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What Do You Do When Outsourcing Goes Bad?

Cliff posted more than 9 years ago | from the who-you-gonna-call dept.

Software 751

Xphox wonders: "Recently we have been referred to an outsourcing company to finish customization on a script that the author had no time to complete. Everything was going fine until recently. At what point do you consider they may have just ripped you off, and how do you know when to file complaints and withhold payment?""I have been working with what I thought was a reputable outsourcing company, referred to me by the author of the software package. We agreed that payment would be made once everything was completed. After a few missed deadlines, the project finally seemed to be finished. The only thing left was a small bug fix, and an install script which needed to be completed. As agreed, he delivered the install script, and we made the final payment. Upon testing the new install script we noticed things did not work as intended, and all attempts to contact the outsourcing company has resulted in the following answer:

'My guys are still working on it.'
My fear is that if I don't act now, I will not be able to recover any funds, and will be stuck with a product that is useless. It has been 9 days since I've received an email from them, and I'm starting to think I've just been taken advantage of. Since the script is protected with Source Guardian, I am unable to finish the modifications myself."

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Simple test here: (4, Funny)

Skyshadow (508) | more than 9 years ago | (#11422038)

I can usually tell when outsourcing has gone bad. It's about the time my boss calls me into his office on a Friday afternoon and explains that the company needs to right-size their domestic staff and that, unfortunately, my position has become redundant.

Re:Simple test here: (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11422107)

Before the inevitable avalanche of anti outsourcing and anti india comments, let me point out that the author hasn't made it at all clear which country their firm is located in, and wether or not the outsourcing firm in question is located in the same country.

Re:Simple test here: (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11422154)

I hate it when people don't take losing their livelyhoods like good little sheep, too.

Re:Simple test here: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11422322)

let me point out that the author hasn't made it at all clear which country their firm is located in

And with a name like Xphox...

Re:Simple test here: (1)

WebCrapper (667046) | more than 9 years ago | (#11422122)

Been there, done that. Didn't even get offered the damn T-Shirt.

consider the jihad (0, Offtopic)

jihadi_fungus (839057) | more than 9 years ago | (#11422045)

In these trying times, consider the anti-slash jihad [anti-slash.org] and bring justice to slashdot's editors. jihadi_31337

Its all in the contract (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11422047)

The DoD has been doing it for many many years and they will withold payment if somoene messes up.

Re:Its all in the contract (1)

Anonymous Custard (587661) | more than 9 years ago | (#11422207)

The DoD has been doing it for many many years and they will withold payment if somoene messes up

Not really, though.

Check out the Failure to Withhold Funds section of this document [truthout.org] .

Saving your bottom line. (5, Funny)

grub (11606) | more than 9 years ago | (#11422048)


1: Stop payment on cheque.
2: Demand refund of deposit.
3: Get one return ticket to contractor's location via Expedia [expedia.com] .
4: If 1 or 2 fail send return ticket to "IcePick" Vinnie.
5: Pick up Vinnie at airport in a couple of days.
6: Take money home and count it or enjoy photos of mangled corpse(s).
7: ???
8: Profit!!!

Re:Saving your bottom line. (1)

tgrigsby (164308) | more than 9 years ago | (#11422111)



1: Stop payment on cheque.
2: Demand refund of deposit.
3: Get one return ticket to contractor's location via Expedia.
4: If 1 or 2 fail send return ticket to "IcePick" Vinnie.
5: Pick up Vinnie at airport in a couple of days.
6: Take money home and count it or enjoy photos of mangled corpse(s).
7: ???
8: Profit!!!


??? = Sell photos to crew producing "Faces Of Death: When Ripped Off Outsourcers Attack."

Unfortunately the parent option... (4, Interesting)

tekiegreg (674773) | more than 9 years ago | (#11422164)

Might be your best one, legal remedies overseas get sickening. Particularly in the India(is that jurisdiction?) judicial system. Something most outsourcing companies really don't understand, if the sh*t hits the fan on your contract the best case scenario is that it would take you a while to legally get compensation; worst case scenario is that the courts tend to favor the natives to their country more than the foreigners and you're out of luck.

Why start now? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11422209)

C'mon, you think this moron is going to learn his lesson and start hiring Americans? He'll probably outsource the hit.

Of course, hit men are probably his only option at this point. One of my old companies got screwed over by an outsource contract, too, and basically there was nothing we could do about it even though they were obviously at fault. Good luck coming into India as a foreign firm and having any sort of luck in the legal system -- in my experience, it's so blatently biased and corrupt it's pathetic.

But hey! They had three (fictitious) programmers working for what it would have cost to hire one (real) programmer in the US!

