Global IT Outsourcing: Software Development across Borders - page 5


Foreword

Software is a key element in the increasing use of information and communication technologies in contemporary society, and thus its production and use are of major importance. Outsourcing of software production has been common for many years , but since the late 1980s this has increasingly occurred across national and cultural borders, a phenomenon which is known as ˜global software outsourcing . Cost is a major driver of this, with production normally located in countries with relatively low wage levels, but outsourcing organizations recognize that effective relationships with their software suppliers must be developed and maintained if full benefits are to be realized. This has resulted in various forms of collaborative arrangements, which can be labelled as ˜Global Software Alliances (GSAs).

This book provides rich empirical data on Global Software Work (GSW) and associated organizational alliances. The material is derived from the extensive fieldwork carried out by the authors over a number of years, with special emphasis on outsourcers in Canada, the UK and Japan, and companies in India as the software producers . India is a major success story in this area, with quite exceptional growth rates of its software export sector since the 1990s. However, as the book so vividly illustrates, this has not been achieved without lengthy and sometimes painful learning processes on the part of those involved on both sides of the outsourcing alliances. The longitudinal nature of the fieldwork carried out by the authors enabled them to trace and analyse such processes over several years.

The book can be read at one level, therefore, as a set of ˜war stories of the shifting objectives, personnel, relationships and outcomes of the various case studies. However, at another level, the book aims to connect these stories with the broader debate on globalization. The book argues that GSAs can be conceptualized as both a model of globalization and a model for globalization. In other words, that GSW, in its arrangement and conduct, both reflects globalization phenomena, such as the increasing interconnection of the world across time and space, and is itself one of the contributors to how globalization evolves, since all parties to it are affected by the ongoing process.

The authors also theorize their empirical work through an interesting set of six micro-level themes derived from a combination of their own experiences and aspects of the literature on software outsourcing. One theme, for example, examines tensions between the unbounded global space within which it is feasible in principle to conduct GSW, and the boundedness of the individual software developer s need to belong in a particular place, with all that this entails in terms of family and broader social relationships. Other themes, all of which are related , examine shifting identity, the complexities of knowledge sharing, the limitations and benefits of standardization, issues of power and control and the challenges of cross-cultural communication.

The book will be essential reading for academics and other researchers working in the area of software production and outsourcing, but it will also be of interest to the wider community of scholars concerned with the role of information and communication technologies in the contemporary world, and in particular those trying to understand the phenomena known as ˜globalization . Thoughtful practitioners will also find much of value here. The book does not contain a set of prescriptions on ˜how to do it in all contexts, since the authors would argue that action needs to be context-specific. Nevertheless, they do offer sets of questions which the practitioner will wish to try to answer in their own specific context, based around the areas of the management of knowledge, people, communication and relationships within the overarching concept of managing ethically. The book aims to contribute to both theory and practice in the area of global software work, outsourcing and alliances, and I believe that it will achieve success in this endeavour.

Geoff Walsham

Acknowledgements

Six of the chapters in the book (4, 5, 6, 7, 8 and 9) are based on empirical material that has been written up in earlier papers (or are currently under review). The theoretical lenses applied for the analysis of the empirical material, content and conceptual framework are significantly different from those used in the earlier papers.

Chapter 4 draws upon the empirical material presented in S. Sahay, The challenge of standardization in global software alliances. This paper has been accepted for publication by the Scandinavian Journal of Information Systems .

Chapter 5 draws upon the empirical material presented in S. Krishna and S. Sahay, Evolution of global software outsourcing relationship and transformations in identity, Working Paper, Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore and University of Oslo, 2002 (the paper is currently under review in an international IS journal).

Chapter 6 draws upon the empirical material presented in S. Sahay and S. Krishna, An empirical investigation and a dialectical analysis of a global software outsourcing arrangement, Working Paper, University of Oslo, 2002 (the paper is currently under review in an international IS journal).

Chapter 7 draws upon the empirical material presented in B. Nicholson, S. Sahay and S. Krishna, Work practices and local improvisations within global software teams : a case study of a UK subsidiary in India, Proceedings of the IFIP 9.4 Conference on Socio- Economic Impacts of Computers in Developing Countries, Cape Town, 24 “26 May.

Chapter 8 draws upon the empirical material presented in B. Nicholson and S. Sahay, The political and cultural implications of the globalization of software development: case experience from UK and India, Information and Organisation , 11, 1, 2001, 25 “44.

Chapter 9 draws upon the empirical material presented in S. Krishna and S. Sahay, GSO experiences in Korea and Japan: some preliminary investigations, Final Report for the Project, The Context of Innovation of the Information Technology Industry, University of Pennsylvania Institute for the Advanced Study of India, New Delhi, August 2001.

For the conduct of different parts of the empirical research, we thank: Professor Bob Hinings, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada Dr Michael Barrett, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK Dr Abhoy Ojha, Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore, India Professor Geoff Walsham, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK.

For comments on earlier versions of the draft, we thank:
Dr Sarah Maxwell, Fordham University, New York, USA
Dr Eric Monteiro, NTNU, Trondheim, Norway
Dr Chris Westrup, University of Manchester, UK
Dr Ole Hanseth, University of Oslo, Oslo, Norway
Dr Susan Scott, London School of Economics, London, UK
Dr Sudi Sharifi, University of Salford, Salford, UK
Dr Erica Wagner, Cornell University, Ithaca, USA
Dr Mark Thompson, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK
Jayant Sahay, New Delhi, India
Shalini Sinha, New Delhi, India
Jonas Bƒfjord Holten, University of Oslo, Oslo, Norway

For institutions who have supported different parts of the research, we thank:
University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada
University of Oslo, Oslo, Norway Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore, India
University of Manchester, Manchester, UK
University of Salford, Salford, UK
European Institute, London School of Economics, London, UK
University of Pennsylvania Institute for the Advanced Study of India, New Delhi, India.

For firms that have been the sites for the different case studies in the empirical research, we thank (pseudonyms are used to preserve anonymity):
GlobTel, North America
Gowing, UK Sierra, UK
Eron, India
MCI, India
ComSoft, India
Witech, India.

Abbreviations

ACCR

American Chamber of Commerce in Russia

ACM

Association of Computing Manufacturers

ASP

application service provider

BCS

British Computer Society

BPO

business process outsourcing

CCTA

Central Computer and Telecommunications Agency (from 1 April 2001 an integral part of the UK Office of Government Commerce)

CEO

chief executive officer

CMM

Capability Maturity Model

COO

Chief Operating Officer

DSP

digital switching product

DVD

digital versatile disc

EDA

electronic design automation

ERP

enterprise resource planning systems

EU

European Union

FTP

file transfer protocol

GIS

general information sessions

GRDG

Global R&D Group

GSA

global software alliance

GSODC

GlobTel Software Overseas Development Software Centre

GSW

global software work

HR

human resources

HRM

human resources management

ICT

information and communication technologies

IEEE

Institution of Electrical and Electronic Engineers

IIT

Indian Institute of Technology

IP

intellectual property

IPP

intellectual property protection

IPR

intellectual property rights

IS

information systems

ISO

International Standards Organization

IT

information technology

JV

joint venture

KPI

key performance indicator

MD

managing director

MNC

multinational corporation

NASDAQ

National Association of Securities Dealers Automated Quotation System (US)

NGO

non-governmental organization

OECD

Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development

PCMM

People Capability Maturity Model

PDD

Performance Dimensions Dictionary

PR

public relations

R&D

research and development

SSADM

structured systems analysis and design methodology

UK

United Kingdom

UN

United Nations

USA

United States of America

WTO

World Trade Organization