Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
IT

Utility Sets IT Department On Path To Self-destruction 478

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the something-about-insanity-here dept.
dcblogs writes "Northeast Utilities has told IT employees that it is considering outsourcing IT work to India-based offshore firms, putting as many as 400 IT jobs at risk. The company is saying a final decision has not been made. But Conn. State Rep. and House Majority Leader Joe Aresimowicz, who is trying to prevent or limit the outsourcing move, says it may be a done deal. NU may be prompting its best IT employees to head to the exits. It also creates IT security risks from upset workers. The heads-up to employees in advance of a firm plan is 'kind of mind mindbogglingly stupid,' said David Lewis, who heads a Connecticut-based human resources consulting firm OperationsInc, especially 'since this is IT of all places.' The utility's move makes sense, however, if is it trying to encourage attrition to reduce severance costs." Because it's worked so well for others in the past.
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Utility Sets IT Department On Path To Self-destruction

Comments Filter:
  • Just a moment! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 23, 2013 @06:38PM (#44929487)

    Just finishing my last trojans and timebombs...now they can fire me.

    • by Tablizer (95088) on Monday September 23, 2013 @06:59PM (#44929673) Journal

      Just finishing my last trojans and timebombs...now they can fire me.

      Just outsource your mayhem coding, it's cheaper and quicker.

      • by locopuyo (1433631)
        Not if you want it to compile.
        • Re:Just a moment! (Score:5, Interesting)

          by jtownatpunk.net (245670) on Monday September 23, 2013 @08:50PM (#44930445)

          That reminds me of waaaaay back when I needed a backup solution that could handle a crap-ton of small files. The DOS and Win3.11 backup programs were limited to 65,536 files in a backup set. I asked a friend who worked for a backup company if they had anything that didn't suck. He said their new Win95 product could handle all of my files in a single backup set but, in a nutshell, it sucked. It would work but I'd be annoyed with it. Their OS/2 product was about to get a major upgrade and would be able to handle all the tiny files but it wasn't done yet. "I'll see what I can do."

          A few days later, he handed me a floppy and said, "It compiled. Past that, you're on your own." Used that for a couple years until we upgraded to DAT and new software, also written by his company but an actual product this time licensed and everything.

    • Re:Just a moment! (Score:4, Insightful)

      by eth1 (94901) on Monday September 23, 2013 @08:00PM (#44930129)

      Just finishing my last trojans and timebombs...now they can fire me.

      You don't even need anyone to do that. My experience is that competent IT people can pretty easily find a new gig - and they will, now, before all the good local openings are taken. The deadwood that's left has the potential of causing just as much damage accidentally or out of ignorance as someone malicious.

      • Re:Just a moment! (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Lumpy (12016) on Monday September 23, 2013 @08:15PM (#44930207) Homepage

        The deadwood that is left? You must not have experienced Outsourced IT.

        The sheer incompetence of the outsourced IT will do far more damage. It's amazing how clueless and completely useless most of these offshore companies are.

        • Re:Just a moment! (Score:4, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 23, 2013 @08:20PM (#44930229)

          It's amazing how clueless and completely useless most of these offshore companies are.

          Not really. You get what you pay for.

          • by roc97007 (608802)

            It's amazing how clueless and completely useless most of these offshore companies are.

            Not really. You get what you pay for.

            Exactly. The problem is not that the victim, er, company is not getting fair value for money received, it's that they don't understand what IT does. They're sold on the idea that it's a lot of overpaid geeks that occasionally get a call and press a button. I mean, a monkey could do that, right? And since the execs really don't understand deep in their hearts what IT actually does, they're willing to go with the salesperson's concept that it's an unnecessary expense. And so, the fleecing begins.

        • Re:Just a moment! (Score:5, Interesting)

          by Charliemopps (1157495) on Monday September 23, 2013 @08:44PM (#44930401)

          That depends on who you outsource it to. We have some of our stuff outsourced (can't have all due to regulations) but our outsourced guys are better than are local IT staff in most cases. But they are more expensive that the local guys to. They're outsourced not to save money, but to make the department more agile. They can have 20 guys today and 50 next month if they want. There is really good outsourced IT, it's just not going to save you any money if it's good.

          • Re:Just a moment! (Score:5, Insightful)

            by sphealey (2855) on Tuesday September 24, 2013 @06:17AM (#44932615)

            - - - - - They're outsourced not to save money, but to make the department more agile. They can have 20 guys today and 50 next month if they want. - - - - -

            And how exactly does that magic work? 30 people who are not only highly technically competent but who understand the intersection of business and technology unique to your organization just sitting around waiting for the call? Like the fire dept?

