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Finding a Ready-Made Dev Team?

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 8 years ago | from the just-add-water dept.

Programming 294

marshrew writes "We are a small startup just coming out of a period of R&D with IP and prototype code (containing open source, commercial & freelancer-built custom components) developed/integrated in-house by essentially one guy. We're at the point where we want to build out first commercial implementation which will require a handful of developers for at least six months. We really don't have time or funds to go through a developer recruiting cycle, create a practice, get the team "gelled" etc. What we'd really like to do is find a small pre-existing team which which we could form a relationship to get our product out the door and possibly continue working with. We don't mean a splinter group from a larger dev house, but an agile, self-contained team, who enjoy working together and have an existing practice. Geography is not a problem as we are used to working in a distributed manner." Does such an animal exist? What have other teams done in a situation like this?

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Perhaps you could hire these guys (5, Funny)

FidelCatsro (861135) | more than 8 years ago | (#14088639)

In 2005, a crack Hacker unit was sent to prison by an over-zealous RIAA for a crime they didn't commit(Theft , it should have been copyright infringement).

These men promptly got released due to a technicality ,to the Los Angeles und3rgr0und!!!!. Today, still wanted by their Previous employers due to a contractual problem and for maintaining some perl code , they survive as Developers of FORTRAN.

If you have a problem, if no one else can help, and if you can find them, maybe you can hire...the @-Team.

Re:Perhaps you could hire these guys (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14088651)

Offtopic my ass! This is funny *and* ontopic. Give this man an underrated.

Re:Perhaps you could hire these guys (5, Funny)

NewmanBlur (923584) | more than 8 years ago | (#14088695)

"I gotta work with this crazy foo'!?!"

The A-Team: the SQL (1)

scotbot (906561) | more than 8 years ago | (#14089125)

  • "I ain't gettin' on no project plan, fool!"
  • "Here, have some milk."
  • z++

Re:Perhaps you could hire these guys (1)

thirdrock (460992) | more than 8 years ago | (#14088774)


I love it when a (code) plan comes together! (lights cigar)

Re:Perhaps you could hire these guys (1)

anticypher (48312) | more than 8 years ago | (#14088904)

Fortunately I had just finished my morning coffee when I saw this, or you'd owe me a new keyboard. First good laugh I've had all day.

ObOnTopic: What the OP is looking for is to partner with another company. Sure, the project will not be 100% in house, but that's the price you pay if you need both fast and cheap.

the fACe man

Already at +5 funny, so no adding my mod points to this post.

Re:Perhaps you could hire these guys (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14089102)

I pity the fool who codes in perl!

IBM Global Services (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14088641)

That's who we used in 2001 when we needed a huge web-based Java system done. They brought in nine programmers with a top-notch project manager. It cost a lot, but it cost less than not doing it.

Re:IBM Global Services (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14088734)

In the long run, you'd almost certainly be better off hiring developers of your own. Hiring developers from companies like IBM GSA, CSC, etc. is a recipe for disaster if you aren't very careful about the contracts and other legal niceties, they'll eat you for breakfast, and then go out for seconds.

Another poster also comments on long term support and maintenance. Combine all these factors, and I would strongly recommend keeping it in house. Yes, it's a pain, but it'll be better in the long run.

In any event, good luck.

Re:IBM Global Services (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14089079)

In the long run, you'd almost certainly be better off hiring developers of your own.

In the 34 years I've worked in IT in this area, I haven't found a single person that programmed for a living locally as good as the worst of those IBM nine programmers. I've had seven that have worked for me the past year alone that haven't worked-out. If I could find a good programmer, I'd hire them and keep them. It's easy to say hire local, but when you put an ad in several papers in the area and get zero resumes from experienced people, you just can't.

The closest technical universities to us are GA Tech and Clemson. Their Comp Sci majors can't program worth a damn. Their EE majors are typically very good programmers (even if they don't like it) and I've worked with about three dozen of them over the years, but they're expensive to hire and they tend to not want to just program. I've had what I'd consider three world-class programmers work for me and none of the three were programmers. They were EE grads from Clemson that worked on hardware, well were hired to work on hardware. They were great at dividing the system up into modules and loosely coupling the components. The problem is that they all want jobs where they'll also do some hardware work.

How IBM Conned My Execs Out Of Millions (5, Interesting)

didiken (93521) | more than 8 years ago | (#14088816)

Well, since you're posting as anonymous with high praise for IBM Global Service, let's see this counter argument from Kuro5hin: How IBM Conned My Execs Out Of Millions [kuro5hin.org] .



This is a first-person account of how IBM was able to con my execs out of millions of dollars. Gullible management tries to swim with the shark and gets chewed to pieces. Witness the exec-level FUD sales techniques and the $325/hr subcontractor labor bait and switch....
More... [kuro5hin.org]

Re:How IBM Conned My Execs Out Of Millions (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14089046)

Nice link, but it has zero relevancy to our relationship with IBM. If you're an idiot and don't manager hourly billing with any vendor you will get burned. That's especially true when dealing with lawyers and more so with Certified Public Crooks^H^H^H^H^H Accountants. For programmers you will get burned if you don't give them good specs and make sure they're giving you what you need as they're building. The sooner you correct a programmer the cheaper it is.

Also, in the link the guy admitted:

There was one IBM consultant on site, and a second would show up occasionally.

The nine IBM programmers we had were in the office next door. Every single day I saw their progress. The project manager was in town for a minimum of two days per week. Paying $325/hour to a group of programmers you never meet sounds like a recipe for disaster. If they're software isn't doing what you need, then you won't know it until later and it will be more expensive to fix.

