'We are able to do it faster, cheaper, better'....in India, of course

Saturday, March 10, 2007 at 04:47 PM

The official line from the US government and the vast majority of American Business leaders is "outsourcing is good for America." The number of games played to provide evidentiary support for such a notion is truly mind boggling (a subject for another post), but reality keeps raising its ugly little head and whispering "psst, buddy, look at all those juicy American jobs heading off to Asia."

What's really fascinating is how the business press does back flips to spin a story of jobs going to India rather than the US into a classic feelgood story. Kafka and Orwell could not do a better job of absurdity reported via new speak.

Take this little gem from the Chicago Tribune on how using Indian labor to start a new Information Technology (IT) venture just made the whole startup even more special, spiced up with a few other heartwarming anecdotes about how other white collar jobs, including legal research and basic legal services, are now drifting India-ward (emphasis added):

For starters, firms turn to India Companies find edge by using full-time outsourced workers

By Ann Meyer Special to the Tribune Published March 5, 2007

Entrepreneur Bill Lederer is no stranger to dot-coms, but his latest venture has taken him to a new place--India.

Lederer, the founder of Art.com a decade ago and an investor in several other early dot-coms, is rolling out CompleteLandlord.com and RentSlicer.com, two niche sites that aim to deliver comprehensive listings, legal forms and other information for landlords, property investors and renters. Both are part of Lederer's Socrates Media, financed by Lederer and other local investors.

But this time Lederer is relying on a wholly owned subsidiary in India to keep costs low and service high. The strategy will help make the company profitable sooner, he said.

"If we had gone to do this in only Chicago, it would have cost us considerably more," Lederer said. "We are able to do it faster, cheaper, better." ... The company's subsidiary in Hyderabad is doing more than IT work. It's involved in accounting, marketing support, editorial, creative services and a customer call center, Lederer said.

"Everything we do in Chicago, they do in India," he said, though strategic decisions and new-product development are concentrated in Chicago.

Lederer started Socrates after acquiring a paper-legal-forms company, Made E-Z, in 2003. He brought it online in 2005 in a brick-to-click model, where landlords' in-store purchases of legal forms were supplemented with services from Socrates.

In December, CompleteLandlord.com launched as a separate Web site. And Lederer is taking a similar approach with RentSlicer.com, which will offer comprehensive listings and information for renters when it is launched next month. ... Socrates employs 50 workers in India and 15 in Chicago. It started setting up its India team by hiring managers with experience working with American companies, said Bruce Masterson, Socrates' chief operating officer, who formerly ran Reuters North America. ... CVM Solutions, an Oakbrook Terrace-based provider of supplier diversity data and technology, first outsourced its IT work to a provider in India but later formed a wholly owned subsidiary as its needs grew, said Rajesh Voddiraju, president, technology solutions. Now the company employs 36 people in India, while 46 work in Oakbrook Terrace, he said.

"Having a low-cost arm has helped us grow," he said, noting that the company saves about 70 percent in costs from the India operation.

Legal-services firm Mindcrest, with a headquarters of four in Chicago, wouldn't be in business without a wholly owned subsidiary operating in Mumbai and Pune, India, which employs about 150 Indian workers, most of them lawyers with knowledge of American law, said Ganesh Natarajan, the Chicago attorney who founded the company six years ago with three partners.

Natarajan, who is from Mumbai, saw legal services in India as a natural fit because India is a common-law country and its lawyers are used to researching case law, he said. ... Mindcrest does not give legal advice but provides basic legal services, such as reviewing documents, drafting contracts and doing research, at savings of 50 percent to 90 percent from U.S. rates, Natarajan said. Most of the firm's clients are law firms, consulting firms and corporations with their own in-house counsel who use Mindcrest to save time and money, he said.

A positive experience using a similar legal services firm, QuisLex, based in New York but with 100 employees in India, gave Socrates the confidence to pursue Indian labor for other aspects of the start-up, Masterson said.

I think we have seen the future, and it doesn't work if you live in America.

And ask yourself, would the trusty old US government bother tracking down these jobs which originated in India, but clearly would have been in the US in decades past, and include them in its very suspect analysis of jobs lost to outsourcing?

I think not. I really, really think not.