Re:Why start now? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11422290)

' C'mon, you think this moron is going to learn his lesson and start hiring Americans? He'll probably outsource the hit '

Or, he will learn to hire a trustworthy Indian firm. That sounds like a better idea than wasting a ton of money by hiring American and paying three times as much.

I know what _I'm_ doing. (0, Troll)

Le Marteau (206396) | more than 9 years ago | (#11422052)

Laughing. At you. With glee. <voice mode="Nelson">Ha ha!</voice>

Re:I know what _I'm_ doing. (1)

Heem (448667) | more than 9 years ago | (#11422094)

Agreed. I don't feel at all sorry for you if your outsourcing went wrong. Had you hired someone local to finish your script, you wouldn't be having this problem.

Re:I know what _I'm_ doing. (1)

DaHat (247651) | more than 9 years ago | (#11422295)

How do you know he didn't hire someone local?

Outsourcing only means that the work is done outside of the company, not out of the country.

Re:I know what _I'm_ doing. (1)

generalpf (127112) | more than 9 years ago | (#11422296)

He said he *outsourced* it, not *offshored* it. Perhaps the outsourcer *is* local.

Re:I know what _I'm_ doing. (1, Insightful)

acidrain69 (632468) | more than 9 years ago | (#11422323)

There is a difference between outsourcing and offshoring.

I am COMPLETELY against offshoring, but outsourcing is OK. Outsourcing just means you are contracting a company to do something for you. Now personally, I thing this is a bad idea in MANY situations where it is overused, because you lose a level of control when you outsource to someone else. You should expect lower quality. In some instances though, it does pay to have someone else do it rather than build your own infrastructure.

Now Offshoring means you are getting cheap/slave labor from outside the country. I don't condone this at all. At least the money for outsourcing stays local/national, instead of going overseas to a country with poor labor laws.

Why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11422338)

' I am COMPLETELY against offshoring '

Why? If there is a much better worker in India, why prevent someone from hiring them?

Outsourcing doesn't always mean overseas .. (1)

MisanthropicProgram (763655) | more than 9 years ago | (#11422266)

or H1-Bs.
I know of a few small companies that outsource much of their IT because they can't offord to hire their own staff and/or they just don't have the expertise in that area. Also, it wouldn't benefit them at their current stage of business. Where's the outsourcing company you ask - in the same town - using American workers.

Re:I know what _I'm_ doing. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11422287)

LOL.

It's hard to feel sorry for someone whose boss decided to screw domestic labor for a cheaper product, produced overseas, and apparently with no quality controll.

Much like a fake rolex or a fake Gucci bag, you have purchased a fake script. On the surface it may share many of the same features as the real thing, but already you've noticed it's just not the same, and you do get what you pay for.

How much money has the company wasted in dealing with this issue, and how does this compare to the amount of money saved by outsourcing ?

Rule #1 when you pay someone to code for you... (5, Insightful)

rednip (186217) | more than 9 years ago | (#11422058)

Get the source code! You might have called it outsourcing, but what you really did was pay someone to have an code empire in your domain. Even if they do finially deliver the finished product, you stuck with them for further development.

Re:Rule #1 when you pay someone to code for you... (1)

Kenja (541830) | more than 9 years ago | (#11422303)

I have a pile of code here with comments in Spanish. I dread to think of trying to deal with comments in Bengali.

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Contract? (1, Redundant)

kevin_conaway (585204) | more than 9 years ago | (#11422066)

I would assume that you established a contract before starting work with this agency. If they are now in violation of that contract, you have grounds to sue them, correct?

Re:Contract? (1)

nizo (81281) | more than 9 years ago | (#11422166)

The problem is, how do you even go about suing someone who lives in Elbonia (Or India or wherever) without spending a big pile of money? Or maybe that can be outsourced too, hmm. I am off to register "wesuetheworld.com".

good looking out (1)

Jah Shaka (562375) | more than 9 years ago | (#11422069)

first i would let us know who the company is... i think the lack of commuication alone is enough to warn the rest of us!

Mode: AC, maybe (1)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 9 years ago | (#11422278)

first i would let us know who the company is... i think the lack of commuication alone is enough to warn the rest of us!

Maybe anonymously, to avoid getting sued. Nothing quite as rewarding as turning all your hard earned capital over to someone who was incompetent, you whine publicly about and then lost a defamation suit to.

I knew we had a bad one when the guy came in and and had been given a week to do some conversion and had been given a simple task I could have knocked off in 5 minutes. They guy claimed to be profficient in C, but borroed my K&R book and a week later still hadn't got it done. Contract cancelled, no check issued, guy led out door, executive announcement we would no longer do business with that company (they directly called our AP dept and sexually harrassed a clerk, suggesting she pay them.)

