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back to article Publishing giant hits delete on internal IT staff

Business publisher Reed Elsevier is outsourcing its IT support staff. Their jobs will go to HCL Technologies, a leading Indian offshorer. The move has not gone down well, in part because TUPE (Transfer of Undertakings Regulations - essentially moving staff from one employer to another) will not cover staff's increasingly rare …

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FAIL

Another Big Business taking advantage of a depressed jobs market

Thank goodness NuLabour and Comrade Browne have a plan to get us all out of this mess.

No idea what that plan is or if it work but its gonna cost all us a hell of a lot of money.

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Anonymous Coward

Yeah, well, they'll regret it...

When some server gets bricked cos of some hardware issue then the call centre stops working and there is no one there to fix.

They can phone some guy up in India who is also the "IT Support" for 20 other companies and knows nothing about how any of them operate. Then whoever made the decision to do this (head of IT or IT director) gets hauled over hot coals by the rest of the directors, service levels go down but everything is OK when they see the money that was spent on IT goes into outsourced IT and the rest to marketing where using the extra cash they sell a few more books and the whole thing is hailed a complete success!

Meanwhile, on planet Zibzabzabaar, Quiggzen sits on a rock, blinking.

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WTF?

Surreal

I was interviewed for an IT support role by this company just other week.

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Coat

My suggestion...

1. Register your own company with all affected staff as partner.

2. Everyone resigns with imediate affect on the same day. (That should be interesting for HR)

3. Suggest to ex-bosses that if they don't want to run the business with pencil and paper starting tomorrow, they might want to sign the 1000 year outsource contract you just put in front of them.

4. They can hardly claim any other company would be better at running the infrastructure and it solves their staffing headache in one go :-)

I'll be getting my coat now and taking the plane to Rio.

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WTF?

@NuLabour

"Thank goodness NuLabour and Comrade Browne have a plan to get us all out of this mess."

I imagine it involves sending another few hundred milion pounds of our tax as"aid" to India. It clearly would be better spent at home.

Bring on the revolution!

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Pint

Lucky old Anon Coward @11:47

Let's hope they don't actually offer you a job, eh?

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They've got past form ...

Did a contract for this lot at the tail end of the 1990's. At the time the senior management had convinced themselves they were on MicroSoft's shopping list (probably because of the Nexis-Lexis stuff they owned). In a bizarre belief that it would make them an even more appetising morsel for Redmond, they banned the use of anything but Microsoft Windows across the business. This caused massive difficulties, as the existing infrastructure was largely Sun based. The whole support team in Amsterdam resigned en masse to work for another company rather than switch operating systems. It was quite amusing seeing overly paid consultants scratch their heads as they tried to get Sendmail working on Windows. Even better was finding cupboards full of decommissioned Sun kit, which they were happy to give away to staff (permie or contract).

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Paris Hilton

Been there

It is one of my least proud moments that I did not try to motivate the 100 or so staff TUPEd to HCL by DSG to simply all resign. Doing so would quite probably have stopped the outsourcing.

But did I, or anyone else pull our heads out of the sand and stop hoping it would all work out in the end? Of course not. One by one decent, skilled and until then, valued staff were made redundant by the odious beast which is HCL.

Why Paris? Because HCL also suck.

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FAIL

hahahahahahahaha.....

HCL? Hahahahahahahaha.....

HCL came into my last company, as some "consultant" wanted to outsource us - the two guys they sent over were terrible. 16 man-weeks later, and not a viable piece of code between them!

Of course, being a "consultant", he put a spin on it, and all the work we did to re-write their code got passed off as theirs.

So we got made redundant, they inherited a 15 year old legacy HP-UX/Ingres/ system with no documentation and no knowledge transfer....

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FAIL

"one global support unit for the whole business."

"The review of help desk functions aims to move to one global support unit for the whole business."

Ah, ye olde single point of failure.

Loss of network connectivity/power/water/etc at the contractor's location = no IT support worldwide = Fail. Clever plan, that...

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FAIL

They'll be back...

.... they'll always come back!

Top ten faux pas in business restructuring, and guess what number 2 is...

Yup, Outsourcing the IT section.

(Number 1 is allowing the Board to make dramatic changes to the organisation structure with no frame of reference for their decisions)

Epic FAIL! (Just like Aviva.. Sadly)

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Anonymous Coward

@ Yeah, well, they'll regret it ...