            Somehow, it has never really worked out that way any time I have seen it tried. And I've been on the receiving end of many a call from recruiters (ironically now themselves offshored) desperate to "fill this req by tomorrow morning" for minimum-dollar staff augmentation subcontracts to EDS, etc. $25/hr to the subcontract technician billed at $75/hr to the contractor billed at $150/hr to the client. Very agile.

            sPh

        • Re:Just a moment! (Score:5, Interesting)

          by gweihir (88907) on Monday September 23, 2013 @09:00PM (#44930503)

          The worst thing I found in code produced by "quality" outsourcing was a quadratic sort in Java to remove duplicated form the result of a database query that could have arbitrary result size. I do not think this can be made in a more stupid way that still works on (small) test cases. (1. sorting is done O(n log n) by anybody competent 2. duplicate removal is done with hash-tables. 3. Java has integrated hash-tables 4. the database could just have been told to deliver only unique values in this case.) The project had cost a two-figure number of millions at that time and was scrapped 2 months after my report. When I discussed this issue, the technical project lead mentioned that on larger test data they had observed very bad performance. Funny thing is, I was not even looking for anything like that, I was looking at security issues with the interfaces when I see this nested loop that looks suspicious. In essence I saw this out of the corner of my eye while browsing for a method header and then spent 5 minutes on it because it looked wrong.

          But, get this: It was the 3rd time they tried to solve this problem with outsourcing, it was a replacement for a critical part of their infrastructure and it was still the same guy in charge that had messed it up two times before. And that is the real issue: Unsurpassed stupidity in local upper management.

          • by turp182 (1020263)

            I see two issues here:
            1. No response to poor test results. They noticed poor performance but didn't take any action to investigate or resolve it.
            2. No competent code review (especially for algorithm related code).

            The "technical project lead" wasn't as technical as that word would imply (many times they are "passable" coders who are better at politics...).

            This is a very common gap, especially #2, competent code review is hard (not only for algorithms but also for service interface design which I consider

        • Re:Just a moment! (Score:4, Interesting)

          by rtb61 (674572) on Monday September 23, 2013 @11:14PM (#44931201) Homepage

          When you hand over your coding too the lowest bidder, who recovers all their costs in the first few claims for payment, leaving them in profit long before project collapse, all so some moron bean counter can claim a major bonus on a pretend saving, well, do I need go further. This of course is the governments failure, some regulations should be in place to heavily fine and imprison executives for failures in essential infrastructure due to stupid decisions. There should be some serious penalties for taking stupid risks with essential infrastructure.

          • Actually, I believe that CxOs and other key Upper Management and the board of directors for a Corporation should be held criminally liable for corporate crimes. There should be no corporate shield for crimes committed under the auspices of the leadership's directives. This would cause a change in Corporate culture faster than anything. No longer will "saving a buck" (or "making a buck") be acceptable answer for actual crimes being committed.

        • by Anonymous Coward

          Lots of Western programmers and IT workers convince themselves that their jobs and their industry are safe because of the low quality of outsourced IT from India. I think this is dangerously complacent.

          First of all there are many, many incompetent programmers working in the US and Europe. Do you think that all the snippets on TheDailyWTF were written by Indians? Do you think the numerous examples of crappy, bug-ridden production software, going back to the start of software as an industry, are all done by I

          • by SoupIsGood Food (1179) on Tuesday September 24, 2013 @09:37AM (#44935073)

            The issue isn't the quality of IT worker in India, but the age-old problem of hiring mercenaries. Some merc outfits are going to offer top notch fighters with lots of in-the-trenches experience and a good track record. They will not be a bargain. Other merc outfits slap any old loser into a uniform as cannon fodder, and pocket the difference. Both outfits will bail on you the instant it looks like things are going to go against you, and find some other sucker to pay the bills.

            More, as India's domestic industries mature, and they are at speed, their best and brightest will be moving to local projects, where their co-workers speak the same language and work the same hours. There was a narrow window of time where outsourcing your IT operations wholesale to India seemed like a good idea. In addition to not being a good idea after all, the window has now closed - they have their own businesses to support and economy to grow. If you want to outsource just to save money, you're really only going to get the dregs, now.

          • From experience, I can tell you the peak of indian quality was about 2003.

            At that point you had brilliant (masters and dotorate level) programmers working for bachelors degree pay.

            Since then, the quality dropped consistently.

            I.e. Indians are just people like everywhere else. The good ones have been bid up.

            And wages are rising so quickly that companies like Infosys are trying to get out of the "grunt programmer" market.

            I think the hole stays open another 7 to 8 years and then it won't be worth it to offshor

    • Re:Just a moment! (Score:4, Interesting)

      by MyLongNickName (822545) on Monday September 23, 2013 @09:12PM (#44930557) Journal

      I am glad this got modded "insightful", but the more likely outcome is that the most marketable folks already have their job opportunities lined up and only those without marketable skills (aka dead weight) are the ones who will stay with the company. Even if IT is outsourced, they will keep some folks, and the least competent ones are the ones that will fill those spots. And if they don't outsource, they've lost their top players.