Go public (5, Informative)

Giro d'Italia (124843) | more than 9 years ago | (#11422072)

Name them, especially here, and let them know you've done it. That will teach them a lesson.

Re:Go public (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11422285)

It sure will. It will give them a great lesson and some practice with the US legal system when they sue you for libel.

This is, after all, why lawyers, businesses, reporters and other people who use public forumns to beat up on each other avoid blasting their target directly without having a court decision to back them up.

say "I told you so" (1)

doorbender (146144) | more than 9 years ago | (#11422077)

I told you so.

Serves you right (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11422081)

Serves you right. Next time, buy American.

Re:Serves you right (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11422183)

Serves you right. Next time, buy American.

What makes you think he didn't buy American? Oh... I know, you have no idea what "outsourcing" means.

Re:Serves you right (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11422262)

Yeah, I'll bet there's almost a .001% chance he's talking about an American firm here. Which, of course, is why he hasn't considered legal remedies.

What are the details of the contract? (1)

afstanton (822402) | more than 9 years ago | (#11422083)

If the contract specifies full ownership of source code, it shouldn't be encrypted or otherwise protected, and the outsource company is in violation. If it's just for working binaries...too bad.

Kind of a no brainer... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11422084)

If it doesn't work, and you agreed that they'd get paid when the project was FINISHED (in my mind finished means the code is completed AND it does what you agreed upon it doing) then get your money back. They can have their funds when the project is done.

Caveat Emptor (5, Informative)

infinite9 (319274) | more than 9 years ago | (#11422086)

So you paid without testing the final product? I suspect all you can do now is sue. We've received "finished and tested" outsourced projects before that didn't even compile. You have to be very careful out these things.

Contract? (0, Redundant)

Short Circuit (52384) | more than 9 years ago | (#11422096)

Did they violate the terms of their contract? If so, you might be able to sue.

For the large corporations out there... (1)

paulicat (822389) | more than 9 years ago | (#11422101)

If your company is anything like the mess of a corporation my last employer was, you just outsource other projects to take away focus from the ones going bad...

Lying (2, Insightful)

Mumpsman (836490) | more than 9 years ago | (#11422105)

You know that feeling you get in the back of your head when you hear someone telling a lie? The "OMG...this person is lying to me, and I'm paying them to do it" feeling?

I usually let that happen twice before I call them out on it.

Is this really necessary? (2, Insightful)

__Maad__ (263535) | more than 9 years ago | (#11422109)

I hate to take this stance, but it has to be said. This thread is probably going to get a lot of cautionary posts that ring to the effect of "you get what you pay for" and so on. And seriously -- is it that hard to find someone with the skills to do a task like this ("scripting", as you say) locally, at a reasonable price?

Re:Is this really necessary? (1)

WyerByter (727074) | more than 9 years ago | (#11422223)

But even if the outside company that is doing the work is in the same building it's outsourcing.

Re:Is this really necessary? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11422231)

And seriously -- is it that hard to find someone with the skills to do a task like this ("scripting", as you say) locally, at a reasonable price?

What makes you think the outsourcing company isn't local or isn't offering reasonable prices? What do you mean by local anyway, same town, same state, same hemisphere? I guess if it's the same town then it's easier to go round and talk face to face.

Re:Is this really necessary? (1)

Kenja (541830) | more than 9 years ago | (#11422328)

"is it that hard to find someone with the skills to do a task like this ("scripting", as you say) locally, at a reasonable price?"

It sure is. All the local people want a living wage, the jerks.

You learn... (2, Informative)

kzinti (9651) | more than 9 years ago | (#11422113)

Next time you have a comprehensive acceptance test. YOU conduct the test, or you designate a third party. You do not allow the contractor to conduct the test. You test everything that matters - features, performance, capacity. Whatever. You spell this out in the contract and you don't pay until it passes.

Re:You learn... (1)

murlobot (630013) | more than 9 years ago | (#11422288)

So money saved on outsorcing will go to testers and lawers. Is it really worth it?

Never need to withhold a payment (1)

Supp0rtLinux (594509) | more than 9 years ago | (#11422115)

We've outsourced a bit... but we never pay until the work is complete unless its a long project, in which case we pay as increments are completed and the code is sent back to us.

You get what you pay for (5, Insightful)

JasonUCF (601670) | more than 9 years ago | (#11422116)

What time do you have to react? Like if you act now as opposed to two weeks you'll make back your money? Unless you sent the money through a very trusting (read, you do a lot of business with) bank that has some sort of angel stop-payment plan.. you are S O L.

Where is the contract? Whose laws govern it?

You went with a company outside of your country to do a deal..

Why didn't you test what you got first and then pay for it...

I smell FUD... no details here, is this just an anti outsourcing fable?

