Thursday 27 March 2008

Web-development Outfits


This post is about my efforts in finding an affordable, trust-worthy, knowledgeable web-development outfits in Delhi. A small background to my requirement first:

We, at Grehom, have two e-commerce website ( for Europe and for India) that has been developed and now maintained in house. We were doing fine, when we realised that our wish list was growing at a faster pace than the pace that our in house team could manage to deliver. This raised two possibilities:

a) We hire more people and continue with in house work
b) We look at getting this work out-sourced...after all the entire world is out-sourcing their requirements to India...and we sitting in India are unable to do that

Our collective decision was to start working on both options simultaneously, since we didn't know what would hit us in either of these options. To look for a young, energetic resource we went from one training institute to the other - only to be told

"Please send us your proposal and we will look at it"

This so completely boiled my blood - thinking here I am there at your doorstep telling you that I have an exciting offer for a youngster to start working on an e-commerce website straight away and I am in turn told to send a proposal to the administration officer!!! Call me old-fashioned, but I think that an institute should still respect people coming in with placement opportunities. i refuse to believe that Indian employment scenario has changed to much that there is more demand and supply - which leads the AO's to throw attitude.

But, not everything was as dim in hope. We did meet some people who understood what we required, they also gave us confidence that their students are getting the right sort of training to handle work like what we had in mind. I am as of now only hopeful in taking this forward and managing to find a resource who can fit the bill!

Now, what happened to us when we went scouting for web-development outfits, I have made contact with three so far...this is even better...

I called up a renowned multimedia school- trying to find out if they have any web-development course, if they do - then I would have been interested in possibly hiring someone. I have Mr. X on the phone, who patiently listens to my query and then asks for the URL of my website. When I asked if they have any course running on web-development, I am requested to hold and in a minute one Ms. Y comes online. She asks me a few intelligent questions - who am I / why have I called / what is my contact number / what kind of work do I want on my website / am I looking for freelancers or not...after about two minutes of interrogation and possible unending list of questions, I repeated my first question - "do you have a web-development program that prepares students to build / manage websites?"

The answer was NO! I was not only exasperated but also completely at the end of my wits - having answered all of Ms Y's intelligent questions intelligently - I was told that all this for Ms. Y to confirm that her multimedia school does not have any web-development program. I nearly screamed to find out the reason for all her questions...guess what Ms. Y had in mind...she told me that she had in the meantime passed on my contact number to a friend who has his own web-development outfit and that this 'friend' would get in touch with me.

Indeed I got a call from friend of Ms. Y - who told me that he will be glad to work on my requirements and gives me the URL of his website. I came back to office and opened this friend's website, found it an okay information vehicle - clicked on the portfolio, found one name that I thought was recognizable and clicked on that web site's link...only to find it had another website developer's name written on it!!! This so completely broke my heart...

The next day I got a call from the same friend who showed interest in meeting me and invited me over to his office. Since his office was stone-throws distance away from my office - I decided to go there and see what kind of operation does this friend manage. This was a house-office, no offence meant...had 5-6 men (3 were introduced as partners, with another partner settled in Australia). Now, the friend was introduced as the marketing guy while friends of friend were techies.

I sat with them for about twenty minutes, trying to understand what do they do, how do they do what they do and in general trying to grasp their depth of knowledge - so that Grehom and friend's outfit could work together. These twenty minutes were good for me to understand that the friend was really running just a 'friendly' outfit, which could do well with a little more professional approach and mind-set. Excerpts of my discussion with the friend and his friends:

Me: Hi...I come to you in order to see if I can get someone to manage my website, develop it further and give it a look that I want...
Friend: Yeah, no problem! We are here for you - we have been doing this for three years now. Please tell us your requirement.
Me: I am looking at someone who knows OS Commerce...
Friend's Friend (interruptingly): Yeah Yeah...we know OS Commerce!
Me: Okay...that's great. Can you tell me any site that you have developed on OS Commerce then.
Friend's Friend (apologetically): Oh no...actually we have not done this, but we know.
Me (ignoring the interruption brought earlier, deciding to continue with my requirements): I need someone who has developed e-commerce websites and not just online catalogues / content / social networking sites...
Friend (himself): Yes yes, we do that all the time...
Me: Great...Can you tell me any e-commerce site that you have developed?
Friend (lightly shrugs off my question): We have done a lot of projects, we don't actually work from the scratch - but work on a project basis...
Me (by now knowing that I am only wasting my time with them): Okay, one last question - what kind of fees would you charge to a customer like me?
Friend's Friend number 2: Well...we have a hourly fee structure of INR500 per hour...

