Social. Political. Economic. Career| Seyed Ibrahim

Serious issues & ideas. Trusted Sources.

IT Cultures, Processes, and Your Employability

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The IT employees should keep an eye on what’s happening in the industry, and take appropriate actions. If you have to the leave (either voluntarily or laid-off/fired from) your current company, you don’t want to find that you are NOT employable. For instance, you realize that you don’t have experience in certain processes when recruiters ask for those, lack knowledge of some technology, you spent too many years at a lower level, or your pay was so high that other companies refuse to hire you (Many large Indian IT companies are reluctant to hire anyone with a pay less than your last pay, even if you are out-of-job). The appropriate action could be learning, moving to a different team, or moving to a different company even with a pay-cut.

Types of IT Companies

1. Captive units are offshore IT units of large US/European non-IT companies, like Ford, RBS, etc. IT folks at captive serve just one company, though there may be multiple departments/portfolios

2. Service companies offer consulting, outsourcing & IT project development & maintenance. Examples are TCS, HCL, Cognizant, etc. Service folks, well, serve multiple clients/companies and oftentimes in multiple geographies.

3 & 4. There are IT product companies (e.g.: SAP, Oracle, etc.) and “internet” companies (i.e. they aren’t accessible if your internet access is down) like FB, Google etc.

Some companies fall into more than one category. So, don’t read too much into the examples.

Company Cultures

When a housemaid works at multiple homes, she is exposed to multiple cultures, appliances, devices, etc. That is a way to look at the experience you gain in IT Service companies. In captive units, you work at just one “home” which may expose you to modern management cultures, processes and technologies. Or, it may stick to old technologies, old-methodologies (e.g.: Waterfall method to deliver IT projects) and even outdated attitude/outlook (“No cloud for me, please. I want to touch my UNIX/Windows Server”, “Open Source is slow”).

Of course, some portfolios/units of a captive unit may embrace modern technologies / tools while others don’t, but most likely the culture & processes won’t be modern.

In some captives, employees are over-titled, i.e. they are given titles that don’t match the responsibilities and tasks they do. For example, if all you do is get requirements from your US parent company, and deliver those requirements month after month, no one else calls this Project Management.

[Source: LMC Software]

Two examples for the Culture/Processes

A) “Facebook has roughly 1,000 development engineers and three release engineers who orchestrate the daily and weekly pushes. However, it doesn’t have a separate quality assurance (QA) team or any other designated testers“. The developers do Unit tests for their code, and the code goes thru some automated tests. There are reasons for the absence of Testing team.

  1. Developers know the code better than testers, so developers should test the code
  2. They don’t want to create the ‘developers are better / more important than testers’ culture
  3. “Personal responsibility by the engineers who wrote the code can replace quality assurances obtained by a separate testing organization”

{Source: “Development and Deployment at Facebook”, IEEE Internet Computing,July-Aug 2013}

If you are a QA person / tester, think how long it will take for this thought-process to be adopted by more companies

B) The amazon’s (AWS) database offerings (like RDS, Aurora, etc), Pivotal’s Cloud Foundry, etc. have made creating, managing and extending databases and DB objects a lot quicker and easier even for non-DBAs. Installing, configuring and managing databases in the cloud now looks like a child’s play. If you are a DBA, what’d be the impact of these for your job opportunities or career growth?

Criticality of IT

IT is important for any company, but IT isn’t the core in many. In a waste management company the garbage trucks are more critical than your programs/servers. If your Telecom company’s billing application or database servers are down for a day, your CEO may not even know that. Yes, the bill generation and related items will be affected for a day. But, that is not as serious as wire-line or wireless network issues. If a section of the call-center employees or technicians of a telecom company could possibly go on a strike, the company gets in a panic (or, preparation for the possible strike) mode. If a section of IT employees quit, no executive would bat an eye.

I’m not suggesting we should work only at the companies where IT is critical. But, it is important to be realistic about your own importance, or even IT’s importance. I have seen people who think their job is safe because s/he is the only person who knows the entire app, or the only Production DBA, or with similar thought process.

Skills, Competency & Employability

At the lower levels (Software Engineers, Analysts, etc.), the skills required are primarily technical & analytical, and are pretty similar across the IT companies. But, competencies / skills expected at higher levels vary widely.

For example, in Service companies, the project managers do pre-sales activities. The Senior PMs do manage budgets. But, these mayn’t happen at captive units. Since IT/project delivery is the lifeline for service, IT & internet companies, you see them adopting modern practices like Agile, DevOps, Open Source software, etc.

As for captive units, some adopt & some don’t. Senior employees from captive units, without any pre-sales, consulting & budgeting experience AND without any exposure to Agile or DevOps, are at a disadvantage when they look for openings outside.

It is not just for managers. If you are a developer with 10+ years of experience, are you sure you can join others as a developer? Many Indian companies will expect architecture skills from someone with 10+ years of experience.

Workplace predictions from Gartner

  • By 2020, as much as 65% of knowledge worker career paths will be disrupted by smart machines in both positive and negative ways.
  • By 2020, non-routine work will account for more than 65% of U.S. jobs (up from 60% in 2013)

{Source: “Workplace Reimagined: Four Scenarios to Help Visualize the Future”, Gartner, 2015}


Five factors that contribute to unemployability

1. Lack of knowledge (e.g.: don’t know the DevOps tools, open-source development softwares, etc.)

2. No experience in certain processes (e.g.: Scrum, Automated Testing, DevOps, etc.)

3. Too many years in a position (The perception, in India, is that you don’t have potential)

4. High salary: Many large Indian IT companies refuse to offer jobs with a pay packages (CTC) less than your last received pay

5. Hyper-titles: In some captives, employees’ titles don’t reflect their actual responsibilities. e.g.: A person may be a “Senior Project Manager”, but in reality primarily does the job of a Technical/Project Lead



Let’s keep an eye on the changing nature of work, culture, processes and technologies used by major companies. Mere reading about budgeting, scrum, enterprise agile, PaaS / SaaS, DevOps, Microservices, Digital Workplace, Smart Machines, consulting, etc. won’t help us get our next job. Depending on our situations, we may need get out before we rust out.

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Written by S Ibrahim

2015-02-11 at 9:53 PM

One Response

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  1. Jack

    2015-02-11 at 11:34 PM

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