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Ask Slashdot: Is Outsourcing Development a Good Idea?

timothy posted more than 2 years ago | from the is-vi-better-than-emacs? dept.

Businesses 403

New submitter penmanglewood writes "I am a developer at a small IT company, and we primarily make software and games for the education market. I used to work with a team of developers, but for reasons outside the scope of this question, my boss and I are the only ones left. My boss says that our new strategy is to use outsourced developers to do the 'monkey work' for us. To me, this sounds like a bad idea. Do we give the developers access to our internal libraries? How will they be able to work on parts of our product without having access to our repository. I could think of a hundred more objections, but maybe I'm looking at it the wrong way. Is there a smart way to outsource development, or is it just a bad idea?"

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Just remember (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40030179)

You get what you pay for. There's a reason those outsourced programmers are so cheap. They don't care about you, or your project, and they don't have to maintain it when it breaks.

Re:Just remember (5, Insightful)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 2 years ago | (#40030289)

Actually, the problem is that you often don't get what you pay for. The most important think when considering outsourcing is to work out how you are going to evaluate their work. If you don't have a mechanism for rejecting bad work, you'll get bad work. If you're doing off-site code review with people several time zones away, you may find you're spending more time doing code review than it would take you to just rewrite it from scratch...

Re:Just remember (5, Interesting) (2472782) | more than 2 years ago | (#40030541)

We do a lot of out sourced work for other companies and our customers tend to be very happy with us and many of them come back to us for follow up projects. We're also not cheap, in fact our fees are rather high, but so are our standards. We're located in the mid-west and the vast majority of our customers are within our region, but I've been known to hop on a plane and fly to the coast to finalize a deal or to reassure a customer that we're real people doing real work. Your first sentence says it all, you get what you pay for. As for the time zone statement I think it depends on who you're outsourcing. There have been times where we've outsourced some of our projects in order to meet deadlines and we've established solid contacts with several Individuals in Bangalore and I've found them to be an absolute treat to work with. If someone is going to outsource the most important deciding factor shouldn't be money or location, it should be skill. Any good development firm is going to have a list of previous satisfied customers that should provide a solid reference, if they don't then you shouldn't take the risk unless you're willing to accept sub-par work for sub-par pay. If someone is looking for "cheap" then that's exactly what they'll get.

Re:Just remember (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40030639)

People like you and your company should be expelled for treason, what traders to the American worker. And I could care less to hear what your lame excuses for doing so are.

As for the post, I think the fact that two of them are left, says it all about this company.

Re:Just remember (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40030553)

No the problem is, no matter who or what work you outsource, you need someone to double check the work (whether the work was done internally or externally). The more problems there are, the more work there is for quality control, the less time/money you save on having the job outsourced in the first place.

Re:Just remember (4, Informative)

wisnoskij (1206448) | more than 2 years ago | (#40030545)

Yes and No.
Labour is cheaper in other countries and this does not mean that they are worse workers or unqualified.

But it does mean that you will necessarily be working with people who care less about the finished product and who you have almost no oversight of.

They might be working two or more jobs at the same times, and even if you are paying them for 8-12 hour days they might only be working 4 for you.
There will likely be a communication barrier, my old boss used to spend 4+ hours a day trying to explain what he wanted our outsourced team to do the following day.
Also, being an entire world away they can hold your code hostage. You will probably want them to constantly unload their work to servers you have absoluter control over. Because the last thing you want is for your relationship with them to break down and for them to refuse to sent you their work thus far.

Re:Just remember (4, Informative)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 2 years ago | (#40030745)

When you outsource, the labor is working for someone else. They aren't your employees. They are employees of OtherCorp. The labor will do nothing that doesn't benefit OtherCorp. They don't care about you or your company or your product. They will not lift a finger except what is spelled out in your contract with OtherCorp.

They are not your employees.

Re:Just remember (-1, Flamebait)

cpu6502 (1960974) | more than 2 years ago | (#40030671)

Education software and "games" are crap. So it doesn't really matter if the outsourced team produces crap..... the government schools will buy it anyway.

Is it just a bad idea? (1)

redneckmother (1664119) | more than 2 years ago | (#40030191)

Correct on the first try!

Been there (more than once), done that, got the Tshirt, got it autographed, and gave it away.

Re:Is it just a bad idea? (1)

goathumper (1284632) | more than 2 years ago | (#40030261)

I wholeheartedly disagree. It depends strictly on where the outfit is from and how competent an outfit they are to begin with. The problem with the selection of outsourcing options is that most of the time, the decision makers focus on cost more than on quality (because it's more expensive).

A band of idiots will do a crappy job regardless of where they're from - homegrown or foreign. The difference lies in selecting the band of non-idiots to do the job to begin with. You'll find that things go much smoother then. Then again, the non-idiots are less cheap and sometimes that can be a turn-off for decision makers who are more focused on the bottom line than on the quality of the work.

Re:Is it just a bad idea? (1)

goathumper (1284632) | more than 2 years ago | (#40030327)

I neglected to complete my comment - sorry! When I said "where the outfit is from", generally speaking: India and Pakistan are usually the cheapest, but have the most serious quality issues - they tend to say "yes" to everything, but in my experience they consistently under-perform and under-deliver to the point that the work has to be done all over again by qualified workers "elsewhere". Again - I'm not saying that's how ALL the Indian/Pakistani shops are, just the (many) ones I've dealt with over time have all fit that pattern.

Outsourcing saves costs (0)

PizzaAnalogyGuy (1684610) | more than 2 years ago | (#40030355)

While outsourcing does save costs, it can also bring down the quality. Let me tell you an example in the form of analogy that everyone can better understand.

During the nice times before multinationalists corporations took over everything, we used to have tons of great local businesses. Shops, farms and places that were run by local people with care and most importantly, dignity. Just ordinary people who were truly happy when they could offer a good service. What we have now is outsourcing everything to lowest bidder - people who don't actually care about quality or good service.

Back in the days I used to go out to the local farms and other establishments to get our goods. We would enjoy a nice chat and beer with the owners. Then we would buy the goods, like ham, onions, garlic and other good stuff from the friendly people we knew. And we always knew they actually cared about providing quality service and products. After all, it was also their own home town.

In turn, when people came to enjoy our great pizza, they knew they would be enjoying locally produced excellent quality pizza that was prepared with love. This was the time when people and companies would make products and sell services not just for the money, but because it actually made them feel good and proud of themselves. Like I did, and still do. Every time a pizza customer of mine comes to compliment me of my pizza good, I feel great joy and I am proud of actually giving a good service. Where is that with these multinationals?

