Why is it so difficult for Norwegian companies to work with India?

Hi Everyone
When you do some writing, it is off course quite nice when people do read what you write. So I was quite pleased to see that Computer World Norway printed one of my articles on Friday. The article is in Norwegian, and tells something about why Norwegian companies do struggle in their effort to outsource work to different shores. I haven’t found it on-line, so will update the article with a link when I find it.

For those of you who are not that fluent in Norwegian, I have made a summary of the article here.

In order to succeed with off shoring you need good collaboration between IT-people in different countries. Different mother-tongue and cultures can break down this. But to be able to speak the same language means more than the ability to speak English, and culture is just as much about working culture.
Problems with documentation are one major obstacle for Norwegian companies. In Norway it is not uncommon to be in the same job for more than 20 years. In other countries, like USA and India, people change jobs more often. If you are planning to stick to the same work, why should you create that much documentation? Everything is in your head. The problems off course happen when someone else is going to take over the work.

If you plan to outsource some work to India, you should include your Indian counterpart as early as possible. The organization in Indian companies is completely different from Norwegian. There are different ways to do reporting, and not possible to change resources only one a 1-to-1 level. You have to look at the whole process and what you do plan to achieve. To include India form an early stage is valuable in more than one way. You will be able to use their expertise in planning and estimation. I have seen that Indian colleagues are very proud of the work they do, and it is important to build on that pride, so that they will be proud to work for exactly your company.

When outsourcing was in its early phase, it was quite common to look at India as only a subcontractor, and a company that could only help with coding after a clear specification. This absolutely is not the case anymore. Indian colleagues or suppliers should be treated as equal partners. There is no doubt that this is major advantage for the global players, who in this way can add expertise from all over the world.

In order to succeed in global projects, you really have to break down the cultural barriers! Try to do things together with the whole project team so that they can learn from each other. Indian colleagues who work in Norway and understand at least a little bit about cross-country skiing will find it much easier to work with Norwegian colleagues, just like Norwegian people who at least take one step to learn about cricket while working in India. These small things very easily work as an ice-breaker and will help the project.

Talk to you soon!
Karsten

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