How will I tell the difference? IT support at Elsevier is pretty bad anyway and the Global Helpdesk is already based in India and is largely clueless.

From the article: "Reed's pension scheme is a particularly nicely gold-plated, copper-bottomed example of the genre."

Correction, it was a nice final salary pension scheme; they got rid of that for any new starters nearly three years ago.

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N2

@NuLabour

The only thing comrade Brown can do is fuck around with statistics to try & hide the mess, results are far more important than statistics. But by his own admission hes not very good at maths so no wonder were up shit creek minus a paddle.

As for the so called 'management' of this company, its easy to make decisions like this when everything is working (or as I would declare, most of it works, most of the time) but as pointed out no one is going to hop on a plane from India when a server gets bricked.

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Pirate

Kidnap the bosses and rig the factory with gas cylinders!

Vive la Francais! Those guys really know how to have an industrial dispute! Hell, they could set fire to a few lambs as well while they're at it :-)

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Silver badge
Pint

Good-oh

Take the redundancy money and enjoy it, lads. They'll be wanting you back in about 14 months time when they realise what this will really cost.

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Anonymous Coward

Hardly a surprise

...since most typesetting work is done in India so there really isn't any point having the support staff in the UK. The company I worked for who performed some of the work for RE moved much of that work to India and the South Asia as it isn't profitable.

Obviously feel for those who are losing their jobs in grim economic times but I'd be surprised if they didn't see it coming.

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Anonymous Coward

The SUN protects UK jobs....;)

Not seen it reported anywhere yet but this is exactly what is happening at News International at Wapping. They have outsourced their IT Infrastructure department (System Administrators, Desktop Support, System Support etc..) to HCL. To smooth the transition, NI offered to pay the shortfall in any redundancy payments should staff choose to work for HCL, but only for a set period of time, 1 year I think. Unsurprisingly, not many people have chosen to stay on at HCL, preferring to take their money while they can, and I can't say I blame them.

Interesting that the SUN/News OF the World etc dont bleat on about protecting UK jobs - if they do I bet this is one story they dont print.

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Stop

I nearly took a job offer there 2 years ago!

Was narked with my previous employeer and went looking around. 2 hour commute each way to london but the job would have been good money for helpdesk level work. ("application management of the deployment of new websites in IIS"...!)

Was tight but ended up declining as I didn't fancy the commute. Now with a different company altogether and can't say I've looked back.

Bloody hell... declining the job was a real tough decision too. Looks like it was right thing to do!

Sorry to the folks who are getting the push.

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Dead Vulture

Business as usual at RE

This is simply the latest step in a long process for RE, a company whose every decision takes place under a tyrannical regime of cost-cutting and quarterly financial reforecasts. Mind you they need to save money, having bought into every vaporous slideware dream going at some point or other. The development arm I used to be part of has already been reduced to an rump of effectively zero capability, unable to even retain talented staff from their outsourcing partner and reduced to hiring outside consultants to perform routine day-to-day functions.

There are two kinds of staff at RE - those who've been made redundant, and those who are going to be. And the share price never goes up a jot in response.

http://www.theregister.co.uk/Design/graphics/icons/comment/dead_vulture_32.png

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WTF?

Yet another...

...knife in the fucking back for UK workers. When will these Judas companies be happy? Perhaps when the average wage in the UK is 50p a fucking day and we're all shitting in the street and living in tin shacks without running water or electricity. Perhaps then the government will sit up and take notice...then again nah, we'll have a dictatorial government in power by then allowing the police to beat people in the streets for fuck all - oh wait I think we're already there.

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FAIL

And whats about the USA

Great to see an English company outsourcing its UK staff but keeping all the US people, may be the Exec being in the US may have some baring on this

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FAIL

Here's an interesting story ...

Server crashes for one of those telecoms companies who have a strong foothold in the uk market (you have a choice of providers and i am not pushing the most prominent for fear of EU competition rules). Server goosed .. no probs - we will rebuild the OS (what's that - you don't have a backup?). HCL response ... eh, no you can't do that - we don't have the installation software/program so we can't get the app up and running from scratch (this from 2 hours of denial and extraction of the truth from politically correct questioning).

