Unsolicited advice for Mr. Narayana Murthy

6 06 2013

Change Ahead

When the news of Mr. Narayana Murthy and his team that included Mr. Rohan Murthy being back at Infosys at an executive position

broke out, it took the media, shareholders, stock exchange and critics by surprise who welcomed the decision. But for the loyal employees of Infy, the ex-employees for whom Infy was their first love and those who still idealises Mr. Murthy, this did not come as a surprise since they knew for a long time that this was the final and only possible hope for Infosys to gain back its long lost glory.

Only a few media and critics came out with their opinions on what Infosys should do next which mostly included strategic suggestions like renewed focus on sales, client relations, using cash reserve etc. Here I have put down a few quick fixes from a  and smaller tactical points which focuses on human resource, the real work horses of Infy. These are the thirteen points that has built over the years through interactions with ex-colleagues at all levels within Infy in no order of priority.

  1. Do something drastically different very soon.
    There are millions who have become highly impatient expecting things to improve when the management changed repeatedly over time. Your being back at Infosys is a hope for these millions that things would start improving. A quick decision at this point will not only help build up confidence, but also prove that Infosys as a company is not afraid to change.
  2. Bring in transparency in employee communications
    Make sure that employees get to hear the news first before it’s released to media. One small step in building up trust between employees and management.
  3. Question HR hiring.
    Let’s face the truth. When talented and experienced employees left in thousands due to bad HR policies like iRace and post era, hiring was in progress aggressively so that attrition rate is at its minimal in the annual report. This process gave birth to Infy jokes like “Trespasses will be hired!”. Some of these bad hires not only had poor English communication, but also did not possess even basic excel skills. These lateral hires were paid more than expats for years until their rating came out and were eventually expelled from the company. Facing the true attrition rate and a high level investigation into bad hiring will eventually increase the quality of new hires.
  4. Provide a stage to question rating feedback.
    Provide a stage for the employee to question his performance rating and make sure that his/her opinions are taken seriously and corrected if necessary. This will not only ensure that ratings are not given based on manager’s personal relations, but also this would bring in more transparency during future rating and feedback cycle.
  5. Cut down operational cost.
    Way back when the employee strength was only 10k, a 20% bench strength meant that only about 2k employees were idle. But when the company has grown to 150k employees and with bench strength increasing to over 40%, maintaining such a vast resource pool only eats into profits. Those currently on bench may not be the ideal candidate for this exercise, but those who has a constant poor record of not delivering should fit this category. Eventually increase revenue per employee.
  6. Scrap iRace & bring in meritocracy based promotions
    The current promotion criteria based on iRace policy clearly states how many years an employee should work in a particular position until he gets promoted. A mere average performance and seniority guarantees promotion. Scrap the policy, bring in meritocracy and demote if necessary.
  7. Compensate loyal employees appropriately
    Spend money in compensating existing employees based on loyalty and performance. It’s better to hold on to current top employees who knows the culture well than bringing in new laterals at a higher rate.
  8. Infosys is not a government company
    The company has lost its image of being a honeypot of talent for young engineers and its seen more as a government organization where decisions take time and change is never heard of. Take quick and drastic decisions when necessary and maintain transparency within employees and shareholders.
  9. Remove 9.15hrs per day criteria
    Cutting leaves of employees who don’t stay within campus for at least 9.15hrs only helps in heating the chairs and increasing electricity bills. Make it clear that doing quality work on time is more important than slogging for 9.15hrs. Reward those who work faster & smarter and provide assistance to those who don’t.
  10. Change the dress code.
    Personally I always wondered why casuals were allowed on Friday’s and not on other working days. Were there no client visits on Fridays? At least relaxing the tie on Monday and Tuesdays will definitely be welcomed by the employees.
  11. Trust the employees
    Overtime when Infosys is left with the truly loyal and talented employees, take minor steps to increase trust. Stopping checking of baggage everytime employees enter and exit the campus would be a good place to start.
  12. Create a culture of entrepreneurship
    Create and promote the culture for talented engineers to get together and work on personal projects when on bench. Provide courses on new technologies for employees on bench to nurture talent and prepare them for future challenges.
  13. Finally, its perfectly ok to go back on statements
    A part of the press is busy pointing out that you have gone back on your own policies of retirement age and family business. H. M. Warne of Warner Brothers in 1927 said “Who the hell wants to hear actors talk?” Imagine where they would be today if they had clinched on to the statement. In today’s rapidly changing environment, it’s perfectly ok for predictions to go wrong. It’s more important to adapt to current needs even if that required going back on past statements. In a firefighting situation, almost everyone works best with a team they already know; hence there is no harm in bringing in Mr. Rohan Murthy and team who has excellent credentials and whom you are comfortable with. The need of the hour required someone as capable as you to come out of retirement and like there cannot be another Steve Jobs, there is no other NR Narayana Murthy.