  • by djupedal (584558) on Monday September 23, 2013 @06:40PM (#44929501)
    . . .to re-emphasize how bad of a decision this will become if put into effect. The issues waiting to occur have been well documented many times here, so I won't bother with them in detail. And know I won't take any satisfaction in saying I told you so later . . . well, maybe a little.
    • by cavreader (1903280) on Monday September 23, 2013 @06:55PM (#44929629)

      I would have thought every IT professional with a pulse would now know that outsourcing development or support always ends in a gigantic cluster fuck.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by jftitan (736933)

        I'm waiting to see this all unfold.

        WHat is going to happen is. Pissed off IT people leaving problems for the next guy. The Next guy is from India, so getting that guy to fix it is going to be a nightmare. THEN, after months, maybe years of total upswing in costs to keep the fires at bay, the company will say they are insecure. So very insecure, that politicians will use NU to show how America needs to spend so much more money on Private utility due to insecurities. (As if they were not already

      • by gweihir (88907) on Monday September 23, 2013 @09:05PM (#44930531)

        Not necessarily: If it is domestic high-quality outsourcing, you know the people personally and there is a long-standing connection, it can work. But off-shoring basically never works and a cultural gap ensures that. Same wit off-shoring to China. I have seen some stellar examples of software stupidity coming from there, and these were Chinese people in China hired as regular employees by a large US IT company. I have never seen so many obvious beginner's mistakes in any cryptographic software before.

      • by Solandri (704621)
        They had already outsourced all the IT professionals who could've told them that.
    • by amiga3D (567632)

      If it's a public utility failure doesn't really matter because they just raise rates to mitigate errors. It's the taxpayers that'll bear the burden of failure not the brains at the utility.

    • by catmistake (814204) on Monday September 23, 2013 @09:02PM (#44930511) Journal
      Don't be so quick to dismiss outsourcing as an option. IMO, its a great idea... but they're doing it all wrong. Domestic, in-house IT has been commoditized, and a reasonable, rational ceiling has been established for all positions. The money spent there is not waste, and not outrageous. Looking in that space to cut jobs to save money won't work. Its the same as saying "those cafeteria workers are sucking up all our profits... let's outsource!" I can't believe anybody actually believes the bull that flows from the top. But if they'd outsource every single executive and upper-management position, including boards of directors, they'd not only save so much money that their stock would skyrocket, pleasing investors, they'd have better educated, more ethical individuals working for far more reasonable salaries doing a much better job driving the company to bigger success in the short and long term. The shareholders need to stand up and demand that they outsource the suits and PHBs, if they have any sense.
    • by NeutronCowboy (896098) on Monday September 23, 2013 @10:26PM (#44930949)

      Oh oh oh! I can tell a story!
      I'm part of the support dept of a big cloud-service company. As a result, I'm supposed to help customers with their problems with our service. Two weeks ago, I ran into a request from a customer about white listing our IP addresses. Turns out they outsourced their IT department to one of the big outsources, with "Sam", senior network engineer with 20 years of experience, in charge of the problem. Here's what I ran into:
      * guy doesn't read documentation I send him
      * guy doesn't listen to what I tell him about our infrastructure
      * guy demands we put him in touch with our network engineers because he doesn't like talking to anyone put network engineers
      * guy spends a week demanding to talk to our network engineers, and ignores everything we send his way.
      * guy suddenly asks a question we answered a week ago, and is finally good to with his whitelisting project.
      * guy makes change to his VPN, and end-users on VPN suddenly can't reach our service. But his users on their regular internal network are fine. Guy demands again to speak to a network engineer on our side.
      * guy spends a week asking for a network engineer on our side, without doing a single investigation on his side.
      * Today, guy suddenly gets an epiphany that there might be some configuration on his side that might cause packets to not be delivered to his VPN users.
      * problem suddenly gets fixed.

      So after two weeks of Mr. Senior Networking Engineer with 20 years of experience doing diddly squat to resolve something that was obviously a configuration issue, making all kinds of stupid demands, asking questions that either were nonsensical or already answered and escalating the issue to the c-suite on all sides, it turns out that he didn't check his own configuration. Not fucking once. I was ready to fly over to where ever he was hiding and cattle-prod him into doing some work.

      In the meantime, yeah, I'm going to enjoy tomorrow's call.

      This story, combined with pretty much 90% of my other experiences with outsourcing IT to India, has me convinced that this is probably the single worst thing a company can do. On the upside, I'm pretty sure I have little competition from Indian outsourcers.

  • Why don't they just outsource to China and cut out the middleman?

    • by haruchai (17472)

      Doesn't China outsource this stuff to North Korea?
      Send Dennis Rodman to broker a deal with L'il Kim.

    • by amiga3D (567632)

      Hardware from China and software from India.

      • by ColdWetDog (752185) on Monday September 23, 2013 @07:04PM (#44929703) Homepage

        Hardware from China and software from India.

        MBA's from the US
        Judges from Italy
        Maple Syrup from Canada

        and

        Putin from Russia to oversee the project on horseback.

        It's a small world, after all....

