Home Depot outsourced it’s B2B and EDI (Electronic Document Interchange) support to India, Pakistan or somewhere in Asia long ago. It’s a model demonstration of the failures that can come from outsourcing. The long running jokes about Indian call center support embraced by US technology and telecommuncations companies have spread across almost all areas of I.T. This particular failure on the part of Home Depot is of particular importance because it causes disruption in their vendor supply chain.
Honorable mention goes to Home Depot for their selection of unqualified candidates to work in their B2B support center. Not only are they generally unhelpful and unknowledgeable regarding things like their own EDI mapping specifications, but Home Depot has found it acceptable to hire those who ONLY speak Farci or Urdu with almost zero ability to speak English. This is no exaggeration or matter of interpretation. My guess is the top of the totem pole in Atlanta probably isn’t even aware how bad the situation is with this language barrier. I challenge anyone in their stateside senior management to call their own B2B support department and hold a conversation. Our organization has been required to call in our Indian and Pakistani product managers to sit on calls and speak with the HD B2B support staff in their native language because they genuinely did not know the words in the English language to communicate high level technical information to our internal EDI staff or our application vendors. This is when you know they’ve gone too far in their quest to offset costs.
Predictably Home Depot could play the “we can’t find U.S., Canadian or European workers with the skill set to fill these roles”. Well, you didn’t find them in India or Pakistan either. Furthermore the document specifications and translation sets are written in English code, specifically XML. If they can’t speak it my guess is they couldn’t read a map or the specification sets during training either.
We are at a point of impasse in our organization right now when it comes to turning up a new trading partnership for Home Depot Canadian distribution centers even though we have a signed supplier agreement because we literally can’t find anyone in Home Depot B2B who can communicate with us in English. Furthermore when we engage our language translators they still can’t grasp technical concepts well enough to even provide us proper document specifications for their domestic and international programs. This is why Home Depot’s long running B2B outsourcing initiative deserves a resounding FAIL.
Home Depot has millions of dollars to fix this problem and insure faster supply chain integration. Apparently the decision not to fix the problem is completely based on trying not to pay U.S., Canadian or European technical specialists the wages such B2B and EDI expertise demands, opting instead for cheap, unqualified, outsourced Asian call center operatives who are at best ineffective in their roles and in many cases detrimental to vendor supply chain integration.