Problems and Probability of Joint Projects with Nepali Software Companies

AUTHOR
Michiko MATSUSHITA

ABSTRACT

Many under-developing countries have same problems; they need long time and huge cost for building up infrastructure, for example supply of water, electric power, transportation, or telephone. The ordinary route of economic development starts from preparation of infrastructure and production of light industries, and move to machine industry. Nowadays, the speed of progress of technology becomes faster and faster, then for the under-developing countries, catching up to the advanced nations becomes more and more difficult. It seems that the giving chase between under-developing countries and advanced never finish. Another hand, the new technology of computers, the Internet, or information communication technology (ICT) give the big chance to under-developing countries. ICT makes possible skip some steps of developing stairs without huge cost. People of under-developing countries can produce software products using small investment of personal computers and the Internet.

Nepal is one of the poorest countries of the world. The GDP of this country is about 240 US$. I had twice on-the-spot investigations in Kathmandu in 2003 and 2004. I inquired into 7 private software companies, the Computer Association of Nepal (CAN), Nepal Telecommunications Corporation (NTC), 1 private company of Internet service provider, Nepal Travel Bureau, 1 private travel company, Nepal National Library, 1 press, 1 medical center, 2 private universities, and 2 offices of the international organizations.

>From the first research, we can find the ICT situation in Kathmandu. In the urban area of capital city Kathmandu, we can use the Internet, e-mail, and mobile phones. Almost all the young people living in Kathmandu have e-mail address, and use personal computer and the Internet at the internet cafes in the town. In Kathmandu, the number of software companies continues to grow because of the influence from India that got the grate successes in IT industries. Recently some Japanese, American, or EU companies try to invest in Nepali software firms, seeking lower labor cost and the plentiful young work force. The IT related faculties of national and private universities have enriched their education programs, and the graduates. The IT environment of Kathmandu has been improved, but some problems remain in the joint project between Nepali companies and foreign ones. Indeed, the almost projects with European or American organizations ended in failure, but the projects with Japanese organizations continue and achieves the success.

Through the second investigation in 2004, we found some essence of the problems of Nepali companies working with foreign staffs or organizations in the international projects. There are 5 big problems in Nepali companies. The first problem is the inexperienced group work. Nepali people have a tendency to work individually in office. They look like artisans or craftsmen. In general, plural staffs of the same project have the contacts individually with the same customer and Nepali staffs don’t want to share the information about their project. Therefore, if some staff will change, the project will return to the start position. The second problem is neither document nor printing schedule. The details exist only in the brain of the each staff, and then no one knows the general situation of progress of the project. The third problem is no experience of management of over 40 persons. The usual private companies in Nepal have 2 or 5 core staffs. Almost all companies are small size and there is no middle manager. The fourth problem is the Nepali original culture, out of accord with international standard. They stick to personal way to work. Even the products of factory, the shape of each is different from others in delicate way. The fifth problem is the strong tendency of job-hopping in the cause of wages and low motivation for the work in the knowledge industries.

Leaving a matter entirely in a Nepali staff’s hand is the main cause of failure of joint project between Nepali and foreign companies. In this case, the foreign staffs cannot control the whole project. After Nepali core staff leave the project or company, no one can continue the project. The other hand, the reason of success of Japanese organizations is out-and-out introduction of Japanese working style. For example, an office adopts Japanese working communication system “Hou-ren-sou”: to report, to inform and to consult always to the neighbors. In this office, if someone breaks this rule, the person must pay a penalty. Another company uses the reserve fund for retirement allowance: when the staff retires, the retirement money is paid. The amount of the retirement money is bigger than the total that the staff has saved every month.

Although some projects using Japanese style achieve success, these cases do not have prospects for the future. Because this way is just superficial imitation, and the Nepali organization itself do not grow up. There was a Japanese-Nepali joint software company where the Japanese director tried to educate the organization itself. We introduce this company and consider the probability of Nepali-foreign joint project in software industry.

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