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Does Outsourcing Programming Really Save Money?

timothy posted more than 2 years ago | from the by-jingo dept.

Businesses 653

itwbennett writes "In a blog post titled 'Why I Will Never Feel Threatened by Cheap Overseas Programming', John Larson tells the story of a startup that shipped its initial programming to India, paying $14 per hour, with predictably disastrous results. Larson concludes: 'I have yet to see a project done overseas at that sort of hourly rate that has actually gone well.' But in this not-uncommon tale of outsourcing woe, is the problem really with the programming or with unrealistic expectations?" The comments on Larson's blog post (originally titled "Why I Will Never Feel Threatened by Programmers in India") seem to me more valuable than the post itself.

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I outsourced this first post! (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38279354)

Seems to work ok.

Re:I outsourced this first post! (1)

GarryFre (886347) | more than 2 years ago | (#38279950)

I outsourced the reading of the comments Below. Yours was funny.

Faulty Reasoning (5, Insightful)

gatkinso (15975) | more than 2 years ago | (#38279360)

Just because the overseas programmers suck (debatable, but let's assume) doesn't mean management isn't going to go for the $14/hr carrot.

Re:Faulty Reasoning (5, Insightful)

nomadic (141991) | more than 2 years ago | (#38279380)

Exactly. You should feel threatened, because quality frequently doesn't win out.

Re:Faulty Reasoning (3, Interesting)

somersault (912633) | more than 2 years ago | (#38279432)

It might take a few years, but you'd think that eventually they'd catch on that these projects are costing more to maintain and start teaching that in business school. If it's just for throwaway one-off programs then outsourcing probably isn't so bad though.

Re:Faulty Reasoning (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38279478)

> It might take a few years...

Yup, I've been hearing that since 2000. How much longer do you think? 20 more years? 50? A century? I don't think so. Show the PHB two salary numbers, he's going to pick the lower one, never mind any other factors (e.g. overall cost).

Re:Faulty Reasoning (4, Insightful)

Billly Gates (198444) | more than 2 years ago | (#38279514)

Problem is software is an expense that adds little value to bottom line unless your a software company. Therefore go cheap and invest in more sales and accounting gurus who can better raise the stock price and bring better value to the shareholders. That is what is taught in business school and makes sense. You dont save anything as it never generates revenue.

Re:Faulty Reasoning (1)

stanlyb (1839382) | more than 2 years ago | (#38279674)

This will work only if you have something to sale......otherwise, what is the value of unfinished program? let me hep you: ZERO

Re:Faulty Reasoning (5, Funny)

compro01 (777531) | more than 2 years ago | (#38279780)

Available evidence suggests you can sell an unfinished program just fine.

Re:Faulty Reasoning (4, Interesting)

nine-times (778537) | more than 2 years ago | (#38279602)

I think you're overestimating the rationality of people when it comes to economics. People don't actually do things that are cheaper and more efficient. Most people in management will spend $100 chasing $2, and they'll get rewarded with raises and bonuses for doing it.

Re:Faulty Reasoning (1)

vlm (69642) | more than 2 years ago | (#38279882)

Evidence: Paperclip usage audits, numerical tracking of bathroom visits, all the theatre done by the security dept, detailed reports of printer of photocopier use, detailed analysis and backbilling of cubical coffee machine expenses based on numerically integrated departmental floor area calculus problems...

Re:Faulty Reasoning (1)

mrquagmire (2326560) | more than 2 years ago | (#38279944)

Yeah. You'd think.....

Re:Faulty Reasoning (5, Insightful)

vlm (69642) | more than 2 years ago | (#38279548)

Exactly. You should feel threatened, because quality frequently doesn't win out.

There are a lot more McDonalds than five star restaurants.

Re:Faulty Reasoning (4, Informative)

PCM2 (4486) | more than 2 years ago | (#38279810)

His point is that, yes, managers are going to be blinded by that $14/hour price tag and go with that route, but those projects usually fail. They are pitched for too many man-hours up front and they usually run over, and even then the result often isn't up to snuff. The result is that they give up and hire American (Western) programmers to finish the job at market rates. Thus most of the "value" of the overseas effort becomes a cost overrun, but the worst part is that time to market suffers because the initial specification valued cost over time to an unrealistic degree. A company can only get burned like this so many times before cooler heads prevail.

Re:Faulty Reasoning (5, Insightful)

samsmithnz (702471) | more than 2 years ago | (#38279416)

It's not because they suck, it's because they don't own the code. If you know you have to maintain a piece of software, you will spend extra time ensuring that it's maintainable and coded well. We have a large team in India and they are very successful, because they are part of the company and are building a career, not being a code monkey.

Re:Faulty Reasoning (5, Insightful)

schlesinm (934723) | more than 2 years ago | (#38279562)

Outsourcing code development doesn't work unless you have some onshore owners of the code who are able to review for code quality and demand fixes when the quality suffers. I've been working with offshore developers for over a decade now. There are some that are really good and I felt confident giving their code just a quick once over review. There are others where I have to review the code thoroughly because they're not quite up to par (such as the time I had to write the Java time code interface for a coder after he failed three times to figure out how to do it). Without an employee owner for the code, then outsourcing is hit-and-miss for actually saving money.

Re:Faulty Reasoning (2)

AJH16 (940784) | more than 2 years ago | (#38279808)

Yeah, that really hits the nail on the head. My experience with outsourcing has been that about 1 in 10 to 1 in 20 depending on the place will be solid coders. The rest make passable grunt coders if you have a professional developer reviewing what they do and correcting their mistakes. Outsourcing seems to work best as a labor multiplier for a solid local developer/designer/architect.

Re:Faulty Reasoning (4, Insightful)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 2 years ago | (#38279722)

If they're part of the company, then they're not outsourced, they're just offshored. Often the two go together, but they are independent. You can move an office to a different country and you can move the work to another company in the same city. Or you can combine the two. This is usually when you get the worst results. There may be talented people in India, but if you're hiring them at one remove from a continent away then there's a very good chance that you won't be employing any of them.

Re:Faulty Reasoning (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38279418)

overseas programmers suck (debatable, but let's assume)

I concur, it's debatable. And India is not the only country overseas. US does outsourcing in Europe (mostly eastern) too, where IMO you can find much better programmers than in India.