We paid about $75/hour for 40 hours per week (even though IBM required they work many more hours per week) plus living expenses (which weren't that much since the owner of the company owns an apartment complex and the grocery store next door to it and the restaurant in our office building). I've heard that IBM charges more now, but I don't know their current rates. From hints I got from the programmers as to their pay, I think they made about $2k per week which comes-out to $50/hour for 40 hours (well, they really worked about 110 hours per week so that comes-out to $18/hour without overtime). All nine guys were pretty good, and we brought in a friend of the owner that's a world-class programmer. They worked well with him even though he wasn't an IBM employee like the rest.

And in all the years of working with GS, I have never seen them subcontract. Every single person I met that worked for them did not work for a contractor of IBM. That article claimed IBM subcontracted and then the subcontractor hired sub-subcontractors. The article's claim is a load of crap from what I've seen.

Another way to look at it is, how would you find a group of local guys that work together well that are all willing to work 80+ hours per week? The time constraints we had were severe so I needed a few good programmers that could work a lot. I didn't have time to keep training new people or holding meetings so a large group could stay current. I can't find a single descent programmer locally, and I've been in IT for 34 years. I called IBM and two weeks later their team was in the office. They were all friends. They had all worked together. Since they were out of town and all single, they were able to work about 15/hours per day 7 days per week we needed. We were so happy with them that we not only paid for every meal. We brought it to them. We hired chefs to cook for them in their apartments so they could save time. We hired maids at our expense to keep their apartments clean and to wash their clothes. We gave them $3k cash to upfit their office. We wouldn't have done those things unless we were happy with them.

Why are you posting anonymously? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14089124)

If this is true and you're happy with IBM work, then why are you posting as AC.
Oh right, its a complete lie. The numbers you quote are far below IBM GS rates and the service you describe is nothing like the reality. A personal chef, & maid for only 9 people? I call BS.

"And in all the years of working with GS, I have never seen them subcontract. "
I AM an IBM subcontractor, they hire me through Jobserve when I'm needed and sing my praises. When I'm working for some other major firm, they FUD me like crazy to get their guys in. It's a big game and everyone played along right up until IBM started outsourcing all our jobs to India, then we started to blow the whistle on the scam.

"Another way to look at it is, how would you find a group of local guys that work together well that are all willing to work 80+ hours per week?"
The same place IBM finds them, Monster & Jobserve! Pay $50/hour and they'll sit around for 80 hours a week to milk you of money.

Thats a joke right? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14088889)

IBM milks its clients for the maximum money it can get. I've seen it myself, we would ask for a 1 line change in the code, even show them how to do it and they would milk it for 4 months of team money.
5 years to make a website? No problem, IBM can drag it out that long.
10 years to make a database, yaking so long that the hardware goes out of date before it's complete? RAF can tell you about that one.

Re:Thats a joke right? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14089137)

a 1 line change in the code, even show them how to do it and they would milk it for 4 months of team money.

Ummm, the IBM GS programmers were in the office next door to mine. If I wanted a one line change, I walked next door and got it while I was standing there. It sounds like you had management that didn't know how to manage vendor relationships.

Re:Thats a joke right? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14089215)

"It sounds like you had management that didn't know how to manage vendor relationships"

Yes they were dumb management, they hired IBM GS.

The global team.. (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14088643)

It's called "The Internet"...
1. release source
2. internet builds product
3. exploit generosity
4. ???
5. profit (maybe?)

Re:The global team.. (1)

Senes (928228) | more than 8 years ago | (#14088731)

Freely released program != product It's proven possible to make open source and commercial software coexist, but you can't have unlimited free labor AND exploit the finished program for full profit. There is kind of a balance between open and proprietary software; proprietary programs are intelectual property that exist to be exploited by their owners, while something completely open has no true owner. Things like Red Hat Enterprise Linux take advantage of the open nature of Linux, but that same thing prevents them from having total control. If you want software as a commercially exploitable product that belongs to you, closed-source is the way to go.

Re:The global team.. (1)

bernywork (57298) | more than 8 years ago | (#14089216)

but you can't have unlimited free labor AND exploit the finished program for full profit.

Not quite true, a little more clarification is required. No you can't get FULL profit from the product, but you can get more than if you just programmed it yourself.

The additional features and testing you get from having an open source product are MUCH higher than what you could get from a proprietry environment. (Well you could get it, but it would cost you the earth)

Plus you get money income from development of customisations and other things that you wouldn't necessarily get as most companies have a budget to spend, if they can get the product and it customised they would normally jump at that. Well rather than just spending all their budget on the product that does everything it needs to, but not everything they want it to.

Dev Team hiring (5, Informative)

Old Wolf (56093) | more than 8 years ago | (#14088646)

Try www.rentacoder.com , or other such sites. Although most people on the site are private individuals, there are some organizations with dozens of programmers, that can be hired for any period of time or to accomplish any set goal. Plus there is the benefit of user feedback from others who have hired the same team in the past. You can browse the list of teams with the highest user feedback, and invite them to bid on your project.

Re:Dev Team hiring (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14088708)

You'd be surprised how quickly a team can "gel" when the penalty for breaking the build is having to blow all the other team members at the next dev meeting.

Worked for slashcode... except Taco kept "accidentally" forgetting to end his braces before checking in...

Re:Dev Team hiring (5, Insightful)

frenetic3 (166950) | more than 8 years ago | (#14088885)

Yeah, you'll be able to find teams like this online. And they will have an appallingly wide variance in quality -- a friend of mine just finished getting out of a contract where he was paying $160/hr for expedited service but the consulting company either was completely incompetent or just too lazy to do the work (their spec was laughable, consisting of blurbs of text cut and pasted from open source components they were going to slough together to make the site).