        • Can't outsource the maple syrup.

          • by Lumpy (12016)

            Oh yes they can. go look at some of the low cost "maple syrup" Places like Walmart have "honey" and "maple syrup" on the shore shelves that are nothing more than flavored corn syrup but sold as the real thing. But when you taste it you know it's fake.

            In fact that crap is just about as good as outsourced IT.

        • by bmo (77928) on Monday September 23, 2013 @07:53PM (#44930087)

          >>Hardware from China and software from India.
          >MBA's from the US
          >Judges from Italy
          >Maple Syrup from Canada

          CHANTING CHORUS: Oil from Canada! Gold from Mexico! Geese from their neighbor's back yard! Boom, boom! Corn from the Indians! Tobacco from the Indians! Dakota from the Indians! New Jersey from the Indians! New Hampshire from the Indians! New England from the Indians! New Delhi from the Indians! ...
          BABE: Indonesia for the Indonesians!
          SOUND: Cannon shot.
          JOE: Yes, and Veteran's Day ...
          DC: But we couldn't do it alone!
          SOUND: Morse Code sending under.
          JOE: No! We needed the Hope, the Faith, the Prayers, the Fears ...
          DC: The Sweat, the Pain, the Boils, the Tears!
          JOE: The Broken Bones!
          DC: The Broken Homes!
          JOE: The Total Degradation of ...
          BABE: Who?
          EDDIE: You! The Little Guy!

          --
          BMO

          LURLENE: Where are you from?
          BABE: Nairobi, Ma'm. Isn't everybody?

  • Ok (Score:4, Insightful)

    by The Cat (19816) * on Monday September 23, 2013 @06:44PM (#44929541)

    Publicly traded utilities should be prohibited from hiring foreign companies to perform these kinds of jobs, in much the same way those companies are also prohibited from hiring foreign attorneys, architects, construction companies, doctors and certified accountants.

    Almost all utilities are regulated industries, since they enjoy government-enforced monopolies. They should not be allowed to leverage taxpayer-subsidized market exclusivity in order to engineer the destruction of those same taxpayer's careers.

    This applies equally to cable television providers, ISPs, gas and water companies.

    • Re:Ok (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Tablizer (95088) on Monday September 23, 2013 @06:56PM (#44929641) Journal

      Lawyers, doctors, and construction unions have better & more lobbyists than IT workers.

      We live in a bribocracy. Pay up or be economic road-kill.

      • This is what has always frustrated me about IT people, developers in particular. They are CLUELESS as to the need for professional associations, similar to what doctors and lawyers have. Notice I did not say labor unions, as that model would not work for IT workers. Most programmers think they will always have a job just because they are so smart. This is not always the case - legislation bought by large corporations can make good jobs hard to come by. Its about time our industry matured a bit and formed s
        • by jedidiah (1196)

          There are professional associations in tech. They just tend to be very academic. So they seem less relevant to the rank and file IT people working in the trenches.

    • Re:Ok (Score:5, Funny)

      by amiga3D (567632) on Monday September 23, 2013 @06:58PM (#44929671)

      They have a right to those monopolies. By cutting costs they are able to deliver services to the taxpayers at a reduced rate. Everyone knows that when they cut costs they drop rates?

    • by AHuxley (892839)
      If one big brand was allowed go to China for IT, why not allow more local US IT services to follow the same long term savings?
      The phone call is made, the call logged and a local team of skilled contractors sent out as needed.
      Everything is certified within the US, just calls and mapping of tasks is done via a longer network.
      Shareholders are happy, skilled contractors are still been guided to issues and on going maintenance.
      The fact that a vital sector is now mapped, costed and visualised by other govs an
  • by Murdoch5 (1563847) on Monday September 23, 2013 @06:44PM (#44929543)
    Outsourcing IT will only save you money and nothing else. Having a fair amount of experience in IT I already know the challenges faced between the geeks and the normal staff, now throw a thick Indian accent with horrible English on top of that combined with absolutely no skill and computer guided scripts they can't read, you'll be lucky to have a company at all after 2 months. Outsourcing has got so bad that unless I can talk to a Caucasian, with no accent, who is intelligent and well versed in what I want to know, I'll hang up the phone or ask for another person. It's not racism or anything stupid like that, it's purely the fact that 99.9999% out the people who work in these outsourced call centers know absolutely nothing about what they are working on and 98% of the time they can't understand English well enough to understand the problem you want to get across. I say no to outsourcing, it's a cancer to a company, it's make employees hate going to work or having to ask for help, it makes tension grow well at work and it makes everyone hate having to deal with anything.
    • by Lumpy (12016)

      Yeah, try getting through a Deep south accent or a texan. "Is there someone there that speaks english?"

  • Can't fix stupid (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Ol Olsoc (1175323) on Monday September 23, 2013 @06:44PM (#44929547)
    When Dell outsourced it's help, I tried it a few times, and it was almost impossible to understand "Chris" and "Bob". So I just never bought another Dell product again.

