This summer, students in LeBow’s MIS 347: Domestic and Global Information Systems Outsourcing tackled real-life challenges by serving as outsourced information systems consultants.
While the course has been offered before, according to instructor Samir Shah, DPS, this year’s experience was different. It was the first time he incorporated the concept of reverse outsourcing in the class by having the students consult for a company based in India. Over the past few years, there has been a trend of many companies outside the U.S. outsourcing projects to American companies.
The course required the students to collaborate with undergraduate students at Amity University in India to develop technology platforms for two different clients – Verve Systems and Storykeeper, USA. The students were split into four teams, each consisting of students from Drexel and Amity.
Two teams worked with Verve Systems to develop an internal evaluation system for employees that identified the level of proficiency of their tech employees in various soft skills that the company hoped to develop to improve the workplace and productivity. The project parameters included researching and identifying the most important soft skills for the work place, creating an evaluation survey for employees and developing a system to share results with both the employee and the human resources department.
The two teams working with Storykeeper, an American event management company, were tasked with developing a user interface for employees to track incidents and maintenance needs during the wide variety of events the company hosts. They needed to create a user-friendly website that allowed customers and employees to enter issues, allow those issues to be assigned to staff to address them and track past issues to proactively address them for future events.
After working in their global teams for eight weeks, they presented their final products to their clients in person and via video conferencing.
The clients were impressed with the products the students developed and planned to utilize them in their companies.
“The students did a great job,” said Gil Cnaan, CEO of Storykeeper, USA. “They saved us three months of development time, and the work they did is tremendous. We’ll actually be using work from both groups of students in developing our final product.”
The global aspect of the project proved to be the most challenging but offered a significant learning experience for the students. Working with clients and colleagues on the other side of the world forced students to get creative in their communication and do extra planning to complete their projects.
“I learned the difficulties that outsourcing can bring, especially working with a team that had wildly varying time zones and cultural outlooks on team dynamics,” said Arthira Sivan, a junior international business and legal studies major. “The importance of constant communication and making concessions to ensure both sides can work well together became more important as the project went on.”
Kevin Lockwood, a third-year finance and business analytics student agreed. “I had a great and unique experience with this project in interacting with students from a different country, which I had never done before. The best part was just being able to interact with someone on the other side of the world with a completely different culture, while the hardest part was working around the time difference.”