Category Archives: Outsourcing

Accenture India Visit – Bang 2 and Bang 3

This morning was an early morning. Wewere out of the hotel at 8am to travel to the Bang2 office. This is all the way on the other side of Bangalore, about 20 miles or so. It took us an hour and a half to get there.

We spent the morning learning about the Life Sciences R&D Center of Excellence (CoE). I learned a lot about how our R&D division works, and how IT can really drive performance in that area of the business. The idea of a CoE makes a lot of sense for Accenture – they can train new people very quickly, share knowledge across a similar skillset, and bring new ideas to the table. I just dont like the idea that our competitors can benefit from that if they are also an Accenture client. We also had an opportunity to stop in and peek into the MHRA bay briefly. Smit used to work in this bay, and Laurent knows one of the MHRA executives from his earlier days at BMS during the DuPont Pharma merger.

From what I have gathered about Accenture, they have organized about 40 Centers of Excellence across their organization. A center of excellence is a way to consolidate knowledge across one of three dimensions: technological skill, organizational skill, or a type of work. So, for example, a SharePoint CoE would be on the technological dimension, the R&D CoE would be on the organizational dimension, and the Application Outsourcing CoE would be on the Type of Work dimension.

After our tour of the R&D CoE, we headed off to Bang 3 for an SOA discussion. There was a deep dive into case studies, their use of tools, and a discussion of lifecycle management of SOA. Laurent walked away impressed with the level of understanding of SOA as a strategy within Accenture, and may leverage their skills in the near future.

Lunch was a continuation of SOA for Laurent, but I got the opportunity to talk to Pavan about exploring Agile methodologies in the delivery of our Internet Marketing projects. This is a very intriguing idea. My concern is the Legal/Medical/Regulatory process, the time constraints of the BRM team, and the engagement of the agencies. But this is something I think we should try to see how it would work. I will probably set up some additional meetings to discuss.

The Technology Labs presentation was actually very exciting. They showed us a tool called RAT – Requirements Analysis Tool. It is a MS Word / Excel add-on that evaluates your requirements for clarity and completeness, and cascades through the traceability matrix and test cases. I love this tool. We should use it on our requirements documents, and on the template too. We also saw a tool called Pivot. This tool takes advantage of existing data (such as CruiseControl logs, ClearCase data, etc) to monitor project health. This is a whole new way to monitor projects, and may offer more project metrics beyond defect analysis. The last tool we saw was ACQT – Accenture Code Quality Tool. This is Java only right now, but is like an improved version of FXCop. You can define any rule to test against your code, and it integrates with CruiseControl. I would love to see this in .Net.

The Avanade meeting was a bit disappointing. We asked them to talk about the integration of Silverlight and SharePoint. They spent most of the meeting discussing what SharePoint was and trying to sell us on the product, even though we already have it. They spent the rest of the meeting on the architecture of the product, so we never got to see a demo. Two things struck me as a little strange. The Avanade team kept referring to SOA as a technology. It is not. It is a strategy for implementing enterprise level services (not just project level services). They also talked about the decision to use Silverlight was driven by the need for drag and drop, and the avoidance of postback. They could have used jQuery and AJAX and .Net MVC for any of this. I I asked, but never really got a good answer why Silverlight was better than any of those for this project. Maybe next time.

The Open Source discussion was very interesting. We got to see full project stacks using only industrial strength open source projects. We got to hear about all the different products on the market that are Open Source. I am not sure how much of this we are going to be able to use, though. But Open Source is a very interesting topic. It sets a lot of ideas in motion.

I had a couple of meetings with the teams back home, and we wrapped up the day. We ate at a South Indian Restaurant at another Taj hotel in Bangalore. The food was great, the company was great, andI had a great time. The Accenture team are being overly gracious hosts. I am not sure I could do as well.

Accenture India Visit – Bangalore Welcome Photos

Today I was presented with a great gift – a CD with photos of our welcome ceremony to the Bangalore office. With permission from Vasuki, I have posted them up on my flickr account. Please take a look at the photos of our welcome to Bangalore. It was very impressive. Our trip has been fantastic, and these pictures show the way we were treated. As they say in India, “Athiti devo bhava”. I just hope I have the opportunity to return the favor.

