Infosys’ continuing visa issues are causing concern for Infosys clients. While at first, the problem sounded isolated and related to a single whistle-blower, the continuing coverage suggests that the problem may be more widespread. Two recent events are increasing client concern. First, there was a CBS Morning News broadcast which seemed to support the original whistle-blower’s accusation. Then, Infosys itself disclosed that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security had found errors in a significant percentage of I-9 employment authorization forms.
To make matters worse, clients are puzzled by Infosys’ lackluster response to these charges. For sure Infosys has denied all charges, but this is not a sufficient response to clients that rely on Infosys to keep the lights on every day. Clients are worried about things such as: the impact on Infosys visa-carrying employees if Infosys does “lose” the whistle-blower case or is penalized for irregularities in its I-9 processing; and the public relations risk if Infosys becomes an election year scapegoat for American job loss. Clients want to understand what the worst-case scenario is and work with Infosys to mitigate potential risks. So far, Infosys’ response has been to re-iterate that there is no risk. However, a good sourcing and vendor management expert knows that he or she needs to do more than hope for the best.
So what should clients do? Well, I will tell you what some Forrester clients have been doing: putting contingency plans in place to insulate themselves and their companies from risk. This includes:
- Asking Infosys for documentation about the visa status of all on-site employees.
- Ensuring that all documentation related to Infosys staff activities is up to date and stored on the clients’ network.
- Determining which on-site Infosys resources are mission critical and determining whether they are permitted to hire this staff in the event of a problem.
- Discussing possible disruption with alternate suppliers to gauge their ability to accommodate Infosys’ workload should the need arise.
- Discussing with alternate suppliers their ability to hire Infosys’ staff should the need arise.
Clients are hoping that Infosys will start working with them individually to explore worst-case scenarios and discuss which measures can be put in place to ease their concerns. Infosys has always been considered a reliable and scrupulous industry stalwart, but its response to its recent visa problems (not the accusations, but its response to the accusations) is making clients question their judgment.