Tuesday, June 14, 2005

      Wrong man for the wrong job

I believe there is a serious yet fundemental issue in my current job.

My aspiration is to deliver large scale, enterprise level software solutions. This does not seem aligned with my company's mission whose core business is in telephony solutions. Everyone in the company, less my team, has little idea on what it takes to deliver software solution like that. I am not trying to belittle people here, but I think there is basically a mismatch. If the people's expertise is in telephony and hardware solutions, then might as well stick to it, and make good of it. Why venture into software?

If indeed there is a commitment to drive a new growth in the company, then why is there so much reservations in committing resources to this new endeavor? Frankly, I wonder if they truly are so naive to think that by employing a number of developers who can write codes, they consider themselves having software capability? I have serious reasons to believe so.

Firstly, there is lots of talks about importance to have a software product, via R&D. However, there is no willingness to commit headcounts into the R&D effort. Even the only developer assign full-time to this project seems too much, and has to take on additional custom projects for clients. The first version of Microsoft Word took 2 years of R&D, using nearly 200 developers. If only they have the slightest idea. Maybe they were using a different dictationary when defining the word "R&D".

Secondly, I was shoved a non-development trained guy to do data migration so as to cut cost. "Just trian him to run the SQL scripts", I was told. So they really think its that simple, huh? Sigh... I relented, and today that guy screwed up, and I have to clean up the mess. A pity I wasn't strong enough to stand my case.

Thirdly, there is the constant issue of not having enough revenue for new headcounts. Yet all the projects are almost always cut to nearly zero profit margin. "Your team is running on cost-to-cost," I was told again. Without profit margin and willingness to inject capital, how to grow capabilities? If there aren't enough projects to generate revenue, then what efforts are pushed by the sales to make this happen? They are still selling phones and PABXs only, for goodness sake.

So basically, at the end of the day, I am always on the losing end of this struggle. With the management not having any software solutions background, I often have difficulty in getting management buy-in, cause they just don't appreciate what it takes to get things done. Their action says that they are not really interested in developing new capability in delivering software solutions. They are just interested in additional revenue, quick and easy one at that. Sigh... That's half the battle lost.

Yes, this is a chicken and egg issue, and they exists in all companies; Do we have the product to sell and generate revenue first? Or have the developement team first to produce the product, but suffer increased cost? Well, that's no simple question to answer. But as far as I can see, I also lose the other half of the battle; coz the management wants the egg first without the chicken. Or maybe, more precisely, they expect a lot of eggs by giving me one skinny chicken.

This is really quite a negative blog, so much problem-orientation, so much bitterness. Not something that I would normally want to express, but I just wish to let off some steam here. I had tried to be positive and wanted to give this endeavor a chance many times. By now, I've realised that I am fighting a lone battle, against a whole lot of mis-expectations. I find myself asking, "what's the point of striving on? what are you trying to prove?"

In conclusion, there is either a whole lot of mismatch in expectations, in the mission of the company and my personal vision, or that I am simply not the right man for this job.

God knows how much longer I can continue this madness.


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