Thursday, November 03, 2005

The Exhausted Indian IT professional

Very interesting post on how Software Engineers put in insane hours. link. (via).

IT work culture in India is totally messed up and has now started harming the work culture of the nation as a whole. Working 12+ hours a day and 6 or even 7 days a week is more the rule than the exception.

Having left for work at 8.30 in the morning and having returned at 11.30PM, I can only agree with the points raised.

However, there are a couple of points against the post.
  1. Respect for individuality is quite high in the Industry. Its very unlikely that a person would not be allowed to express his opinions even if they are completely contracting their boss's Point of View. This does not happen in most old economy companies and is considered a big 'no-no'. Most Indian Families value "respect to elders" above all else.
  2. A lot of software engineers still tend to behave like code generators rather than engineers. When a person buys a house, then the first thing that the buyer would demand are the blueprints. Next, the buyer would insist on shopping around for different colours for the walls, different tiles in the bathroom, different flooring options etc. One does not build the four walls, then decide where to add supporting beams. If only we spend more effort in requirements analysis, architecture, design, reviews before getting into coding, the overall efforts would be lower. Ideally, one should spend only 10-15% of time writing code and spend the rest in upstream activities.
  3. Software Engineers also need to put egos aside. A Typical Indian SE believes that he/she is the best person on the job and to ask for help is to admit failure. There is no point in re-inventing the wheel and by asking sufficient questions, its possible that there could be something that can be reused from a totally unexpected source.
  4. Software Engineers tend to focus on breadth rather than depth. A lot of managers tend to encourage this trend as well and are equally to blame. Someone who is a domain expert will not spend effort "ramping up". The result? Quicker timelines, with lesser effort. There is no shame in a 30 or 40 year old remaining an engineer and focusing on technical issues rather than management issues. Most companies assume that an expert is created in a couple of months, a domain specialist in a few years and a management guru within a decade.
  5. The software industry in India does not discriminate. It may come as a surprise to many, but a lot of old economy companies discriminate in many subtle ways. Sex, Class, Creed are irrelevant for software companies because it is a knowledge industry. Being born on the wrong side of the tracks has no relevance.
Myopic view of
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