Re:Is it just a bad idea? (3, Insightful)

localman57 (1340533) | more than 2 years ago | (#40030423)

The other thing is that you can't just look at outsourcing as being the same as you having programmers, but in a different building. You aren't going to be walking by their desk every couple of hours, and see what they're doing. Managers are often used to being able to do this. As a result, many companies that aren't used to outsourcing have weak requirements specification processes. They just notice when what's being made isn't what they want, and fix it early. With outsourcing, you have to put more effort in on the front-end requirements, or you'll get something that isn't what you want, even with a competent outsourcing outfit.

You have to trade this off against the flexibility that an outsource outfit gives you. You don't have to spend time and resources recruiting. You don't have to provide office space. You don't have to worry about what to do with the people if your budget or needs dimish.

Re:Is it just a bad idea? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40030515)

You aren't going to be walking by their desk every couple of hours, and see what they're doing. Managers are often used to being able to do this.

"Stop dropping in like that!!" *whack!* []

Re:Is it just a bad idea? (5, Insightful)

localman57 (1340533) | more than 2 years ago | (#40030629)

Then again, the non-idiots are less cheap and sometimes that can be a turn-off for decision makers who are more focused on the bottom line than on the quality of the work.

Exactly. There seems to be this myth around outsourcing that somehow there's a magic method by which an outsourcing company can provide you engineering or programming effort for less than what it would cost you to hire someone of equal quality, despite the fact that the outsource company has to provide facilities, licenses, computers etc for that person, and also make a profit. This just isn't going to happen. You go to outsource for business flexibility, or in order to gain access to expertise that you don't have internally, and don't want to pay to hire over the long term. If it seems too good to be true, it is.

Re:Is it just a bad idea? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40030765)

That cannot be stressed enough. I work for an IT consulting/outsourcing company, and many customer come to us and think that magically we are cheaper at the same quality. We're not. We're more flexible, but that's it. In the end you get what you pay for. If you want qualified staff, it's going to cost you regardless of whether it's in-house or outsourced. But if you only pay the cheapest rate possible, all you'll get are a few code monkeys from third world countries with no interest in you and your company.

Re:Is it just a bad idea? (1)

redneckmother (1664119) | more than 2 years ago | (#40030665)

The first outsourced development project I witnessed involved some expensive and highly recommended non-idiots. It was commissioned by a wholly- owned data processing subsidiary of a (at that time) solid and highly regarded financial institution (at the institution's insistence).

The initial estimate was $1M and a fifteen months schedule (and was heavily sandbagged on the time issue).

Sixteen months (and $10M) later, the project wasn't even close to beta. The parent corporation took a loss, and allowed the subsidiary to license an existing application from a vendor (the sub's initial recommendation, BTW).

If a company doesn't listen to its internal folks, and doesn't allocate the (internally provided) resources to manage its own projects, it has a high probability of failing.

...turn off the lights? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40030219) if your the last two left, there isn't a company left - it's time to pull the plug. If you can't perform the service / provide the product you were created for within the organization, or even get it started - then you are just conservators of a bunch of assets, waiting for the right time to call it quits; not a software development firm.

Re:...turn off the lights? (3, Informative)

dynamo (6127) | more than 2 years ago | (#40030491)

I'm sorry to say, I agree with this AC.. Having dealt with outsourcing many times, I can tell you it's not worth the hassle. If you can sell the company to fools who believe that outsourcing will work just fine, do so - otherwise get out while you have what you have now.

Answer: (4, Insightful)

Jeremiah Cornelius (137) | more than 2 years ago | (#40030235)


Thank you. Next question?

Re:Answer: (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40030311)

I think anyone who's ever tried it lives to regret outsourcing. Programming is not "monkey work".

Re:Answer: (1)

dynamo (6127) | more than 2 years ago | (#40030501)

That's a damn good point there.. If the boss things it's monkey work he should hire actual monkeys and see how they do. My guess is that the experiment will show he is not fit to manage.

Re:Answer: (2)

PIBM (588930) | more than 2 years ago | (#40030613)

Not every company even lives to regret it..

Re:Answer: (1)

Dakiraun (1633747) | more than 2 years ago | (#40030619)

Agreed - outsourcing is NEVER a good idea. Every single business I've ever seen that did it always came to regret it in the end.

It's Always Tricky (4, Insightful)

WrongSizeGlass (838941) | more than 2 years ago | (#40030247)

You need to balance your workloads with the project timeline. If the two of you can do it on time and within your budget, then you should try to do it yourself. If not, you'll need to spend quite a bit of time managing the individual(s) or company that you outsource your project to.

If your internal libraries are proprietary, you'll need to be smart. Don't give away the source code - just the compiled libraries. If you need to issue temporary licenses for the libraries to run (if your code requires licensing), make sure they are for 'dev versions' so they can't be used for release versions.

There are lots of reasons to keep development in house, but if you can't do it all yourself you nee to pick your developers well. Make sure you get references and that you check all of them. Make sure they provide references for several years back so you can see if they tend to repeat the same mistakes.

Be careful (1)

popsensation (1405041) | more than 2 years ago | (#40030253)

In my experience outsourced development requires a lot of technical planning, feedback cycles, and a strong development lead. Having the 'monkey work' done for you can end up being very costly in terms of your and your boss's time and might not really produce the code you want or need. It is certainly possible but the complexity of gaining domain knowledge of your system, the size and scope of what exists, and the pitfalls of remote team management can really become a barrier to success from this approach. In short the answer is yes, but remember that you will need to spend a lot of time and energy making sure the remote team is making progress.

Outsourced (1)

Aryden (1872756) | more than 2 years ago | (#40030257)

In short term, yes, there is a cost savings that occurs. In long term, you will lose out on quality of your product or support. Most major companies with outsourced development are feeling that pain. The company I work for lost well over 2 million dollars in the last year due to the inadequacy of the offshore development teams we had. Some of the larger tech oriented companies, like HP are slowly moving their important development back to the US because of this. HP just brought around 200 SAP development jobs back to the office a few miles from mine.

A company like yours needs to use resources that.. (2)

Assmasher (456699) | more than 2 years ago | (#40030263)

...are local.

They don't have to work on-site, but you'll find it incredibly difficult to manage the process properly without being able to visit them at will.

Sell the business (4, Insightful)

Animats (122034) | more than 2 years ago | (#40030275)

Try IGDA, the Independent Game Developers Association, and find a team with a track record of a game roughly similar to, or better than, the one you want. Give them participation in the deal, so they get paid a basic price plus some fraction of sales. This will encourage them to make it good, not do a half-assed job.

Rent-a-Coder and Freelance will not help. I've never been able to get good work from there for anything above the trivial level. (I once wanted screen scrapers written for state corporation registries. I'd written one for one state, and wanted someone to write the other 49, each state being different. No joy.)

Re:Sell the business (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40030669)

"Give them participation in the deal, so they get paid a basic price plus some fraction of sales. This will encourage them to make it good, not do a half-assed job."

