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Article by Mohan Babu


Why a database of IT professionals?

Mohan Babu explains why it has become necessary to create an authentic and verifiable database of Indian software professionals. It will be immensely beneficial to both IT professionals and their employers, who can easily check the credentials of a candidate

Even in the current economic climate, one of the biggest problems faced by IT managers in the US and India is in getting good, qualified, experienced candidates with the right credentials who can hit the ground running. The IT industry in India, because of an unprecedented demand for professionals in the mid to late nineties, saw an influx of people from varying backgrounds, ranging from those with degrees in engineering, MCAs, MSc, BSc and even degrees in non-IT fields, with little or no formal training in programming, systems design and analysis. With the demand pendulum swinging the other way, a glut of candidates in the market is giving employers an opportunity to cherry-pick them. Of course, this also means that candidates have to work extra hard to prove their credentials.

As the IT industry in India matures, experts are starting to compare the industry with other professions where the demand-and-supply seems to be finding equilibrium. Most established professions including law, medicine, academia and finance have professional organisations and quasi-government bodies that set standards for professional conduct, expectations, and at the same time act as record-keepers maintaining extensive databases of professionals. Such professional bodies also help individual members network between themselves and provide a unified platform for representation. Local medical boards, law-bar associations, ICWAI, ICAI, etc, maintain extensive networks of professionals. Is it time for members of the software profession—companies and individuals—to get together to formalise an organisation that will help in record-keeping and elevating the status of members to a higher level?

Because of the fragmented nature of the software industry, individuals from varying backgrounds work on a wide range of systems using software languages and tools that vary in flavour and usage, running on different hardware, networks, etc. To be fair, the industry has been evolving and different software vendors have tried to build a cult like following for their tools/software by enforcing their own standards. Microsoft has the whole MCP, MCSE range of certification programmes. Sun has one for its Java. Even vendors like Cisco, PeopleSoft, Oracle and IBM have their own certifications. Trying to argue over the need for such certification programmes is moot because the opinions of hiring managers around the world are divided over this issue. However, one thing is certain: Hiring managers want solid candidates with impeccable credentials who can hit the ground running, and solve problems they are hired to fix with little handholding. Credentials and certifications prove the knowledge of the candidate but what about verifiable experience? I do not meant to imply, by any means, that passing certification exams are easy. However all things being equal, employers look for quantifiable experience they can rely on. Also, what about candidates from “top range” universities and educational institutions with professional degrees in software engineering or applications? Even they have to pass such professional certification programmes to be considered at par with their peers. Some experts compare this requirement to an MBA from Harvard or IIM having to pass a PMI certification before being considered a “qualified” project manager.

Given an easy access to Internet technologies, it will be a logical extension for an entrepreneur, group of companies or a professional body like NASSCOM to maintain an authentic, verifiable database of Indian software professionals. Such a database will serve two main purposes: Firstly, individuals will be able to track their progress and update the database as and when they build experience in systems and technologies. Secondly, employers will be able to search the database to look for proven candidates (in or out of the regular pool of candidates), or use the database to verify the credentials of candidates they are planning to interview. In order to maintain the integrity of the database, the owners of the databases should be independently able to verify the input provided by candidates. For example, if someone says that he worked for TCS or Wipro on a “large insurance project” using TIBCO, XML and Java, it will be easy to verify if TCS or Wipro did indeed do such a project for the named client. Companies may be wary of giving out “private/confidential” information to public databases, but with proper checks-and-balances, one can get around this issue. The flip side of this is the next time TCS needs people with experience in Java and middleware with an insurance background, it will be able to verify the credentials (including what it provided along with input from other companies).

The proposed idea is not too far-fetched. As a matter of fact, a number of successful entrepreneurs are already implementing such databases in the US. An example of this kind of a database is the one maintained by that boasts a database of more than 10 million biographies of US businesspeople. The company can track down current and former employees at many companies. The company claims to gather information from various sources including the Internet, news feeds, etc, and the profiles include a person’s work history, current responsibilities, e-mail addresses, etc. The access to the site does not come cheap; full access to the database costs about $1,000 per month!

A slowdown in the software sector is the perfect opportunity for industry groups and companies to think out of the box. Creating and maintaining such a database in India will be a win-win proposition for the industry and professionals.




About the Author

  • A Bio and profile of the author, Mohan Babu, can be found at his homepage
  • Mohan has authored a book on Offshoring and Outsourcing (Publisher McGraw Hill, India), a link to which can be found here
  • Mohan has also authored an Online book on "Life in the US," available for free download.
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    For FAQ, Trivia and Information on Life in America, visit the Ask-A-Desi section

    ©Mohan Babu: All Rights Reserved 2005

    Mohan Babu is an international consultant trying to find the ‘sweet spot’ where IT meets business. E-mail: mohan He is also the author of a recent book on "Offshoring IT Services"

    All rights are reserved. Mohan Babu ("Author") hereby grants permission to use, copy and distribute this document for any NON-PROFIT purpose, provided that the article is used in its complete, UNMODIFIED form including both the above Copyright notice and this permission notice. Reproducing this article by any means, including (but not limited to) printing, copying existing prints, or publishing by electronic or other means, implies full agreement to the above non-profit-use clause. Exceptions to the above, such as including the article in a compendium to be sold for profit, are permitted only by EXPLICIT PRIOR WRITTEN CONSENT of Mohan Babu. 

    Disclaimer: This document represents the personal opinions of the Author, and does not necessarily represent the opinion of the Author's employer, nor anyone other than the Author. This Article was originally published in Express Computers


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