Recently one of the articles from SD Asia caught my attention. The author Mr. Zunaid Haroon, a Bangladeshi Canadian and founder of Core Analytx, published this article titled “Why its hard having a tech office in Dhaka” and mentioned some pessimistic comments on the software and BPO industry in the country.
I am not saying the author got it completely wrong, rather I am just adding another perspective. I felt the author was sharing his perspective from the management side only. Since I have always seen this from the developer side, I thought probably it might help both of us or others who come across to this post or topic to understand and comprehend the gravity of the context if the issues were revisited.
Specially those who remember ham and eggs story, I am representing those pigs who devote the whole life to let the chicken win.
Before I proceed with my own point of views, I should clear out my position and perspective as no one is out of polarization.
I have been working with the local IT industry for more than 12 years. My career started as a freelance web developer and rose up to CTO in a number of local and California/New York based startups. I have built teams and worked with numerous colleagues and team from Bangladesh, Europe, America, China, Cambodia and India, most of them are luckily awesome in their work and in tech community. Few of them are still working with my current company.
I have curated my opinions on each point from the original article. Please continue reading –
#1st Quote from the original article:
While technical skills are critical for success, attitude is equally important. Although employees were paid above the industry average, they lacked basic professionalism. They failed to consistently show up on time, focus on learning on the job, and deliver on time. The fact that there was no local management is likely to have exacerbated these deficits in professionalism. The key to fostering productivity in a tech team would be to run a very disciplined work structure. Companies like Infosys and Tata have their own dedicated hostels, which help promote a professional mindset among employees.
Zunaid believes that this model would be beneficial to Bangladesh as it would remove distractions and provide a process driven work environment.
My perspective on #1st
Yes, I can’t agree more. They lack in professionalism because none of the management or companies who hire them never were professional either.
Every company I spoke earlier, every single one of them claimed that they were paying above industry average. But frankly speaking I don’t think no one ever knew what’s the actual industry standard is.
My question to you, if you notice this comment:
“Have you ever asked them or paid them based on or way more than their expectation? Did you help them to get rid of their financial thought? So that they can focus on your goal and can pay their monthly bills + save some extra bucks.”
One of my ex employers, once told me why do you need that amount of salary you don’t have any kid yet (when I was newly wed).
I still recall and respect one of my prospective employers comment, he told me “we’ll provide you better compensation package, so you don’t have to look for other opportunity once you move in Berlin.”
Back to your context, professionalism is something people adhere from the culture and community they usually come from. In most cases it is their working environment (as most of the people spend more than 8 hours in office). Rather complaining about this, if we at the first place could have setup the best team, we could have solved most of the problems.
One of my previous companies became cult in the local IT industry. They were so successful at that time that they brought up all the best engineers under the same roof top. Couldn’t survive long but had long lasting effect.
Regarding dedicated hostels, it’s a good idea indeed but again most of my colleagues prefer to live with their parents and commute more than 1 or 2 hours per day to arrive at their workplace.
Perhaps you could spend more into hostel facility, have you tried providing them flexible transportation service? perhaps not expecting them to come to office too early or forcing them to leave too early as car won’t revisit the same route after certain hour ?
#2nd Quote from the original article
There was a palpable lack of dedication among employees. Almost all of the resources did freelance work at night, which took a toll on productivity. Employees would come in late to work and fail to perform effectively. When confronted, the simple response was “everyone does it.” It is important that people thinking of developing a local tech team really focus on fostering dedication among their hires and work on company culture from day one.
My take on the #2nd:
It’s again connected with my earlier comment. Have you paid them enough so they can pay their bills and save extra bucks for future? Also on time?
If you really had a team with lot of them doing freelancing work during late night, you definitely had wrong team members who should have been fired at the first place. Then again anyone can jump into freelance job to earn extra bucks if they have dire need of money – the gap not fulfilled by the employer.
#3rd Quote from the original article:
Unlike their counterparts in India or the Philippines, Bangladeshi offshore resources encountered tremendous language barriers.
My take on the #3rd:
Sorry to say, you completely messed up with the wrong team, Most of my colleagues speak english fluently. Most of them are excellent writer as well (better than me).
#4th quote from the original article:
Bangladeshi employees took long vacations around the two Eids and refused to align their holiday calendars with Euro-American ones. This generated significant challenges in terms of product delivery and coordination.
My take on the #4th:
I completely agree with you, but they can understand the gravity of the context if you want them to take less holidays. I’m solving this issue by talking with them and asking about their preference. It’s really not a big deal.
#5th quote from the article:
Employees did not have up to date knowledge of software engineering methodologies. Given that complex software development requires collaborative efforts between multiple team members, such a knowledge gap hampered effective collaboration and required unanticipated training.
My take on #5th:
Probably they were too busy with freelancing work (as you mentioned on your earlier points). It sounds like lack of vision and inspiration from the team lead or someone who used to throw the challenge to them.
Being a software construction professional and being in the local industry, these are the honest opinions:
- We become demotivated quite fast
- We are overwhelmed with lot of challenges from the surroundings
- We are not challenged
- We are used to get comfortable too soon.
- Lot of us are not ambitious (doesn’t dream about earning from 10k to 200k or ++)
- We tend to figure out easy path.
But these are fact as well –
- With right environment we shine
- Many of us are damn passionate
- Many of us are up-to-date with the latest stuffs and with depth of knowledge.
- Many of us work day and night not because we are getting paid but because we love to get the problem solved in a passionate way.
- Many of us just love to code and reinvent the wheel with better than earlier code.
Frankly speaking, I hope you come back and give another shot in local market and instead of paying above average pay them what they really need and dream so far now. Make them happy to get a happy team.
I currently working with a startup in NY and am managing a small development team in Bangladesh. We pay team members as per their demand ranging from 1500USD (for the junior) to 4000USD. But these candidates have to prove their capability and have to go through the interview process.
Thanks for your nice writeup and looking forward to more of this kind.
– Nhm Tanveer Hossain Khan, IT Professional.