Indian Outsourcers: Now Catering to a Discriminating European Clientele

As a self-proclaimed uncouth American, I find articles like this one in The Wall Street Journal both hilarious and educational. The subject of the story's pen is how Indian outsourcing providers such as Infosys are putting their employees through European cultural training as business slips in the US. Among other mannerisms, Indian employees are now learning that in French dining culture, "always stand when a woman enters the room, never put your elbows on the table and, most importantly, don't discuss business during the meal." In a more serious example of cultural training, the scenario below highlights the difference in European business expectations across cultures. Consider this situation: "Carl, a German customer, gave Indian programmer Koshal vague instructions to produce a report by the end of the month. Koshal, expecting to receive more details -- such as what the report should cover, what method to use in his analysis -- and a firmer deadline than 'the end of the month,' didn't deliver on time."

Traditionally, Indian developers might expect more detail and a reminder before providing the report. But in Germany, things are usually different. "Why would Carl have to remind anyone?" an instructor questions, "he doesn't have to … he's German." What's my advice looking at the situation? Skip the cultural sensitivity issues and set the same expectations for offshore development shops as SAP did internally with SAP SRM 6.0 … 😉

- Jason Busch

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