Outsourcing gone bad (1)

cyberfunk2 (656339) | more than 9 years ago | (#11422117)

I consider it to have gone bad the first time they miss a promised deadline. These companies are in the buisness of delivering on time usually. As soon as they balk on that core buisness, I get worried.

Sue Them (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11422123)

Next on Ask Slashdot: "How do I tie my shoes?"

I do what everyone else does. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11422128)

I start making racist slurs against people from India.

Why just with outsourcing (1)

dead sun (104217) | more than 9 years ago | (#11422129)

When would you do this with a domestic company? There's your answer. Why is it really any different?

A better question might be if there's any sort of response apart from withholding payment and cutting ties. Is there a legal response that will make a difference to your bottom line? That'd be an interesting facet of outsourcing if you ask me.

wtf (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11422130)

in what way is this different than any other situation involving bad work?

treat the firm that you outsourced as a single employee. if they consistently dont perform give them the boot. no not that boot... the kind made of leather that doesnt involve three fingers.

Hell, itll bite you. (4, Funny)

Dr Reducto (665121) | more than 9 years ago | (#11422132)

My friend works as a consultant, and he was consulting at a company where they decided to outsource some programming to Russia. They get the program shortly before the deadline, and it DOESN'T WORK!!!

So they take the program, rip out all the shit (a surprising percentage of it), and rewrite the whole thing pretty much from scratch in the course of a week. They finally get it working, and hand it into the boss, without telling him how badly they got fucked by the outsourcing. The boss is impressed by the quality of the code, and decides that the next project they do should be sent to the same firm. Luckily, my friend wasn't around the next time they went with the low-cost outsourcing.

when it goes bad?!? (2, Informative)

macsox (236590) | more than 9 years ago | (#11422133)

disclaimer: i am a progressive democrat.

but, really. when it goes bad? i have yet to see an example when the cost savings to a multinational corporation justify the damage done by outsourcing work.

you'll have people point to the study that came out that says that outsourcing is good for the economy [bizjournals.com] . but is it? what it really provides is a decline in the quality of jobs in america.

let's think about this. company x has $300,000 it spends on paying 100 engineers. then it discovers it can save $200,000 by sending those 100 jobs to india. so with that $200,000, it hires 200 more engineers in america! net gain of 100 jobs here, and 100 in india! everyone wins!

except, of course, that the jobs that remain here pay 1/3 of what they used to. and that doesn't even include benefits. the moral of the story is, as always: when the company and stockholders win, you better be a stockholder. because if you're an employee, you're screwed.

Employees win (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11422173)

The better workers in this are the ones getting jobs.

What are you talking about! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11422203)

He NEVER stated that the work was outsourced outside this country. It's obvious that you are a liberal since you spoke and stated your opinion with a very narrow minded agenda ridden view without any regards for facts or reality.

Sorry, but it sounds to me like he's getting screwed by a good ole 'mericun company. I'm sure that will make him feel a lot better.

Re:when it goes bad?!? (1)

gn0rt0n (804632) | more than 9 years ago | (#11422279)

Any points you may have had are overshadowed by your lack of capital letters. You obviously thought about this post when you typed it. Take the extra time and use the shift-key.

Worse possible math EVER. (2, Insightful)

hummassa (157160) | more than 9 years ago | (#11422294)

300,000 $ = 100 engineers. 1 engineer = 3,000 $
100,000 $ = 100 india engs. 1 ie = 1,000 $
200,000 $ = 200 engineers. 1 eng = 1,000 $

each eng here will survive with the same salary as in India? I think not. The manager will get 50,000 $ in bonuses, and the VP the other 150,000 $. everyone wins, if by everyone you mean the PHB and the VP. ah, and the stockholders won't see a dime, too.

Bend over and take it... (0, Flamebait)

Ooblek (544753) | more than 9 years ago | (#11422137)

You outsourced it to a foreign company (not on your home country's soil) I presume?

As punishment for your stupidity, bend over and take it. You deserve what you are getting. You could have hired a few consultants and brought it in house, but nooooooooooooooooo.....you had to try to get it cheap.

Karma sucks.

Two thoughts (1)

tkrotchko (124118) | more than 9 years ago | (#11422139)

1) What contract do you have in place with the vendor? Surely all of this is spelled out in a statement of work someplace?

2) Why would you agree to have something developed for you if you don't get the source? Surely there are so many independent vendors with references and more willing to work with you that you didn't have to agree to such a silly restriction.

At a minimum, all of your communication with the vendor should be via certified mail. If you're going to stop paying them, you need a paper trail that document that they haven't abided by the terms of the contract.

Laugh (1)

the_mad_poster (640772) | more than 9 years ago | (#11422141)

What do I do? I usually point and laugh and say "I told you so".

