Saturday, July 31, 2004

Surviving Outsourcing

Communication is the key to oursourcing. Here are ten strategies to use your communication skills to your advantage:

1. The Big Ball of Mud Architecture is your friend. Worse really is better. A BBMA document must be as clear as the architecture.

2. When writing the theory section, use metaphors based on concepts borrowed from unrelated fields. Biological ecosystem terms have worked in recent years, but like chaos theory, people are catching on, so you may have to move to something new. Quantum theory is always good. No one understands it and anyone who claims they do is likely an MBA. Promote him to be the site manager of the outsourced project.

3. Write very large documents. Fill the front matter with lots of architecture diagrams in .bmp format. Remember step one. Use the Capability Maturity Model. No one knows what it is capable of but every CMM document is four releases behind the running code. Completeness equals obscurity.

4. English is the language of international documentation. Master the art of the run on sentence that separates the subject with great green windy sunlit dry hot muggy purple modifiers from the verb and split infinitives through conjunctions that require GPS coordinates to find the period at the not quite end of the densely populated by obscure and not often used terminology that implements the verb. If you aren't good at this, use your MBA. They excel at creating obscurities.

5. If your company already outsources, be sure your unit has the task to design and document the architecture, not code it. If you share these tasks with your outsourced partners, use your MBAs as the translators.

6. Keep customer addresses and phone numbers close. Be sure they have yours. Every time they phone you directly to get around the call center in Eastaboga that reads your documents back to them using newly acquired Midwestern accents and lingo from the Bond movie, Octopussy, record their calls and send them to your MBAs.

7. Never ever ever ever train a new guy with a current foreign passport. Never. Don't. Promote him to Senior Technical Writer and have him join the STC. That way he will go to meetings and learn really valuable skills such as "Objects: Defeating The New Liberalism".

8. Don't answer technical questions in email from outsourced partners. Send them your documents in Word RTF with the .bmp architecture diagrams on 5.25 floppies.

9. Refuse to use commodity products on the basis that your system is mission critical and need those extra undocumented features for which your company owns the software patents. Think of patents as the new currency backed by the power of the Federal government as represented by an overworked, underfunded and technically incompetent US Patent Office.

10. Avoid standards. Standards are the mother of all service economies, and for you, that means learning new database technologies with natural language queries such as "Do you want fries with that?"

Remember: protectionism starts at home.

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