back to article Shell says still 'undecided' on massive offshoring plan

Royal Dutch Shell left both staff and potential suppliers on tenterhooks yesterday when it dished out details of its outsourcing programme to UK-based IT workers. As we reported in January, suppliers in the frame for the deal include EDS, AT&T and T-systems, all of whom have been in talks with Shell over the past few months. …


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Let be the first to say thsi is a mistake. Outsoiurcing ALL the IT will KILL you Shell.

1. there is NO SENSE of duty or commitment to YOUR business to be found in outsourced staff.

2. Response times are for the engineer(s) to TURN UP at your door, not times to a fix.

3. EVERY SINGLE thing you ask of them WILL be chargable

4. You LOSE all management control, you may think you are in control but YOU ARE NOT

5. Projects WILL fail/go over budget with PREDICTABLE frequency (especially given the track record of certain companies mentioned)

Shareholders be warned, fi they go ahead with this EXPECT a profits warning very soon.

Anonymous Coward


No comment on whether or not this outsourcing deal is good or bad, but it's a typical case of <large corporation> having to disclose future plans 'cause someone, somewhere leaked.

Although it feels nasty (as an employee) to find out that these plans have been running for years, it's nowhere near as nasty as the awful mess when things get leaked early, and it's not likely that the outcome would change anyway...



It sure is nice to see that after all the H1B visa workers go home from the US they will have someplace to work....


Glad I don't work for a company like Shell..

I sure hope that Shell don't mind outsourcing their customer base then. I for one won't be buying any more of their products with this level of loyalty to the UK workforce.

I look forward to the day when one of these global super-corporations realises it can also source its senior management and board members with cheaper alternatives from a 3rd World country.



Great points, but I think it misses one key issue:

When you outsource, you will INEVITABLY lose internal expertise, both at the developer level, but also at the strategic management level. And THAT will erode competitive ability down the road - not in the next year, but maybe 3 to 5.

I have written so much about the falacies of outsourcing that I find my fingers just can't write any more...let's just say the only ones making money at it are the outsourcing companies themselves, and it is foolish of Shell not to realize that.


@ Campbell

Spot on, man. The previous company I worked for outsourced development and attempted to outsource IT operations (this was a laughable, pathetic plan which fell apart when they realized just how much work the IT operations department was doing). Our experience with the development outsourcing/off-shoring was terrible, and can accurately be described by every one of your statements (except for the one about when engineers show up which isn't applicable). Shortly before I left, they were beginning the process of "in-sourcing" everything.

I will add this warning to your statement:

- Problems will RARELY be fixed permanently, which will add MORE inconvenience and cost to your operations. Because they will charge for *everything* they do, their financial motivation will be to provide more temporary "solutions" rather than lasting ones.

- They SHALL NOT, WILL NOT, and CAN NOT "think outside the box" to develop creative and innovative solutions to your needs and future plans. Their financial incentive will be to kludge together an inefficient and bug-riddled system which can be thrown together with the fewest of their resources as possible. The documentation and training on how to service this system will be INCOMPLETE and BRIEF. If you try to direct the project yourself, you WILL hear the phrase "we don't do that" very often, and you WILL find yourself paying astronomical costs for the project.

- Come contract renegotiation time, when all of your experienced, knowledgeable IT staff is working for them (rather whoever is left after the inevitable lay-offs and benefits/wage cuts that they will impose on your former staff a few months after they assume your operations), THEY WILL RAKE YOU OVER THE COALS.

SHAREHOLDERS BEWARE: The outsourcing company will often make an "under the table" deal to BRIBE EXECUTIVE STAFF into agreeing to the outsourcing deal. As such, your company's executives may not be acting in the best interests of your company.

EXECUTIVES BEWARE: If part of the bribe includes a cushy, high paying "do nothing" job with the outsourcing company after the deal goes through, YOU WILL BE MADE REDUNDANT BEFORE THE YEAR IS OUT. I've personally seen this happen not once, but *twice* to former managers at my previous company.

P.S. for those who think I may bitter from the outsourcing deal at my previous employer, I left of my own accord to pursue higher education. My department was not one of those that was considered for outsourcing, so my job was never directly threatened. I actually remained on staff with the company for several years after the outsourcing deal was made, and the above is based on my observations and experiences working with the outsourcing company (who is one of the major applications development off-shoring and outsourcing companies, I might add)



If there are workers not doing anything in the company, then the executives should be layed off with the non-performing workers.