How about... (1, Redundant)

Anita Coney (648748) | more than 9 years ago | (#11422143)

... next time actually TESTING the product before giving the final payment?! It's a thought.

Contractual agreements (1)

KiltedKnight (171132) | more than 9 years ago | (#11422148)

Do you have your contract handy? What provisions do you have in it for failure to deliver on-time? You should have some kind of deadlines and other associated non-delivery clauses in there, if you drew it up properly.

If all you have is a verbal contract, you could very easily be up the creek, unless you've got non-interested collaborating witnesses who will sign affadavits, attest to it in court, etc.

This is a time to bring in your lawyers, let them review the contract, assuming you have one, and then work from there.

In the meantime, stop payment on any checks and look to hire one or two developers, minimum, who can do this stuff in-house for you. That way, when it doesn't work, you can walk down the hall, put a hand on the developer's shoulder and say, "Get it done or else."

Source Guardian??? (2, Insightful)

Cryptnotic (154382) | more than 9 years ago | (#11422149)

You've been ripped off.

Life's lessons (5, Insightful)

binaryDigit (557647) | more than 9 years ago | (#11422150)

As agreed, he delivered the install script, and we made the final payment. Upon testing the new install script we noticed things did not work as intended,

You made payment BEFORE you ran formal acceptance testing of the application (yes, including the installer). That was your fatal error. Once you've ponied up the bucks, you've lost all leverage short of a lawsuit.

If I were you, I'd email then and request a specific timeline/deadline for completing the work. Make sure your email contains language stating that what they delivered does not meet their obligations. Assuming they respond similarly (i.e. "we're working on it"), then at least you have some level of proof that they acknowledge that they are potentially breaching the contract you have. Then take their asses to court.

Good luck. Next time remember

- formal requirements
- explicit deliverables (see requirements above)
- formal acceptance test to ensure that the software actually meets requirements

in terms of the construction industry. (1)

Brigadier (12956) | more than 9 years ago | (#11422153)



I work for an architecture firm, where in outsourcing is quite common. Unfortunatly it's a better question to ask how do you prevent it from going wrong. The answer for that is regular, frequent progress checks. Now if it does go bad this is where yo uhope that your contract is well written. Usually this comes in the form of liquidated damages. eg. If the progress does not meet the progression timeline set at check points a, b, and c. then liquidated damages will be assesed at $$$ per days behind schedule. In the case of consultants who are frequently used some times a point system works a bit better. this way they will work to keep a high performance point total which will help them with future contracts.

Sillyness. (1, Redundant)

Saeed al-Sahaf (665390) | more than 9 years ago | (#11422157)

Upon testing the new install script we noticed things did not work as intended, and all attempts to contact the outsourcing company has resulted in the following answer:'My guys are still working on it.'

Why did you pay them before you tested the package? Sillyness.

Final Payment? (3, Interesting)

spacefrog (313816) | more than 9 years ago | (#11422162)

Let me get this straight, you made final payment *without* getting the source code?

Wow.

Re:Final Payment? (4, Informative)

andymac (82298) | more than 9 years ago | (#11422300)

Not all contracts for s/w development transfer source code and the related IP. Some contracts will transfer source for use internally only for maintenance purposes, other contracts will transfer it for full use (full copyright transfer, etc.). But it is not uncommon to have a contract where the contractor retains some rights to the IP (in effect licensing the code to the contracting company).

Don't assume all contracts are the same.

Faulty contract? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11422163)

U sure the contract covered ALL possible scenarios? What about the deliverables, etc? If everything seems to be OK, you MAY be dealing with a company that 'claims' to be legit. Your management may have been frugal in spending the extra money to outsource your project to a well known company.

When to ask (2, Funny)

doombob (717921) | more than 9 years ago | (#11422170)

When you realize that the outsourced company thought you wanted Finnish customizations on your script. That would be a good time to ask for your money back.

Outsourcing Goes Bad? (0, Troll)

DamienNightbane (768702) | more than 9 years ago | (#11422189)

Doesn't that imply that outsourcing is good to begin with?

Outsourcing is good (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11422199)

All outsourcing means is hiring better workers even if they are "outside."

When we do it... (1)

Humorously_Inept (777630) | more than 9 years ago | (#11422192)

We set up clear and concise terms and requirements in advance. We demand ownership of source code. We have a schedule of meetings with the outsourcing company during which they are responsible for presenting scheduled deliverables. We demand complete documentation from the outsourcing company including their test specs and results. We run acceptance tests on the outsourcing company's products.

Treat the outsourcing company like you would a department or person in your own company. You need to have a strong two way rapport or things will not work. I guess you'll have to fight your way our of this scenario so use it as a lesson.