    It just doesn't work.

    • by sribe (304414) on Monday September 23, 2013 @07:07PM (#44929731)

      When Dell outsourced it's help, I tried it a few times, and it was almost impossible to understand "Chris" and "Bob".

      Wouldn't have mattered. I guess I'm better with accents, because I understood them perfectly. But they were flat-out lying to me (on two different issues, several years apart) so the outcomes was the same for me as for you: determination to never buy a Dell product again.

      • Re:Can't fix stupid (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 23, 2013 @07:32PM (#44929915)

        As a former US-based Dell phone support technician, I can tell you it's not US vs India. It's "follow the fucking script and get the customer off the goddamned phone in less than 8 minutes or you're fired." Metrics were a bitch.

    • The typing based systems, as haruchai has pointed out, are actually OK. Not for complex stuff as they're still usually running off scripts, but if you need an activation code or something similar it's much easier to understand. Bandwidth is much lower so connection issues are less apparent.

      • The bigger issue is that they often times force you to call them for stuff you shouldnt need to call them for(ie stuff you SHOULD be able to do online). They force you to call them to do things that may cost them money(warranty repairs etc) hoping that the frustration of forcing people to wade through menu after menu, spend massive amounts of time on hold, and maybe even the inscrutable accents will convince people to give up. You give up and Dell doesnt have to uphold its end of the bargain.
  • by Todd Knarr (15451) on Monday September 23, 2013 @06:48PM (#44929579) Homepage

    As an IT professional, what angers me is mostly management lying and claiming everything's hunky-dory and then blindsiding me with layoffs. When they do it even once, it convinces me that I can't trust them ever again. That's not a problem if I'm one of the ones being shown the door, but companies rarely lay off everybody in a single pass and this creates if anything even worse trust issues with those who're still working. At the very least this behavior will turn me from someone who considers it only professional to give as much notice as possible if I decide to go elsewhere into someone who a) doesn't feel obligated to give any more notice than legally required since the company's shown that's what they'll do and b) is more likely to start looking before he gets caught in the next round of layoffs. Whereas if the heads-up is given, I'm less likely to worry and be looking to jump ship because I know I'll have advance warning next round too.

    That no-advance-warning is only a good idea if you can't trust your IT people in the first place. And if you can't trust them, why are you trusting them to run your IT department?

    • The problem isn't whether you can trust them, its whether you can trust them after you tell they they are getting canned in a month.
      • by Todd Knarr (15451)

        If you can't trust them then, you couldn't trust them before. You just didn't have any reason to think about it before.

    • by Lumpy (12016)

      "When they do it even once, it convinces me that I can't trust them ever again."

      Only a fool ever trust their employer. NEVER EVER TRUST THEM. Your employer will throw you under the bus gleefully if it makes more profit.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 23, 2013 @08:53PM (#44930471)

      Here are the facts Todd.

      1: Northeast utilities is a regulated power company, outsourcing anything but the "build it there, use it here" shit (Transformers, regulators, software, hardware, etc) WILL get you in SERIOUS Shit with your local government 5,000 ways from Sunday not just from the IT Security standpoint but also from the downtime-is-not-acceptable standpoint.

      2: A 10k man company with 400 IT Staff probably means they aren't secure anyway because they haven't updated shit in years. 1:25 is seriously out of what IT to Employee ratio and IMO, they deserve to be replaced if they are that lazy. 1:50 to 1:100 is much more reasonable.

      3: Outsourcing doesn't work; nobody is ever happy with the results, which are often catastrophic.

      4: This stinks of control fraud. The moment management begins acting like they are committing control fraud, leave.

      Fraud starts with big companies undergoing mergers and acquisitions; execs and investors get payoffs as the bag is passed from sucker to sucker. Execs receive multimillion dollar golden parachutes and leave while bringing in bright shiny new people to take their place (the suckers) who try the same game over and over; the last set of managers are the bag-holders, and they don't get to leave so easily. Money is somehow lost in bad deals, or outright fraud (we bought $1,000 hammers, oops).

      Ultimately the objective is to asset strip the company and the people within the company by diverting revenue to executive and investor payouts. Asset stripping people means they reduce your pay, remove your job title, let other people go and see if you can do what they did (we made them redundant), and so on. Properly operating companies don't play games like this; they do not hire unless they have to, they solve problems permanently where they can, and they motivate employee's with revenue (stock options, 401k, no hocus-pocus ponzi shit either, real cash externally held from the organization) because they know "thank you" has always gone as far as "fuck you" and paying peanuts means you get peanuts in return. If "The economy" was really an issue, workloads would go down and then they'd get rid of people in the appropriate departments.

      This manifests as I don't care disease which is the result of plain burnout. The rot shows up as employee's not giving a shit and getting away with it (they are not paid enough to care or are not motivated to care, plus their boss is a sucker and just plain stupid). Money gets flushed down the toilet. When burnout starts to show up, and outrageous waste begins to show up (start job searching, be VERY particular).