Accenture India Visit – Meet the Teams

Today was an exciting day for me. I got to spend lots of time with the Internet Marketing team. I really wanted to go through the profile slides everyone put together, but I also wanted to have the BRM and onshore team to attend, so I shifted that meeting to the afternoon.

Laurent and Jerry attended the Internet Marketing session as well. We took a deeper dive into BMS overview and strategies. We encouraged the team to make this a collaborative session, and to jump in with questions and comments, and they certainly did. They asked a lot of great questions, and was a very engaging session. I have put together a deck of over 150 slides, and we only got through the first 50 or so. We covered a lot of information, and we all learned a lot about the pharmaceutical industry, about BMS, and about each other.

Today I noticed a lot of small details that the team has put into hosting Laurent and I. They have folks check in with coffee and cookies all the time, the lunch and dinner meals are all planned, and every day there are a new bouquet of flowers in the room. Today was a table arrangement with greens and lilies, which smelled fantastic. These little details make the trip so much richer.

I had the opportunity to meet the SharePoint development team in the IDC. This is a growing group of 15 developers. There is a lot of talent here, and they are most probably going to help me augment the Internet Marketing team as we explore migration to SharePoint. They had a lot of questions about improving their development process, and about the upcoming work in Internet Marketing.

Later in the evening, we finally got to review the Internet Marketing Profile slides. I had each person get up and review their individual slides. It seemed that just about everyone was a Sachin Tendulkar fan or a Roger Federer fan. Lots of people are chess players, too. Some of the favorite quotes were very interesting. My favorite is “Doing what you like is freedom, liking what you do is happiness.” Mukesh was even kind enough to notice I was a numismatist and give me a coin from Nepal. A few people didn’t make slides, and we had a lot of fun making new slides for them. We got a bit creative. I am glad the team is good-hearted. I hope they take advantage of the photos they have, and get even with me.

Dinner, again, was very good. We ate at Zuri. We started off with RC on the rocks, a local Indian whiskey. Again, Raghu ordered appetizers and the main course. Everything was very good. We finished up at midnight, and headed back to the hotel. Tomorrow is anther full day.

Accenture India Visit – Introduction & Town Hall

Today I slept fantastic. I got up at 8am, took a shower, and headed down to the restaurant for breakfast. Laurent and I ate together, and Jerry found his way over later. Breakfast was not quite as good as brunch, but it was still very good. I also found out that was included in the price of the room. This was a very good deal!

We took the Avis car over to the Bangalore 6 office. Laurent and were met with an unexpected welcome. We were presented with sandalwood necklaces that smelled wonderful. The team had arranged for the Bristol-Myers Squibb logo to be made out of blue and white rice on the floor of the entrance. We were asked to light some ceremonial oil lamps. And, we were followed around by a photographer. It was truly impressive. As Jerry said, we were treated like a superstar.

We were set up in a conference room on the third floor. After setting up our laptops and checking our emails, Vasuki gave a presentation as an overview of the IDC, or India Delivery Center. It was very interesting to see the statistics on the India sites. There are 6 different buildings in Bangalore, and there are 20,000 Accenture employees just in those Bangalore offices. Jerry followed up with an engagement overview deck, outlining the different teams focusing on the BMS engagement.

Following the two overview presentations was an all hands Town Hall in Bang 6. This meeting included all the Accenture folks on the BMS engagement. I always seem to get a bit nervous before these types of presentations. There was no real need for me to, though, as I have a strong grasp on the material I was presenting. Laurent and I shared the presentation. He covered the bulk of the material, including BMS IM, Enterprise Architecture, and SOA. I covered the corporate strategies around the brands, and covered some Internet Marketing specific slides at the end. The material was very well received, and was a big success. I was very happy not only on how well received the material was, but also how I kept the audience engaged. There were not as many questions as I had hoped, but the ones asked were very good.

After the town hall was lunch. Our Accenture hosts have been wonderful at providing lunch for us every day. Following lunch was a discussion on tools and connectivity. More applications that I knew have been delivered to the offshore team through Citrix. This speeds up some things, but makes a lot of other things more difficult, including managing files. I need to spend some time with the team and make sure we are using our tools over Accenture’s connection to BMS to their full potential.