Don't pay (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11422193)

If it doesn't work, you shouldn't have paid. If you have, try to get the money back until it does work.

You should never hire consultants if you don't get the source --- that's just asking for trouble. They can charge arbitrary amounts for minor modifications.

Resort to torture (1)

Vandil X (636030) | more than 9 years ago | (#11422194)

What Do You Do When Outsourcing Goes Bad?
With an Indian accent, begin reciting alphanumeric product keys to your coworkers over and over again, until their ears bleed.

hehehe (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11422206)

thats what you get for not outsourcing to india. cmon, you know you want to, everybody is doing it. dont be a chicken. whats the big deal? itll make you feel good. besides, girls dig that stuff.

Outsourced - not offshored (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11422216)

There is no mention that this work has been offshored (to a company in some exotic location such as India). It is entirely that the work was outsourced to a company in the USA.

say "I told you so" (1)

netsavior (627338) | more than 9 years ago | (#11422217)

Then proceed to work 80 hour weeks to meet the new deadline. This is what I have done every time a company I have worked for has tried "Outsourcing" err I mean every time outsourcing has failed (which is 100% of the time in my experience) 0 for 5 in three companies... way to go

When you hire a... (4, Informative)

glenrm (640773) | more than 9 years ago | (#11422219)

Software Engineer, you get more than just a coder, you get IQ, you get somebody who understands the low and high level testing that needs to be done, you get somebody who can help you ask the right questions, you get somebody who can make sure the code compiles, that makes sure you get the code, that can rewrite or the crap code you already have, somebody that can save your ass, that is why we cost so much...

Bwah ! ha haha ah aha ahhahahah! (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11422220)

That's what you get for sending work outside of the local market ! Serves you Bastards right !

Firsthand experience (5, Interesting)

cOdEgUru (181536) | more than 9 years ago | (#11422227)


I consulted for an Atlanta firm which dealt in Sarbanes Oxley compliance software and my firm agreed to develop a rule based data adapter which sucks in raw data from external enterprise systems such as SAP and translate it. And my firm agreed to do so without having any one (else) with a bit of enterprise development experience hoping we would be able to outsource it to someone else in India (despite all my "muted" protesting).

Well, we picked a firm (which I believe was cheap enough to be picked), talked to a couple and they seemed knowledgeable and we were on. I wrote down the requirements myself and passed it on to them. There were two who where hands on and I provided any help they required plus the project management. It all went to shit in a couple of days. First, they wanted to bounce ideas off and around for a few days. Here, I am working from 8:00 AM in the morning through 2:00 at night, drilling requirements in to their thick heads, answering questions, go to bed late, only to wake up and realize that they had the same questions and were waiting all day for me to wake up!!

I got so pissed off after having to spend most of my waking day working on what they were supposed to, putting together answers to questions already answered, and chatting with them over IM, losing layers of patience bit by bit before calling them morons to their face. They were still billing us a full 8 hours for doing nothing, blaming it on unclear requirements.

After going to and fro for over a week, when nothing got built, I turned around and got my buddy who works for HP in Cupertino to pick it up. He coded it in his sparetime and pretty much finished it single handedly in the time that it was promised.

The biggest pains in outsourcing, from where I stand, is the disconnect between the teams, the clarity in requirements and the work ethics. I have seen the other end of the spectrum too, when I left for India for a short stint and worked with a team on a high risk project and had to deal with all sorts of management stupidity and workplace politics, putting my team through 14 hour work days, getting pissed drunk together on build nights and delivering on our promise with in the expected timeframe. The work ethics atleast on a developer level is not that different, if you get good young kids, they are smart and loyal. But if you step up to the level of management, you do find hundreds of incompetents who suck the living blood and exist solely to serve their own interests and to collect their paychecks.

I am not prejudiced. Infact, I am Indian and everyone mentioned above is, as well.

EULA? (2, Funny)

sremick (91371) | more than 9 years ago | (#11422234)

Getting your money back for bugs in the software? Well, did you "accept" that End User License Agreement presented to you on install? Heh.

If so, you're probably SOL. I've never managed to get my money back from Microsoft due to the bugs in their software either.

It probably said something about this EULA superceeding all previous EULAs and contracts too.

(Note to the humor-challenged: this is a joke. Sorta.)

Hope you have a good contract in place (1)

andymac (82298) | more than 9 years ago | (#11422241)

Your contract with this contractor should outline 1) your warranty period, i.e.: how long you have to get deficiencies corrected at no cost (or at some predetermined labour rate); 2) ownership of IP; and 3) any acceptance criteria (or actions that are to be construed as acceptance of the work product as is)

If you own the IP, you should have the product delivered to you in a format that is maintainable (i.e.: editable) by your company. Sounds like you didn't have such rights assigned to you in the contract. I'll have to assume that, at any rate.

