Typical Issues in IT Company

Typical Issues in IT company pertaining to HR

Typically and generally the software engineers are more concerned types. More concerned with broader organizational issues than perhaps employees of other industries for such issues. In addition to the issues that impacts them directly. This makes managing the IT Company a bigger challenge for management than managing other industries. This challenge is of a unique kind. The uniqueness can be assessed by knowing and understanding some of the peculiarly typical issues faced by the IT industry management. Some of these are reflected below, as quotes within the text. These are real issues brought up by people to the management and I have been privy to the information during my continued association with IT industry of several years. And believe me these issues represent only the tip of the iceberg. Let me now take the broader ones, one by one.

Communication and vision

In other industries rarely management may have to answer questions that may be asked by employees as they do in this industry. Here is a bunch some of whom may even have just left the college, who is not only concerned with who the customers are but also why. It is normal to be faced with a question as to "What is the vision of the company and where are we going" and "Where is the new business coming from". If you do not tell them, for whatever reasons, you are sure to face the belief in the company that the "Communication to juniors is haphazard" and also an allegation that there is a "Lack of transparency between management and juniors"

When it comes to working, management is faced by another typical situation. That of: "People are isolated from each other". This is as typically complained by the same very people who also say that there is a very "Little communication across teams"

Excessive project pressures

This is an industry that is perhaps the best example of being customer centric and customer driven. This is much beyond than just being customer focussed. Perhaps this is the only industry that faces so much of direct pressure due to customer commitments. Employees feel "Mass slogging is there because of unrealistic assumptions at the time of striking the project deal".

Most owner-managers are professionals. Many of those who have pioneered this industry are first generation industrialists. To back them is perhaps their own or hired talent. With sky high salaries and operating expenses, the burn rate is much higher in this industry. Managing this industry is keeping oneself on toes all the time. The business developer is perhaps under tremendous pressure to get business. In most cases, the company may not have the traditional industry treasury to support survival in the lean or investment phase. To keep the company going it has to have business. Even venture capital funded companies need business. After all, where do the competition fattened salary packets, incentives, the individual/shared cab drops, the Pizzas, the picnics, the 5 star parties, joining bonuses, the car loan interests, housing loan interests, spouse foreign travel, the complete medical coverage for self and family, dating allowances, ..., the list of benefits goes on and on, come from?

When the business development persons hard sells, and gets the business, "It appears Saturday/ Sunday are included in project plan!" Of course, " It is assumed that late staying is a norm". It is a fact that Computers are magic magnets. They have a capacity to keep the engineers glued to them. But there are limits. "If some one has been continuously working for two weeks, the employee should be allowed to take a day off without marking leave". There is no personal time. "My daughter is now 3 feet long". People also often ask "Will we get compensatory leave for extra work on Saturday/ Sunday/ Company holidays?" I have heard people complain that "I have not gone shopping for last six months" or that "I have not gone for a movie in 4 months". People have begged for "At least some time to relax"! Indian software companies are getting business for sure, but at what cost. At whose costs!

To top it all, engineers do not always get to work in their own field of interest

"At least feedback should be taken from us software developers before allocating us to a project"

The story just does not end here. There is a peculiar dichotomy. This breed is hard to obtain, and much more difficult to harness. The employer hired the talent to assuming that s/he will assume responsibility. Whereas, the engineer feels "There are no senior persons for guidance and review of my work". An engineer recalled, "My best moments were when xyz explained how to make the software work that did not earlier". Thus is not confident and may not want to take on responsibility. Further, typically Customer is also not in the comfort zone with the young talent. A higher Customer Confidence level is essential for more business from the same customer. To reach a higher customer confidence level, "Responsibilities to the juniors are not there".

Employers typically find the software breed difficult to find. Much more difficult to keep. Salaries, incentives and benefits are not treated confidential. "Lots of disparity in salaries" are there is as alleged by the knowledgeable engineers. "At entry level there are discrepancies based on individuals' bargaining strength". They generally complain that "Those interviewed and selected by ...(The US Boss usually) have an advantage in salaries" "No formal policy seems to be there" and "If you are working on xyz's project... ...(The US Boss usually) you are termed as useful". All such things create discontent.

The job for the HR becomes tougher in IT Companies. While the corporates plan and charter out a limited and focussed role for their HR departments, that of hiring, while the expectations of people suggest that "The Company should concentrate on retaining first, others will automatically join".

Therefore, it is common to hear that "After first day the employees are left to themselves" and that the "Processes are not in place" or that "Career planning is not there" and "Promotions to be based on the length of service with the company". Still further, "People do not know where to go and talk out their concerns" or that there is "No channel for problem solving/ grievance handling". "We don't have transport arrangement for late sitting".

With HR placed at whatever level the Industry has made it to be placed as, it still remains receiver of information from the employees. Information that pertains to Technology that the company may be working in, "Why are we working in this xyz technology while the world has switched to zyx" or a complaint that "Tools are not adequate". When the feed back reaches and sits with the management, people soon come to realize that "Nothing will happen even if feedback is given in writing" raising another typical situation of the IT industry of that of "No delegation of authority from the corporate and also no spirit for taking on empowerment".

In house projects a bane or boon

Business may not always be on the boom. The company does not have enough work as of now and to keep the software engineers busy they are put on in house development work". The management uses this tool as a makeshift arrangement and as an escape and filler only to keep employees busy and not loose them as any way, people are most unstable as they finish up a project and are transitioning to the other one. The moment some other revenue-earning project comes to the company, this in house development work is put on the back burner. Whether this makes a business sense is debatable but it is terribly demotivating for the developers. They know and have a feeling that nothing may come out of the efforts that they are putting in developing for in-house project. To top it all, a typical IT Management treats software development as a cost center. And because of the in-house development work such projects only add to the costs. These costs become costlier if the employee puts in half hearted effort or that the project is not driven the way it would if it was a customer project. Managing this mindset of the developers and the managers is another real challenge that the IT HR faces. Whether the department is designed to, or even is equipped to handle/ manage or focus to take on this call, is a separate issue.

And last, but not the least, what so ever the company may do, there is no simple answer to
"My H1 was applied before joining and I have to fly next Wednesday!"

Rakesh Nayar
A HR Professional

Career Counseling
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