We spent time meeting each of the team leads across Laurent’s organization. Each presented their area, discussed staffing, completed projects, upcoming work, and success stories. This gave me a great picture of all the work we are doing, and it was just within Laurent’s overall area. After this meeting, I took two calls with the U.S. – the technical team meeting, and the new work intake meeting.

While we were wrapping up the day, and waiting to leave for dinner, Raghu pointed out the windowand showed us the bank of busses that return everyone home. The last set of busses leaves at 8:30pm. This is very different from home. Most folks drive to and from work in the United States. The bulk of people take busses to and from work in Bangalore. And, since the growth of Bangalore is exponential, it takes hours to get from one side to another. 20 miles could take an hour and a half to travel. The infrastructure has not kept up with the exponential growth, and that causes massive traffic problems. The logistics of work is so different than it is at home.

Dinner was at an Indian influenced Chinese restaurant on the other side of the Technology Park. The food was very good, and we got to enjoy the company of all the team leads. Building these relationships is one of the most important take-aways from this week, and events like this allow us to focus on that.

We got back to the hotel at about midnight. These are long days, with a lot of information, and a lot planned, and I am very tired. I am really glad that the Town Hall went so well, and got to meet large parts of the team.

Accenture India Visit – Recovery & Prep

When I finally got to my room, I slept until 11am. Not having slept on the plane, when my head hit the pillow, there was no waking me up. The bed was very comfortable, and the pillows were nice and soft. I am glad I got a wake up call, otherwise I would have had problems.

Laurent, Jerry and I planned on having brunch together. We met up at the restaurant at 11:30am. They didn’t start serving until 12:30pm, so we spent an hour catching up, relaxing, and drinking the fresh fruit drinks. At 12:30pm We were all starving. We hadn’t eaten for what felt like days. Brunch was great! There was fresh fruit, lots of vegetarian dishes, pasta salads, breads, salads, and lots of non-vegetarian dishes too.

One of the things that Laurent noticed was that the culture in India is one of service. Everyone opened doors for us, the gates to the hotel were opened manually, they walked us to our room, at the airport there were employees who walked us everywhere… Later, I found out there is an expression in Sanskrit, “Athiti devo bhava”, which means Guest is God. This is a tradition in India that honoring your guest is like honoring God. Hospitality is extremely important in this culture. This explains a lot.

After lunch, I went back to the room and worked some on the slides for Monday. Laurent and I got together at 4pm and reviewed. We did the last bit of organization, and called the deck done. I am really excited about doing the presentation. We have lots of great information, and I think it is mostly new to the team.

Laurent, Jerry and I met Raghu and Vasuki for dinner at the Northern Indian restaurant in the hotel, called Terracotta. I got to try the local beer, called Kingfisher. It was very good. Raghu did most of the ordering. The food was all fantastic. We had tandoori chicken and lamb shanks for appetizers, and both lamb and chicken biryani for the main course. All the food was absolutely wonderful. Raghu keeps teasing me that he is going to order very spicy food for me sometime this week. Raghu ordered two traditional desserts for us to try, rasmalai and kulfi. I was not a big fan of the rasgulla… the taste was fine, but the texture was spongy, and I didn’t take to it. The kulfi was a cold ice cream served in a small clay pot, and that was really great.

I am still adjusting to a vegetarian culture. It is very clear in their language that vegetarian is the dominant preference, because the word for those who eat meat is in the negative – “non-vegetarian”, or “non-veg”. In the United States, it is quite the opposite. It is assumed that you can eat meat, and has a special section of the menu for those who choose to eat vegetarian.

It is almost 11pm here. I am off to bed. We have a long day tomorrow, including our town hall presentations.

Accenture India Visit – Newark to Bangalore

The trip has officially begun. With a struggling High Performance Team, I was asked to go to India to help build the relationship, and help get the team back on track. I knew this was a good idea. It was an opportunity for the team to really connect to the work we do, and for me to really connect with the team. Besides, I love to travel, right?