Re:Faulty Reasoning (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38279510)

My company outsourced a piece of a project (GUI redesign). The result looked good and met the requirements but turned out to be inadequate. No error conditions were handled, any change to the test cases caused it to fail. However, since they brought it in on cost and schedule they were given a larger piece as a follow-on. We ended up rewriting both the GUI and the second piece and were late by a year. You can blame the spec (they did) but no US developer that had to support the finished product would have done shoddy work. I think the outsource company did it deliberately because they expected to be paid to fix all of the problems.

Re:Faulty Reasoning (1)

stanlyb (1839382) | more than 2 years ago | (#38279716)

You sound surprised? What, you think they are idiots? Only because they are cheap, does not mean they are stupid.

Re:Faulty Reasoning (2)

moranar (632206) | more than 2 years ago | (#38279866)

Delivering shoddy work may pay off in the beginning, but on the long term, I am pretty sure much it's stupid. You've lost one customer, and gained bad reputation.

Re:Faulty Reasoning (5, Insightful)

niftydude (1745144) | more than 2 years ago | (#38279736)

I'll probably get modded down for saying this - but over the years, I've worked as a developer/tech arch in Palo Alto, Mountain View, Milwaukee and Portsmouth, and my experience is that the vast majority of US programmers also suck.

The main problem I've had with Indian programmers is that a lot of them don't really understand english (even though it is the official language of India) - which makes explaining requirements more difficult, but at least they can do math properly.

Not all overseas developers suck, and not all US developers are awesome. I can see why management would be willing to take the lower cost option, when they aren't guaranteed (or qualified) to identify and hire good talent locally.

Don't be the ugly American (4, Insightful)

RobinEggs (1453925) | more than 2 years ago | (#38279960)

The main problem I've had with Indian programmers is that a lot of them don't really understand english (even though it is the official language of India)

English is an official language of India, and not the primary one. The primary official language is Hindi - you know, their native language.

I realize it's vastly preferable that they speak English if they work for you, but you're implying there's actually something wrong with Indians who don't speak English, and that's absurd. There's nothing any more backward or stupid about an Indian who doesn't speak English than there is with a Canadian who doesn't speak French or a Belgian who doesn't speak German.

Don't practice the cultural ignorance and arrogance that befalls other Americans. I think you're smarter than that.

Re:Faulty Reasoning (5, Insightful)

next_ghost (1868792) | more than 2 years ago | (#38279834)

You know the saying: Cheap, good, fast. Pick two.

Re:Faulty Reasoning (1)

xclr8r (658786) | more than 2 years ago | (#38279968)

Overseas is way too general. You can get some quality programming out of the Middle East, West Pac (from quality firms) and Eastern European countries. Just do your research. On the flip-side I can guarantee you can get crappy programming inside 'these' borders if you fail to research as well.

Unrealistic Expectations? (3, Informative)

Troke (1612099) | more than 2 years ago | (#38279378)

I think the unrealistic expectation is expecting any project to go well when you are paying 14 dollars and hour for a highly skilled position. No programmer worth their salt will willingly accept that pay, and if they do, you probably don't want them.

Yet...... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38279404)

Give them some time. Microsoft, Google, Oracle, Apple, and IBM will lie and connive--as if that's necessary bribe--congress into upping h1b visas again and again until that pay level is a realistic expectation...

Re:Unrealistic Expectations? (1)

ByOhTek (1181381) | more than 2 years ago | (#38279454)

Many open source devs work for about $14/hr less than that even...

I think it would be more appropriate to say

I think the unrealistic expectation is expecting any project to go well when you are paying 14 dollars and hour for a highly skilled position that is the position-holders primary income.

Even so, I think work environment and cost of living would have a huge impact on how interesting that would be.

My first job where I live, was $45k/year. Where I live, it was a nice job, but if I consider cost of living, it would have to be nearly $60k/year if I were on the west coast, to be competitive.

Agree (4, Interesting)

1s44c (552956) | more than 2 years ago | (#38279410)

I've seen the work infosys and wipro do. They are the high end of Indian programing sweatshops yet everything I've seen from them stinks. They promise the world but don't deliver any better than a first year degree student could in any developed country. Except a first year student would be cheaper, has the same time zone, and speaks the same language.

Re:Agree (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38279504)

How about outsourcing to Canada?

Re:Agree (3, Funny)

Overzeetop (214511) | more than 2 years ago | (#38279658)

Naw, the exchange rate sucks.

Re:Agree (1)

1s44c (552956) | more than 2 years ago | (#38279666)

How about outsourcing to Canada?

I can't answer that. I've never dealt with Canadian programmers. It certainly won't give the same langage problems as India though.

I was really only thinking of the heavily overmarketed India outsourcers wrote my comment.

Re:Agree (1)

stanlyb (1839382) | more than 2 years ago | (#38279740)

LOL, now that is funny. Canada, the white slaves of USA.

Re:Agree (1)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 2 years ago | (#38279762)

Someone's trying it - they're offering $11 an hour for developers. And with the lousy job market, they'll get bites. What they won't get is quality, but quality is NOT job 1 any more - "oh shiny!!!" is.

âoeIâ(TM)m wondering if youâ(TM)re availableâ"my partner says we just need an American programmer to get in their and clean up a few things to get us out the door, we figure it would take the right person 10 hours, instead of 50 or more with these guys.â

Riiiight - and when you start cleaning up, you get to see fundamental problems - your "oh it will only take 10 hours" assumes that it will take 1/5 the time to clean up the mess than it did to make it in the first place. Life doesn't work that way. Ask anyone with kids.

Re:Agree (1)

PCM2 (4486) | more than 2 years ago | (#38279864)

We heard about outsourcing to Canada for a few years in the late 90s/early 2000s, but it doesn't seem like it offers much advantage when the Canadian standard of wages is about the same as that in the U.S. and the Canadian dollar is 1:1 with the U.S. dollar.

Re:Agree (1)

Z00L00K (682162) | more than 2 years ago | (#38279620)

The problem with outsourcing development to a country like India is that you have to specify your a$$ off to get what you want. This because stuff that's obvious to us is something that they aren't familiar with. Simple things like "why do I need anti-freeze in the car"... Or the understanding of the tax system (that varies a lot between countries).