As a reasonably good and well-paid software professional I would NOT take that offer. You are just trying to make me take the risks of sales.
Bonuses tied directly to my own performance instead, is really appreciated.

what about telecomuting? (1)

stanlyb (1839382) | more than 2 years ago | (#40030277)

Actually it is as simple as that: If the guys are unable to move the telecommuting job type, then how are they going to manage outsourcing kind of development, which is much much more complicated and has a lot of more issues to solve!!!!! So, short answer, first try telecommuting, if it is not working for you, then don't waste your money for outsourcing.

YES !! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40030293)

(said the wiley coyote !!)

Better to offload grunt-work to those that are grunts !! Any high-schooler can code, and if it's one thing India/Vietnam has lots of, it is those !!

Insource 'em instead (3, Interesting)

i.r.id10t (595143) | more than 2 years ago | (#40030295)

Why not try creating a non-paid or minimally paid internship?

Re:Insource 'em instead (3, Insightful)

garcia (6573) | more than 2 years ago | (#40030583)

Why not try creating a non-paid or minimally paid internship?

As an IT manager, we do something similar to this. We hire recent college graduates with basic skills we're looking for (Excel and basically programming exposure) and train them to do the work we need to have done.

Now, while this works for our business and our model, it does take time to bring people on board who are not accustomed to the language we use and bring them up to speed. Depending on the timeline of the projects on hand and the time availability of those who would be working to bring associate level programmers up to speed, it may not work in all instances.

I have a close-knit team comprised of experience professionals willing to train entry-level people to do the work both during crunch times and lulls. Both myself and my guys have the desire and availability to do this and we hope that it will continue to serve us well.


wut is our children learning? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40030589)

Why does Adam Smith hate Americans?

Re:Insource 'em instead (2)

Barbara, not Barbie (721478) | more than 2 years ago | (#40030609)

Non-paid internships that do work that would normally be done by a paid employee, or that the employer derives a benefit from, are illegal under the U.S. Fair Labor Standards Act [] See in particular item #4.

monkey work? (5, Funny)

berashith (222128) | more than 2 years ago | (#40030303)

If monkeys can do it, then just outsource it to them . I see a huge lack of perspective just from that idea alone.

Re:monkey work? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40030373)

Start by outsourcing the boss.

If designed properly .... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40030659)

There's a big difference between designing software and writing it.

If your specs and spelled well, yes you can have someone right out of training for the particular language your using write the software.

I know because I've done it. All our newbie entry level guys followed the specs and created the functions or methods that we needed.

Like write a function that takes a character array and strips out anything that's not alphanumeric and returns void.

Basically give them specs that look like a first year programming assignment.

Then when they get better, they would get some design work - like write a module or class that will clean up data streams and let them go off and design individual methods.

It's doable - easily and it saves a shit load of money not having to have an entire crew of senior level developers. Also, retention is higher because the senior guys aren't doing monkey work. I mean really, how often do you really have to code a GUI before it just becomes monotonous grunt work - even with a framework?

You get what you pay for (3, Insightful)

ehiris (214677) | more than 2 years ago | (#40030305)

"Monkey work" looks exactly as if monkeys have worked on it.
If you want a high quality product, the world is pretty flat as far as cost.

This is how far I read. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40030313)

Ask Slashdot: Is Outsourcing...

NO. Outsourcing anything will never, ever be a good idea.

If you... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40030319)

Want software that was functioning properly and won you a user base to decline and begin losing customer base: yes
Your current support image tarnsihed: yes
Don't care about the longevity of the project: yes
  Want money right now over legacy and future dollars: yes

my boss and I are the only ones left. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40030321)

Some 'Ask Slashdot' questions make a lot of sense when you read the full context.

The Attitude Is Telling (5, Insightful)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | more than 2 years ago | (#40030325)

If you are a developer, and your boss thinks programming is "monkey work", I'd be looking for a different job, right now.

I know that's not the question you asked, but that's the answer I have.

Re:The Attitude Is Telling (4, Insightful)

Barbara, not Barbie (721478) | more than 2 years ago | (#40030715)

If you are a developer, and your boss thinks programming is "monkey work", I'd be looking for a different job, right now.

I know that's not the question you asked, but that's the answer I have.

Absolutely 100% the right answer.

Because you're next no matter how it goes.

It will go badly. And then there won't be the budget to fix the problem. Whose fault is that? Well, let's see ... the First Law of Business Physics is "Sh*t always rolls downhill." Since it's just you and your boss, guess who's at the bottom of the hill?

So you will be blamed for the failure.

Some problems are intractable - they cannot be solved under the given conditions and constraints. This is one of them. It's way past time to leave. Try to contact everyone else who's left, tell them you're ready to jump ship and would appreciate any assistance they can give.

If the boss complains when you tell him that it can't be done, tell him you want a big raise. What's he going to do - fire you? Then he's out of a job as well. He's already looking around for another opportunity anyway ... the minute he finds one, you're dead in the water.

Bad idea? Probably but it's your reality for now. (1)

hal2814 (725639) | more than 2 years ago | (#40030329)

These situations rarely work out well, but you're going to have to deal with it for now or find a new job. It sounds like you're going to have to think about how to organize your projects for outside development. I'll let you in on a little hint that will help you: Your software libraries aren't worth as much as you think they are. If you have specific pieces that are outright trade secrets, lock them down, but don't be overprotective of your product as a whole. That should be handled through contracts and litigation.

Absolutely! (4, Insightful)

NoNonAlphaCharsHere (2201864) | more than 2 years ago | (#40030335)

By all means, hire strangers who get paid in advance and have no personal stake in the outcome.

Who fights harder, people whose country is being invaded, or the mercenaries doing the invading?

Re:Absolutely! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40030537)

By all means, hire strangers who get paid in advance and have no personal stake in the outcome.

Who fights harder, people whose country is being invaded, or the mercenaries doing the invading?

John Rambo

Re:Absolutely! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40030707)

Who fights harder, people whose country is being invaded, or the mercenaries doing the invading?

Depends on loyalty vs pay.

Re:Absolutely! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40030735)

Who fights better civilians or trained soldiers ???

Re:Absolutely! (1)

Whatsisname (891214) | more than 2 years ago | (#40030751)

Fighting harder is not what is important. What matters is fighting better, and that will usually go to whoever is the best trained and has the best equipment.

Going Through The Same Thing (3, Interesting)

OneC0de (1851710) | more than 2 years ago | (#40030339)

The company I work for is going through the same thing (roughly). We've tried to run an in-house development staff, but talented developers who don't expect six figure salaries are few and far in be-tween. In the last 3+ years we've launched 7 in-house applications that have helped us quadruple in size (revenues, profits, and employee size). Within the last few months the owners asked for another 7 projects to be completed, and to start renting out our systems to potential clients. They did not want to hire any more developers, and tasked me with outsourcing our development. They want the work done in 1-2 weeks compared to 1-2 months. So far, our outsourcing replies have all been $10K+ and 2.5 months estimated time, for one of our smaller projects. Looking forward to reading the responses on this one!