Well, I took a big bite of travel today. I had the car service my house at 4:30pm on Friday. I like car services to the airport. i don’t have to worry about getting there on time, and when I get off the plan exhausted, I don’t have to deal with extended parking and driving home for an hour. But I have digressed. I got to the airport at 5:30 and checked in. I was at the gate by 6pm. Business class meant I got to wait in the President’s Lounge. That is where I met up with Laurent and Jerry. We had a few drinks, and piled onto the plane. the rain did not cause any delays, and we left (relatively) on time at 8:30pm.

The 15 1/2 hour flight to Mumbai did not go very quickly for me. They started us off with dinner, which was surprisingly good. It was a curry chicken. All the courses of dinner took about two to three hours. I worked on my slides for all of my presentations, and that ate another 2 hours. With my power cord packed, that was all I could get out of the laptop. I watched the new Star Trek movie, and Iron Man, and that took up another 4 hours. That left 6 hours of me trying to fall asleep without success.

Once in Mumbai, we had a 4 hour layover to Bangalore. I upgraded my ticket to first class on the India Air trip, so that I could sit with Laurent and Jerry in their executive lounge. We talked a lot to pass the time, and I worked some more on my slides. The flight to Bangalore was uneventful, and we got our baggage without too much pain. The hotel is 45 minutes from the airport, but the rainstorm we hit extended that a bit more.

I am finally in my hotel. After the hour to Newark, the 1 hour check-in and security, the 2 hour wait, the 14 hour flight, the 4 hour layover, the 1.5 hour flight, the 1.5 hour trip to the hotel, and the little bits of time in between, Newark to Bangalore took 27 hours.

NowI can finally get comfortable and sleep. Goodnight from Bangalore, everyone.

Outsourcing 110 – The Outsourcing Contract is Signed

The Contract Gets Signed

While my peers and I were executing and expanding our contract with Intelligroup, our upper management was exploring a possible company-wide contract with Accenture. Rumors circulated the office, and everyone was worried about their jobs. Would they remain on the company side of the contract, converted to Accenture on the other side of the contract, or receive an end date as no part of the contract at all? It was a time of little information, and lots of rumors and speculation.

Mass Exodus

With those rumors came uncertainty. The consultants in my group were all told that they were to have stable employment for the next 9 months, and would be given at least 2 months notice if that were to change. That was not enough for some people, especially when they could find more stability in another position. Lots of people decided to start looking right away. I am glad that I had a solid, honest relationship with my team. They recognized that I was keeping them as informed as possible, and they let me know when they were interviewing. We were able to coordinate departure times to minimize impact to our projects, and I appreciated that.

As people left, we did not have enough time to post open positions, interview, and hire good people. We would also have to find people who would then stick around for only 6 months or less. This led us to look for other alternatives, like the Intelligroup contract that we had. We reached out to them, and they were exciting to expand the scope of the contract. We increased the number of resources we had onshore and offshore. Recognizing that training would be difficult offshore, we tried to keep as many people onshore as we did offshore, so that we could continue to pair up resources for each projects. We struggled a bit when we lost Jim Sharp, our Support lead. Intelligroup stepped up and identified a great resource, Gangadar Kotu, who filled both support developer and support lead shoes, and did a really great job when we were in a bad spot. Intelligroup was a huge band-aid over the gaping wound that was our staffing exodus problem, and gave us the ability to keep our projects on target and transition to Accenture.

Other Teams

On my team we did not run into too many difficulties on my team with the mass influx of new resources from Intelligroup. We left the interviewing to Intelligroup, and, we had a resource or two that didn’t meet our expectations. They did not stay around long enough to cause too much of a problem. Other teams had a lot more trouble that we did. They experienced trouble with code quality, accurate estimates, resource performance, source code control, and a host of other difficulties. Although the Intelligroup did pretty good by my team, we all were looking forward to the move to Accenture for different reasons – new staff, formal knowledge transfer, new tools, resource stability, and more structured teams. We all were hoping that we had learned from the Intelligroup experience, and carry that over to our Accenture contract.

I am sure that the folks I worked with on my team, my peers, and their teams, will have lots to add about the Intelligroup contract. I hope they post their comments and share their experiences here.

What Next

In my next post, I will over the Accenture Knowledge Transfer, the Shadow Period, and the High Performance Team kickoff.