College Hires the real problem (5, Insightful)

Kagato (116051) | more than 2 years ago | (#38279812)

I think you hit on something, even if you haven't realized it. Companies don't hire first year students. The numbers have been dropping for almost a decade now. Companies get it into their head "why deal with college hires when we can use experienced off-shore". Well you can't keep a pipeline of experienced programmers in the US unless you make the investments in the next generation of programmers.

Re:College Hires the real problem (1)

rcuhljr (1132713) | more than 2 years ago | (#38279936)

We do probably 60-70% of our hiring straight out of college. Now we aren't a large company (probably only add 5-10 people a year) but there are certainly plenty of places taking fresh outs.

Re:Agree (1)

Dog-Cow (21281) | more than 2 years ago | (#38279886)

That's because these companies are hiring first year degree students (or rather, fresh graduates) who have never written code except for class assignments and projects. Companies won't hire local graduates with so little experience, but they will pay companies on other continents who do exactly that.

I have personally dealt with an off-shored team that was so incompetent that in 6 months we didn't get a single usable bit of code from them. We had to let one guy go, as he was clearly the least capable, and it took a couple months before we even had a resume to look at for a replacement. This was Ford AP. They pay such crap, that even the bad coders were looking elsewhere.

Off-shoring and/or out-sourcing works when you pay for what you want. As always, you get what you pay for.

Outsourced Programming Flaws (5, Interesting)

Nova Express (100383) | more than 2 years ago | (#38279424)

Having been involved in many outsourced projects, a number of problems tend to crop up again and again:

1. Offshore programmers frequently lie about their programming skills
2. Competent Indian programmers tend to do fairly well if given very explicit instructions, but are at a loss if something unexpected comes up. They tend to be less adaptable and nimble than U.S. programmers.
3. It ends up taking longer than estimated, even for simple projects.
4. Hand-holding and rework end up eating up all time and money savings.
5. By the time an offshore programmer has skilled up enough to actually be useful, they leave for a better position. (Especially true for India.)

To my mind, outsourcing programming is a management fad that is (hopefully) already falling out of favor due to poor results.

Re:Outsourced Programming Flaws (2)

CoderFool (1366191) | more than 2 years ago | (#38279628)

overseas outsourcing contracts would be more difficult to enforce and there would be less accountability. What is their motivation to produce quality, maintainable code if they get paid anyway and don't have to maintain it? Especially when there are plenty of other willing victims and customer service isn't a concern? And how easy would it be to sue them to enforce a contract even if it was explicit in programming methodologies?

Re:Outsourced Programming Flaws (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38279644)

I tend to think that the cost of handholding is frequently not counted, as it's done by the project-manager, whose hours don't figure on the development time.

Re:Outsourced Programming Flaws (4, Funny)

vlm (69642) | more than 2 years ago | (#38279742)

That shows a failure of the American programmer, not a problem with Indian programmers.
1) Why can't an American lie? Liars expect people to lie, management, especially upper management, requires sociopath tendencies which equals lying, so, freaking lie about it to keep the boss happy. If a guy in India who just graduated school can claim 10 years C++ experience, why can't I claim 20 years? I have "CCIE-level" experience although not a CCIE. Actually, in the restricted arena of BGP I probably do, but I'm lost in switching. If I know its a BGP job, and the boss doesn't care if I lie, and the competition in India will lie ... why not? Sure, boss, I'll be a CCIE.
2) The boss likes "needy" "unempowered" employees. So do it. Ask him dumb questions constantly to keep his tiny little ego boosted. Whats so hard about that?
3) Tell the boss it'll take longer, and F off more. Again, whats the problem, you worried you'll wear out the foosball table or what?
4) Don't worry about needing handholding or spending more time on rework than initial development. Just do it. The boss likes it; or he wouldn't be going to India where they do it all the time.
5) Leave for greener pastures as soon as possible, preferably before the project crashes and burns.

The price is "too low" for a american programmer because the boss is hiring incompetents in India. OK, the problem isn't the american can't get hired for an "incompetent" level job at $1/hr, the problem is the american is supposed to be applying for high paying high end architect and management jobs, which he can't do because he's only a programmer, but then again, the indians can't program, so its all kind of even in a way. And if thats they way the man wants it, thats the way the man gets it.

This all seems to be "programmer getting frustrated trying to make and enforce management decisions while not being in a position of management authority". Just zen up a bit and go with the flow of reality. If the boss wants incompetent liars, don't whine about it, either become the boss and demand something else, or become an incompetent liar, or work elsewhere. Its simple, really.

Re:Outsourced Programming Flaws (3, Informative)

1s44c (552956) | more than 2 years ago | (#38279744)

You summed the problems up very well.

I also found Indians say 'Yes' to everything even if they don't understand what you are talking about. That can cost days of lost work when you find out they didn't have a clue later.

Re:Outsourced Programming Flaws (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38279836)

I also found Indians say 'Yes' to everything even if they don't understand what you are talking about. That can cost days of lost work when you find out they didn't have a clue later.

The verbal headshake.

Re:Outsourced Programming Flaws (5, Interesting)

Rogerborg (306625) | more than 2 years ago | (#38279920)

That's it, exactly. Same experience with Malaysia and Korean devs and managers. The answer is always "Yes, yes, of course, we will do that, no problem," to any question. I understand that it's partly cultural; it's considered rude to just say no. But it goes way beyond that: they will lie straight to your face (or over a video link) and actually get tetchy about being questioned, even when they have a track record of failures and screw ups behind them.

Other fun things to deal with are the rapid staff turnover, the guarantee that they'll take the code you paid them to write with them to a competitor, and that you might find that you don't even have a copy. Keep the source repository under your control, and no commitee, no payee.

Re:Outsourced Programming Flaws (1)

Dog-Cow (21281) | more than 2 years ago | (#38279928)

This times about a gazillion.

Re:Outsourced Programming Flaws (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38279772)

Yep. Spot on.

A buddy of mine worked for a small company who produced a web-based transaction product which was used by several large companies. They decided to hire an Indian team to work on it and although they said they understood the project, they clearly didn't. The software became unstable and buggy in bizarre ways as the foreign programmers worked around features they didn't understand building parallel code within in the project. By the time it was over the company was paying two sets of programmers to both break and fix the same project. Fortunately, the company was bought out and my friend moved on to greener pastures.