So once the warranty period has expired, and you've given acceptance, you're screwed. You have no legal basis for having the contractor do additional work for free. If you want to pay him, I'm sure he'd be glad to oblige.

But, if you have not met the terms of acceptance for the work product (again, I will assume there is some definition in the contract as to what actions construe acceptance) and the warranty period had not expired, the contractor is on the hook for fixes - not improvements or additional features, mind you, but that doesn't sound like your situation.

So if you're in this case, you should estimate the $$ required to complete the work. If it's under the limit for your regional small claims court, file a claim. If you win, great. If he doesn't pay and if it's an owner/operator (i.e.: solo guy), place a lien against his car or house for the amount owing. If it's larger than the small claims court limit, you'll have to decide if it's worth your while (time and legal fees).

Talk to a lawyer AND make sure your contracts are water-tight going forward.

It's quite simple... escalate (1)

hellfire (86129) | more than 9 years ago | (#11422248)

If your usual channels aren't working your CEO (if this isn't you) needs to get on the phone with this outsourced company's CEO. He will politely explain the importance of this, and they will work on an "action plan" to make the appropriate things happen and make sure you are properly updated each day on the progress.

If this bears no fruit, or the plan isn't being followed, or no one calls you, the CEO needs to get on the phone and threaten legal action for failure to deliver on a promised contract.

All the while your company needs to do a cost/benefit analysis of legal action on this company, and do it quickly. Line up all the documentation and make sure everything is well recorded. Consult a lawyer on what needs to be done to make sure a case is solid.

Because if threatening legal action doesn't move them, the only step left is the logical one, make the threat real.

Gmail Fairy... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11422249)

https://gmail.google.com/gmail/a-9c8538e6ab-93a865 3ceb-51522681f6

No testing? (1)

mkop (714476) | more than 9 years ago | (#11422250)

only thing left was a small bug fix, and an install script which needed to be completed. As agreed, he delivered the install script, and we made the final payment. Upon testing the new install script we noticed things did not work as intended, Why would you pay without testing? Even if you have a contract in place it would seem you accepted the code as done and made payment. You might have a small chance of winning if you sue.

Doesn't sound Foreign (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11422256)

The term outsourcing is used when it is not done in-house. This sounds like a domestic company so don't go knocking globalization.

If you already paid him that kinda sucks, never pay before you test out the work product.

And since when do you not get the source code when you pay for some work to be done?

What do I do? (1)

Pan T. Hose (707794) | more than 9 years ago | (#11422258)

The better question is what do I not do. I never pay in advance, that's what I do. That way I never hear "My guys are still working on it" and I have no such problems, which--let's face it--you can only blame on your own frivolity. And quite frankly it has nothing to do with "outsourcing" and where are the people who are working for you. Personally I have found on many occasions that people in Central and Eastern Europe can work much better than others in the United States or Japan, and of course a healthier environment [slashdot.org] for developers is a great plus. The bottom line is that you can find great people everywhere, and you can also find con artists everywhere. If you cannot negotiate safe terms and manage risk while doing business, don't blame "those damn foreigners" and "outsourcing" for that. Blame your own naïvete. And yes, I have learned it the hard way.

Wrong website (2, Informative)

acidrain69 (632468) | more than 9 years ago | (#11422269)

This is not a slashdot issue. Just because the people are writing software, doesn't mean it is a technological issue.

This is a business issue. Is my contractor delivering? What do they have done? Ask to see it. What milestones have been met, and what is being done to resolve the remaining issues? Perhaps your agreement with the outsourcee needs to be rethought, it sounds like it wasn't planned very well.

I have absolutely ZERO experience in outsourcing and writing scripts as a job, and ZERO experience in managing a business and relations. These are obvious answers to obvious questions that do not belong on Slashdot.

If you just tried to save a buck by outsourcing, then you deserve to get burned. You are just jumping on the outsourcing bandwagon without making sound business decisions. There is a level of control lost when you outsource something. You sound like you have no method of feedback and reassurance. Shame on you.

What I do... (3, Insightful)

HangingChad (677530) | more than 9 years ago | (#11422280)

What Do You Do When Outsourcing Goes Bad?
  • Point and laugh, fighting the urge to add "I told you so" during the hysterics
  • Raise my rates
  • Profit!!!

Unable to Modify Deliverable (0, Redundant)

theBraindonor (577245) | more than 9 years ago | (#11422289)

It sounds like you've been ripped off in more than one way.