Re:Going Through The Same Thing (1)

stanlyb (1839382) | more than 2 years ago | (#40030401)

In which country is your outsourcing team living?

Re:Going Through The Same Thing (1)

OneC0de (1851710) | more than 2 years ago | (#40030495)

So far most of them have been in India, but we were looking at Russia/Armenia. We haven't had a project completed yet, we're in the beginning stages of proposals, etc.

Re:Going Through The Same Thing (0)

stanlyb (1839382) | more than 2 years ago | (#40030677)

My experience with Indian teams tells me that they are not worth the penny. These guys are so lazy, so how to say, bureaucratic, that i simply don't have enough words in my dictionary to explain it. They really do believe that 100 donkeys are better than 1 horse! Literally. And what is more important, their education just sucks. Sorry, but these guys does not believe in Aristotle logic, but in their (who knows, maybe it is superior) Krishna/Shiva/Buddha kind of logic. Trust me, when your knowledge of math and logic are totally different with the other guy, there is simply no way you could manage anything sound and logical. Just no way. You don't believe me? Go to your local church and try to make persuade them that GOD does not exists.

Re:Going Through The Same Thing (4, Interesting)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 2 years ago | (#40030643)

So talented employees with valuable skills want fair pay?

Why are they willing to pay managers like that but not those who do actual work?

Re:Going Through The Same Thing (4, Informative)

dynamo (6127) | more than 2 years ago | (#40030657)

Consider yourself screwed. You are being set up.

Let's see. Over the last 3+ years, 7 apps. Then in the last few months, they asked for 7 more, and also to start renting out your systems. They don't want to use the in-house staff, instead they want to have you take the blame for not being able to do a job in 1-2 weeks compared to what I assume you in-house staff estimated at 1-2 months. The outsourcers are quoting even longer, at 2.5 months.

You can quit, you can wait until things fail and take the blame and consequences, or you can stand up to these idiots demanding that you find someone willing to promise to do the impossible for small bags of money.

Perhaps hire less skiolled developers/QA staff fo (1)

D,Petkow (793457) | more than 2 years ago | (#40030353)

Perhaps hire a less skilled developers/QA staff (therefor less paid) and hand over to them the dirty work without compromising vital code and be insured against any attempts for a infrastructure security breach?

much more time to be spent on req spec (2)

Vo1t (1079521) | more than 2 years ago | (#40030367)

Outsourcing doesnt have to be to a foreign country, it happens all the time. There are organizations with big IT departments that choose to pay outside company to do the work. Is that a good idea? It depends, as with everything. You have to realize that you will spend much more time on specifying and verifying the implementation of requirements, interfaces, etc. than if the developers were in-house. If you don't do that then you're going to fail. This increase of specification cost, is due to communication problems with external parties. If you are prepared to stop coding and start managing - why not go for it. Just be careful and precise with requirements, including non-functional ones (performance, etc.). Always mention that you won't pay if it doesnt adhere to the spec and good practices. If you are going to own their code later on, you should also enforce some standards, frameworks used, etc... You do see where I'm going? You can outsource the grunt work, not the thinking.

You are no longer a developer (3, Insightful)

cryfreedomlove (929828) | more than 2 years ago | (#40030369)

Your new job is to manage outsourced developers doing 'monkey work'. They will do it badly and you will have to pick up the pieces. There is a huge shortage of strong developer talent out there. Therefore you should have little trouble finding a new job that is a better alignment with your passions. If it were me, I'd be looking to leave the company you are at now.

Don't do it (4, Informative)

codeToDiscovery (2597559) | more than 2 years ago | (#40030377)

We have an offshore team in country [X] working on feature work and bug fixing on our enterprise level software product [X]. It is a horrible nightmare. Offshore creates more problems than they solve, they don't respond to explicit direction, they double, triple and sometimes quadruple bill while simultaneously producing very small amounts of actual work. We finally had to cut off their access to source control, and all check-ins have to go through an onshore dev for approval before it can be integrated. We are letting them go in the next week or too. But seriously, it can really be a waste of time and money for all involved.

free the code (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40030379)

Free the code... solves the problem of having to worry about it "getting out there". You own the copyright, trademarks, etc. There still has to be a distribution mechanism to your software. Ultimately you can compete with any competitor (seems unlikely there will be one though) who tries to sell your product.

My company sells a unique product line up that any of our competitors could "rip off" easily enough. In fact we may be "stealing" one of our competitors products soon and selling it. The thing is you have to figure out how to do a better job than the competition.

I'm the 90% of this companies existence. Our operation outsources EVERYTHING. Without outsourcing we would never be able to offer the quality or level of support that we do. We have operations in the UK and in the United States all because we outsource. Our competitors can't even muster up a handful of products or provide adequate support. Us? We have hundreds of products and configurations. We aren't selling it cheap either in comparison to the competition. For something you could get for free I think we do pretty well selling it. We only sell free software products and we fund numerous projects.

The point is you should take some risks and stop worrying. Taking small gradual and thought through risks is financially rewarding.

Ohh and we outsource to places like the UK, US, and Europe. It isn't necessarily to pay the lowest possible amount for software development or other services although it ultimately saves us money for other reasons.

it depends (2)

w_dragon (1802458) | more than 2 years ago | (#40030395)

Ask yourself this: What are your clients paying you for?

Now, whatever you do, don't outsource that!!!

If you're really good at designing games that meet your clients needs then it may be worthwhile to outsource the actual development of the game once it's designed. In my personal experience this is unlikely, as the design and coding phases tend to be highly coupled, especially in smaller companies. Likely you don't create detailed enough design documents for an outsourced team to fully understand and execute your vision.

A couple of ways of looking at it... (4, Informative)

cdrguru (88047) | more than 2 years ago | (#40030409)

First off, if your company was in business to make wrenches, would it be smart to pay someone else to make wrenches and just sell them? Or, would it make more sense to be making wrenches better than other people and sell those? See, one way you are a sales company that isn't making anything and the other is you are actually making something. Same goes for software, trust me.

For a software company you might have some old products that could be pushed off onto some other folks for maintenance. Or, you could consider outsourcing accounting and bookkeeping. But outsourcing the core product(s) that establish your identity for the future is ... well, madness.