Back after a very long time for a single reason

6 06 2013

It’s been a while since I have blogged… quite a while. Over the past few years things have changed drastically for me. I have fulfilled my long dream of working at Microsoft, started blogging on MSDN blogs, been active on various social networks, moved around various cities, created and deleted multiple blog sites and did a whole lot more.

So why am I writing this post today? Well this post is sort of a prequel to my next post. Ever since I heard the news about Mr. Narayana Murthy (NRN) being back at Infosys (which happens to be my first love and first company) in an executive position, I have been more than excited to put down my thoughts which has accumulated over time. As an ex-employee, a mid-level developer and most importantly someone who was once passionately in love with the company just like Mr.NRN is today, these are my personal opinions on what the company could/should do to gain back its lost mojo.

Why didn’t I care to put these thoughts down in the past four years? The simple answer is that I had lost faith in the company and its management when I quit on 1st January 2010 and was sure that things were only going to get worse. At a time when the outcry of 1 lakh+ employees against iRace and other HR policies went unheeded, I was certain that my voice would never be heard. Over the years I regularly kept track of Infosys through online media and my ex-colleagues; not because I hold any stocks of Infosys or for the reason that my better half still works for Infosys, but because of the respect for Mr.Murthy which I have had even before I came to know what a computer is. I have always been inspired by the story of how Mr.Murthy and co-founders built up the billion dollar empire from a mere $250. It was truly disheartening to read about the fall of Infosys over the years and I had always wondered that if this hurts me deep down even though not closely associated with the company anymore, how much would this fall from glory of a company that has been built from sweat and blood be hurting the founders. So when the inevitable happened and Mr.Murthy returned to reclaim the glory of Infosys, I thought I should put down my thoughts in the belief that my thoughts still echoes the thoughts of those few highly capable, hardworking and loyal employees of Infosys; in the hope that one day Mr.Murthy or any of his close associates would come across my next post and find at least one point to be useful.

Infosys to buy Axon Global

26 08 2008

Infosys Technologies LTD has offered to buy UK based SAP consulting company Axon Global for £407.1m ($750 million or INR 33.1 billion). This was a special news for all the Infosys employees including me that the deal is almost at the verge of being success. If you are not aware, nearly 1/4th of Infosys revenue comes form its unit called Enterprise Solutions which specializes in enterprise tools like SAP, Siebel, Oracle, Tibco etc.

Infosys has always been trying to spread its operations in UK and this would definitely a major breakthrough. Today morning I proudly watched our CEO, Mr. Kris Gopalakrishnan talk about the details of the deal on CNBC today morning 10:10am. Infosys stocks were trading 10 points down as soon as the markets opened (overall BSE sensex is down) because the investors were not confident about the deal. Infosys profit margins are 30-31% whereas Axon’s profit margin is just about 14-15%.

As soon as Kris clarified certain details of the deal, market sentiments turned the other way and by 10:20 Infosys stock was trading 20 points up. The confidence with which he talks is simply amazing. I could see the same confidence in him with which the company was started 27 years ago with just 7 employees and INR 10000.

Here are some interesting things to note about the deal:

  • Infy buy is largest outbound acquisition by Indian IT company
  • Infosys targets to touch $5 billion mark in profit this year. Axon’s revenue is $ 1.6 billion and considering this, we need to wait for a new guidance from Infosys once the deal is trough. (And don’t be alarmed if the new guidance is $6 billion 😉 )
  • According to Economic Times Mr.Nandan and Mr.Murthy played a significant role in this deal. Whether they are involved or not, good work Infy team!!!
  • Axon’s share rose a whopping 20% in London stock exchange as soon as the acquisition news was released.
  • 20% increase is the highest for Axon ever since year 2000.
  • Axon’s revenue also increased considerably this quarter due to increase in sales from speculation of a take over from Infy.
  • The entire amount of the deal is paid entirely in CASH!!!

Axon board has asked its share holders to vote in favor of the deal. The only reason why this deal wouldn’t happen as of now is a counter offer from other companies like TCS, Wipro etc to Axon. Considering the current market situation and the decline in revenue of other IT majors, I doubt whether any other IT company would be able to beat Infy’s offer of $750 million.

There are much more details that floats inside the Infosys network. But those details cannot be published here. So just wait until the deal goes through. 🙂 Proud to be an Infosion!!!