Tuesday, March 27, 2007

How to Create a Good Relationship with Your Indian Vendor

Interesting article about working with IT shops in India...
During a workshop for Indian employees of a leading American retailer, Storti posed the question: “When your American bosses tell you about coding they want you to do, and you don’t understand, what do you do?”
The group answered: “We talk amongst ourselves to see if anyone understands.”
Storti: “But what if nobody understands?”
Group: “We would just try something and hope it works.”

In other words, they are more likely to chance doing the wrong thing than to ask for clarification. Why? In Indian culture, asking a boss to clarify instructions is tantamount to saying he doesn’t know the subject well or didn’t explain it well, says Storti. “Questioning the boss can be seen as shaming him.”

I am not able connect with this article fully though I understand some of the things that are being said. Having said, that I have also been on both sides of the coin, so my views are considerably altered.

What's your take on the story? Do you agree with the comments?


  1. As you say there have been times when we have assumed things and there have been times when we have asked questions.

  2. Actually I find that it has nothing to do with culture as such... It's all to do with the confidence of the person on the offshore side...

    If that person is competent, then he has no qualms in asking questions. Because he knows what he is asking is either going to be a valid clarification, or an analysis of the basic premise provided by the onshore team. This behavior is actually inelastic w.r.t the English grasp of the offshore person. Coz if he/she knows that they are competent, language problems melt away.

    But typically, with the software boom, you do get a lot of pple without an ounce of aptitude. What I have noticed is that such people tend not to clarify their doubts as it is likely that they have not GOT what the onshore team was trying to explain.

    So in summary - the more competent the offshore team is, the less likely you will come across this problem.

  3. As a programmer i have faced this problem . I had the feeling that constantly asking questions to the boss makes the boss to feel that iam not fit enough. But the problem that i faced bcoz of assumption was huge.

  4. from my experience, I cannot ignore this but cannot accept everything is true. for one, things are changing both with IT vendors and employees.
    and India is too big to generalize.

  5. Sometimes the American bosses themselves are not sure of their requirement and thus create chaos and confusion all around. Having lived in US for 9 years, I know. And again, many project managers in India too don't undertand the requirement, sometimes due to diffidence and plod along hoping the end result would turn out okay.

    I can't see things changing soon as fault lies in lack of clarity both onsite and offshore.