Different Breeds of Onsite Coordinator

Onsite Coordinators
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In our earlier post on Offshore Development Model in 10 Steps, we emphasized, the success of the onshore/offshore model is highly dependent on the attitude and aptitude of the onsite coordinator. Right mix of both the qualities is of foremost importance to handle this sensitive client facing position. Deficiency in any one trait would lead to extra burden to offshore team to fill up the gap.

Good communication skill is a prerequisite for any onshore position. If not prolific speaker, coordinator should at least be good in putting forth her/his points. S/He should have enough command in the language to propose and defend the solutions. They should have clarity in their words and should be able to explain the exact requirements to the offshore team. If the offshore team has some technical/functional question, they should be able to pass it back to the business/client in such terms which they understand (not too technical).

Consideration; is another trait they should have. They should understand that the offshore team do not have complete visibility of the process and design. The knowledge and clarity which you get by interacting first hand with the business/end users at client onshore location; you cannot expect the offshore team to have the same clarity by just going through the Functional Design Document (FDD). Offshore team see from the eyes of the onshore coordinator. If the offshore team take a little more time to understand the functionality, they need to given that liberty.

Not to forget, most of the offshore team work using Citrix (or some other remote tool) to log into client’s port. The internet bandwidth at most offshore offices (even in the so called MNCs) is already not up to the mark, and on top of it, accessing remotely using Citrix, reduces the efficiency. I have experience at offshore where, you hit the scroll down button of SAP screen and wait for some time before the screen actually scrolled. Imagine, how frustrating it would be to a developer who received a severity 1 or severity 2 tickets and they cannot complete the code change seamlessly because of this bandwidth issue. My point here is, be considerate!! While providing the estimation to the client, please do take into consideration all this issues which influence the delivery directly/indirectly.

Onsite coordinators who get opportunity to visit and work at client locations are supposed to be one of the brightest member of the offshore team. Their selection to be the coordinator is based on their historic good performance and demonstration of their good technical/functional and soft skills.

But as soon as they land at the client location, many coordinators start considering themselves as different breed. Or different species all together. They forget, they are part of the offshore team. Now there is a division : Onshore Team member and Offshore Team member. For any escalation, there are fingers pointing at one another. Onshore point to offshore and offshore trys to blame the onshore. They tend to forget; they are one team working with a common goal. If one falters, the other cannot have a smooth ride either. Just like the two wheels of a vehicle.

I have worked in onshore/offshore model for more than 8 years. I have had the privilege of working with some of the best onsite team members and also offshore leads and developers who work above and beyond the call of duty. They were simply the best in the industry.

But, all of us are not that lucky. 80:20 rule also holds good in finding good team members. 20 percent of your team are actually the ones whom you admire and love working with. And rest 80 are just your team members.

While working at offshore/onshore some of my colleagues and I, gave some informal nomenclature to some of our onshore coordinators.

Disclaimer: This post is not intended to make fun of any individual or profession. Any resemblance to real person, is purely coincidental.

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1) Postman Coordinator

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This breed of coordinators have some hallucination. They do not believe in actual work. They feel, passing the emails from one end to other end is their primary duty. Many of them might not even log on to their actual ERP system for days (exaggerated). Any email query from offshore member is forwarded to the concerned business/end user and the answer which they get from business/end user is forwarded back to the offshore team.

Some of this breed are clever enough to delete the offshore trail mail while passing it to business. They want the business to feel that, s/he has understood enough to be in a position to ask questions. And they also do not shy to remove the business trail mail while passing email back to offshore.

2) One Day Lag Coordinator

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Of late, I have come across bunch of them. In fact, this name is coined by one of my client’s very senior business/function team member. This business user marked over a period of time that, one onshore coordinator would provide some answers to his queries, but always after one day. Even the smallest of changes in the code, would not be delivered there and then. The business user realised, whatever he gave to the coordinator, takes atleast a day to resolve. So, he aptly named ‘One Day Lag’ guy.

No secret: This coordinator would email/call the offshore guy at offshore time and get the things done. So, things get delivered/answered only on the next day.

Do you correlate with someone in your present or past projects? 😛

You have already read more than 900 words till now. If you liked it, you might also like to check our other post on ‘Back to Basics’.

3) Contact and/or Lucky Coordinator

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We all feel, onshore coordinators are selected purely based on merits. But there are exceptions. If you are a pet of some senior management or if you have found a god father in your organization, you might not need to be in the meritorious list to get this role. You have Contact.

Have you ever felt that someone was rated 1 (highest) during year end appraisal only because that guy is favored by some manager?

As if contacts were not enough, some guys are borne lucky. These days there are many restrictions in the numbers of visas issued in some countries (read USA). Some organizations submit some buffer visa applications to make the chance of their candidates getting picked up in lottery better. And many times, those buffer visa of guys with contacts, are picked in lottery and the more deserving unfortunate ones stay back.

Think what would be the case of the team members if the Lucky coordinator is one with Contacts.. Poor offshore team members are dead duck.. 😀

4) Appreciation me, escalation you Coordinator

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They are parasites. They suck the blood of offshore team members and do not give anything in return. They forget that parasite’s existence depends on the host’s (offshore) well being. If the host gets extinct, the parasite is dead or needs to look for another host.

This breed believe in taking all the glory and passing all the curses.

5) I am Uno Coordinator

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They are smart chaps. They know their work well (sometimes more than to your liking). They would provide good information to the offshore team and expect them to deliver as it is (apple to apple). If the offshore team use their own intelligence/expertise and deliver something other than stated by this chap, they are in soup. Even if offshore has a better design or solution, this Uno is not ready to accept. S/He would toil hard to prove that her/his solution is the best and correct.

But, I still like this coordinator more than the above four. Apart from the adamant nature, these coordinator are hard working and always updated. They would readily help the offshore team in all technical hiccups and issues.

6) Onsite Coordinator

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This is the team member with whom you love to work. Not because they are good and never yell. Not because they do all the work at onshore and do not send them to offshore. Not because they only appreciate you and never escalate. Not because they are technically very sound and have no ego. No no no!!!

These guys are bad when you do not deliver. These guys do not hesitate to escalate, if you do not perform as expected. These guys will make you work so hard as if you were borne to take the burden of the whole world.

But, still you want to work with them. Your self esteem is not hurt when this guy escalates or writes a long email. You do not curse, when you have to work a little late because this guy is expecting something to be delivered before you call it your day.

This guy may not be as smart or technically better than the Uno Coordinator (not necessarily), but still you appreciate this guy more. And the simple reason is, he creates an amicable environment for you to work. S/He works as a team and you learn together. You do not hesitate to ask questions to her/him. You have a personal bonding and there is mutual admiration and respect. This guy gives you your fair share of appreciation and does not always try to be in lime light. But, please do not misunderstand me, this guy would not shy away to take his part of accolades. And you still feel happy for him.

Does someone’s face/voice/name line up in your mind when you read about any one of the above breeds of coordinators?

Food for thought: If you are an onsite coordinator, with what name would you be liked to be called and remembered?

Do you know of any other types which we can include in this list? Please let us know your thoughts.

PS: Offshore team members are not all pack of angels. The offshore breed might be more cunning and shrewd. We can classify and christen them some other day.. 🙂

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Note: This post was earlier published in LinkedIn by us.

Update: One of my contact (Anirban Mukhopadhyay), coined another type.

Okay Coordinator: Whatever the customer seeks, is replied with an “okay” without consideration of the feasibility and the related factors. They are too meek to constructively challenge the business but too “macho” to meaninglessly push the offshore folks.

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