      Once you see the "we need you to do the job of 3 people" crap start, get your foot out of the door. When you leave, let them, their boss, and their bosses boss (right up the chain to the exec) know in no uncertain terms the reason and that there are no excuses.

      Truth is with Northeast, The good ones left a long, long, long time ago.

    • by nitehawk214 (222219) on Monday September 23, 2013 @10:49PM (#44931093)

      A manager that thought I was a happy worker-bee was totally blindsided by my 2 weeks notice once. This was a manger that I generally consider one the best I have ever worked for. (Lost points for not realizing I did not like my job.) I like the man and am still friends with him today. And yet I still did not give any warning whatsoever, and gave no possibility of a counteroffer. It wasn't him that I did not trust, it was the giant evil company we worked for. I could not even trust to let him know off the record that I was on the way out the door. The company had a habit of laying people off and outsourcing for no good reason, and although my job was perfectly secure, enough was enough. Giant changes in the company were always a massive blindside to the employees. Employees are no more than pawns, cut a few hundred jobs to make the profit margin look better. Who cares if those that remain could not possibly handle the workload.

      No, I am not bitter, even though it sounds so. I am just happy to no longer work for the giant evil company.

  • by Joining Yet Again (2992179) on Monday September 23, 2013 @06:48PM (#44929581)

    Why would you outsource like this? It would mean:

    1) Different timezones - cannot communicate in realtime;

    2) Different culture - harder to understand requirements;

    3) Language barrier - even in the unlikely event that the developers all speak excellent Indian English, it is *not* the same as Americna English;

    4) Lack of face-to-face contact - being able to watch someone communicate, point at the screen, sit in a room together makes for far faster problem resolution;

    5) Lack of mutual value - a permanent employee is entirely your investment, and in return works and trains only on your systems, dedicating their work day to understanding what you need, and spending years at your company becoming intimately familiar with your processes;

    6) Lack of open-ended requirements - this is one of the most important things of all: all contractors bit you in the ass by working to spec, whereas permanent employees will be there to do whatever you want, when you want it.

    In short, paper estimates of monies saved by outsourcing are always - without exception - a crock of shit. Someone wants a hefty bonus, possibly by fooling executives re apparent saving, or possibly because they have an interest in the outsourcing firm. Most likely both.

    • by haruchai (17472)

      +2 Insightful
      Been there, lived through that and got royally screwed - and not in the good way.

    • by amiga3D (567632) on Monday September 23, 2013 @07:08PM (#44929737)

      I think it's that in house IT people constantly frustrate them by telling them why the stupid shit they want to do wont work. The foreign center will simply go "Okay, if that's what you want." This is usually why outsourcing IT doesn't work. Someone in house wants the company to survive because he's invested a decade or so of his life to it while the foreign unit simply works as a contractor and has little interest in the firm he services except to collect the fee.

    • by roc97007 (608802)

      Add: Lack of context. Silo A and Silo B of the outsourcing company don't talk to you, but they also don't talk to each other. In a complex, multi-platform environment, we're always getting one offshore group pulling the rug out from under a different offshore group, or informing the wrong group that a resource is going away. For instance, the DBA group taking down a database that's the back end for an upgrade the Application group is trying to do. We're told it's all supposed to go through change contr

    • you're just counting the individual costs. If you were a billionaire and owned tonnes of stock and companies you'd see the benefit. Just the saving from all the extra competition alone is billions and billions a year. I've read that there are close to 300,000 H1-B immigrants in America alone (they're not sent back when the Visa expires). Think about what 300,000 extra workers do to an industries wages? How about 1.2 million (which was the next planned increase until those bombs in Boston derailed the immigr
  • The segment "NBC tech support in India", from Conan O'Brien's old show, seems topical again: http://www.noob.us/humor/conan-obrien-nbc-tech-support-in-india/ [www.noob.us]
  • by Jane Q. Public (1010737) on Monday September 23, 2013 @06:56PM (#44929649)
    It's also not a very bright move when you consider that former offshorers have been pulling their operations back to the U.S. in droves.

    Over the course of the last few years, on the international software contract boards, I have more and more seen posts that say such things as "N. America or Europe Only" for hire.

    There have been way too many bad experiences with offshoring. The main complaints have been: [A] Overselling (i.e., the person or firm really had little or no experience in the particular specialty involved), [B] inferior work, and [C] incomplete work (project simply abandoned after a couple of initial payments).

    When other corporations are changing direction in a big way, why would they choose to do this? Are they unwilling to learn from the mistakes of others?
    • by geek (5680) on Monday September 23, 2013 @07:28PM (#44929889) Homepage

      IT is not a revenue generator. Executives right now are in a pinch to justify their ridiculous salaries by ever increasing profits in one of the worst economies in US history. My company just announced a 5% cut in employees across the board. Luckily, the dumb fuck execs realized they cut IT so badly over the last 7 years that they can only cut 2.5% from us. Of course, the only people immune from the layoffs are the execs, who not only got raises this year but have actually multiplied like fucking rabbits. I counted 6 new VP's this year alone.

