Saturday, March 7, 2009

Job, part 15

From time to time, I stumble across information that may not have been intended for my eyes. It was not something I went out of my way to uncover. Someone left some planning documents in a public place; my perception is that they should not have done that. I don't know who did it, all I know is I saw it.

This kind of thing is probably not uncommon in many offices. I would guess it depends partially on the size of the company and how things are organized for that to happen.

The document was a chart of planned headcount, per quarter, for the current quarter and the next fiscal year, for the various projects in our extended department. Needless to say, it was interesting.

Of course, there is no guarantee that what is planned will actually happen, and of course there is the remote possibility that this document is purposely false. I doubt the latter, and totally familiar with the former.

It showed no changes in total headcount for the group I am in. That tells me that, according to this document, no layoffs are planned.

Needless to day, things could always deteriorate unexpectedly, and--poof!, it could all be gone. But it is nice to see that they aren't planning to let people go.

What it did show were three interesting facts. Firstly, it showed the how personnel will be shifted from some projects to others. Secondly, it showed no increase in department headcount. Thirdly, it showed a large increase in outsource company headcount.

It only showed numbers of personnel on projects, not the names of who would be moved where. That will be interesting when it happens.

This confirms what I had heard: putting some products in maintenance mode and then transferring the maintenance of these products to the outsource company, and it also confirms the decision to put most internal company resources into the as-yet-unreleased product currently under development.

There are precious few in the office with whom I can share this information. Discretion of course is utmost. I do know whom I can trust.


Needless to say, there are some problems immediately obvious with such a strategy. The transition necessary to take large complex products and place them on an outsource company to maintain and issue bug fixes takes quite a bit of doing and significant resources within our company. From what I see in that document, that is not accounted for.

Secondly, doubling the headcount at an outsource company to handle more products without commensurate support back in our company will only place a larger burden on those who are tasked with supporting the outsource company. From the looks of the document, a too-rosy an expectation has been painted of what it would take to do all of this.

Lastly, the two major products planned for transferring maintenance to the outsource company are at this moment undergoing their final months of development prior to release. While transfer to the outsource company is planned subsequent to their release, that is normally the time when almost as much activity occurs compare to prior to release. Post-release add on features, features that did not make it into the released version, customer crises, important bug fixes, etc., all happen just after the product is released. To expect transfer to the outsource company at that time significantly increases risk of not being able to provide support and bug fixes that customers expect when they first install and get the system up and running.

So, we'll see.