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8/7/2003
03:30 PM
Bob Evans
Bob Evans
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Business Technology: A Trip To The Cafeteria, Part VI

There's major trouble in stomach-land for the CIO who's headed for lunch with his top two lieutenants who are about to be told that most of their people and projects are being signed over to an offshore outsourcer, Bob Evans writes.

Your nervous system is still not fully in sync because the Starbucks near the San Francisco hotel at which you always stay when visiting your 1,200-person office in that city was vandalized and you missed your always-anticipated 6:30 a.m. blast of 48 scalding-hot ounces of Vento Carmelized Oregonato Frappe all because some vandals who want to be called civic activists but who in fact vandalized several Starbucks shops by covering storefront windows with opaque glue and posting bogus signs on company letterhead saying the cafes were being closed by the company to make way for locally owned coffee bars and the strangeness of the message rattled you sufficiently that you forsook the morning jolt and now it's almost 11 a.m. and in an hour you're going to have to go to lunch with your VP of application development and your senior director of infrastructure engineering and tell them that you've signed a massive outsourcing deal with a company from India that will result in the layoffs of 250 of the 300 people who work for these two colleagues in their respective departments and the good news is that the layoffs don't take effect for another six to eight weeks to allow the soon-to-be-displaced workers the opportunity to help train and orient some of the managers from the new company who'll be overseeing the work that will shift from the financial district of San Francisco to Hyderabad and is it really the lack of coffee that's making your stomach pucker or is it this impending conversation you're about to have because the applications VP for crying out loud is the woman who brought you into the company six years ago and who three years later at first bitterly resented but later grudgingly and ultimately gracefully accepted your promotion over her to the top spot and you know this decision will lead her to wonder just what the hell kind of career security there might be for someone earning $240,000 before bonuses whose team has just been hacked from 225 to 25 but you tell yourself over and over that there was no other way and the decision is right and you yourself were the biggest skeptic when the CEO of the

OTHER VOICES

"Now, in the latest endorsement for the radio technology, SBC Communications said Tuesday it will build Wi-Fi hot spots in 6,000 locations throughout its 13-state territory by the end of 2006, triple the total for the largest Wi-Fi operator, T-Mobile."

-- San Francisco Chronicle news story, Aug. 6


Indian firm told you what his company could do because you told him there's just no way that he could deliver in that amount of time the level of quality and quantity at a price that your domestic team couldn't match in spite of the numerous overhauls and innovative initiatives the VP had pushed and you're hoping the company cafeteria has lots of mashed potatoes no gravy and oatmeal and saltines and water because the thought of anything stronger makes your stomach lurch and it lurches again as you curse yourself for not having a final answer for your other lunch companion whose infrastructure-engineering team is really pushing Linux as a sweeping replacement for some older systems that are just sucking up too much of the operating budget but then again was there really any use in spending your time evaluating those proposals and plans because all of that work is headed offshore as well because your new strategic IT services partner has already done more than a dozen similar projects for other large companies and it has a production-level methodology that's rock-solid and you talked to five of their customers and every one of them said the outsourcer delivered on what it promised and your heart races because the app-dev VP has appeared at the entry to your cube and is asking if she should take anything to lunch other than the regular stuff and you say no that's all that's required and she asks if you're OK cause you don't look so good and you tell her you're fine and she says you'll feel better at lunch because the special is the Mongolian barbecue that you always enjoy so much and you just smile weakly and tell her that sounds really swell and you sure are looking forward to it. And you ask yourself how doing the right thing can make you feel so rotten.


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