If the workers are doing something, and the workers are layed off, who is doing the work? If you don't need the work, why is anyone doing it-- and why aren't the responsible managers layed off for specifying that useless work is to be done? If you do need the work done, how can anyone be layed off?

Fundamentally, layoffs imply either:

a) grotesque management incompetence, frequently with rot right up to the c-suite

b) a shrinking business environment (for instance, wrench turners becoming redundant when only 1/2 as many cars can be sold).

I tend to avoid companies that lay people off, since the product almost invariably is trashed at some point due to the lack of workers. Eventually, either the company recovers or goes under... but for a few years, the company's product line is suspect. After all, those layed off personel were doing something, and that something isn't being done anymore... like a toxic American CDO potentially based on NINJA mortgages, you don't know where the risk is so avoid the product.

Black Helicopters

Please to be doing the needfull

Sod it outsource it, IT is no longer a viable career path in the UK nor is Engineering or Science, where are you getting the NEW workers from the IT Students in Uni's are 1/10th of what they were in 1998/2000 and to be honest the UK shot itself in the foot years ago outsourcing everything, best just to grab as much $ as you can and quit while ahead, such is the mantra of today.

Sad but true, as for the comments above yes it saves 0$ but shell will stand back from the operation and rake $ in on penalties, nobody outsources core services, just basic stuff that you can get service credits for.

Its probably EDS et al dragging their heels as EDS has sub outsourced its operations to an even less capable workforce riddled with attrition and are none to happy with the penalties for poor service.

Anon, as I know this to be true, watch them helicopters...

Thumb Down

At least some brains in here

I am glad to see so many people finaly see th light. If only Management would.

It looks good on the books and plans when you look. hmm IT Contract x and x amount. Should save this and that.


I have seen Companys pays more, One Company should have 4 It support staff work 24 7 for the amount they pay, They only seemed to fix somthing every 2 days becuase they to busy, slow or lack the skills. Tempory fixing thing all the time so same problems keep comming back. 90 percent of all problems seem to be create by IT support companys experimenting bad installs and sevice meaning problems increased 1000 percent and budget 500 percent more per year.

In house you just cant beat good service on hand with your own employee who has a stake in your bussiness. If you go outsourced these companys will try and tie you in so you cannot get out changing systems to unstandard/over complex meaning when you do decide to pull out its going to cost you, your next company you see will refuse to support thier implemented systems. It's to stop you from leaving them, Thats the plan. Or change your systems so that even if you leave you will find you still will have to pay them for other monthly contracts you will battle to get out of it.

As the say goes, If it aint broken... Companys in the past have viewed the IT department as lazy, partly becuase its a diffrent kinda workplace. When you look it would seem there is nothing going on there. Thats just it. If everything is working and problems are fixed. I mean Fixed. Your IT department will have time on their hands, they done their job and its working. This extra time is used to improve systems and other ideas, thats what you want, someone looking at improvements after everything is working you get more. Its when you have 100 percent problems all the time, and people fixings issue issues every 2 minutes its bad. This is when your IT people are not working for you and this is what happens when your get your IT from outside.

When the the Man ontop finaly sees this its time to chop the heads of the people cheering the stupid plan of getting IT out sourced! You dont want those kind in your company either. Watch out for these lets make a fast buck and look good for now people and these out sourced people. Its all about the money and its with some employee too.

Just my 2 cents worth!


Outsourcing - Just say "No"

One of my customers has outsourced the majority of its IT.

We used to have a fantastic helpdesk that I could call. They recognised I am an engineer and an IT graduate and worked with me to fix our problems. We could call any time of the day or night and find someone who would help. They were always there when I needed them and even called me a couple of times when there were things that I could fix and they were short of time.

They merged with another multinational and also outsourced a lot of the day to day IT to a call centre in India and broke the central department up. I now have a list of about 6 numbers to call, depending on what I need to be done. It's not obvious in a lot of cases which number to call so on more than one occasion I've had to explain my problem to one department, got told to call someone else, explained it to them, then got told that there's nobody in who can deal with that and they really don't want to page someone in New York at 3am even though the problem is impacting the middle of my working day in the Middle East. "I'm sorry Sir, I can reset the print queue but if that doesn't fix it or you need the queue properties changed only ITOC can access the server."

