a field of elephants.In Finland, Mr. Numminen said, “we are speaking about the ‘India phenomena.’” He said companies, universities and research centers were looking toward India because it had the “biggest pool of human resources in the world.” Since the beginning of September, Mr. Numminen has traveled twice to Chennai to open factories for Finnish companies, and Finnair now has 12 direct flights a week from Helsinki to India.Members of foreign royalty are also making official visits to India — even royalty whose ancestors were involved in colonization of the subcontinent centuries ago. Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands arrived in October, with eight of her country’s most important chief executives, on her second visit to India.Warner Rootliep, general manager for the Air France-KLM Group in the region, said the trip allowed the executives a “great opportunity to raise some questions directly to the prime minister and other ministers present.”Showing off a knowledge of India is often de rigueur on the visits. When Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. of Utah came in October with university administrators and biotechnology executives to pitch business opportunities with Utah, he boasted over lunch with Indian industrialists that he had celebrated Diwali, the most important Hindu festival, at the governor’s mansion back home.Grinning, he said the relationship between the United States and India had “gone from being flat as a chapati to sweet as gulab jamun,” referring to a flatbread and a local dessert.Mr. Pawlenty of Minnesota started his speech in New Delhi with “namaste,” the Hindi greeting, though he was quick to address the obvious question: What could a group of Minnesotan and Indian businessmen have in common?He said Indians tended to like spicy food, while some Minnesotans considered milk spicy, and called the contrasting weather a clear divide. But Mr. Pawlenty noted similarities too: both Minnesota and India broke away from Great Britain, both play forms of hockey, and rural life and farming are a backbone of each.To be sure, India remains in China’s shadow. Because of weak infrastructure, a fractious political climate and other hurdles, India’s foreign trade and investment figures are dwarfed by China’s, where foreign direct investment was nearly $70 billion in 2006. But many foreign companies and governments increasingly equate the two when they talk about the growth markets of the future.The government here expects foreign direct investment to grow rapidly next year, to some $30 billion, from $19.5 billion, and the economy to grow at 9 percent for the third year in a row.And India definitely tops China on one front. Because of increasing business travel demand, American Express predicts, hotel room rates here will increase more than anywhere else in the world in 2008: 34 to 38 percent for midrange hotels and 38 to 41 percent for the best hotels.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

India top location for offshore services: Report-India Business-Business-The Times of India

Source: India top location for offshore services: Report-India Business-Business-The Times of India

NEW DELHI: India continues to be the undisputed leader in offshore services but countries like China, Russia and Brazil are fast catching up, according to a report.The offshoring spending is expected to grow 60 per cent in Europe and 40 per cent in the US in 2008, according to the report by Gartner.Gartner analysed 30 countries across the world and used criteria including language, government support, labour pool, infrastructure and educational system among other factors to assess the locations."India remains the undisputed leader in offshore services, but increasingly, countries such as China, Russia and Brazil are providing credible alternatives," the report said.Although positioned as India's greatest challenger in terms of its potential scale, China fared poorly on language skills. China, India and Singapore all demonstrated strong government support for the promotion of their country as an offshore services location in the Asia Pacific region.However, Gartner said the aim of the study was not to rank each country but to help sourcing managers determine which locations are right for their organisations.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Outsourcing trends

Source : Click here

Outsourcing exists on a fairly simple premise, If you can do something, there must be someone else out there capable of performing that same task , only cheaper. With VoIP and the Internet, almost anything can be outsourced with some time and consideration. Let us look at five unusual trends in outsourcing, all of which are likely to become the norm. Outsourcing is poised to grow exponentially as more entrepreneurial minds check out the tasks on the worlds todo list and figure out who can best provide those services for the least amount of money.

1. Getting personal. Outsourcing usually brings to mind business tasks, whether that means customerservice calls offshored to India or dataentry work farmed out to a virtual assistant. But why leave it at that. Why not outsource the design of your personal Web site, the building of your deck or reservations for your vacation. is a stateside service that allows people to put their tasks up for bid , anything from raking leaves to installing software. Right now, this idea is really in its infancy, says David Davin, COO and cofounder of DoMyStuff. But this is where the Internet has been heading all along. We all have specialized skills. The Internet brings us to one place where we can exchange those skills.

The ptop offshoring industry is just beginning, but research firm Evalueserve predicts that by 2015, consumer and smallbusiness offshored services will grow to more than USD2 billion, from only USD250 million in 2006.

2. Outsourcing the outsourcing. With success comes competition. While India is synonymous with outsourcing, its also facing competition from other nations looking for a piece of the pie.

Indias economy is in an upswing, and wages are rising quickly. According to a report by Gartner, Indian software engineers will be earning 40 percent to 50 percent of Silicon Valley wages next year, and the difference will continue to diminish, as will the savings American companies get from outsourcing.

At the same time, other countries are looking to India as a model of economic growth. A recent trade event in New York City, OutsourceWorld, boasted representatives from nations as diverse as Mauritius, Costa Rica, Canada, Malaysia, Romania, Malta and the Ukraine.

Indian outsourcing firms are preemptively opening offices all over the world to compete. Infosys, a USD3.1 billion leading provider of outsourced services, has 75,000 employees in India, but also has offices in several countries, including Mexico, the Czech Republic, Thailand, China, Poland and the Philippines.

Its quite likely that the next time you outsource a task to India, the person actually completing that work may live in another country , and youll probably never realize it.

3. Tutoring a world away. Tutoring can be expensive, but parents will pay to help get their kids into the best college , a goal thats fueling the USD4.5 billion tutoring industry at a 12 percent to 15 percent growth rate, according to Eduventures, an education research firm. But not all parents can afford the hourly rates at centers like Sylvan. So theyre turning to services like TutorVista, an online tutoring service based in Bangalore, India.

Founded by Krishnan Ganesh, the service offers a USD99 per month flat rate for tutoring; kids communicate with their Indian tutors via voice chat, IM and a digital tablet.

Ganesh has received USD15 million in venture funding and hired U.S. tutoring industry vet John Stuppy , Sylvan, The Princeton Review and Educational Testing Service , as his companys president. As of September, TutorVista had attracted 10,000 subscribers in the U.S. alone and was planning on doubling its staff of 600 tutors.

4. Automating the drivethru. When you place your burger order at a drivethru speaker, you expect that the person taking your order will also be taking your money at the window in about 30 seconds. Not so with Exit 41s solution.

To speed things up, the company has callcenter employees take orders using VoIP; the orders are then sent realtime to a monitor in the kitchen so that in the few seconds it takes you to reach the window, your steaming food is awaiting your arrival.

In Lexington, Kentucky, a Wendys master franchisee has installed the system in 16 stores and acts as a call center for other Wendys franchises on the East Coast. One highvolume store has shaved off five seconds from order time and doubled its capacity by adding a second drivethru lane.

Joe Gagnon, CEO of the Andover, Massachusettsbased firm, says he believes Exit 41s solution will become more common. Not only does it help increase drive thru capacity, but it also allows for the use of operators in lessexpensive areas , for example, a state with a lower minimum wage or even Mexico.

5. Power from the people. Crowdsourcing takes a task and unleashes it to the world. Think Wikipedia, the bypopularvote Tshirt designs on, or Amazons Mechanical Turk service, in which people take on fairly simple chores, such as summarizing a paragraph of text, for pennies a task. Google cleverly crowdsourced image tagging by turning it into a game, bypassing the need to pay for the task.