But (as a technical founder/co-CEO myself) let me tell you why even if you find a decent consulting shop that this is a bad idea.

First, you're a startup. You're dreaming if you think your requirements aren't going to change as users start interacting with the site and you tweak your product idea and learn more about the market. This just doesn't jive with a consulting agreement, where clear expectations and well-defined specs are absolutely essential for success. Otherwise, you're asking for a world of hurt (time, money, stress) when you quickly realize that you and the consultant have a very different view of what constitutes "complete" in terms of quality and features. I guess if you have a great relationship with your consulting team, maybe they can be nimble for you. But you'll pay for it -- "Whoa whoa whoa -- you wanted to be able to SEARCH posts on your message board? That wasn't in the spec, it's going to be at least another week, and at x hours at $y per hour, plus overtime, that's..." And this is assuming, too, that you find a scrupulous dev shop -- I can only imagine the horrors of an unethical dev shop screwing over a technically unenlightened founder/CEO (I've seen it. It's not pretty.)

Fundamentally, you and the dev shop just aren't on the same team (your "incentives aren't aligned.") Look at it from their perspective: they want to get your project done as soon as possible (so that they can start working, and making money on something else) and to do the least work possible that could pass as "complete" especially if you have a flat $x/milestone agreement. You want to make something your users will love, and you don't quite know what that "something" exactly is until a few iterations in. Think about it -- if you're a consultant, and you're trying to wrap up this damn project which is already running late (and it's your head under the guillotine for missing milestones), are you going to 1) complete the feature in the quickest way possible or 2) add a little extra to make something the end user will love... but not get compensated for it? Yes, maybe are consulting companies that will go the extra mile, but these aren't the ones bidding for the bottom of the barrel at rent-a-coder.

You can maybe align things better with clever contingencies. You can negotiate a support contract or retainer (for bug fixes afterwards) or something with them. But after the project is delivered, you are in a _terrible_ negotiating position as you desperately NEED them for bug fixes and enhancements (i.e. your alternatives are terrible), and they can easily make you pay dearly. Plus, what if you're willing to spend the money but your former lead dev at the consulting shop gets staffed somewhere else? or leaves? etc.

And all this even ignores the major point. Your product is your special sauce; the thing you do better than your competitors; the source of your sustainable competitive advantage. It's just suicide to try to contract that out to someone else. It's one thing (and highly recommended) to outsource ANCILLARY business functions (accounting, legal, etc.) that to you are basically a commodity. But not your crown jewels. Did Google, Microsoft, Yahoo, Amazon, or frankly ANY successful startup start by outsourcing/offshoring the development of their core IP? (There may be RARE exceptions, and I'd love to hear them, because I know of precisely zero successful companies that have done this)

So I shudder when newbie founder/CEO or MBA/management major types say they'll get their first product done for $20k and in 3 weeks by shipping it off to Mumbai. Or even to any consulting firm. Okay, I don't even shudder anymore, I laugh my ass off.

You want your v1.0 to be somebody's baby, and it's worth every penny to get the best talent you can. Then, everyone's on your team and it's not an ordeal every time you need to change the left navigation bar or rework the text on the front page. It makes you much more agile. And, you keep all that knowledge in house, where it does the most good (as opposed to in the head of a developer at a shop who then goes to work on the next project and forget about yours.)

Plus, if you are willing to look hard enough, there are often students or diamonds in the rough who are highly skilled but for whatever reason command below-market rates. And smart people are often willing to work for ridiculously low rates for a cut of equity if you can sell the idea to them (this is the way to go!) Check out some of Paul Graham's essays [paulgraham.com] for more on this topic.

I hope this helps. But realize if you're not willing to put the time in to even put together a great founding team and to assemble top technical talent, you're probably not going to make it through the incredible strain of getting funding, developing your first product and getting it to market.

But good luck!

-fren

Example of "core ip" outsourcing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14088991)

A Finnish small company that has a website for selling used cars online did outsource the creation of their system. It is like a mini-siezed half.com for cars. http://www.nettiauto.com/ [nettiauto.com]

The coding was supposedly outsourced to India through an agency called Fiare.

Anyways, even in this case, their main core competence were the relations they made with car dealerships. Still, the website seems to have been pretty static with not much visible changes made to it since launch.

Re:Example of "core ip" outsourcing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14089228)

their main core competence were the relations they made with car dealerships.

And their secondary core competence was leveraging their synergy with outside of the box, world-class conceptualizations.

Re:Dev Team hiring (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14089221)

As a software developer of 11 years, and as a recently graduated MBA, I can definitely say you are bang on. Not all MBA's would agree about Mumbai though. Cost is not everything. It may be for publicly owned companies that are mandated by law to make the best profit possible, but for startups, no.
 
You are absolutely correct about the special sauce. A startup MUST protect their competitive advantage at all costs. When you get bigger, and have larger cash flows, you can afford to lose a bit of your secrecy, since you'll be more able to have (and afford to have) more than one project to diversify your risk. But as a startup, unless you have a really rich uncle who is completely enamoured with your concept (or the VC equivalent) your special sauce is your life.
 
Do it in house. Hire a few developers, get them invested in the project. Grow out your product and get your cashflows growing. Hire more developers. You'll need them. The parent is correct, once the baby hits the market, the product will change to meet their needs, not your perception of their needs. That will take talent that can quickly implement your changes and that are invested in your success. Best of luck on your new venture!