Re:Outsourced Programming Flaws (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38279896)

Even the biggest outsourcing companies are expanding local development. GE [reuters.com] is one example.

Re:Outsourced Programming Flaws (2)

JabrTheHut (640719) | more than 2 years ago | (#38279926)

I will forever remember the first "outsourced to India" project I worked on. It was a major rewrite of a core online application of one of the UK's banks. The first day the system was run in parallel with production the end of day batch took 26 hours to run. :-P

You get what you pay for (1, Insightful)

mehrotra.akash (1539473) | more than 2 years ago | (#38279430)

If standard salary in US is USDx/hour for a developer

Then for an equivalent skill level in India, they will have to pay approx USD(x/10)/hour

if they decide to pay x/20 , then obviously they will get lower quality

They need to go for cheap, not the absolute cheapest

Re:You get what you pay for (1)

KarolisP (1538799) | more than 2 years ago | (#38279576)

Citation needed... :) I'm willing to bet something that you pulled both 10 and 20 out of thin air

Re:You get what you pay for (1)

mehrotra.akash (1539473) | more than 2 years ago | (#38279652)

Not completely
FB and MS hire India's top students for work in US at USD 120,000 which transtales to INR 65,00,000 approx
A student with a similar skillset can get an average of INR 6-12,00,000 in India. (taking the lower range, its 10, taking the upper value it would become 5)
A fresher in a outsourcing company gets around INR 3,00,000 (hence the factor of 20)
Some approximations, but you get the basic idea I guess

Re:You get what you pay for (1)

compro01 (777531) | more than 2 years ago | (#38279948)

I'll take it you misplaced your commas, or wherever you are uses a different thousands separation method.

I'm presuming you mean 6,500,000, 600,000-1,200,000, and 300,000 respectively.

Re:You get what you pay for (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38279580)

No, they need to go for no outsourcing.

If Microsoft and Oracle want to give jobs to India, then let them move to India and lose out on all their American contracts.

-- Ethanol-fueled

Re:You get what you pay for (3, Funny)

1s44c (552956) | more than 2 years ago | (#38279764)

PLEASE let Microsoft move to India. Then it really will be year of the Linux Desktop.

Re:You get what you pay for (1)

mehrotra.akash (1539473) | more than 2 years ago | (#38279822)

MS already has a development center in India
Actually if they DO move to India, Linux will be dead cause Windows licences will cost $20 instead of $200
Remember, salaries for equivalent positions in India are significantly lower

Re:You get what you pay for (-1, Troll)

1s44c (552956) | more than 2 years ago | (#38279912)

MS already has a development center in India
Actually if they DO move to India, Linux will be dead cause Windows licences will cost $20 instead of $200
Remember, salaries for equivalent positions in India are significantly lower

Salaries are lower but quality sucks. If windows gets any worse it will not even boot.

Re:You get what you pay for (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38279586)

Nah, they need to just not outsource. Never works, and with laws like HIPA /Sarbanes Oxley - the legal games that have to be played to ensure compliance aren't worth the cost or effort. How many Marines had their personal / medical data exposed because our laws don't apply to their people?

Not to mention that *all* foreign companies (foreign to India) have to let the government sniff / watch all traffic on the VPN connections between contractors and the parent company. Not many contracts (native to the company's country) allow for this sniffing.

Re:You get what you pay for (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38279634)

Actually, my experience has been that you pay only slightly less for the same skill level. The programmer gets a lot less, because there's administrative overhead, of course.

This means that your US-based people will have to do a lot of support for them, and it will end up costing more.

However, there are times that it makes sense... And it's all the same times that it makes sense to hire someone to work remotely. Because that's essentially what it is.

Re:You get what you pay for (1)

mehrotra.akash (1539473) | more than 2 years ago | (#38279732)

Actually, my experience has been that you pay only slightly less for the same skill level. The programmer gets a lot less, because there's administrative overhead, of course.

Administrative overhead could be a point
Because for the same(similar) quality of life, you need significantly less money in India as compared to US (if you do a raw USD INR conversion)

Re:You get what you pay for (2)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 2 years ago | (#38279816)

Of course, sometimes you don't actually need the same level of competence. I spent some time this year supervising a couple of Chinese developers for a company that I do some work for. The project was fairly low priority and they couldn't afford to have it done at the rates I charge, but paying for a couple of days of my time doing code and design review and a couple of months of someone in China doing the real work. The end result was probably about as good as if I'd done it - maybe better, because a lot of it was tedious work and I'd have been bored - and a lot cheaper.

Zero Success (2)

deKernel (65640) | more than 2 years ago | (#38279438)

I have yet to experience an out-sourcing project come in under budget. The typical project seems to run 3X what the initial projects costs presented, and that is based upon comparable pricing. When someone says $14/hr bill rate, my blood run cold and causes me to expect nothing but an abysmal failure.

Old IT Maxim (1)

avgjoe62 (558860) | more than 2 years ago | (#38279468)

I always tell clients that their projects can be good, fast and cheap - pick any two. Good and cheap will not be fast, fast and good will not be cheap and fast and cheap... well, you get what you pay for. Realistic goals need reliable resources, not the lowest bidder.

Re:Old IT Maxim (2)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 2 years ago | (#38279828)

I always tell clients that their projects can be good, fast and cheap - pick any two. Good and cheap will not be fast, fast and good will not be cheap and fast and cheap...

Optimist much?

You can't just throw money at a project to "make it go faster." It can be good, but it won't be fast, and it won't be cheap. If you want it fast, it will be crap and it won't be cheap. If you want it cheap, it won't be fast and it won't be good. See "The Mythical Man-Month". Or meditate on why "adding more people just makes a late project later" is VERY true :-)

Fungibility (3, Insightful)

anvilmark (259376) | more than 2 years ago | (#38279488)

Modern management philosophy depersonalizes employees into interchangeable resources. There is Management, Knowledge Experts and "Cogs".
They don't even care that it's more expensive using cheap programmers to get a job done - it's worth it to them to not have to depend on any individual contributor.

Example: those rentacoder websites (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38279494)

I had a project that I was outsourcing a bid for. It was probably 6 - 10 hours maximum and I put a bid out for $150 figuring $15/hour or more for this simple task. All the overseas programmers started putting in bids of $250 - $500 and the ONLY bid I saw that was $150 or less was an AMERICAN PROGRAMMER!

