John’s Trip to India

John's trip to India

Who's the Project Manager, anyway?

In about 2004, I was asked to manage a project to determine the feasibility of outsourcing some of the tasks from the PepsiCo, Inc. data center to an offshore company. Previously, I had been involved in a feasibility study to move part or all of the PepsiCo internal help desk to Canada. This involved checking out a small data centre in Peterborough, Ontario which was a part of the Quaker Oats company. Even with lower labor costs, the price tag showed that it would take at least 7-8 years to break even, so this was shelved.

As a side project, we needed more data center space to act as backup for our main center, so I went to Chicago to view the Quaker Headquarters data center and on to Peterborough. Neither of these were feasible, but check out the story of Bob and the Canadians for another tale of this time period. 

Anyway, back to India ( or not to India, as it may be ). After shutting down that study project, I was given one to explore outsourcing four areas. This was a huge project and involved several project managers, of which, I was the coordinating point for logistics and skill evaluation of the various companies we were to explore. For each of the areas, themselves, the Director of that area was the main coordinator of information and there was a project manager for the H/R aspects and a liaison for legal. Initially, we invited three offshore ( all Indian ) and three on shore companies to collect our requirements and give us a presentation. 

During all this, the VP of our group who was my manager's manager keep telling my manager and I that we needed to go to the sites that were in the running to get the contract. This, of course, included India, since three of the top runners were Indian companies. Finally, after eliminating the US companies from the running for three of the four areas since they were just too high in cost, we were down to the three main Indian companies for outsourcing. The fourth area, Mainframe Operations, was taken out of the project, since so much of our company's processing was proprietary that governance personnel would have cancelled the benefit. 

Our VP continued to tell us to go to India, so, I planned the trip. It was to include the director (my manager) of operations. The group manager of the help desk ( who also reported to my manager), the group manager of security, and the group manager of UNIX operations. Including myself, that meant planning an international trip for five people. 

Things were moving along, I had gathered all the information I needed regarding inoculations, visas, passports, what dates were good for each of the three vendors for a site visit and itinerary to go from place to place. Remember India is very large and the locales of each were many hundreds of miles apart and we had only a week to fit it all in. I had found a contact within PepsiCo who regularly scheduled trips of this nature who in turn gave me the contact with American Airlines who could set it all up; air tickets, motels, etc.

On a Friday afternoon, when we normally had 1/2 day Fridays, I found myself at the Denton Clinic to receive my first of several inoculations. I waited in line, to discover that they only accepted cash, so I had to leave drive a couple of blocks, find an ATM and withdrawal some cash on the only Debit Card I knew the pin for. I drove back to find I had lost 5 places in line, but eventually got my shots. Back in the parking lot, I discovered that the lady hurrying away from her vehicle (which was next to mine) was hurrying because she had grazed my front end turning into the space. She scurried into the building, ignoring my calls. The damage was minimal, so I decided to let it go.

Driving home, I got a call on my cell phone, I pulled over and answered and it was my manager. He told me there had been a slight change of plans for the trip.

It seems that I wouldn’t be going, but in my place the Director of a SAP project would. This manager had absolutely nothing to do with my project nor had he contributed any resources of any sort to it. But, there you have it, I did the planning, managed all the itinerary, scheduled all the meetings, booked all the tickets and expedited several of the visas and then had to rely on those going for feedback on the feasibility, etc. of using one of these vendors.

Of course, the manager who took my place was a good friend to my VP and he also had family very near the second stop (and he didn’t go to the third or return with the group), but I am sure this was all just a coincidence.

Davdan @ 2008-2018