NO, no, no, ... (3, Interesting)

hummassa (157160) | more than 8 years ago | (#14088940)

what about a serious and renowed technology firm? These guys [vettatech.com] have your team ready and can assemble/send you a new one -- a GOOD one -- in a matter of days. OR they can manage them for you.
Disclaimer: I don't work for them, I do NOT receive any $$$ from them, but most of them are former University colleagues of mine, and I can vow for their honesty and seriousness. Visit their website, give their clients a call, give them a call, IIRC they can even send someone to talk to you in person.

Re:Dev Team hiring (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14089072)

Rent A Coder is for slaves. Everyone should boycott. Nobody wants to work for pennies an hour except low life scum you find at Rent A Coder. Literally scraping the bottom of the barell for garbage code.

Re:Dev Team hiring (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14089156)

you could hire some fresh new talent from college (or university as we aussies call it). the experience may not be at the same level, but if you hire from a college that has a focus on group work and large group projects, then it may be possible to find a ready made group. these guys(/girls) will be out to make names for themselves.

maybe you could liase with a university department to have the work done as a final year computing or software engineering project. you would still probably need a manager to control the project, but the labour would be dirt cheap, if not free, and if the project is small enough to run over 1 or two semesters, it should be possible to arrange it.

Sony contractors (5, Funny)

LiquidCoooled (634315) | more than 8 years ago | (#14088655)

I hear there are a group of developers who are just being dropped by Song BMG, perhaps you could give them a call ;)

Re:Sony contractors (1)

nixonsotherveep (931755) | more than 8 years ago | (#14088762)

Hey! That's where I work! Don't make fun of my plight!

Seriously, we Sony contractors just switched it up. Now we're writing code to *remove* the rootkit.

Have you tried... (4, Informative)

xor.pt (882444) | more than 8 years ago | (#14088657)

Sourceforge? www.sourceforge.net

MOD PARENT DOWN (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14088784)

Lame.

Re:MOD PARENT DOWN (2, Funny)

Ithika (703697) | more than 8 years ago | (#14088841)

lame.sourceforge.net [sourceforge.net]

Cue the music! (0, Redundant)

grumpygrodyguy (603716) | more than 8 years ago | (#14088659)

We really don't have time or funds to go through a developer recruiting cycle, create a practice, get the team "gelled" etc. What we'd really like to do is find a small pre-existing team which which we could form a relationship to get our product out the door and possibly continue working with.

If you've got a problem and no one else can help, and if you can find them, maybe you can hire . . . The Dev Team

[OT] I found them... (3, Funny)

nuntius (92696) | more than 8 years ago | (#14088794)

but the poster probably doesn't want another top-notch, ASCII-art dungeon game.

Look for layoffs (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14088666)

When a company shuts down or lays off a bunch of developers, whole teams become available. I've seen hiring 'feeding frenzies' resulting from this, you're not unique in wanting to hire teams. Sometimes a team is hired as salaried staff, sometimes a team leader gets asked if he can get a team together for a contract (ie "form your own company, and we've got a job for you").

Either way, its rich pickings and unfortunately not that hard to find.

Try Origin (2, Informative)

mustafap (452510) | more than 8 years ago | (#14088667)

in Cambridge, UK. I worked with them once. They are like a small Logica.

Or S3 (Silicon Software Solutions) in Dublin, Ireland. I used to work for them.

Re:Try Origin (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14088714)

A great little outfit for specialised software is www.00372.com based in Tallinn, Estonia, same place as Skype was developed, they have some really clever guys. If you visit them be sure to party there, Tallinn has some of the most beautifull women in the world.

power of 3 rule (5, Insightful)

timdaly (539918) | more than 8 years ago | (#14088668)

This is optimistic at best. Remember the power of 3 rule:
(where UOW=unit of work (man/month :-) )
    1 UOW = program for yourself
    3 UOW = give it to someone else
          (you install, you copy, etc)
    9 UOW = give it to local group
          (howto, platform change)
  27 UOW = shareware/open source
          (configure/make/make install)
  81 UOW = product
          (real docs, slick UI, support teams)
243 UOW = business
          (lawyers, CEO, sales, marketing)

you're looking at a lot more work than you're willing to
admit. unless it is a trivial application you need to
understand that writing the program in the first place
is the easiest part of the whole problem. Teams which
don't include the original developer are even harder.

Tim Daly

Offshore it. Seriously. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14088670)

That's what we did - to a company that was essentially the modern-day version of a typing pool. A bunch of coders with nothing to code was waiting for us in India (Bangladesh). Not only that, we still had coders working days in the US, plus the devs working in India, so we were coding over 16 hours a day.

Re:Offshore it. Seriously. (2, Insightful)

baadger (764884) | more than 8 years ago | (#14088767)

...and how did the project turn out!?

Re:Offshore it. Seriously. (2, Insightful)

hooeezit (665120) | more than 8 years ago | (#14088789)

India (Bangladesh)???
India and Bangladesh are 2 separate sovereign countries. India hasn't quite annexed Bangladesh (yet!) and I don't think they want to either :)

Re:Offshore it. Seriously. (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14088873)

A bunch of coders with nothing to code was waiting for us in India (Bangladesh).

I assume you mean Bangalore. Bangladesh is a separate country.

Not only that, we still had coders working days in the US, plus the devs working in India, so we were coding over 16 hours a day.

Does this matter? Two people working in the US and two in India should be no better than four working in the US. In fact, they should be slower, as there are all sorts of communications hassles.

The "16 hour day" rubbish works well with call-centers, where you want people available 24/7, but with coding, there is no advantage to shift-work.

OSS Community? (2, Interesting)

chrstphrb (885917) | more than 8 years ago | (#14088671)

Have you given SourceForge http://www.sf.net/ [sf.net] a good looking over for projects similar in scope and application to yours? Seems to me it shouldn't be too hard to find a group already working together working on X.application developing in X.language. Good luck...