This comment completely sealed the deal in my mind. If I had USD100 per man day to spend on people who claim to know all and have done all...but can't back their statements / claims by sharing live examples...I would not be a rich guy...but the biggest fool around!

Now, my second experience was with an outfit, whose website I came across while Googling. Interesting website, talked a lot about who they were, what they believed in (Success) and also said what all they could do. BUT - soon I realised that none of the other links on that website worked. Testimonials - under construction / Portfolio - under construction!!! Their contact us link thankfully did lead to a page, which had a form to fill and a Submit button. I did fill up that form and clicked on Submit - hoping they would receive my query - will respond and then we will take it further from there. Well - as it turned out - that was way too much to hope for from a website of a web-development outfit! That Submit button didn't work as well...

With these two, I was beginning to get worried. Started questioning my own requirements, thinking that probably I was expecting too much. In all this - I came across another such site, which had promise in its look. I cautiously attempted browsing through it - all links worked. They had a working functional site - this suddenly became a wow factor in itself.

I found out that they were based in Delhi - found their contact number and called them up. After about a couple of rings, the phone was answered by a smart sounding voice - let's call him voice. Following are the excerpts of my brief chat with voice:

Me: Hi, I am looking at getting some development and maintenance work done for my website.
Voice: Well sir, you have called just the place for that work. Please tell me the URL of your website?
Me: Great...please go to
Voice (after couple of moments, while he typed in the URL and opened the site): Okay, I have opened this site - now can you please give me your contact details?
Me: Look my friend, I would be glad to give all information, which is anyways available on the website as well in the Write to Us link...but first I need to understand if you can deliver what I want?
Voice: Sir, don't worry about our ability - we have been in this business for the last six years and have a total number of 5000 man hours of experience amongst our team.
(I was a little confused...this is a company that has been in this line of work for six years, with a total of 5000 man hours of experience!!! With a single person, working for 200 days in one year and 8 hours a day...
1 man x 6 years x 200 man days per year x 8 man hours per day = 9600 man hours!!!)
Voice (while I am calculating all this): Sir, by the way - let me tell you that your site needs a lot of improvements...
Me: Excuse me?
Voice: Yes, I don't find your site to be user friendly at all...can't see the Write to Us link!!!
I ended that call then and there...I didn't want someone telling me that my site is not user friendly because Voice actually had no eyes!!!

All in all - I am disappointed with my current efforts' results in finding an affordable, trust-worthy, knowledgeable web-development outfits in Delhi. I am sure that I have only met the worse of the lot and that the better of the lot is just a little more difficult to - hoping against hope to find one such outfit...I sign out today!

If you know of any, or are working with any such web-development outfit that does not over-promise, whose own website works and who is not out there to fleece me - please leave a comment and I shall gladly touch base with you. Thanks in advance!

Friday 14 March 2008

My Valentine's Day Gift - Thank You Tina

This year Valentine's Day was special for Tina and me - we were celebrating a decade of togetherness. It could only mean - gifts to be thoughtful and special.

While I could think romance and 'you-know-what'; gifted her some nice and sexy lingerie. Tina had other plans, first she took me out for an expensive dinner at a 'sophisticated' and there handed me an envelope as my gift. To be honest, I was excited and confused to see the envelope. In fraction of a second (the time I took to get my hands on the envelope and open it) - I could imagine what all could be inside that.
My mind gave me all kinds of possibilities, from photographs of Tina wearing what I had gifted her, to tickets to some exotic locale...but what I saw inside I could not have imagined in my wildest imagination!!!
I had two receipts of Gym membership in front of me. Apparently Tina realised that enough is enough and I need to get out there and do something about my body's shape (or lack of it). So she went ahead and got membership to a recently opened gym, which was just down our lane.

Sitting there at a really sophisticated restaurant, looking forward to my gift - getting weird-but-sexy ideas on seeing the envelope - well friends, I was honestly disappointed to see what Tina had chosen as our Tenth Anniversary gift.

It took me more than just a few seconds to recover from that shock. I wasn't disappointed because the 'gift' wasn't good enough or sexy enough - but because I now knew I was cornered and had no choice but to go to a gym and work out. I had never (NEVER) done it before in my life. But somewhere deep inside of me - I also knew that this was probably the most thoughtful and loving gift one could get.
Tina certainly is the fitter of the two of us, is thinner as well. I on the other hand have a non-flexi (jammed) body and am over weight by at-least two dozen kilos - thus I know it is me who needs it more than anybody else. I also know that had this gift not come along, I would never have agreed to even go to a gym!