If anyone NEEDS to know what the bid was, it was integrating a payment API into a web application. I've had people in the past do it in less than 2 hours for the $150 price I was offering.

Fits with my experience (2)

rbrander (73222) | more than 2 years ago | (#38279498)

I'm watching a project from a place I don't work via friends that are there right now. A web store of sorts - the kind of thing that's a solved problem and they probably could have bought an off-the-shelf product. But no, it had to be bespoke and the local contractor subcontracted to, umm, a nameless Asian country (that is triangular, and a subcontinent - but nameless).

To programmers that appear to have never USED a web store, much less written one. People who had to have the term "your basket" explained to them. As for brilliant programming, they have some kind of development environment (or lack of discipline in its use) that allows bug-regression: solved bugs suddenly re-appear when new code versions are introduced later to solve others. We're talking a year late on what should have been less than a year worth of project.

I agree that working for less than half price gets you a lot of forgiveness for running even 100% over budget, but the cost on the local staff doing the requirements and testing has been high. Even in this economy, people have been quitting to get away.

Re:Fits with my experience (1)

vlm (69642) | more than 2 years ago | (#38279796)

the local contractor subcontracted to, umm, a nameless Asian country (that is triangular, and a subcontinent - but nameless).

Bhutan?

Tasmania? I hear those guys are real devils. They're screwed. (come on, just say India)

Re:Fits with my experience (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38279954)

But no, it had to be bespoke and the local contractor subcontracted to, umm, a nameless Asian country (that is triangular, and a subcontinent - but nameless).

I don't get it. You're so racist against Indians that you won't even say the name of their country?

Downright Silly (0)

Baldrson (78598) | more than 2 years ago | (#38279522)

This guy's "study" is so far from anything that might be considered scientific -- even ignoring the bias and conflict of interest -- that it is almost a paper tiger set up to make legitimate arguments against outsourcing look bad by association.

Look, until there is something along the lines of a humane political economy, I'm going to be one hard-core sonofabitch protectionist. You just can't justify a political economy in which property rights are protected for free by taxing economic activity. Nor can you justify a political economy in which the citizens of the polity have to vie with each other politically to get their entitlement, which should be an equal share of the dividend stream arising from the very existence of a legal infrastructure that protects property rights.

Even with a citizen's dividend funded by use fees for property rights upheld by the existence of government and property rights laws, I don't believe in money as the ultimate measure of virtual dick-length. I don't care whether the guys in other countries are "competitive" or not. He has to have some reasonable expectation that the benefits of his sacrifice (and if you don't believe there is sacrifice involved in invention, you aren't paying attention) will fall disproportionately on himself, his family his community, his state and his nation respectively.

Oh, and, yes, human political economies such as that just described does mean citizenship should require familial connection to the founders of the polity. Such familial connections are, throughout history, a consequence of consanguinity modified by the exchange of FEMALES. Look at the mtDNA distributions by geography vs Y-Chromosome distributions by geography. If your government protects male immigrants that go through some ritual, then it should let local males challenge foreign males to natural duel to the death and, if they are refused, lift protection from any form of legal protection of the foreign males.

It worked so well.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38279538)

... we bought the company.

No, really. My Corporation Which Shall Remain Nameless (tm) was so enamored of an outsourcing company in India that they bought it. Works great because when they outsource to India they can, in all truthfulness, say it hasn't cost the company a single job. It has lead to multiple local server farms to support the 'overseas' work. So the next time your company outsources 'to India', remember who owns that company and think for a moment.

And, before you wonder, yes it is THAT huge India outsourcing company, the one known for its call centers.

From past experience, no. (5, Informative)

HappyHead (11389) | more than 2 years ago | (#38279552)

I once did some contract work for a place that made the mistake of outsourcing a major programming job. My job was to maintain the outsourced code, and keep it functioning (barely) while the internal programming team worked on building a complete replacement from scratch, at half the cost, with the actual system requirements being fulfilled. I spent four months fixing bugs in deliberately obfuscated perl code, at consultant rates, because none of the internal staff they had hired was either able to figure out perl code in general, or willing to even try to sort out that mess. The outsourced programmers in question had the dodgy business practice of deliberately making their code difficult to read, and only including comments like:

# 16426-b

The code in question contained wonderful constructs such as pointless loops where a value would be iteratively divided by the numbers from one through a thousand, then restored to it's original value without being used in the altered form. I started the project with about 6 million lines of perl code, and by the time it was over and the replacement was ready, tested, and brought online, there were only 2 million lines in the outsourced code, including about ten thousand lines of comment code that had been added while I was working on it. I hadn't even looked at about half of the remaining code.

After the initial work was done (poorly), the outsourced programming company announced that their code maintenance fees were being increased, thinking that their poor coding style had essentially locked the client in, and left them unable to get help elsewhere. The only staff member the company had who was willing to make the attempt unfortunately committed suicide after only a month of trying. (Personally, I believe it was unrelated, but the other programmers there claimed she was perfectly fine until she started working on that code... after two months of it I could see why they would think that.)

So yeah, in my experience, outsourcing programming does not save money - if the company I did that work for had just had their own people write the original code, they would have saved a massive amount of money.

Re:From past experience, no. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38279710)

What I don't get is, why didn't your company just order a working product for a fixed budget? If the outsourced company can deliver, good, if not, another one will be found. No?

Re:From past experience, no. (1)

HappyHead (11389) | more than 2 years ago | (#38279902)

They did - the product that was delivered was not nearly as "working" as was claimed, and the money was already paid before that was realized.

Finding another outsourcing company after you've already been dumb enough to hand over several hundred thousand dollars for a pile of garbage, that your company needs working in order to continue operating is not in the budget, especially considering how the last one went. The cost of hiring me to prop up the garbage while a replacement was built, plus the cost of their internal team actually doing the work, was less than the cost of outsourcing the code to begin with, and in the end they got a system that was much more stable, better documented, and simple to maintain and make modifications and updates to.

I should probably mention that the person who made the decision to outsource the programming despite having a team of programmers already in the local IT department was no longer with the company when I signed on as a temporary contractor, and it was their decision (and the probable kickback they received for making it) that caused them to no longer be with the company.