First, you aparently don't own the code that was developed. Even if someone does give you the source code, you need to make sure that you are able to modify it as you please. Quite a few contractors have pulled this over the years. They will deliver a product cheaply, then charge much higher rates for upgrades and fixes. Beware of a bargain price on software you won't own.

Second, you issued payment without verifying the completeness of the deliverable. If there are problems with the install script itself, how many other problems will you find once it is installed correctly? Just because a product has been delivered, does not mean that the contract has been fulfilled. Once the money is out the door, it almost never comes back. When a contract goes bad, would you rather pay for the product as well as legal fees to get that money back? Or would you rather pay the legal fees instead?

Escrow (1)

tarumaasu (633334) | more than 9 years ago | (#11422297)

Maybe you should think about using an Escrow service next time.

Contracts with payment milestones and inspection (1)

Adammil2000 (797026) | more than 9 years ago | (#11422304)

In your contracts, tie the vendor's payment to specific milestones and measurable quality criteria for each milestone. There should be several milestones over the course of your project, depending on the project's length. Withhold payment if they don't meet the contractual agreements. They will have a vested interest in getting the project back on track if their payment depends on it. Make sure your contracts are written carefully to ensure they are motivated to keep you on schedule and meet the quality levels that you define. Don't be shy to explain in detail exactly what work you need and how you will measure the quality of that work in the contract, because it will discourage any vendor from signing the contract that thinks they might not be able to meet the bar you set. Also, don't fall for "time and materials" contracts, because most of the time that shields the vendor from any responsiblity of failure. They get their money as long as they do some work and have no vested interest in ensuring the project succeeds or finishes. They can drag their feet and then ultimately fail and walk away, and they get their money, but you're stuck. Hope that helps you...

It depends (0, Redundant)

ThousandStars (556222) | more than 9 years ago | (#11422306)

That depends on how you paid and where the company is located. If they won't send you the source, you may be screwed. If you paid by check, you can try to stop payment, and if you paid by credit card you can reject the charge. If it's too late for either of those or if you paid by some other means, you might be out of luck. If the other party is in America you can try suing them, but that may or may not be worth the time and effort and you'll need a lawyer. If that person isn't in America, you probably won't be able to sue and collect.

The good news about being out of country is that the price is inexpensive. The bad news is that, if things go sour, you have almost no recourse or leverage.

Finally, next time I can only recommend you take this guy's advice [slashdot.org] . I realize that may not inspire much comfort now.

so unprotect the script then (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11422308)

Skip the lawyers and all that bullshit. Just fix the problem.
Get a good debugger (eg, Soft-Ice) and unpeal this Source Guardian thingamajig. If the script is trully a script, then it's in there somewhere. And most of those src code protection mechanism aren't very adept at hidding it from someone who knows how to use a debugger.
Then never do business with that company again. And make sure you don't pay for stuff that's not delivered to spec.

File *NOW* (2, Informative)

erikharrison (633719) | more than 9 years ago | (#11422327)

Put the pressure on right now, seriously. Then never, ever work with them or any other outsourcing company that "protects the source" by wrapping it up somehow.

I've worked with these "reputable" outsourcers before. Really, there is a crop of programming companies that have turned up in the last few years that make the 15 year old outsourcing companies sick. I've been in a position where I had an internally modified GPL source, needed a feature added, and when the CTO decided to push that work out of house, we wound up with a binary and that's it. And it didn't do what we needed it to do.

The company you're working with has probably been behaving this way as long as it's been around, but this shit needs to stop. Lay down the law and pull out, as much and as fast as you can. There are reputable companies who do this kind of work. However, it is almost always small companies, which also release real products that will get you the best result - like Omni, who makes OmniWeb for the Mac, also was well known for being outsourced to for game porting. Look for someone who also makes a product, then you'll have found someone potentially worth working with

impossible to say for sure (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11422335)

> At what point do you consider they may have just ripped you off, and how do you > know when to file complaints and withhold payment?"

Like many ask /. questions, there is missing info. For instance, we're only hearing one side of this. Maybe the poster didn't adequately state his requirements. One thing is for sure: Outsourcing is dicey for both parties, and arguably more so for the contractor than the customer.

Assuming the contract was straightforward, and the guy still owes you work, just threaten to sue, like you would with any other contractor who's trying to wash his hands of something without fulfilling his end of the bargain.

What I'm getting at is that there is a common trap here: requirements statement being vague. Contractor takes the job, occasionally unwittingly, and ends up needing more hours than expected. Buyer underestimates the effort needed to fulfill his expectations, and, maybe unwittingly, underestimates the actually required cost.

In either case, the contractor is screwed because he took the job. And often, you must, if you want to eat - because the way things are now, there are 1000 other jerks who will underbid it, because 1) they're better than you 2) they don't grasp the true scope 3) they are predatory bastards.

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