Now comes the fun bit. Everything to do with email or messaging is handled in India (as are some passwords, some of the remote access and several other things that we haven't quite worked out yet.) We always call New York first in the vain hope that they will help us and we won't have to fight to understand the patronising person in Delhi with the strong accent over a satellite phone who thinks that he knows everything and can't tell the difference between me (an engineer) calling and a call from someone that can barely turn their PC on and can't make their email work. Trust me, by the time I get to picking up the phone, due diligence has generally been done.

The nest result is we feel very alone and not looked after. I've managed to get access to the installers for most of the company applications and I now support our department locally. Yes, I know I should let the whole thing fail but I'm not that kind of engineer and there's such a turf war between the IT departments and their current desire is for them to claim control of anything with an Ethernet socket on it. We have an almost daily fight to stop them trying to take over our equipment which is becoming more computer-driven by the year.

I'm sure some bean counter is getting a pat on the head from senior management for saving money but the way things are is just not working for us, the people that actually make the product. It shouldn't take 3 phone calls and 5 hours to get a printer queue changed because the IP address of a printer has changed due to networking changing our subnet. It shouldn't take half a day to get someone's password reset. It shouldn't take 9 hours for me to report a dictionary attack on our email system and get it blocked, resulting in thousands of addresses being harvested and spammed to death.

Outsourcing is only good for the bean counters. In my experiences it has only made it harder for the people who do the work to get their jobs done and make money for the company. When it is suggested you know your company's management have lost touch with what your company does and how it is done.

I want to respect the countries where I operate. All this does is syphon money out of their economies and send it to abroad.

Anonymous Coward

@Sod it

"outsource it, IT is no longer a viable career path in the UK"

That's a circular argument and anyway, as an IT professional, I'm rather enjoying my career (in the UK).

Yes, IT graduates are falling in quality. It is, however, a mistake to assume that employers necessarily want IT graduates. They don't. They want people who are competent, regardless of which pieces of paper they have. Regurgitating what you know in an exam and being able to apply what you know in a practical way are two very different things.

Outsourcing happens because employers perceive IT staff to be too expensive. It's up to us to change that perception.

Black Helicopters


And when will they notivce this? when the helpfull staff such as 'just say no' in the post above ahve been made redundant.

IT grads are the same folk woho would do an accounting/business/medical career not a frikkin plumber. If there is no real percieved future in IT then why do it.

As for expensive, doctors work 9-5 ad make £120k per year, and were importing them.

Coffe smell wake up, your next!

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Worked as outsourced tech support...

I worked in India for a 2-bit company to whom COMPAQ (when it was still COMPAQ) had outsourced its personal tech support to, and I know exactly what gets done and how.

A firm that gets the contract gets paid (in this case) for each call they get, not each issue they fix, which led to gross injustice being done to COMPAQ's customers. I knew this one guy who sent out a new keyboard for every customer who reported their keyboard wasn't working where the real reason could've been anywhere from an improperly connected PS/2 cable to the drivers not being installed correctly.

That guy gt promoted to tech lead and I left the company, and swore never to buy a COMPAQ product.

At the same time Dell kept their tech support in-house and I have heard tales of how thorough their support was and thereby how satisfied their customer base was.

Bottom line - outsource if you want to end up with a bigger bank balance and want to compromise on quality. Lower cost only usually means lower quality...

Paris Hilton

you can be sure of shell...

Shell - a bunch of honest crooks.

Way back in yonder year of the initial exploitation of the North Sea, Royal Dutch Shell, as a part of their "offer" for drilling rights, promised to remove entirely all trace of any drilling rigs that they positioned in order to make profits from the hydrocarbon deposits identified. 30 Years later, as the first of these massive vessels, the Brent Spar I believe, reached the age of decommissioning, RDS declared their intention to cut the legs and drop the entire system onto the seabed - arguing at the time that it would cost too much to bring it ashore. 3 cheers for envoronmental rapists.

Okay - it's got nothing to do with the article but I just thought I'd get this snippet in now while I can. Icon because she's got nothing to do with Shell either and that makes her OK by me.


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