The basic problem is the folks you outsource to are looking for a paycheck and have little interest in a product. You, on the other hand, count on a product as a way of surviving into the future. To tie yourself to some folks doing this with little supervision (and don't kid yourself, there won't be anywhere near enough) for the future isn't going to work out well. I have heard of this with a number of organizations and while they can get some cheap development done, it is generally something that simply needs to be redone on a crash basis when customers start noticing defects and quality problems. Also, you will find a lot of outsourced development done exactly to specs - and done in a virtually unmaintainable manner. It does exactly what was specified, no more and no less - but to add some new feature takes a huge amount of effort because there was zero flexibility written into the code.

Yes, having developers in house is more expensive, no doubt about that. For things that are not critical to the business at hand you can outsource and get reasonable results - it may have some problems and may not be as flexible as you would like but you can live with it. Core product functionality on the other hand you better have a lot better control over and instill quality and flexibility in the development team from the start. Can't do that remotely when the team changes every week - which is common for such arrangements.

Bad Idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40030421)

Although it's not a bad idea to outsource some portions, it's a VERY VERY bad idea to outsource any creativity.

For example. You can use a pre-existing game engine (Unreal) and a hire people to do the art assets, and a different team for the level designs, but everything else needs to be done in-house if you want it done properly.

Likewise you want to have the same people doing art, otherwise you get a lot of different people that can't produce consistent artwork. 2D artwork is much easier done than 3D in this case since most 2D artwork can be churned out by the same person, where as with 3D requires several people.

The companies that screw the pooch so to speak, in outsourcing are when they outsource the game control logic. Many Free 2 Play games that have a pay function are broken by people reverse engineering the weakest parts of the code and writing bots against it to degrade the game experience.

If there is no mutliplayer/online support, then all you have to deal with is pirates, but even then, if you didn't write the logic, then you have to use an off-the-shelf DRM , which is easy to break since the people who wrote the DRM have no incentive to protect your product, only theirs. I've seen this many times. You're always better off mildly obfuscating and destroying the import tables or statically compiling the binary than you are using an off-the-shelf DRM/anti-hacking product.

As a general rule, you don't outsource anything that would allow the outsourcer to strip your branding off and sell your product without you... to china.

Good for money, bad for products and lifespan (1)

s.petry (762400) | more than 2 years ago | (#40030435)

Initially, this will save a few bucks. Remember, that what ever you give to someone off shore will become public domain in very short order. This unfortunate reality has been brought to you by every schmuck company that sent programming work to China expecting to gain sales of their software in China.

While cheaper, once you leave the US you no longer have protection for your IP. China does not care about the US patent system, nor does India, Vietnam, or hell even most of Europe. Do you have patent's in every overseas company you wish to sell your products/services like in the US? Get filing!

Work ethic across the pond is very different. Their deadlines are not your deadlines, and they have no vested interest in seeing you succeed. They get paid to dump code by the hour. They honestly don't care if your business dies, some other schmuck company will send them their code to modify by the hour. Also, overseas does not have deadlines like we do for the most part. When 5PM comes, or when their shift ends, they leave no questions asked. Even if a customer is sitting on the phone with them. It is a different work ethic, plus if they are late and miss the buss it's a 4 hour walk home in many cases.

Interfacing with current customers (Save your rants, this is not bias over culture, race, or nationality. It's a communication problem because of language differences) - another nightmare scenario skipped in the "but it's cheaper" logic. Plan on losing 10-20% of your customer when they realize that the person sitting in the meetings with them can only comprehend about 8% of what they are requesting. You can pay a lot of extra money for a good translator, but then so much for those big savings dumping work over seas.

Lock down everything! They will lie and tell you they need super-user access, access to every bit of code you own, access to databases they don't need, etc... They can make extra money selling your stuff, and worse, in may cases Government officials demand that they request and give them access to things they should not have.

You need to leave now (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40030437)

My experience is that you will spend enormous amounts of your time attempting to manage this process; a process that will most likely fail. But regardless of the outcome it will take you away from development, engineering and general coding which are the skills you require to remain employed in the field of software engineering. The ability to manage off-site development as a developer yourself is not a skill that is valued highly but your tech skills are valued highly. Anything that forces the former by subtracting the later in terms of time is bad for you. So move to another company.

Now my experience with outsourcing, even with American outsourced teams, it seldom if ever works and certainly isn't cost effective. But as I say, for you that is a secondary issue. I think you are asking the wrong question.

The other side... (5, Insightful)

roninmagus (721889) | more than 2 years ago | (#40030451)

I'll come from the other angle. I'm a consultant developer full-time. In order to be successful, don't keep the guys at arm's-length. Yes, they will need access to core libraries, and anything else that will make their project successful. You will need to put in place adequate agreements to protect your IP, however. Set milestones for them to reach, and have regular (but not overwhelming, once a week should do) contact with the developer to discuss their progress. Verify they will be using technologies that you are comfortable with. The consultant knows better their own work-pace than you do. Allow them some leeway to set their own development schedule, making sure that it fits in with your ultimate deadline. Often, you will not be their only client. It's tough as a consultant to make everyone feel special. I often have 3-5 projects I'm juggling at a time. Of course, you will need to get the warm and fuzzies that they are devoting adequate time to your project, but try to get a feel for their existing workload as well before moving forward with them. Just my two cents.

TL;DR: You're screwed (1)

Fencepost (107992) | more than 2 years ago | (#40030473)

First, if your boss thinks the programming is "monkey work" then you're already in trouble right there.

With only two of you total, and only one person even potentially capable of reviewing outsourced work, you personally are going to spend all of your time attempting to integrate not-quite-compatible or not-quite-complete or worst not-quite-right pieces that you get from outside. If what you're outsourcing is self-contained pieces you may have more luck, but even there unless you're simply contracting some things out to a small group of outside folks then you're going to see a lot of variation. Finding qualified contractors is always an issue, particularly if you're in the financial constraints I suspect based on the shift from a team to two people.

I can't speak well to the domestic vs. international outsourcing question, but I will say that A) your boss who's outsourcing the monkey work is going to want to put it out as cheap as possible and B) if you're outsourcing UI/content/etc. then there's going to be a lot of cultural stuff that may be subtly wrong in ways that will hurt your products.

Without knowing more about your business this may seem presumptuous, but are you focusing on the right thing? Do you have a good framework for building educational titles/apps/games/etc.? If so, can you improve it further so you can outsource development of complete packages using your framework? Who are your customers, and are they the right customers for what you have and can build?

so, what do you do? (4, Insightful)

DaveGod (703167) | more than 2 years ago | (#40030475)

I'm curious, if you're outsourcing development what is it that the business actually does?

I mean fundamentally. What is it your company offers your market? What value does it add, if someone else is doing the work? Why wouldn't customers cut out you, the middleman? How does it control everything that matters - supply lines, production, IP, quality, direction, and so on?

An organisation is just that - an organisation. It doesn't fundamentally matter what's in-house and what's out, as long as it's organised i.e. controlled. However, it is dramatically more difficult when it's outsourced.