Queue much laughing from our end (no skin off our back), head scratching from the management in question .... lots of cash to the blue screen company to un-blue screen it. But don't worry guys - this shit is 50% cheaper than employing the dudes who designed and wrote the thing in the first place. Oh that's right, we gave 3 years wages to them to leave a year b4 they were due to retire.

NOW THAT'S MANAGEMENT !! You gotta love 'em ! (I love the way they are all IT experts ;o) )

AC for obvious reason.

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Evolution in action

Everyone who send stuff to India brings it back, if they're still in business following the experience. If only there was some way of selecting managers who weren't incompetent buck passing yes men.

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Flame

Normal Read Elseiver cockup

When the announcement was made to the staff the UK helpdesk staff were told that nothing would happen to them yet. Once they came out of the meeting they were given their redundancy notices, fucking typical of this organisation.

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Unhappy

Some roles should just not be outsourced

There will have to be someone left to swap a drive, memory stick or hard reboot a box. However, those being told jobs are going will start looking for jobs, meaning that any good staff will get another job. Those that are unlucky in interviews or just not as good will be left, but having to do more work now, especially as those in India don't know *their* systems and are not *onsite*.

But those being left there will have already had a taste of what other jobs are out there now so with work state worsened, and the possible thoughts that more outsourcing/local downsizing could follow, despite possible assurances from bosses otherwise (we've heard that before!), they will keep looking and then get out eventually. The company then looses the assets of their skills and knowledge that were brought to the job.

You may end up with the higher up staff having to go reboot servers and swap RAM. They might not like doing this, might fry some RAM, etc, if they are not actual IT staff. They find out that despite all the knowledge sharing management tried to promote, only Jake knew how to fix the 'system' when it came up with 'that' error and the knowledge was only shared with others who have also now gone, so they then have to call in some expensive expert to take a while diagnosing and then fix it. Service goes down the pan, so their customers (the users, I guess) get peeved off.

Work does not get done as well by the users are result and management blame the users. Moral goes down so the users look elsewhere for jobs. New users come in and have to catch up with how this company does things, etc, meaning that the end customers get inferior service so the company as a whole start to loose profit. Especially as the news has leaked about the outsourcing and people are putting it down to that. Therefore, reputation is down too.

It doesn't matter though, they've saved so much money getting rid of their loyal, skilled staff - they can take the loss and then bounce back from this later.

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FAIL

Sounds familiar

HCL will come in and promise everything, with a "yes we can do that" attitude. they will tell the senior management everything they want to hear to get the contract signed. gradually the TUPE'd staff will be "eased" out and the work will be transferred to India and that's when service starts to suffer. It seems that they have very high turnover of staff and you can never build up any knowledge transfer or customer relationship, and you will lose all the internal knowledge and constantly have to go over the same ground.

Make sure you have tight SLA's in place to hammer them with! If you've been there any amount of time and it's worth your while take the redundancy, before they find out a way to get rid of you cheaply when you have completed all the knowledge transfer!

You have been warned.

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Unhappy

No redundancy option under TUPE

Under TUPE you don't get a redundancy option - your options are go to the new company or resign!

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Thumb Down

HCL is the devil

Was involved in a 2 yr project with outsourced happy-go-lucky HCL vendors. HCL wrote all the code in Java and it was not compatible to tie in with the <unnamed system>'s proprietary software. Needless to say, the project failed miserably after millions spent and now 13 unused servers sit stagnant in a brand new server rack. The <unnamed> company still uses HCL for a majority of their development! Incredible!

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FAIL

I worked there in 2006

The merger with HCL was ongoing even then.

The head of IT said that before HCL it was a mix of permies and contractors, totaling 60.

After HCL it totaled 100. With a straight face he says the logical conclusion from that is that before we were understaffed, but didn't realize it!!

Elsevier management have always hated their IT, as they imagined all the profit came from the business, with the IT as nothing more than a cost. The permies were more than happy to dig their own graves with KT (Knowledge Transfer), then jump into them.

Eventually I had to go as politically it looked bad for me to do all my work when we had pair programming Indians wondering around in a daze getting nothing done.

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Boffin

same old, same old

here we go again. cut headline costs - perhaps sell the company on at an inflated price/maybe just to impress shareholders/maybe to make up for losses else where - execs and consultants get fat bonuses - a few people eventually lose their jobs to cheap staff shipped in from India/people reading a script in a far off call centre - the company stores up problems for some future date where the pretty paper reports were in way based in reality.

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