“Nine Indian Women Cannot Make a Baby in One Month!”

“Adding more men to a late project makes it later. Adding a crowd of Indian developers to a late project makes it crash,” says project manager Rob Givens.

Givens works as project manager for a big IT-consulting company in London. He manages one of the big government modernization projects, “The citizens can help themselves”. And to help the British citizens to eventually help themselves, Givens is helped out by a bunch of Indian software engineers flown in from Bombay.

It was the American computer scientist Frederick Phillips Brooks, Jr. who once said that “adding manpower to a late software project makes it later.” Brooks added that “nine women can’t make a baby in one month” and it became Brooks’ Law.

Hey, Cheeky!

Fred Brooks was so right!

Our customer asks me “how many man hours did we get for the tax money this month, hey?”

I have to admit that they get an insane amount of man hours for the money, but then we’re not building anything remotely close to what they ordered. This is supposed to be a self service project for the citizens, but this is like handing them a crutch when they dream of a wheelchair.

So we fly him in from Bombay and put him in a nice hotel. He bills like a bill master. The hourly rate is one fifth of the native developer out of London University, but there are so many of them. He is in the office 16 hours during the week, 12 hours on Saturdays. Sundays he stays in the hotel room, but that’s just because of his office key card church-block. He types a lot of code lines in that period of time. If we paid him per line of code, he would be the real life Slumdog Millionaire.

So we get a lot of stuff we do not want nor asked for. I try to talk to my boss about it, but he is deaf on that ear:

“Hey, Bill! Is it OK that I call you Bill? Bill the biller?” “No, my name is Rob…” “OK, Bill it is … So if I understand you correctly, you’re having some issues with billing too many hours? Let me clear out my ear canals so I’m sure I hear you correctly. You say we bill too many hours? Too many isn’t a phrase we use in that context, is that perfectly clear?”

I try to tell him that it’s not the numbers, but the content. But the world is all about numbers, the bigger the better, when the colour of the topic is green. Money is green.

“Adding more men to a late project makes us richer!” Rob’s Law.

Best regards,

Rob Givens


This is a post in the Outsourcing to India series. Posts in this series:



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