Consider say Apple. It outsources production but retains everything else internally. What it has outsourced can be very heavily controlled because it's all extremely highly specified and those specifications are of a nature well suited to contracts.

My advice (4, Interesting)

Zontar_Thing_From_Ve (949321) | more than 2 years ago | (#40030487)

As an IT professional with over 25 years of industry experience, I can tell you that if you outsource you need to be very explicit about what you expect them to do and what deadlines there are. VERY explicit. You can expect no thinking outside the box. I'm going to give you an example. Let's say that due to some mistake on your part that you asked them to build you a car that blows up and kills everyone inside when you turn on the ignition. You would hope that if you did that that the outsourcing party would contact you and say "Did you REALLY want us to build a car that blows up when you turn on the ignition and kills everybody inside? Because that is exactly what you asked for." They won't. They'll either shrug their shoulders and build your death car or they simply will assume that maybe you have a very good reason for asking for a death car and it's not their job to question it.

The quality of work you get from outsourcing is arguable. I work for a Fortune 300 company who I am unwilling to name, but I can tell you that we outsource some programming to our employees in India. We're pretty selective about what we give them, but they do good work. However, the vast majority of the workforce there is not given our most crucial tasks to implement and those continue to be done in our US office. I would say that easily less than 10% of the programmers we have who actually live in India are allowed to work on truly critical tasks for us. Finally, do note that if your software needs are proprietary and a competitor might pay to have access to your code, there is absolutely nothing you can do if someone in a common outsourcing county is willing to sell dumps of your code for cash. Laws are very weak in those countries and they are always in favor of the locals rather than "rich foreigners". In a worst case you'd actually have to outbribe the judges in the country to get any justice.

Only if you balance it. (1)

Karmashock (2415832) | more than 2 years ago | (#40030493)

If you're a company that CAN do something and you fire all your workers that do that thing and then outsource that function your company now can't do that anymore and you must outsource indifferent to the economics. Of course you could rehire those people and build that department up from scratch but that will take years to get right so you lose a lot if you outsource ALL of a given department.

If you outsource half of everything across the board you retain a little more flexibility. Your company hasn't lost any core skills this way you've just reduced overhead.

It's all well and good to call what is being outsourced monkey work but often that is monkey work that people in other parts of the company aren't good at doing. Monkey work might not be that hard but it often requires a certain stamina and precision. Sure, it's the same thing over and over. But you have to do a lot of it and you have to do it right. That isn't something people in other more cognitive departments are used to managing.

There are also major problems with outsourcing in that you are limited to the capabilities of the outsourcing companies.

Look at AMD versus Intel as an example here. AMD and Intel are both pretty good CPU makers. The biggest difference between the two companies is that AMD outsources manufacturing and Intel does it in house. And that makes a huge difference when CPU makers are always using brand new manufacturing methods to produce CPUs. AMD can't make the CPUs Intel makes no because they can't design them but because AMD doesn't have access to the Fabs Intel has built from the ground up and doesn't share with anyone. AMD has to use whatever they can find on the market and at least now that is all inferior to what Intel has built. So even if AMD designed a superior CPU they couldn't build it.

Outsourcing can be great. It's a great way of controlling costs. It's a great way of dealing with new ventures by putting some of the risk off on the outsourcing agent. It's a great of way capitalizing things by becoming a smaller project withing a much larger organization. Don't let me say outsourcing is bad. It's just not always good. You have to be careful with it.

Many companies have almost or actually destroyed themselves with outsourcing. Dell famously almost annhilated themselves with it. They went outsource crazy and not only did they build their biggest competitors up from scratch, but they also ruined their image as a company that would provide reasonable IT support. No one likes talking to a guy in India if you bought the computer in the US. If you tell them your name is "Adam" and they want you to spell it, you are in trouble. Dell nearly killed themselves with that.

So be careful. There is good outsourcing and bad outsourcing.

Here is the best general guideline I can make up on the spot. Does the outsourcing make your company more valuable or less valuable? If you're reducing the core value of your company then the outsourcing is probably bad. Do your customers like or notice the outsourcing? If an attraction of your company is that people get to talk to you, then redirecting customers to a third party they didn't contract with is not good.

Good luck.

Not at all outside the scope (1)

jpvlsmv (583001) | more than 2 years ago | (#40030503)

If you don't think that the reason your company doesn't have a development team is important to this question, you're wrong.

You will not get better results by outsourcing development. There are *different* issues with outsourcing. You still have to manage them, define concrete requirements, run independent test/QA, deal with the legal contracts, handle 13.5-hour timezone differences (which makes meetings a royal PITA), etc. I'm not an accountant, but when I add all of those costs up, the $20/hour saved may not be worth it.

Is the company not willing to pay developers properly? MAYBE you'll find cheaper programmers overseas (but see above)

Is the company not wanting to invest in the next product by hiring developers to build it? In that case, you (in IT) would be well-advised to look for a company that will exist a year from now.


Out sourcing good or bad ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40030505)

The choice of out sourcing will depend on your focus on planning and documentation of your modules to be developed.
I have managed an out sourcing business for more than 8 years now, and I often advice clients NOT to out source if they do not have the resources in house to plan, document and review the code and modules.
Normally the best results I have seen is a split team, for ex. 2 developers in house and 3 "remote". Check your project budget, time for documentation and planning.
SCRUM the team over borders, and let the work build up in a controlled manner. Then manage your RISK.
As you will see, the internal cost will grow as your out sourcing resources grow. So make the right calculation on cost and make a long term plan, because out sourcing is not worth while on short projects. And will have better return of investment if the remote team work closely with your team members on a long term agreement.

Leave. (2)

Alex Belits (437) | more than 2 years ago | (#40030517)

'monkey work'

Leave. Now.

Update your resume. (2)

Xiver (13712) | more than 2 years ago | (#40030523)

I wouldn't usually say this, but you need to update your resume and start looking for a new job. Its only a matter of time before he realizes that he can outsource you too.
I've seen the follow three scenarios play out, usually its number 2.

1. You find cheap professional quality developers who are available for your entire project cycle and do excellent work. Do they have anyone that can do your job?
2. You find cheap developers who hold it together long enough for them to find a better job. You'll really know your in trouble when you're on your third or fourth set of developers and the project appears to be going backwards. Ends in disaster.
3. You find cheap developers who can't find a better job and stick with your project for the entire cycle. Ends in disaster.

Outsource vs. Offshore (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40030549)

Since when does Outsource = Offshore?

Not if your business is making software (2)

MillerHighLife21 (876240) | more than 2 years ago | (#40030551)

You are talking about outsourcing the core focus of your business. That is a big fat no. If you have a store and you want to sell things online, contract, outsource, whatever. You make your money on the margins of your merchandise.