Others have been burned this way (1)

davecb (6526) | more than 2 years ago | (#38279560)

A large U.S. company of my acquaintance outsourced their data center successfully, and followed up by outsourcing their software development, in both cases to well-known and reasonably reliable providers.

Thinking they were on to a good thing, they then outsourced software maintenance. Some months later, they realized that that had accidentally given up control over the maintenance budget by giving up control of the maintenance itself. Their costs started to rise, as the outsourcer started fixing all the new bugs, plus all the bugs they'd skipped over during development. This was bad, as the whole idea was to save money!

To get control of their budget and their software once more, they had to reverse the previous two steps, actually hiring people away from the former outsourcer, getting them visas and moving them the the U.S., all during a previous recession.

Then their hardware company went out of business, and they had to port all the software. They were very pleased that they'd "in-sourced", as that could have put them out of business if they'd had to go back to the outsourcer when they were cash-poor.

--dave

Outsourcing... (5, Insightful)

Bert64 (520050) | more than 2 years ago | (#38279564)

If you pay someone by the hour, they will work as slowly as they can...
If you pay someone by project, they will cut corners to finish quicker.
If you pay someone by lines of code they will write bloated code.

All of this is even worse when the developers are halfway round the world and you can't keep track of them so easily, and when you don't have sufficiently clued up people on hand to inspect the code they have written.

Nope (2)

Rik Sweeney (471717) | more than 2 years ago | (#38279570)

But generally, this is what happens:

1. Project is developed in-house.
2. Management notice that though the quality of the project is good, it's too costly and by outsourcing it, they'll reduce the budget by 90%.
3. Project is developed overseas, usually India.
4. Management notice that the quality of the project is extremely poor and decide to bring it in-house even though it will cost them 10 times as much.
5. Goto 1.

Mercenary Management (1)

whereissue (2522564) | more than 2 years ago | (#38279610)

Quarterly returns. Bonuses. Spurring investment... Companies which outsource are not interested in delivering quality goods and services. These companies are run by individuals who know that they have a limited window of opportunity to generate as much revenue (or the illusion of) as possible before they move on to their next incentive-oriented opportunity to do the same thing elsewhere.

Companies which engage in outsourcing may have long-term goals, but those in charge tend to make decisions which only impact the short-term. They have no "company" loyalty, because they are not planning to remain with the company... they are planning to generate as much income, for themselves, as possible.

This may seem un-PC... (2)

DontBlameCanada (1325547) | more than 2 years ago | (#38279636)

I think one of the major issues with offshoring to India or other locales is cultural.

In most 1st world countries, employees are independent and, honestly, brazen enough to respectfully tell their boss/team-lead/architect about all the holes and errors they may have made when spec'ing out some work. This is substantially due to the fact that getting fired in those countries for attempting to improve the product quality non-existent or protected (wrongful dismissal). In emerging economies, the peon has no protection and if they dare "show up" their boss by pointing out problems, they face the real risk of losing their job and being deemed "unemployable due to insubordination". That may mean they end up destitute and out on the street.

I've crossed swords with VPs and CEOs in my time, for what I deemed as was good for the company/product. I risked getting nuked, but felt that the risk was worth it because my intentions were good. Sometimes this has resulted in the leader swallowing their pride and adopting the change, sometimes I've ended up on the wrong side of a decision. Thinking back, I doubt I'd ever had done that if the downside wasn't getting a layoff but instead losing my home and being unable to feed my family.

Never underestimate the communications (1)

mark_reh (2015546) | more than 2 years ago | (#38279654)

problems, even with people whose native language is English.

I was in India several years ago with my with my wife who became ill during the trip. I told my host that my wife was experiencing some stomach problems and I'd like to get her some medicine. I then spent several frustrating minutes trying to understand the difference between a "stomach problem" and "stomach trouble" and the different medicines to treat them.

Management won't figure it out. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38279672)

At a company I work for, we outsource a lot of development, with terrible results. The problem is that they have set up a division in china and india, which they continue to pour money into. While the local talent pool continues to dwindle. Doesn't matter that the work needs to be reworked, or redone here by 1/5 the number of programmers here, they continue to pour money overseas. In the end as one manager told me, they are getting better, and eventually they will be up to the standards expected in the states. And the main thing is, even if the work is redone here, the profits are still realized for the overseas divisions. This same manager glibly told me that in the end, the tax savings alone was enough to make it all worth it.

Outsourcing sucks (4, Insightful)

Decameron81 (628548) | more than 2 years ago | (#38279676)

I work at a company that does outsourced programming for for US and EU companies. I have been working at this for the last 5 years aproximately (always in programming & analysis roles).

I am really amazed at how much our clients undermine their own goals. I understand that cost is what drives programming jobs to my country - but I still have to see a really successful product come out of this. It would be difficult to find a single cause for this, but all of the following are at least partially responsible:

1 - Low wages.

2 - Lack of good programmers getting involved: some of the programmers you can get for the lower wages are great, some suck. I've seen companies taking just anyone interested to fill programmer positions for such jobs (you can train them, right?). Getting involved in the selection process may help prevent this.

3 - Lack of trust in the the outsourced team: you can't think of the outsourced team as a bunch of mindless morons and expect them to care about your product. In those cases in which the outsourced team was a very good team, it didn't make the slightest difference because people was told what to do, and not to think - which makes hiring inexperienced people a pretty attractive alternative.

4 - Giving more importance to cost & time, than to quality: what would anyone expect to get, when quality is secondary to time & cost? This is a huge way to undermine your projects.

5 - Communication: communication is harder when people is spread all over the world. IMHO you need to compensate this difficulty by having some tool to help you keep in touch. In my current company, we use skype, and we keep in touch at all times with the client, which really helped solve this particular problem.

6 - Planning: planning is much more difficult when delivering work to someone who is not right at your side.

5 - Etc, etc.

Why it Doesn't Work (1)

Quantum_Infinity (2038086) | more than 2 years ago | (#38279686)

The reason outsourcing does not give back the expected returns is because outsourcing companies employ fresh out of college graduates that do not have necessary experience and skill. They frequently lie about skills of team members to the US clients. They hire cheap fresh graduates, pay them good salary by Indian standards so those graduates stick it out and charge US clients lower than US market hourly rates so that it is an attractive option to the customer. Their main profit lies in the currency exchange rate between rupee and dollar. Foreign exchange is their real business, not IT services. They don't care whether they are programming or doing tech support in a call center or doing janitorial work, - as long as the difference between rupee and dollar is huge, they make money.