Team 345 (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14088676)

These were some guys who worked with my company in Massachussetts. They're pretty Java-focussed, I think, but they're good. They formed their group to do exactly what you're asking for. They were composed of three or four guys at the time.

http://team345.com/ [team345.com]

Be cool enough (2, Interesting)

pmv (913984) | more than 8 years ago | (#14088689)

Speaking as a developer starting out, and having just joined a startup myself, I believe if your project is cool enough, people will be willing to work with you. And what's more, the people you'll attract will most likely be the ones who stand to contribute most to the project. The converse is also true [inq7.net] . Startups have succeeded and and failed according to this rule.

Motivation is a key factor among geeks. Spread awareness of the project, show people that it's worth something, and that its success is in their best interests, and you can stand back and watch the magic. Of course, that's easier said than done. Learn to manage your geeks [fastcompany.com] .

Consulting Engineers (2, Interesting)

Hektor_Troy (262592) | more than 8 years ago | (#14088694)

If we abstract it a bit, it sounds like exactly the type of work my previous employer contracted inhouse. They specialized primarily in building automation, but that's just a different field of work.

I would be surprised if you couldn't find consulting engineers (no clue what you call them in English) that specialize in software development. While I don't personally know of any, try calling around to various consulting engineers, or visit in person if there are any in the local area. I know that my employer had calls like that at least once a week (not software development though), and they never had a problem in directing people to the right company (knowing that they in turn will direct people to them). Even if they don't know a company for sure, they'll probably know who might know, or they'll get curious and start asking around themselves.

I hope this helps - and if you manage to find some that do this, by all means tell the rest of us - we never know if it might come in handy.

Correct approach? (5, Insightful)

Underholdning (758194) | more than 8 years ago | (#14088696)

I would strongly advice against such an approach. Say you manage to get a team of super coders from India to China to the US. They create a product ready to ship in 6 months and then they dismantle, continuing on with other exciting projects.

Now, what happens when the product is in need for support? Who are going to support code written by a team of super corders?

What happens when there's a demand for extra functionality? Who's going to implement that?

Who will maintain the code?

Yes, you could try to reassemble the team, but developers hate support. And besides, the team will much rather start on a new project than supporting the old one.
My suggestion is, that you take your time and hire people the old fashioned way. If you don't have enough time to do that, your project is doomed anyway.

Re:Correct approach? (1)

jhoger (519683) | more than 8 years ago | (#14088779)

First, why are you assuming he can't hire home grown consultants?

Second, you can usually get the same consultants back for maintenance work. And if you can't because they are busy, there are other consultants, often with the same firm.

Hiring lots of permanent employees is not the only way to go.

-- John.

Re:Correct approach? (1)

Underholdning (758194) | more than 8 years ago | (#14088824)

First, why are you assuming he can't hire home grown consultants?

I don't assume anything - I just reflect on his statement: " Geography is not a problem as we are used to working in a distributed manner." . He doesn't say which country his company is in, but if it's in the US or Europe, then coders from India is definitely cheaper.

Second, you can usually get the same consultants back for maintenance work. And if you can't because they are busy, there are other consultants, often with the same firm.

Agree, but that's not what he's asking for.

Hiring lots of permanent employees is not the only way to go.

I agree. But again - he explicitely asks for a self contained agile team and not a group of consultants from a large company. IF he want to go for consultants, I'd advice him to use a company and not assemble one on the fly. Alternatively, hire his own group of programmers. My point is, that assembling a team on your own is very risky. Use a firm or hire.

POV (1)

grokster (557481) | more than 8 years ago | (#14088699)

Looking for people like this? http://www.pov.lt/ [www.pov.lt] Of course you may want a different language but I'm sure there are other groups like this...

If I hear that one word one more time..... (4, Funny)

LittleLebowskiUrbanA (619114) | more than 8 years ago | (#14088706)

AGILE.....goddamnit. It's software, not a 4 legged creature!

Tough to find, tougher to manage (4, Insightful)

Raindeer (104129) | more than 8 years ago | (#14088710)

The question very much reminds me of what I guy I know said when his 15 people ICT security company were looking for a new guy: "All the good people already work for us, or we know who they work for. Now we're looking for the person nobody else has found yet". This will be the same with the ready made development team. They have a job somewhere, so unless they are a small contracting team that just happens to have an open spot in their schedule you're more or less doomed.

Managing this group is even tougher. The way you describe your company is that it is small, tightly knit, build around one person. Now you need to get new people to work with your group, to smoothen out differences in development philosophy, to get the leader to let go of parts of his baby etc etc.

Tough job ahead of you. Good luck.

Re:Tough to find, tougher to manage (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14089224)

huh huh huh... "smoothen"

Fumble....Touchdown! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14088713)

The word you are looking for is "contractor."

Tough to find (1)

agapits (888810) | more than 8 years ago | (#14088735)

We don't mean a splinter group from a larger dev house, but an agile, self-contained team, who enjoy working together and have an existing practice.

How would you know that the team enjoy working together? Anyone can form a group and say "Hey! You know what, we enjoy each other's company and we work good together"

So I guess it would really be difficult to find a group with that criteria. What can be done though is to find a team that has produced a reputable piece of work and infer that the team "enjoy working together"

Funding is a problem and will remain a problem. (5, Interesting)

pelorus (463100) | more than 8 years ago | (#14088754)

The way one local (and now powerful) company did it was by "hiring" people for pizza. If the product is cool, then you'll corral some college geeks to do the groundwork and free up your good coders for the cool work.