If your business is making software, you are outsourcing your core business model. That is a recipe for disaster.

Small IT company (1)

nitehawk214 (222219) | more than 2 years ago | (#40030559)

I have always thought of IT as a department within a company that does a particular buisness.

Does this mean that the OP's company performs outsourced IT tasks for companies too small to need dedicated IT staff? In this case outsourcing (not offshoring) seems quite reasonable as long as it is to someone you have a good line of communications to with well defined and measurable goals.

Now, outsourcing isn't some magic powder you sprinkle on to a project to suddenly make it more cost effective. Keeping with the presumption that the OP's company performs outsourcing tasks themselves, if they are successful they should already know how to manage contracts, and evaluate outsourced work.

Monkey Work? (1)

srobert (4099) | more than 2 years ago | (#40030579)

You probably already know this, but it sounds like your boss is basically an asshole.

Local, maybe. Far away, no (1)

bryan1945 (301828) | more than 2 years ago | (#40030585)

If you can keep people within your grasp so you can yell into their faces, maybe it could work.
If it's a distance- how often do these things work? How many stories have we read about all the problems of outsourcing distantly.

Though it sounds like you have some more underlying issues here that may need to be examined, also. And don't forget that unless you're reviewing every line of code, you're placing a LOT of trust into these "code monkeys" who will have no loyalty to you.

The real problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40030587)

Ask to see the books. What are the sales been numbers doing? Sound to me like the market is telling you to put the business out of its misery. I'm going to guess that the root cause of this is that the business couldn't make enough money to pay the going rate for the developers, and so your boss is trying to get cheaper labor in India/China/Vietnam/etc to make it work. Sorry, not going to happen. A large firm can make it work by setting-up shop and importing management. For a small business anything you gain in cheaper wages will be eclipsed by additional logistical and project management costs dealing with a outsourcing firm, and the lower productivity and quality of the work done elsewhere (yes, workers in North America and Europe really are more productive).

What's up with the company? (1)

wbhauck (629723) | more than 2 years ago | (#40030591)

"my boss and I are the only ones left"
Forget outsourcing, you need to figure out why there's only two of you left and whether or not the company will exist long enough to complete the product.

If you want to ignore that and concentrate on programmers think of it this way: you're either in a failing company about to go out of business so no one would want to work there, OR your in a start up that some folks might want to work there.

Failing company: you're doomed.
Start-up company: you need to get a quality programmer with incentive to write quality code and stick around long enough to see it through. Otherwise you'll get the "I won't be here next week" mentality with a contractor. And forget off-shoring it. You'll spend more time discussing the work (then correcting what they send you) than you would actually doing the work yourself.

What's "outsourcing"? Trust goes both ways... (1)

John Bokma (834313) | more than 2 years ago | (#40030593)

Does your boss do the book keeping or does he hire someone external to do the work?

I am a freelance Perl programmer and companies do outsource to me. Outsourcing is just letting an external developer (in this case) do (some of the) the work. If you don't trust them with your code, you're looking at the wrong people. Outsourcing is not necessarily going to eLancer / rent-a-coder et al and trying to find people willing to do 1000 hrs of work for 20 USD.

By the way, nice attitude does that boss of yours have: 'monkey work'. No wonder he's worried about being ripped off. In the Netherlands, where I am from, we have a saying: "Zoals de waard is vertrouwt hij zijn gasten", which roughly translates to "the innkeeper trusts his guests like how he can be trusted himself".

It depends on what business you are in (1)

DickBreath (207180) | more than 2 years ago | (#40030595)

Whether outsourcing IT or software development is a good idea depends on what business you are in.

If you are in, say, the Baked Goods business, or the Tire Manufacturing business, then outsourcing either or both functions is probably a good idea.

If you are in the Software Development business, then outsourcing software development is probably not such a good idea. It would be like a bakery outsourcing the baking to another bakery. If they do that, then why do I need them? Why shouldn't I just go to the other bakery?

- - -
All that is necessary for Apple to triumph is for Google men to do nothing.

There's outsourcing, and then there's outsourcing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40030599)

If you have specs, and can write contracts that guarantees you a quality at fixed price, then that's not too bad.

Best is if you can open a branch in a country where you also have sales offices.

And also, remember, India and China is not as cheap as they used to be.
You might be better off trying places like Bulgaria.

Also, not a good idea to treat those engineers as monkeys. Best if they get the responsibility matching their skills and experience.
Worker retention is a big problem, and if you can't keep them for a few years, you'll waste all your resources on retraining.

My company had some success outsources most of the maintenance work to India for the best part of a decade, but eventually, their prices went up,
their best engineers went on to bigger things, and they eventually learned how to take advantage of our incentive system.

If your company is small, then managing the outsourcing might cost you more than you gain.
Outsource only the things that are not vital to you, and that others might do better such as back office functions, accounting, pay roll, tele sales etc.
Localization is also well suited for outsourcing, if you already have done a good job internationalizing our code.

Subcontracting is also an option, especially if you have a large but temporary project off shore.

Core development in a small IT company does not sound like a good outsourcing option, but could work well for maintaining and supporting older versions of your products. Once they get good at that, you can start letting them have responsibility for parts of your core R&D.

Horrible, Terrible, Awful idea (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40030603)

I've been through outsourcing at two companies, and it just doesn't work, especially for smaller groups. I could see it working if you have a large team, you have some repetitive, cookie-cutter development tasks, you've done this task a million times yourself, and you know exactly how to give the task to someone else. And you already have the tests to verify that the product actually does what it is supposed to do. And you have managers already managing that same work internally. This just isn't you.

I strongly agree with other posters here: If these arguments are not persuasive to your partner, you should find another job, and let him find the monkeys.

What is your core business? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40030637)

While I am not a fan of outsourcing, it depends on what your core business is? If your core business is developing and selling software then it does not make sense. Inevitably when you outsource something you loose control. My business is not in the office cleaning / lawn care business so we contract a vendor for those services. This does not effect our bottom line and its the vendor that we choose does a poor job the cost of switching does not effect our core business. If you are software company you could for instance outsource accounting / legal services / even HR since they are not core to your customer satisfaction.

From your question it sounds like you would be outsourcing your core business. To use an analogy... it would be like the local pizza shop outsourcing the production of their pizza to Domino's or Pizza Hut. That doesn't make sense. They would loose control over the quality of the product that they deliver and need to rely on a 3rd party to come up with and deliver on innovative new pizza recipes.

It sounds like what you need to do is figure out why you are down to two developers and work on that issue, if it is an issue at all (maybe you only really need two developers). But outsourcing your core business it typically a sign of other problems and will only make additional problems down the road. Hope that helps and good luck!

Xmas? (4, Funny)

Jezza (39441) | more than 2 years ago | (#40030647)

Isn't this like asking turkeys to vote for Christmas?

