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When at vendor's place, look for:
* Capacity: (workstations and people); * Supervisory arrangements: (floor managers, project leaders, group heads); * Security: (controlled physical access and password-protected network resources).
Most importantly, meet person who will be in charge of project you are thinking of giving vendor. Is s/he articulate? Tech-savvy? Quality conscious? Deadline oriented? Easy to get along with? Is there a second line to take over if s/he is away?
You must of course also hand over a copy of your RFP and discuss each point in fine detail.
Bear in mind that most often, Indians are formal to begin with. If you invite key people to a meal, they will be very happy to relate to you on a personal level... this is better for all parties concerned.
Conclude each visit by asking for your quotation within a specified timeframe; encourage vendor to email you freely regarding any questions s/he may have.
At end of a visit, ask yourself if you have a good feeling about interaction. If answer is an overwhelming “NO!”, you had better strike vendor off hopefuls list. For any other answer, keep them in running.
Follow these steps for all hopefuls, and do extensive Internet research on final candidates from broadband connection in your hotel room.
Great, business part of your trip is over, it’s time for recreation!
There are many unusual things to see in any Indian city, and you’d best ask your mentor what these are. There’s no point seeing typical big-city sights… look for ancient or ethnic (Akbar’s tomb, Kerala waterways or Hindu temple at Madurai, for instance).
Be careful when deciding what to eat or drink. Only eat in restaurants that are clean by your country's standards; stick to bottled water from reputed companies like Kinley or Aqua Fina. And no matter how badly you may be tempted, do not eat from those small roadside carts and kiosks!
If you want to buy souvenirs to take home, ask your mentor where to shop, else you may very well end up paying twice what you should. Buy things that are not easy to come by in your home country: fine silks, carpets, and most importantly, Indian jewelry, of which only meagre selections are available outside subcontinent.
So now, replete with silk, gold and an outsourcing vendor shortlist, you're at end of a memorable journey. Get on a plane, push seat back and wonder how it all went by so fast.
Dream about how much you’re going to save in costs, quality improvements you will see, what a good thing you’ve done for your company, and how glad you were that you planned your trip carefully.
You now have valuable knowledge and experience about travelling to India, and might very well soon be recognized as an expert in subject. Fare thee well, bold traveller, and fearlessly guide all those who may follow in your footsteps…
Lucky Balaraman runs The Magnum Group, which provides architectural and engineering drafting services to the global marketplace. Learn more about The Magnum Group at: http://themagnumgroup.net