There's a "right" way and LOTS of wrong ones. (3, Insightful)

Chas (5144) | more than 2 years ago | (#38279690)

I know of a couple of software projects that are outsourced and getting good results.

This one basically the formula for one of the best of them:

Each team is overseen by a local (stateside/canadian) lead programmer who can actually review the code properly.

There are guidelines in place for documenting and commenting the code. Don't follow the guidelines, don't get paid.

And they pay close to what US programmers for a similar project would demand.

As such, they never run out of a supply of candidates. They can afford to be VERY choosy about their hires. And they get damn good value for their money.

Yes, they went through a few scammers during their early spin-up. But they had that sort of thing built into their expectations. They eventually wound up with a crack cadre of programmers and software products that are some of the best-documented I've ever seen anywhere. You could literally spend a couple hours reading the documentation and start working on the software.

Then you get the guys who think they're going to set up a programmer sweatshop someplace and pay sub-subsistence wages to hordes of thousands and magically fall on the fair side of the "infinite monkeys" principle.

I have zero pity for these fools and the crap they wind up with (if anything is ever actually delivered).

$14/hour is too cheap even for India (1)

rollingcalf (605357) | more than 2 years ago | (#38279698)

The more reputable offshore software development companies in India charge their clients $20-$35/hour. The programmers only get about $5/hour out of that, but the cost of overheads in India (e.g. electricity, running water, office real estate, computer hardware and software, Internet bandwidth etc.) is often more expensive than in the US. So if an Indian company is charging just $14/hr, either their programmers or infrastructure or both will seriously lack quality.

I'd be more worried about Indian publishers (3)

JSBiff (87824) | more than 2 years ago | (#38279720)

This, mostly, doesn't seem to have happened yet, but I'm waiting for it to happen. . .

Essentially, the problem is that when another company is being payed hourly to develop a product for you, mostly they care about selling you hours, not selling you good software.

So, as long as the Indian companies are working at selling hours instead of copies of software, they perhaps don't have much incentive to really get it right. But, once some Indian companies realize they can just make the software and publish it themselves, selling directly to customers, then the incentives change - the customers won't buy bad software, so they'll need to make sure they develop the programs to a certain level of quality (perhaps they can get away with *lower* quality, as long as it's "good enough" and is cheaper than the competition).

I might just be ignorant, but so far, it doesn't seem like theirs been any big self-publishing software companies developing in India (and China, and other developing nations that are starting to build tech companies), but I don't see why it couldn't happen, and that worries me far more than "outsourcing".

I feel that the U.S. and Europe are far too complacent and far too smug about being "intellectually superior", and figuring we can keep our economy alive, despite losing manufacturing and lots of other jobs, by having a "knowledge economy", as if the rest of the world for some reason can't develop their own tech sectors that can out-compete ours. I mean, we already know that most of the rest of the world does better in school than U.S. students, so how is that going to work?

"misrepresenters" in all countries (1)

tekrat (242117) | more than 2 years ago | (#38279730)

I'm *not* a programmer. But that doesn't mean I don't understand the concepts, I just never bothered to pick up the syntax.

15 years back, I worked in a small software company that did "multimedia" titles for the then booming 'CDROM entertainment' industry, which book publishers were into in a big way, just before the internet changed all that.

When we got a project, we'd often have to find people familiar with Macromind Director, a rapid-development authorware environment.

People would waltz into our office, claiming to be wizards in 'lingo', which was Director's built-in programming language. Although Director had a "score" in which to build your projects, we used it only to hold placeholders, and everything was built in code.

Anyhow, the point is; to weed out the real people from the ones who thought they knew what they were talking about, we developed a few simple questions which would tell us just how clever each candidate was.

And example would be: We would ask the candidate "You have a screen with 50 buttons on it -- but Director has only 32 channels on the score - how do you make it so that all 50 are clickable?"

The obvious solution is to parse the screen - X-Y co-ordinates; very simple, elegant, and should be a basic answer to anyone that's even written Hello World.

You wouldn't believe the responses we would get, people would outright lie to try and come up with a response, everything from "use the extra channels in lingo" to "channel swapping", etc., point is -- within 3 questions we could usually tell who was a programmer versus who was just saying that, or even thought they were a programmer because they'd done a few simple tricks in Director.

My guess is that with outsourcing, NONE of the upper management who makes these decisions is enough of an engineer to really quantify if the outsourcer is really representing a company full of skilled programmers or a company full of book-in-lap hacks.

So, they are likely misrepresenting their skill set, but that's true everywhere. The actual number of really talented programmers is always smaller than you think, and everyone else out there may think they are great, but that's only because they've never come up against the really, really good ones.

Because projects using local programmers (1)

nedlohs (1335013) | more than 2 years ago | (#38279770)

never fail, right? Surprise, surprise so do ones that are outsourced overseas.

If you are a startup for whom some piece of software is a code component of your business then outsourcing - whether in country or out of country - is stupid.

Sure outsource the development of components but do you really want your business to be built upon something you had created for you by some external coding team? What advantage are you going to have against a competitor who can use the very same external coding team?

You want a lead developer in house - someone who will understand your software. Someone who can actually provide realistic estimates of how much work changing something will be. Someone with some skin in the game.

Then you can outsource the development of components - now you have someone who can partition off the work and judge the quality of the results. You can get short term quality feedback, instead of having to wait until you are thousands of hours in to see if the work is any good.

It Is About Code Control (1)

EXTomar (78739) | more than 2 years ago | (#38279800)

It doesn't matter if the software or code was written by a team across the world or across the street but if your team is given the edict "Use this software because it is too expensive to use something else" then that puts your team in a bind when flaws and bugs pop up. But this is not different than other project lead decisions made at other times about which software to use or support. The trap I think many fall into is that because they treat the other team as "trusted partner" that means they are automatically more responsive or higher quality or even care about your complaints/feedback than strictly separated third party which I haven't found much evidence to support.