This has been touched on recently in some blogs ( http://www.wilshipley.com/blog/ [wilshipley.com] and http://www.drunkenblog.com/drunkenblog-archives/00 0713.html [drunkenblog.com] ) that college students, who were used and abused during the bubble, remain a good resource of, dare I say it, cheap labour. They like the prestige, need the experience, and are used to working in small project teams. And yeah, you can pay them peanuts.

And no, they don't even need to be in college. Two of the most impressive code monkeys I know dropped out of High School.....

Re:Funding is a problem and will remain a problem. (2, Insightful)

Aceticon (140883) | more than 8 years ago | (#14089179)

Just keep in mind that if you make a development team completely out of inexperienced/little-experience programmers you'll end up paying for it over and over again.

Programmers which are inexperience or have little experience, are cheap because they make lots of mistakes (after all they're still learning). Even then most gifted ones are unaware of how, in the middle/long term, an application evolves in a real-life environment.

Expect hard to change applications, strange bugs, costly to bugfix applications, essential knowledge about the implementation that leaves when the developer leaves and fastly increasing in entropy in the code base(*) (and thus fastly increasing maintenance costs and number of bugs). Expect to have to rewrite the application from scratch after a couple of years.

My recomendation: Get at least one very experience designer/developer (possibly even a technical architect) and give that person technical lead. This person will then set and enforce technical standaards, work environment standaards and documentation standaards; do the technical analysis of the requirements; create the top level design and make or approve lower level designs; act as a coach to the less experienced developers; estimate man-hour costs for implementations.

(*)Increased entropy in the code base: if the application's design is not well ballanced and/or not properly maintained or documented, each bugfix/extension is basically a hack. As time goes by and more hacks pile on top of each other the code becomes more and more complex (known in the trade as spaghetti code), prone to break in unexpected places when small changes are done to it and to randomly exhibit more and more strange bugs. This means increasing costs associated with maintenance and extension of the application. Eventually it becomes cheaper to just scrap it and start anew.

Partner up? (2, Insightful)

tbee (398341) | more than 8 years ago | (#14088765)

You could try and partner up with an IT firm.

We currently are partned with three startups; our company provides the IT knowledge for a seriously reduced fee in exchange for a partial ownership in the product that is being build.

Basically we're investing (the reduced fee is still very much required, so that there is an incentive to actually finish the product). However you still need to convince the IT firm why it should invest.

Outsourcing? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14088776)

I hear Bangalore have such a team, as long as they don't have to deal with "rude Americans", you don't mind second-rate Java and the whole identity theft thing can be overlooked.

Oh and if you need a call centre for tech support, then we have someone who can read from a script in an accent that's sure to make people just put the phone down, in fact we have a family household of 100 such people who are all willing to move to Mountain View, CA.

Re:Outsourcing? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14089195)

Kabir is that you? I swear that sounds just like the guys we hired based out of Mountain View, CA. They had 300 programmers in Bangalore that worked on an accounting project for us. It cost of $40k for 900 man-months of work. Of course nothing worked, but damn it we got a lot of code we can't use.

in ither words... (1)

evil_one666 (664331) | more than 8 years ago | (#14088803)

...you have a mamoth project that you cant cope with yourself and you want some other people to work for you for free.

Walmart???? (2, Funny)

reece (61286) | more than 8 years ago | (#14088811)

You can find everything there...

My advice based on 20 years experience... (5, Insightful)

Wonderkid (541329) | more than 8 years ago | (#14088818)

...working with software (and hardware) engineers is this.

a) Only work with people you know and trust. Until you're Microsoft, you cannot (CANNOT!) afford to make hiring mistakes, everyone in your team must be experienced and brilliant.

b) Try to arrange for everyone to be in the same building or room, THE only way to brain storm is on an old fashioned whiteboard, not on a chat client, which is really only suited to quick questions and answers, not visual thinking. That's why companies still have physical offices, even in a world of broadband and video converencing.

c) ONLY allow remote workers if you can be guaranteed they WILL be available online when YOU are online to ensure maximum productivity and real-time discussion of vital issues.

d) Only farm out small modular tasks to remote workers, keep your core coders close to hand and reward them with ownership in the project.

e) Have a well written contract and strict but fair code of conduct that should be signed by all parties on paper (not e-mail 'replies').

f) If you lack the personality to be firm with those who let you down, or cannot hire someone to take on such a role, do not embark on your venture, else your ship will drift all over the place only to be washed up on the rocks.

g) Else, go for it and if you need any more tips (or can provide any!), reply to this with posting.

Good luck, and "May The Force be You!"

Please excuse my typos... (2, Funny)

Wonderkid (541329) | more than 8 years ago | (#14088836)

Don't you hate it when that happens? You write something well meaning and helpful, do a Preview, and yet still fail to spot all the errors until after posting it. I guess it's the thought that counts! The fact most /. postings are written by busy people in the mo of the heatment mean that mustooks are bond to hippin wonse in a wyle. Oh whell. :-)

What's in it for the developers? (4, Interesting)

femto (459605) | more than 8 years ago | (#14088820)

What is in it for the developers? The real value in any start up is the people, not the product. Rather than being a start up company looking for a development team, perhaps you are really a product looking for a start up company?

I don't mean to be facetious. It's just the team you describe would normally be 90% of the value of a company, so they will be in the position of strength. In their position my first question would be "Why should we go with you when we could probably get to same position by ourselves?", especially given that you seem to be low on resources.

Re:What's in it for the developers? (1)

nigel_atkinson (158842) | more than 8 years ago | (#14089058)

Money and interesting work usually. My company provides exactly the kind of service that ScuttleMonkey is looking for.

You are absolutely right about the developers being in a position of strength. By using an external team to develop the IP that your business is built around you are forming an extremely important relationship. You need to both trust the development team and be realistic about the relationship ongoing.