It has just been three visits to the gym (we started on March 10th) and I feel I have joined in a lot later than I should have. I am the fattest there - feel so out of place...but Tina motivates me by saying that I have the maximum potential to lose weight and become fitter. I just hope that my motivation gets the better of my lethargy.

I promise to post my before and after pictures, once I have achieved some weight loss (assuming all of you reading this would be interested in seeing my bod!!!)

Till then - c'ya...keep reading and keep coming back for future posts. Bye!

Wednesday 12 March 2008

A Good Sunday

March 09th 2008

It wasn't a usual Sunday morning for Tina and I. Nothing unusual about the morning, just that the previous night we had seen a late night show of 'American Gangsters' and then decided to top it up with some TV viewing.

Having had slept at 0300hrs, waking up at 0900hrs was also a challenge on this morning. But we did...Tina had promised a breakfast-in-bed Sunday for me. Fighting her mind and body she got up first, started preparing for breakfast, only to realise that electricity had been out for sometime and somehow her plans had an important role for this anyway scarce resource!

With b-i-b not possible, I got up too - rather reluctantly though. Tina had by now prepared the part of our breakfast which she could cook on LPG. We finished with our breakfast and soon realised that our collective mood needed some boost. Thus, we decided to make use of an otherwise lazy Sunday to get some friends over for lunch.

Called up Nutsy + Vidhu - took them completely by surprise with our enthusiasm at that early an hour (0945hrs). They were still not sure whether they would be able to come for lunch or dinner and said would call back in half-hour's time. Expectedly so, call didn't come for the next 60 minutes as well...

Tina, by now, had planned to cook chicken and was quite sure that her plans wouldn't see light if we don't know what time are these guys coming. If it was lunch, then I had to go and get chicken and Tina would then marinate it. If it was dinner, then we had enough time...but to know whether it was going to be lunch or dinner that we had to prepare for - was critical.

I called back Nutsy, surprising him even further with our intent to having them over. I think it was more to do with the fact that we were asking him to get out of his house instead of letting him laze around (I know this as I would normally do the same). Finally, lunch was decided upon - common sense prevailed and all decided that since post-1700hrs on a Sunday evening, 'Monday-morning blues' start creeping in, thus enjoying dinner wouldn't be easy. It was decided that Nutsy + Vidhu would come over around 1330hrs (and they did).

Now, tasks for Tina and I were to:

a) Get chicken from a near-by market (I had never done this alone before, had no clue what and how to do)

b) Get enough soda and limca to last one afternoon

c) Tina to prepare food with me as her 'mundu' (MUDIT - DON'T DO THAT / MUDIT - WASH IT PROPERLY / MUDIT - WILL YOU PLEASE STOP FOOLING AROUND...)

d) I had to prepare a refreshing afternoon drink

e) Both had to take bath and be ready for receiving our guests

Well - finally food was ready and so were we. Our friends arrived in time and had brought some very tasty chocolates with them (more about these chocolates sometime later). After a glass of water, I straight jumped to a simple beverage preparation - Gin (loads of it), some Limca and some Soda. Added a slice of lime and two cubes of ice. This surely was a hit with our guests (or they made me believe so...). Tina had arranged for some snacks, trying to keep it as healthy as she could.

We four sat down eating and drinking on the carpet on the floor. Nothing better when ol' friends meet and you just have an informal gathering - more to unwind and chillax. We sat and yapped, discussed Nutsy's probable BIG ideas...talking about how we all were doing individually...laughing most of the times.

After two drinks and multiple rounds of snacks, it was time for delectable food prepared by Tina. The girls went out to lay the table and in no time we sat down for lunch. We hogged as if there was no tomorrow, all credit goes to me as I had brought and bought the chicken after all.

Eating-fatigue hit all of us bad - this time we were lying on the carpet on the floor. Every once in a while realising that someone had dozed off...soon we felt we better get coffee to help us sit. It was nearing 1700hrs. Girls were good enough to volunteer to make coffee, which gave us enough energy to sit up and feel 'Monday-morning blues' creeping up. Nutsy + Vidhu decided to call it quits for the day - got up and got ready to leave.

One of the lastcollective thoughts that came to us was "we can do this at-least once every month!!!" Yeah, just as everytime you do something simple yet important - the same question comes to your mind. It reminds me of Dil Chahta Hai. Three friends in Goa, feel the same - let's do this once every year at-least!!!

Guys, this was one of the best Sunday afternoons that I have spent in a long time. It took no real effort - there was enough lazing around as well. But the best part - it was with friends. It was truly blissful...