      So yeah, IT doesn't make them any money so guess who gets shit on?

      • by Jane Q. Public (1010737) on Monday September 23, 2013 @07:42PM (#44929991)

        "IT is not a revenue generator."

        Wrong. IT very much *IS* a revenue generator. It's just not an obvious revenue generator.

        Most modern businesses of any size cannot operate long without some form of IT. And if their business does not operate, there is no revenue. Strictly speaking, the only thing that "generates" revenue is sales. Depending on your point of view at any given moment, EVERYTHING else in the company could justifiably be labeled as an unnecessary expense. Including the CEO's paycheck.

        I've seen this often before. They're cutting their own throats. They may not know it, because what IT does not show up on the books as a positive, but that's what they're doing.

        • by geek (5680) on Monday September 23, 2013 @08:11PM (#44930179) Homepage

          You're a fool. IT is infrastructure and an insurance policy when/if something goes wrong. IT does not produce anything, they do not sell anything, IT has no product for which a customer will pay. That in the eyes of an exec is a drain on the company and therefore will always be the first to get cut when they need a new yacht.

          Keep deluding yourself that IT is a revenue generator. Try pitching that to the VP of IS/IT while he stares at the spreadsheet showing the hundreds of thousands of dollars you requested that quarter to upgrade XYZ.

        • Careful with assuming sales isn't a cost.

          Many companies are going to automated sales.
          They want to be "like amazon".

          Company where I was at had a goal to lay off 4000 sales people and force all but the top customers onto an automated sales system with customer service (not sales) people as backups to the automated systems.

          It may fail here and there for the next few years- but it's going to happen.

          Because given a choice between $20 with a salesperson and $19 with a web site, the customers will choose the latte

  • Executive pay (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 23, 2013 @06:57PM (#44929655)

    Note that due to the various interlockings of the various utilities operated by Northeast Utilities, it is next to impossible to know how much people like Bill Quinlan are pulling out of the company, but according to one report, the executives at CL&P (connecuit light & power) get paid 11.2 million. Replacing 400 IT jobs with a contract to India will probably save less than the executive salaries, it is good to be at the top in a modern american company. Bill is a freaking attorney, pulling out about $4 million per year from the rate payers for making such hard nosed decisions as putting 400 americans out of work. Nice guy!

  • by l0ungeb0y (442022) on Monday September 23, 2013 @07:10PM (#44929751) Homepage Journal

    Seeing as how vital utilities are to our Nation's livelihood and welfare, I can't possibly see any scenario in which outsourcing the IT duties to any Foreign National should be considered anything but a gigantic security risk. It's no secret that any given network on the electric grid can cause widespread outages beyond it's customer base. Congress needs to pass a law requiring all Utilities to employ their own IT departments comprised of US Nationals on US Soil.

    • Laws are often created as a reaction to an event. The grid must collapse before such a law will be put into effect. It's only a matter of time. But as always, it's a game of "Hot Potato" with upper management. As long as no one drops the potato, all is well. And when it's dropped long after management leaves, it didn't happen on their watch. You see, saving money is a resume' enhancement to ink on paper shortly before shit falls apart. That, and it makes for great endless finger pointing activity.

    • by Teancum (67324)

      Unfortunately it is a matter of national policy that companies are outsourcing departments, or for that matter so much manufacturing has gone outside of America. The laws and regulations are such that most companies can't avoid fighting the trend. It wasn't that long ago (in fact in my lifetime and I'm not a senior citizens) when you could go to a department or grocery store and 95%-99% of the items found there would be made or grown in America. There of course were specialty boutiques and things like fo

      • by dkf (304284)

        Right now you would be hard pressed to go to ordinary hardware or grocery stores and find anything actually made in America.

        That's not true, and you know it. Nobody else makes Cheese in the same way that America does.

  • by JWSmythe (446288) <jwsmythe.jwsmythe@com> on Monday September 23, 2013 @07:11PM (#44929757) Homepage Journal

    Why did this part only make it to page 3?

    One issue that has yet to arise is whether offshoring the utility's IT services would create long-term security risks, particularly if work is moved offshore.

    Of course it does. IMHO, IT shouldn't be outside of a secure environment's walls. Even with "good" IT people, when they can VPN in from home computers and do things, it can compromise the security of the network. When your entire shop is off-shore, there's no one standing guard to make sure things are safe.

    The risks are huge. It can range from malware on a workstation, to malicious actions by a 3rd party or employee.

    The "what could possibly go wrong" goes from the confines of their office, to ... well ... the whole world.

    I'm surprised DHS hasn't said no to this. They're worried about critical infrastructure, including power utilities, being compromised by outside attackers. When all the work is being done by someone other than in-house staff, it's inviting exactly that kind of trouble.