Trust means talking to people who have worked with the team previously, not to ensure their technical ability, but to get a feeling for how they behave within long term commercial relationships. Being realistic about the relationship means understanding that the team need to eat. This means that if you cannot offer them a stream of work and money that will sustain the team then they will need to find work elsewhere. Many early stage business owners forget this and are suprised when their development team is not available at one days notice or dissolves due to lack of money.

Re:What's in it for the developers? (1)

nigel_atkinson (158842) | more than 8 years ago | (#14089138)

Obviously it is marshrew looking for the dev team and not ScuttleMonkey. More coffee please!

http://bignerdranch.com/consulting/ (1)

fr00dy (580649) | more than 8 years ago | (#14088829)

Not a large company, they are nice guys (have met a couple of them) and they do consulting and have published the most popular Cocoa book.

University Graduates (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14088831)

Most half-decent universities have a final-year group project of some sort for software engineering degrees. If you approach the university, you could pick a successful group up to work on your project. Hire an experienced software engineer to be project leader, and you are set. The graduates will be young, motivated, already set-up as a team, and hopefully willing to learn from their project leader. Also, since they will be usually willing to accept a lower fee, the team size can be larger.

You will get hard workers with a proven track record and they will get valuable experience. As someone who has managed university projects for a couple of years, I can say that the best student groups were far better than any team I have worked with in industry. Put an experienced engineer at their helm, and you have a brilliant team.

build your own (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14088837)

My experiences from a few years freelance consulting in mid-sized development projects are:

  • If you know what you want to achieve and who you need, it doesn't take long to build a team (maybe 2 weeks)
  • you can build a team gradually - start with the project manager and technical lead; add analysts and architects first, and add QA staff later; involve the project manager and technical lead in the team building process
  • for being a team it is more important to have a common vision than having worked together for a certain amount of time; people working together for the first time generally have a lot of respect for each other and for the goal they need to achieve, and there's less 'team politics' to deal with
  • a common vision comes from 1) a clear, defined goal and 2) good leadership; you have to provide (1), the latter must be provided by the project manager and technical lead
  • try to establish a long term relationship with one or two of the team members - you will need them for bugfixing and version 2

Of course, there are also downsides to building your own team, and you are probably aware of them. I would go and build my own.

Students (1)

ciryon (218518) | more than 8 years ago | (#14088840)

Students are often willing to do extra work and/or skip their diploma and head straight out to real life. They're used to working in teams and you might be able to find a bunch of students that have worked a lot together in the past.

Depending if you dont mind a UK outfit (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14088847)

<plug type="shameless">
Depending on what you're after I can get you three or four developers on a flexible basis that work in the United Kingdom. We've all known each other for years at University, and we're recently finishing off a couple of other projects that are going to leave us with a lot more time. We're all close friends and have a wide variety of skills and industrial experience.

Contact us at:

clients@cobaltsoftware.net

</plug>

Ebay ? (1)

AwaxSlashdot (600672) | more than 8 years ago | (#14088867)

Wasn't there such a team to hire on Ebay a while ago ?

Adamant Solutions (1)

moojj (716227) | more than 8 years ago | (#14088876)

There is an Australian based development studio who does just this. Their website is www.adamant.com.au

Re:Adamant Solutions (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14088965)

So, do they do covers of Adam & the Ants [about.com] classics while glamming up and strutting about?

Globally Local (1)

alfordmj (933021) | more than 8 years ago | (#14088903)

Small Team. Palo Alto, Moscow, Tokyo. Full time together 7 years. Special projects only. Available from January 06.

Have you looked at... (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14088931)

http://www.scguild.com/ [scguild.com]

It's the Software Contractors' Guild. An organization of Software Contractors and Consultants worldwide.

You can list by many aspects.

sure they do (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14088937)

there is a bunch of small software companies earning a living working for larger non-software companies. and the teams those companies have would be a lot happier if they got to work with novel technologies or simply for someone newer. as a matter of fact I'm from one of those companies, size 6 people. dimaqq@gmail.com

We were one... (4, Informative)

cyberjessy (444290) | more than 8 years ago | (#14088947)

I had one such practice a few years back. However, in 2001-2003 there were fewer people looking for this kind of service. People were generally unwilling to take risks, and nothing much was happening in terms of application development. Atleast nothing like whats happening now, or back in '99.

Although many websites (like rentacoder.com) offer this functionality, it is difficult to guarantee the quality of people you will end up working with. The surprising limitation of these sites is that they have no mechanism to ensure quality of bidders or participants. Which is exactly why Arzoo.com (by the hotmail founder) failed. Bad quality. Add to that, people simply trying to outbid others. I have even seen $100 for a 1 month job!!! If you go to such sites, you are very likely to lose some time trying to filter out the not-so-good ones.

Since you will be working with people you know little about, there are however things that you could do, before making your final decision.

1. See if they have blogs. Look at their attitude, language, code quality, passion, whatever...
2. Talk to them. Check for conversational skills. These are very important!
3. See if they have done any open source work. (That will be a real bonus!)
4. Ask them to send source code.

I feel such a practice certainly has a place in modern IT. Agile, Quality-Concious and Inexpensive.
Things are looking up again, and thats good news.

Good luck to you.

Try hyperfluid (1)

taff^2 (188189) | more than 8 years ago | (#14088956)

I used them for a project a couple of months back and was quite impressed.

We are also available for interesting projects... (1)

epatel99 (933019) | more than 8 years ago | (#14088961)

...and we are also doing som own inhouse development. Mostly focusing on solving our customers needs... http://www.memention.com/ [memention.com]

Cambridge in the UK (1)

mustafap (452510) | more than 8 years ago | (#14088967)

Cambridge is crawling with them. Ran my own one there years ago.

