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Rev. Jul. 29, 2015

The Global Software Team: Jugaad Needed1

The Global Networks Company (GNC), headquartered in Boston, Massachusetts, made its global footprint
in India in 1994 by establishing a presence in Bangalore. Although mainly a sales support office, GNC grew
name recognition from its contracts with Indias government to help build nationwide networks. Not quite 20
years later, GNC decided to further invest in India and tapped a manager from the Boston office, Jim Notrika,
to establish and then manage GNCs first global software center in Mumbai.

Notrika had been with the firm several years, having worked his way up from software engineer to software
center managera position hed held for eight months when he assumed responsibility for the new Mumbai
center. His employees were now split between the Boston and Mumbai, and he looked forward to seeing
productivity from both locations.

Notrikas first set of decisions was about how to structure the Mumbai software center facility, as well as
how to coordinate the workflow between Mumbai and Boston. He decided that the Boston team would
interface with customersincluding all aspects of client engagement from presales to sales to
implementationand the Mumbai team would design and then develop the software. His plan was for the
team in Boston to meet with clients (all of whom were based in the United States) and then communicate the
outcome of the client meetings to the team in Mumbai. Allowing for the time zone difference, the Mumbai
team would work on the project, communicate its progress, and raise any issues by the start of the next business
day back in the United States.

Two elements drove Notrikas decisions about this work process: client involvement and team member
expertise. Clients often demanded solutions quickly and wanted to be heavily involved in the products that
evolved out of early presales meetings. In fact, some clients got so involved in the daily development that GNC
referred to them as partners. By keeping the Boston group on the client-relationship side and the Mumbai
group in development, each team could share insights within and between locations and stay focused on the
work it was responsible for. Notrika anticipated that this division of work would be more efficient and thought
it invited constant communication between team members in both locations. Notrika also wanted the Mumbai
facility to be differenthe did not like the idea of using global offices solely for support of the Boston
headquarters. And while recruiting talent, Notrika discovered that there was an immense resource pool of
engineering talent in India. Realizing that the software engineers he employed in India were far more qualified
than those working in Boston, he decided to limit the Boston team to client engagement and allow the Mumbai
team to focus on the technical aspects of the project.

Jugaad is a Hindi term that usually describes a creative idea or fix.

All Lawyered Up

The global software center started out by successfully completing some minor projects and, in the
beginning of 2013, was assigned to work on the implementation of a project for a large, prestigious law firm in
the United States. During the first part of the project, Notrikas team designed and implemented a digital
infrastructure of client records that served the eight offices in the firms system. That infrastructure created
massive efficiency gains in automating the scheduling of client appointments and scheduling orders,
streamlining generations of litigation, and improving client processing from preregistration to case closure.2
The next phase of the project was to integrate the law firms wireless handheld devices as a data input
source. Lawyers typically moved between three locations with clients (office, court, or jail) and wanted to have
access to a clients full file regardless of the locationsomething the partners believed was essential to the
organizations mission: Delivering high-quality legal services in a timely manner and exceeding client
expectations by solving problems and creating value in unexpected ways.
But just a few months into this phase, things werent going so well. Notrika had overheard unflattering
comments in Boston about team members in Mumbaidifferent assumptions about the work process seemed
to be the cause of the complaints. Work in India was behind schedule and workers there were starting to quit.
Rivalry started to undermine the relationship between the engineers in Mumbai and those back in Boston.
Although no one said anything to Notrika, while walking the hallways in Boston, he recognized that the team
was showing signs of strainespecially when he overheard one engineer complain:
Look, working with these guys in India, you have to assume deadlines wont be met. Thats just the
way they work over there, and they wont ever tell you any bad news so you can deal with it up front
I found another problem today thats going to add to the delay. When I do specifically ask about a
problem, they either just dont answer, take forever to answer, change the subject, ask the same dang
question 20 times, or talk about what is going right.
Things got worse, and two weeks into the project launch, the team in Mumbai was indeed behind schedule.
In addition, one after another, three of Notrikas most skilled Mumbai engineers quit. When the third
resignation occurred, Notrika hopped on a plane for an emergency trip to Mumbai to analyze the situation.
What he learned from the India-based team was confusing.
Old Box, New Data

The first thing Notrika noticed when he walked into the Mumbai office was a suggestion box on a table
across from the row of cubicles. After a quick round of hellos, Notrika took the box to his office, opened it,
and found four slips of paper containing the following typed messages:
Mr. Notrika needs to take charge of this team.
We are constantly accused of missing deadlines that we do not agree to. The U.S. people tell us that
when they assign an active request in the United States, it should get done and that what we need to
do is simple! We shouldnt need any more timeno agreement on that.

When the client starts to get demanding, the U.S. group just tells us to work harder. They make us
feel like us the bad guys in India. We might be bad guys, but we do all the good work. We make
all the changes that make the client happy and we work hard. The Americans know we are behind,
they acknowledge it outrightbut then create new active requests. It is downright disrespectful. They
dont care that we work longer so we can take real time requests from their time zone.
This may be difficult to get used to, but in most firms in India, employees address a senior business
person as sir or madam, not by Bob or Susan. The Boston people dont seem able to do that. Ive
worked in the United States, where reporting relationships exist, but for whatever reason, in our
meetings, they seem to speak to everyone in very familiar terms.
Notrikas management style included the belief that some failure was essential for success. But he was
concerned about what was going on with his globally situated team. He was surprised at some of the things the
team complained about and appeared to be quitting over. Notrika reminded himself that he was an engineer,
not a sociologist. Who could he talk to regarding what he should do about the situation?