    I guess "best case" here is that they're trying to get a bunch of people to quit, so they can get fresh locals in for less pay, screwing the existing staff in the process.

    • I'm surprised DHS hasn't said no to this. They're worried about critical infrastructure, including power utilities, being compromised by outside attackers.

      I wish. Their only real interest is in playing security theater by getting tough about the size of the hairpins grandma is wearing when she boards the plane. Actual threats are too tough for them to deal with.

  • by roc97007 (608802) on Monday September 23, 2013 @07:21PM (#44929825) Journal

    There really is a reason why companies make the announcement ahead of time before outsourcing. Really, there is. It's part of the formula. The outsourcing company sells the patsy... client, sorry. Sells the client on the idea that the client tells their employees that they're planning to outsource, so that the employees can then be directed to spend their remaining time in documenting their jobs well enough that an untrained person in a third world country could do the job.

    The outsourcing company will insist on this, and the sap, ur... client for God only knows what reason will think this will actually work, and the employees will go "sure, yeah, that's what I'm doing with my remaining time here. Sure. Not spending my entire shift looking for a job in a down economy. No sirree. My job doesn't take any original thought, creativity, or diagnostic skills, it's just a lot of button pushing and answering questions. Here, let me print out ... say ... everything in My Documents. That should stack up real nice."

    ...so all the regular employees exit carrying their sad cardboard boxes, cutover occurs, and it's a disaster.

    ...and the outsourcing company says, it's all the abused spouse's... there I go again! Sorry... it's all the client's fault, for not documenting their processes well enough. And for some reason the client will BELIEVE THIS ALSO. So the outsourcing company will say, we can't do this job as originally bid, it'll require many more 3rd and 4th level people (IE, people with actual skills and experience) and will cost more. A lot more.

    Five years later, the outsourcing company will assure the chump... what's wrong with this spell checker? CLIENT. The client, that the break-even point is just around the corner, really it is, and will volunteer to help sell this concept to the board. Meanwhile, the victim's argh... client's business has suffered, it's harder to do even the smallest office task, change in any reasonable amount of time is impossible, and employees are saying things like "for God's sake, please don't make me call the helpdesk".

    And this will be called Progress.

    • Thanks for this. I like your characterisation of the mark...er, client.

    • by Livius (318358) on Monday September 23, 2013 @07:59PM (#44930117)

      In fact the employees will carefully document everything about their jobs, and even in a fit of generosity, their previous jobs, in a summary (or résumé, as the French say). They may even have other employers proofread it to get an objective measure of how clear, thorough, and concise it is.

      • by roc97007 (608802)

        Formatted on the company's personal computers and printed out on the company's best laser printer over the company's network, and I'd personally like to thank the company for providing all these resources, without which, it'd be a lot harder to find my way out of this hell hole.

  • They trying to decrease costs and increase revenue, plain and simple. Some of the first few ways to do this is to try and coerce some to give up their severance or pension to leave early by leaking this news of this outsourcing effort. I doubt that they'll actually do this, though. The lack of security and liability by having a foreign company maintain a domestic utility provider's IT systems seems staggering. This would, IMO, fall into the purview of federal regulators or even defense in the sense that
  • by Anonymous Coward

    I'm sorry, so now we call companies "mindbogglingly stupid" for being open and honest with their employees?

    No, that's not right. We're saying that technologists are so untrustworthy that if we ever get laid off, we'll clearly wreak havoc and destroy the company in our wake?

    No, wait. Oh, I've got it. Companies facing hard and unpopular decisions can't win. If they're open and honest about it, they're morons out to ruin morale who deserve to be sabotaged. If they don't say anything they're...lying scum s

  • Saying they're considering outsourcing might be seen as a good move to encourage attrition and reduce IT costs... if YOU'RE A COMPLETE MORON.

    Consider: When outsourcing is in the air, employees can be easily divided in the following classes by what action they take or don't take.

    (a) The professional. He sees the handwriting on the wall, and immediately starts soliciting headhunters and calling in favors to get interviews. He does this RIGHT AWAY because the longer he waits, the more competition he'll hav

  • Hey, better finding out about it while you're still collecting a paycheck than getting escorted to the exit on your last payday.

    What you call "stupid" for the utility is of some benefit to the workers, and when it comes down to it, I care a lot more about them.

    Regarding the utility? I have plumb run out of shits to give as far as they're concerned. Any management that stupid is bound for bad end anyway. Who wants to bet that the CEO and the board walk away with nice golden parachutes? Because that's how

  • by Z00L00K (682162) on Monday September 23, 2013 @11:34PM (#44931303) Homepage

    That installs Truecrypt, encrypts all disks, changes ALL passwords including the Truecrypt passwords with random-generated ones and then shuts down everything.

    Good luck with figuring out the responsible behind that timebomb.

The trouble with opportunity is that it always comes disguised as hard work. -- Herbert V. Prochnow

Working...