Thursday, February 11, 2010

The Metamorphosis of the guy with the computer but no brains to run it

Why do we store experience Under our Belts ?
Of course I understand that experience in that portion of one's anatomy would be something to boast about, but to store every other experience there can be quite risky. For e.g. 'He has proven experience of sharpening blades under his belt' ..........Not a comfortable thought at all.
Wiktionary gives us the following example of its usage.
"He got off to a shaky start, but with a few months of experience under his belt, he kept up handily with the veteran employee."
If you interpret this sentence any differently from what I did, then I assume that you are reading this blog from some monastery or convent or may be this blog was opened using
The reason why I at all got bothered with this phrase is that I wanted to start this post saying that I would soon have seven years of IT experience under my belt and the thought just kept deviating from there. Apologies.

Seven years is a generation in the IT industry and considering the fact that I have remained glued to one single company throughout this duration does not speak highly of my employability. In my defence, I blame it completely on my Bengali laziness and my inability to generate any interest at all in what I am paid for.
Time and again on weekends, when there is absolutely nothing to do or watch, I have often wondered about where is it that I belong ? This thought invariably lulls me to sleep and soon it is Monday again and for the next five days, there is no space for such silly questions.
More complicated questions keep me busy and almost all translate to "What the fuck went wrong? By when will it be fixed ?"
IT is very interesting in this sense. There is always fire in your pants with little or no water to douse it. Petrol…yes and provided in ample measures by anyone senior to you.
No matter what CMM level your organisation claims to be or what the excellence of the operations you may have in your processes, something or the other will invariably fail after the delivery. That is the golden rule of all IT deliveries.
In IT contracts of bygone days, there used to be a Service Level Agreement of FTR (First Time Right) delivery. The very mention of the term brings out wild guffawing and hysterical laughter in IT circles. Speaking of Capability Maturity Model Levels, these certifications for a company are often misunderstood as indicative of its quality standards. The truth cannot be farther from it. The various processes within, were created by visionary people with the sole intention of generating work where none is required. It gives the management something to keep themselves busy with or seemingly at least. So the whole bunch of people who actually bring in no revenue to the organisation spend their entire days creating documents and generating reports of different shapes, sizes and textures.
So if you have been asked to document something seemingly very useless, then do not fret my friend. Your manager sees management potential in you.

A software professional moves through different roles/phases as he progresses in his career. Attempting brief description of the few that I been through/seen from close quarters.

The Fresher- Fresh out of college, it is this group of individuals whom you need to contact if you want to access Gmail, bharatmatrimony, Youtube or any other such useful site that may have been restricted by your mean and selfish network administrator. The excitement of a first job and their desire to impress makes these freshers the most sought after resources in a project. These are the people who will document all your sins and go and play Antakshari in the canteen to vent their frustration. They also are a rich source of those forward emails that keep you informed of stuff like benefits of coconut, Miss Infosys/Wipro/Cognizant/... each featuring photographs of the same group of ladies, emails about how the movie Avataar has been ripped off from our very own Rajesh Khanna starrer Avtaar (the similarities are shocking !!) and many more of such information that bring a smile to your face when nothing else seems to be going right. This bunch of people are thus the easiest to work with, as long as they come without any romantic liaisons. The ones entangled in matters of the heart remain perennially busy over phone.

The Module/Group Lead - People with 2-3 years of experience in IT, irrespective of what they actually do in their jobs will invariably be a module lead in their resume. This is actually a ghost role created to placate hurt egos at not being sent onsite. With the lead word attached in his signature, he gets a feeling of authority which is very important to us Indians.
I often wonder, why is there this immense fascination among us Indians to be leaders. Everyone wants to lead something or the other. When I was of this module lead age, I was bypassed even for the Fire Warden role of my floor. So much for my leadership skills !!
You can identify this set of people very easily . It is that guy who whispers ‘Just give me a minute’ every time he receives a call on his mobile and walks out. Hunting for an alternate job is his life’s sole intention. Most succeed in their hunts and move on. Those who don’t, write blogs later in life.