It tends to be more expensive, actually. (1)

JustAnotherIdiot (1980292) | more than 2 years ago | (#38279830)

It might save money, but in general the quality is terrible. I deal with this at work quite often, I'm constantly hearing the teams around me at work cleaning up after the messes people overseas make.
Which then, my company has spent X dollars paying workers overseas PLUS Y dollars they have to pay the workers here to fix the shoddy code, on occasion rewriting the entire thing.

Now tell me, which is more expensive, Y or X+Y?

Down and out (4, Funny)

Rocky Mudbutt (22622) | more than 2 years ago | (#38279840)

I was the "Down" in Downsized, I was the "Out" in Outsourced. That made me down and out.
I wanted to be the "Laid" in Laid Off but but my wife gave me "The Look".

purpose of outsourcing (3, Informative)

Speare (84249) | more than 2 years ago | (#38279852)

I've commented on this before, but there are GOOD and BAD reasons for outsourcing. All of these stories focus on the BAD (and they're truly horrible). It's easy to have schadenfreude about managerial disasters, especially if said managers fired you for this kind of project.

If you're outsourcing something that is your core competency, you're going to rot away to nothing. They will walk away with your secrets and become the direct solution provider in your space.

If you're outsourcing something that is creative or inventive in nature, you will fail. They are geared to bill hours, want to minimize their own labor by recycling solutions, and don't care so much about success because rework is still work.

If you're outsourcing something that depends on today's level of dedication and problem-solving, that's creative and inventive. But also, you will fail because you don't own those rare dedicated and problem-solving employees. They're predictably terminated by their managers, replaced with cronies or the next batch of diploma-mill graduates. If you get something good out of an outsourced worker, they will quit for a better job tomorrow and you'll have to start over again. And there's usually a no-poaching agreement to make it harder for you to groom and select the gems from their labor pool.

However, if you're outsourcing something that is rote, uninteresting, easily explained, clearly documented, often repeated, and does not rely on motivation or personality, then you have a chance. There's no reason for you to hoard and cultivate a set of employees who are best kept as fungible, as replaceable, as off-the-shelf, carbon-copies of each other as possible. Get them cheap, and get them to turn the repetitive process crank that you don't want to turn.

Offshoring the project is identical to local outsourcing, but all of the challenges of time zone and language and culture are just magnified greatly.

Just Write Proper Tests (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38279884)

If you're going to go for outsourcing, you should have a very solid design and a fixed-price agreement at hand. Write your own tests and have the outsourcing company do the rest. As long as the tests pass, you win.

I used towork for outsourcing company (3, Informative)

macson_g (1551397) | more than 2 years ago | (#38279890)

I used to work for a Big Outsourcing Company Which I Refuse To Name, not in India but in Eastern Europe. And this kind of posts always make me laugh. We were cheap, but we were good. It is true that there were some pathological situations, ie we were charging client per man hour, and as a result our team was artificially inflated and we kept people who were completely useless and lazy, but were completely happy to receive minimal salary and do nothing apart of pretending to be useful. But the best people in the team were really, really good and well paid (with hourly rate exceeding the one that customer paid per mh!) and management was quite good too, managing not only the project, but working closely with the customer etc. And you know what? The code that we produced was better that the stuff created by customer's own R&D devs, and as result more and more work was transferred to us. And I can clearly remember how frustrated we were working with customer's own people, some of which were mediocre at best, knowing that they are getting 4x more for similar job. Eventually, frustrated by the situation, I moved to Western Europe myself, quadrupling my salary. But, at the other hand, we were not in Idnia, and the rate customer paid was much more that 14$/h (it was, as I recall, 20+EUR/h)

I'm a overseas programmer at Venezuela (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38279894)

Yes India is a huge source of overseas programmers.
In Latin America you can get experienced good programmers for that price (or less).
So, this post is only about India programmers?

In my experience: No (1)

gweihir (88907) | more than 2 years ago | (#38279930)

In fact, it can be hugely expensive. I have seen several large projects scrapped, because the people out-sourced to managed to hide their incompetence. One was a large JAVA business app, that they had 100+ people working on. Several people, including me, when reviewing this project came to the conclusion that it should have been done with 4-6 excellent domestic people, which would likely have resulted in a lean, clean and reliable product in the projected time and within budget. Instead the software produced was bloated, slow, used inefficient algorithms (Example: I found a quadratic algorithm used to deduplicate an arbitrary large table in there, when a hash-table, as available in the Java libraries, would do the job in linear time), was badly structured and had names that often exceeded 60 chars with often minimal differences between two and made the code basically unreadable. At the time it was canceled it had exceeded budget by a factor >2 and time by > 1.5 an was nowhere near finished.

Morale of that is that 100 incompetent people cannot replace 4-6 competent ones. And people overseas may not comprehend the actual needs of your company. So, in short, although the business side always has problems with that (and IMO that is the real reason for outsourcing), get the best developers you can, treat them like kings and let them do their magic. Yes, that means realizing that the engineers are more important than the managers, at least the good ones. Deal with it.

Don't blame programmers for poor management (3, Insightful)

gestalt_n_pepper (991155) | more than 2 years ago | (#38279962)

If you can't get the guy down the hall to do it right, don't expect it come back right from India correctly either. Most software fails are due to poor planning, misunderstood or absent requirements, poor design with no input from customers, and so on. Yes, most of us who've worked with or managed foreign teams know that the coding from India (or Iowa, for that matter) may not always be top notch, but coding is the easiest part. Planning, useful documentation and management of a well conceived project is the difficult part.

Short answer (2)

Dcnjoe60 (682885) | more than 2 years ago | (#38279972)

The short answer is no, it only appears to. Data shows that whatever is saved by outsourcing new development is made up for by increased maintenance costs. I worked for a large government agency that would outsource new development and have the existing programmers maintain legacy code. Very often, they even paid for the training for the outsource staff, which came out of a training budget and not the actual development budget. Then when the project was completed, it was turned over to the existing staff to maintain.

The problem with this approach is that the existing staff never comes up to speed, they don't know what went into the design decisions, etc. (yes, there is documentation, but it isn't the same as being part of the project). This approach is not unique to government entities, either. Many large businesses take this approach.

While I was employed there, we changed the process so consultants were used to maintain the legacy code and trained the internal staff on the new technologies needed for projects. We went from being habitually over budget and late to on budget and on time.

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