If you leave some contact details I will try to put you in touch with some of them.

Mike.

Recommendation (4, Interesting)

Elrac (314784) | more than 8 years ago | (#14089015)

I've had a good working relationship for some years with SoftRP.net [softrp.net] . The Web site says they're in Canada, and this may be true, but the outfit originates from the Ukraine. AFAIK, most are graduates from the University of Kiev.

These are a varied and skilled bunch of coding mercenaries, and they quickly and graciously executed a number of small projects for me (figureheading for a small company that was the actual customer). Their prices are a bit higher than your run-of-the-mill Indian/Chinese shop, but that was compensated by their ability to think for themselves and produce a working product off a simple, not overly detailed spec. Also, and I find this important, they ask questions rather than stumbling into blind alleys. As I mentioned, I'm a one man show and my projects were small, on the order of few man-weeks, and I was sorry not to have a decent-sized job for them to chew on. They certainly suggested they had manpower in reserve.

No, I'm not affiliated or kickbacked or anything. I'm just a satisfied customer and would likely hire them again for the next project that comes up.

It takes one (wo)man (2, Insightful)

Vincman (584156) | more than 8 years ago | (#14089021)

OK fair enough that you can't afford to do the recruiting cycle for a whole team, but I would go through the effort to hire someone you trust to find and manage the right team for you. Whether these are student "code-monkeys", international cheap-labour, or the IBM-team from hell, all that doesn't matter if you have someone that works close to you and knows how to find and utilise these resources to their fullest potential.

Outsource !!! (0, Redundant)

rohitm (211143) | more than 8 years ago | (#14089048)

Outsource it to India. You will find a lot of Indian companies, ready to help you out.

Geography is not a problem... (1)

djupedal (584558) | more than 8 years ago | (#14089109)

What about language? Chinese ok? Korean? Japanese...? Call now - operators are standing by.

You might try BoldTech (1)

Darron (161679) | more than 8 years ago | (#14089114)

I've worked with them before. They're based out of Denver, but have other offices.

I was on a team of about 4 employees with 8 contractors, plus project management and specifications writers who were also contractors. It worked well, but there was certainly still some startup cost.

Why not (1)

adinu79 (860333) | more than 8 years ago | (#14089141)

Hell, everyone else is adertising, why not me too. 4 person team (can be extended if needed), english speaking, Web, Windows and Linux programming, registered business, so you don't have to worry about legal matters. Waiting for a sign and details if you want. adrian.dinu@gmail.com

Solution (1)

blasted (933038) | more than 8 years ago | (#14089155)

If you are really serious, I know of such a team. If the idea is decent and the funds are adequate, I can set you up with a team that has done multiple startups and worked together on multiple project for the past 6 years. Java, Opensource and C#. email to javastudstuff@yahoo.com. We are located in the midwest.

Email me! (1)

Nagoff (411932) | more than 8 years ago | (#14089158)

Lucky to see this get posted the day after my team's existing contract came to an end. We spent yesterday afternoon writing a 'joint CV' and wondering whether anyone would want to hire a ready-made dev team!

We're a team of four (three devs and a project lead) who've enjoyed working together, from our respective homes, on a similar mission for the last eighteen months and want to find a way to keep on doing it...

nagoff@gmail.com

Whats technologies ? (1)

axonis (640949) | more than 8 years ago | (#14089166)

A bit of a dumb question, but I would of though that it would be important to know what technology is going to be used first before hiring a dev team. This was not specified, not every team can code a dozen differenet languages and technologies.

Rent a coder? (0, Redundant)

stm2 (141831) | more than 8 years ago | (#14089183)

It is strange that nobody post it before, but there is a website where you can find such a team. Rent a Coder [rentacoder.com] (shameless aff. link). You can post your proyect and then lots of developers bid for it. You could also choose a set of developers first and then submit your proyect to them and start a private bidding.

bitHeads Inc. (1)

volts (515080) | more than 8 years ago | (#14089194)

You might want to take a look at bitHeads (bitheads.com), an excellent firm here in Ottawa, they were founded to do what you are looking for. I've worked with some of their people in the past. They've done a lot of work for startups and I've heard that they sometimes take (partial) payment in equity.
Best wishes...

Don't go the consultant reute (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14089203)

Please please, take the time to hire developers based on skills rather than looking for a 'ready-made' team. My company did the latter and, several months later, we still haven't made a deadline yet. I do more work than the team of outside 'experts' that were brought on board.

Remember, a highly qualified individual can easily integrate him or herself into an existing project. A ready-made consulting team brings preconceived ideas and is mainly interested in how long a good contract can last.

Get serious or get out. (1)

SoupIsGood Food (1179) | more than 8 years ago | (#14089207)

If you can't afford to recruit a development team, you can't afford to be in business as a software vendor. End of story.

Outsourcing involves huge overhead and dicey contractual negotiations, and you'll spend more money than you'll save as a small outfit, even if the coders themselves are in India. The money you save in HR you'll blow on travel, telecoms and lawyers. Especially lawyers, and you'll lose the company if you try to half-ass it.

If you are unwilling to hire more than one geek to do the work needed to create your product, you are too undercapitalized to be in business. Fix that, and try again when you're able to spend some money to make some money. Otherwise, you're wasting your time, your employee's time, and your investors' (woefully inadequate) money.

SoupIsGood Food

Well, I'm sure (1)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 8 years ago | (#14089217)

that there are a number of crack development teams in India just waiting for a chance to prove themselves.

Go for it.

Finding a Ready-Made Dev Team? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14089219)

Steve, is that you?
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