The Float/ Bench warmers : The people who are paid to do absolutely nothing and often referred to as the Bench strength of an IT organization. Not officially allocated to any project or account, their only job is to come and swipe their cards and record their In-Out times. If, in between these times, he has made a visit to the nearby mall and caught the matinee show, shopped brinjals for his wife, or played non-stop Solitaire or Minesweeper, no one gives a horse’s ass. This phase in a software professional’s life is when he recharges his batteries and regains his belief in God, by which I do not mean Google. These float areas are the breeding grounds of attrition in an organization and often the management does not seem to mind it.

The Team Lead /Project Leader – This is the role offered to guys who have aged in IT and are no longer fit to deliver anything of any worth. Having thus fulfilled the primary and probably the sole criteria required for management roles, he is given the responsibility of managing a team of developers and yes the module leads too. He basically has the job of the Project Manager’s parrot and keeps himself busy by organizing useless meetings and sending out hordes of seemingly important mails.When he needs to show off something concrete, he would conduct something fuzzy like a functional training session or explain quality processes for the kids in his project knowing very well that no one would be listening anyway and even if they did, wouldn’t be in a position to call his bluffs. Undeniably though he handles a bulk of the day–to-day project management stuff and manipulates figures so that the project health sheet shows up just as expected --cute and non-alarming.

The Onsite Coordinator: Onsite usually refers to a temporary stint at a high paying client location based on foreign shores when you start planning for your two bedroom flat. Wives prefer such assignments even more for the fact that their mothers-in-law can only rant over the webcam. As an onsite coordinator, your ass is first in the line of fire. So your primary job is to sweet talk with the client and come up with innovative excuses whenever the guys at offshore screw up the system and the possibilities of a man delivering a baby are more than that of the offshore team delivering the product on time. Fire in the server room, developer attacked by Hindu fundamentalists, "Its working fine at their end" etc are some of the successful ones that I employed to buy time. You just need to sound convincing and speak fast. On the other hand , while interacting with the offshore developers, you start politely and end up beating the pulp out of them by the time the call ends.
However, onsite coordinators should never forget to bring expensive chocolates for the team when returning. It is after all a temporary stint and the wife should be periodically reminded of that too.

The Project Manager : Well, what more can I add that has already not been said and written about this group. Project managers in IT are no different from managers in any other industry. They seem busy, smile when asked difficult questions and will always curtail your leave plans. As regards what they actually do to earn their salaries, its anybody's guess.

As the Peter Principle correctly says , "In a Hierarchy Every Employee Tends to Rise to His Level of Incompetence."


Siddhartha Prakash said...

ha ha ha ha

Rajarshi said...

Hilarious again. Thoda introspective mood mein lag rahe ho. The metamorphosis has been wonderfully captured.
Btw I have often wondered whether we, the IT folks have any chance of redemption at any point in our career.

Neeraj said...

Post after a very long time. But glad you haven't the awesome sense of humour.. Great post! :)
but eerily true...

manoranjini said...

Hey.great that you documented the life cycle of an IT professional.This is confirmation of all that I always suspected of those leads and managers ... :-)

Nona said...

Congratulations on completing 7 years in the industry. The 7 year itch! :)

It is a funny post. But, are you really disillusioned in 7 years? :)

Himanshu said...

From ur Fresher part of the article I can easily make out it's totally upon me...... :)
you are such a gud writer.....I also came to know new things which I may be facing in future.

Anonymous said...


Manesh Abhimanyu said...

Amitabha!! our ex-JCAPS onsite coordinator.. :) That what an interesting post for yours. Especially what you blogged abt the Freshers.

The Managers description was a bit short but whatever u wrote was 101% rite in every IT firm!

Manesh.. Mak