Ask Slashdot: Would You Like to Be Unemployed? (2)

Sir Realist (1391555) | more than 2 years ago | (#40030649)

What a strange place to ask this question... unless you're just looking for us to cooborate your already fixed opinion. Of course Slashdot thinks its a bad idea; this place is full of programmers who don't want to see their jobs outsourced. Might as well ask oil executives their opinons on solar energy and alternative fuels.

(Of course, someone will now contradict me by posting in favor of outsourcing. We're not just geeks; we're contrary Slashdot geeks...)

It Depends On... (1)

seanmcelroy (207852) | more than 2 years ago | (#40030689)

Whether you're outsourcing development central to your line of business, or whether you're outsourcing route work that is not a core competency.

Organizations that outsource core competencies dissolve rather quickly, because essentially the only value they provide is as a virtual organization that resells a service some other firm provides. One of the primary things I learned in B-school is: you never, ever outsource core competencies. But, you're crazy not to look at outsourcing the rest of the work.

Executives (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40030691)

Executives can sometimes be idiots with outsourcing. They just see one hour of development costs X to be outsourced, and Y to be pay someone here. They don't take into account an outsource developer will take 2x or more time to do the same work, usually riddled with bugs, and done in a hackish non-organized manor. Plus I had the benefit of seeing some accounting work from an outsourced company, and they billed way more hours then the amount of developers they actually have.

My company recently spent about half a million dollars to let an outsource company design and develop a "Next-gen' system, because apparently our CEO thinks we are all idiots. The project was suppose to be done in October of 2011, and they have yet implemented using the software for even one customer, and the entire system sucks. More vaporware then actual software.

I know with a good team of 3 of our internal developers, we could have got the project done in 3 months, and it probably would have been awesome.

But our CEO still just see's, well we spent X development hours on this project, if we would have done this internally it would have Cost 4x more.

Hello McFly, wake Up!

My Advice. Quit and find another job.

of course, it depends (1)

farble1670 (803356) | more than 2 years ago | (#40030701)

the logistical problems you raise (access to a shared repo, internal libs) are non-issues. there are many ways to resolve these issues ... although it may mean new tools and processes for you.

as to whether it will save your company money / get the product out faster, that depends on so many factors that it really can't be answered. how "monkey" is the monkey work? will you get a good team off shore? how good are you at managing them? how well structured and documented is the project now?

at the very least, you and your manager can kiss any individual work you might think you are going to get done goodbye. your new job will be directing the off shore team.

More effort than you think (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40030703)

You need to be willing to put in an inordinate amount of effort to write specs, answer emails (at 2 am because if you don't answer early, you lose a day of work), perform code reviews, and generally mentor the consultants up to a level of understanding that is needed to do actual development. Personally, I don't feel that this amount of effort is worth investing in a consultant. I would much, much rather invest my time in mentoring a new hire that just graduated--the effort will likely be the same, but I think it would be more satisfying training a fellow employee than a consultant that is supposed to be getting paid to do know how to do heavy lifting.

Do the needful... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40030709)

..and send it over to us.

We shall be saying 'yes' on all the conference calls, and in all the emails, and only later on when the deadlines crunch will you discover we were programming by Google search, cut and paste, and didn't really know anything to help your project.

We will have been promoted onto another outsourcing company by then, as senior developers, our CV and skills sheet with be 4 pages long with every buzzword from the world of Java, and we will still not be able to write hello world, without you doing then needful.

Thank you and come again,

Your offshore developers.

Run away ... (4, Insightful)

gstoddart (321705) | more than 2 years ago | (#40030719)

I used to work with a team of developers, but for reasons outside the scope of this question, my boss and I are the only ones left. My boss says that our new strategy is to use outsourced developers to do the 'monkey work' for us.

You have no hope in hell of keeping a product going. You have no way of enforcing your deadlines. You're basically middle-men who may or may not be able to cajole your supplier into doing what you need when you need it.

The projects I've been on that have used outsourcing usually required a fair amount of management to get them to do well-defined tasks to spec, and deliver that on time and working as expected. What you're describing sounds like it simply can't work.

If what you do is primarily make software, and your boss calls that the "monkey work", then you're screwed. That's not really a strategy which is going to work, which means your small IT company will implode in a while

Seriously, what is left for you guys to do? Collect the money and laugh all the way to the bank? What value do you guys add at this point?

Do most of these companies already outsource? (1)

anom (809433) | more than 2 years ago | (#40030733)

I've done a bunch of consulting for the K-12 public sector and I have to say that educational software is some of the most poorly thought-out software ever (from an IT Admin's perspective).

Much of the software's installation guide goes something along the lines of "go to each computer and put in the disk", making deployment a massive headache. Those that actually come with a networking component usually require Everyone/FullControl permissions on the server share because the software was coded with the assumption it should have access to everything. Furthermore, I recently saw one where the application had a "server" component, but that component had to be manually run from a logged-on console session on a server, most kinds of automation would fail.

I always assumed that essentially off of this stuff was already outsourced due to the abysmal quality across the board. I guess I'd argue to keep as much in-house as possible so things don't get worse, but that would be pretty hard.

I know this comes off as a rant and it is, but if you write educational software, please actually think about the people that will have to deploy and run it while you're designing, whether you code it yourself or send it to India.

Personal Experience (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40030747)

I've had 3 experiences with this in working for small to midsize organizations. In each of these limited experiences, the off shore dev team did the following:
1. Ignored security (Download your code from our anonymous ftp server here and other such nonsense)
2. Largely misinterpreted the requirements
3. Required significant rework on multiple iterations to come closer to the requirements
4. Saved us little to no time due to rework, increased management needs, and difficulty in communication

As always, YMMV, but my experiences have been BAD.

Monkey work is not team work nor a good model (1)

cristiroma (606375) | more than 2 years ago | (#40030797)

Programming is about team work, where everyone takes responsibilities and each people supports the guy next to him not giving the trash you don't like to do to other people. It will end up costing the same ... My guess is that you don't have too much experience in team work. Why not find a team somewhere around the world where salaries are smaller, try a pilot project first, see how you integrate with the team. Still be prepared to spend time and energy, at leas initially. I would avoid India/China ... from my experience (it's hard to find good people. Usually there's a good one which takes the tasks and give it to a real monkey in the back). For instance, we are in a similar situation and found a team of people, trough some friends, somewhere in Asia. We are now getting the people into our company for few months to familiarize with each other, TRAIN THEM, mingle. Get to know them, and afterwards communication will be easier. It's a risk we assume, but we think it's better that just shoot the task and wait for delivery. That doesn't work. We expect to pay as much as half of a programmer inside our company, so it will be a win in the end. Thinking in terms of getting rid of monkey work is bad business and not how a team should perform.
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