Sanjeev Singh is AVP of Strategy and Solution Delivery at Fidelity & Guaranty Life, a publicly traded insurance company with 700,000 policyholders. He was kind enough to speak with us about the challenges IT leaders in his position face today.
Pyramid: With constantly changing demands, how do you quickly scale resources – both up and down?
Singh: The reason we started offshoring was for the ability to scale. What do you do when you have several projects coming in? How do you maintain budget – and scale up and down to meet demand? We’ve found there are certain skillsets you can outsource effectively with an onsite/offshore model. There are some things you want to keep here – for example, keep the domain knowledge closer to the business. But, many tasks can be offshored.
Pyramid: When is it best to go offshore?
Singh: The first reason is if you just can’t recruit a certain type of talent. Maybe you’re working in a smaller IT organization but you need all kinds of different architects. If it doesn’t make sense to hire full-time employees to meet that need, you can leverage an onsite/offshore model. You can tap into the skillset when you need it – as long as the quality is good.
The second reason is scalability. You need the ability to scale up and down at a reasonable cost. One way to do that is to get project manager to work on multiple projects – so you’re sharing the cost across those projects.
Pyramid: What advice would you give to someone who is new to offshoring?
Singh: There are some challenges. You have to make sure communication, project management, and requirements are all in sync – otherwise projects fail. X can be interpreted as Y offshore. You need strong communicators on the project team. Business requirements should be very clearly defined. If you have great people but poor definition, you can still fail.
Pyramid: How did offshoring impact your internal teams?
Singh: We found that previously, onsite employees were not able to expand their skillsets because they were so busy keeping everything spinning. Now that we’re leveraging an onsite/offshore model, it has freed our people up to work on analytics, developing their skills, etc. The feedback I got initially when we started offshoring was that our people were insecure about their jobs. But after time, they felt more positive about it as it enabled them to transition into higher roles or work on different things.
Pyramid: How do you manage teams working on opposite sides of the globe?
Singh: The offshore team doesn’t always participate full-time in things that are happening here, but it does for key meetings or critical decisions. In many cases, it works out. Use of technology makes a big difference. Overlap schedules in the two different time zones and use video conferencing to work together. By sharing screens and collaborating online, you can make things work.
This is the second post from our interview with Sanjeev Singh. To read the first post, click here.
Before becoming AVP of Strategy and Solution Delivery at Fidelity & Guaranty Life, Singh was a Management Consultant at PricewaterhouseCoopers and CIO at Atlantic American Insurance Companies for 11 years. He earned an MBA from Emory University and a BS in Computer Engineering from India’s Pune University.