MIS Quarterly Executive


We often hear that global IT work creates difficulties due to time and distance. Companies source their IT work to Asia to capitalize on lower labor costs. But they soon discover time zone coordination costs that stem from delayed communications and misunderstood tasks. We also hear a conflicting claim that time zone differences are actually an advantage in global IT work because a project can work round-the-clock. Are time zone differences good or bad? And how do companies overcome the challenges? This article explores this topic using the case of India-based Infosys, now one of the world’s largest IT sourcing and services firms.A clock framework with 10 time-zone solutions is used to summarize relevant practices. The 10 solutions fall into three groupings: a 24-hour organizational culture; process and technology; and a liaison, who encompasses elements from both process and culture. The Infosys case demonstrates a balance between organizational culture solutions and process solutions. Importantly, Infosys has nurtured an organizational culture in which employees see themselves in a global firm covering 24 time zones. “When the [young software engineers] choose IT as a career, everyone knows about the need to work over time differences.” One of the solutions, the liaison, is called the onsite coordinator at Infosys. This person bridges the client site and the India-based engineering staff. An advantage of time zone differences is follow-the-sun work. But at Infosys, it is used infrequently.