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Andy Brice
Successful Software

Doug Nebeker ("Doug")

Jonathan Matthews
Creator of DeepTrawl, CloudTrawl, and LeapDoc

Nicholas Hebb
BreezeTree Software

Bob Walsh
host, Startup Success Podcast author of The Web Startup Success Guide and Micro-ISV: From Vision To Reality

Patrick McKenzie
Bingo Card Creator

How many off-shore contractors/employees do you have?

I used to be one who posted many messages against people who hired off-shore contractors, whoever they are Chinese, Indian, Philipino, Vietnamese, Africans...I thought non-US based programmers are a bunch of sh&*&t.
Recently a friend introduced me to a group off off-shore contractors from Thailand, and I am amazed at their skills and their work. Now I hired them full time !!!! I know many here claimed building product themselves, but got help from off-shore contracotrs. How many off-shore contractors/employees do you have? Tell us. You don't need to post with you regular posting name. You know who you are.
anon for a reason Send private email
Friday, August 08, 2008
I use one guy from a Nordic country to do my Mac version, one Indian lady did my site's graphical redesign, and I get my buttons done by a team down in Brazil.  Oh, and I suppose technically the fact that much of my cardwriting is done in the US means that has been offshored, too ;)

I *love* globalization. 

On August 23rd the day job will have a half dozen of our Indians (company has 100 working in India) come in for a year of training at my Japanese office.  It promises to be... an experience.  (My day job has not quite had the level of success I have had with outsourcing.  Can't say much more beyond that.)
Patrick McKenzie (Bingo Card Creator) Send private email
Friday, August 08, 2008
Company I work for got a team in India. Turnover is enormous and the code is a total disaster. :( I think it would be much more productive if they got several people here locally at the price of the whole team there. This kind of "savings" don't actually save anything.
Anon for this
Friday, August 08, 2008
It depends on who reply to your post. Business owners will love to save money, and US based programmers always worry about job security. This website is mostly for programmers, so it is no surprised that I have seen a lot of crude remarks about off-shore team, or people doing outsourcing.
Cathy Send private email
Friday, August 08, 2008
This kind of "savings" don't actually save anything.

That makes sense.  Business code has to be maintainable and by some_body_, especially if it's critical stuff that can't wait to get fixed if there is a problem with it.
Friday, August 08, 2008
The fact is my local white non-immigrant American programmer made me very comfortable doing business with (I am white). However, I lately foundly he has hardly done any work himself and outsourced to a team in Pakistan. So I stoped working with him and outsourced to Malaysia myself. The money saved affords me to make a couple business/vacation trips a year to South East Asia.
Luther Send private email
Saturday, August 09, 2008
Just one, but I hired him a few years ago and we have a relationship based on trust and very nice wages. I save money by not having to pay all the overhead. It's not so easy to find someone like this nowadays. If you are hiring overseas, you need to go through an agency and pay super high rates (more than you would to hire locally), or you need to play matchmaker and find someone who is up to snuff, which can be tricky and is a matter of luck. Starting an offshore office for your small shop and hiring directly overseas is not practical for any but the largest corporations.
Saturday, August 09, 2008
I found an Indian guy I'm very happy with. He works with a small team of about 6, is very good at in-depth testing. Finds bugs I couldn't even imagine let alone spot and so far he's very affordable.

I've certainly had much worse experiences with India/Pakistan but there are some real gems out there.

Somebody mentioned Malaysia. I live in Malaysia now and it's one place I wouldn't hire anybody for anything that involved source code or IP of any nature. You can buy copied and cracked software, DVDs, anything you like, from the largest brightest supermarkets let alone back streets.

Buy a new PC, including brand names and they'll ask what software you want. No charge.

Adam Send private email
Saturday, August 09, 2008
I'm a business owner and have zero offshore.
Saturday, August 09, 2008
It depends on whether it is better for you to have 5 guys @ $10/hour each work for 10 hours or one guy at $100/hour work for one. If you need non-trivial development work, you should prefer the $100/hour.

G.O.A.T - Greatest of all time
The G.O.A.T
Saturday, August 09, 2008
I've had consistently great experiences working with freelance Scandinavian developers and artists.  They may be a bit more expensive than other locations, but they seem to always be dependable, know what they are doing, and always deliver great work.  India has been pretty much hit and miss.  Some great Indians did excellent work for me, but I also ran into some that were just blowing smoke.  A friend of mine swears by Sought America and they are in or close to the same time zone.  I've also heard good things about German contractors.
Saturday, August 09, 2008
I have a dev in New Zealand and a dev in Brazil, but they're both American expatriates.  Does that count?
Christopher Hawkins Send private email
Sunday, August 10, 2008
I've offshored myself (left the US 6 years ago) and have two Czech-based developers. They used to be inexpensive, but the weak USD and ultra-strong CZK has changed that.

Looks like I'll be moving back to the US this year and possibly switching to US based developers... everything in America is dirt cheap now.... fuel, food, rent, developers.
US Expat
Sunday, August 10, 2008
Well like all situation,you have to choose diamonds amongst mud and debris! Finding Outsourcing partner is no different. I don't think any generalization is possible.
Dev S Send private email
Sunday, August 10, 2008
Technically our entire company is offshore. :-) We are not in US neither anywhere else in 'western world'. Nevertheless our company is doing fine and our B2B product is selling quite well (most buyers are from US, BTW).

And, one more note to those who say offshore developers are crap. We have at least two brilliant developers who are probably among top 1% of all developers, be it western, offshore or martian. If you cannot pick the right developers blame yourself. Inept people are everywhere and in every profession including developers AND those who hire them.
Sunday, August 10, 2008
As a startup founder, I would not consider outsourcing anything besides HR, and beyond that I wouldn't consider off-shoring anything at all. I need people who are as hopelessly in love with my idea and product as I am (or almost at least ;), I don't see this normally being the case in off-short situations.
Sunday, August 10, 2008
I hope you would not mind me presenting a view from the other side :)

We are based in Russia and our business is 50/50 product sales and consulting. Since 1999, a few very large (and I mean it) corporations, some mid-size companies, and some very small, 1-2 person businesses have engaged us to provide this or that kind of software engineering services.  My observation is that mid-size companies are the best ones to deal with, the big ones come second, and the small ones have the worst profit to trouble ratio. Here is why:

The main problem with big corporations is their decision making speed. The bigger the deal, the more papers to get signed by different people, the higher up the management ladder the deal must be approved, and so on. In one case, getting all the paperwork done took over 14 months. They would often cancel the entire project or put it on hold because the upper management would have changed its mind or policies, or would itself have been changed, and we would not get paid for the engineering efforts spent on preparing the estimations.

The main problem with microISVs and other very small companies is we can never be sure we'll get paid for the job. Several such customers had run out of money during the course of the respective projects, all for different reasons. What is worse, only one of them had informed us up front that they may be unable to pay in time and asked if we would extend them a credit or take equity. In other cases, payment delays had evolved into non-payment, and delays in response - into silence.

And even if such a customer is in good financial health, it seems we cannot be sure that we'll have a chance to complete the project, or provide the amount of person-hours originally requested. In a typical outsourcing contract the customer has the right to terminate for no cause by giving a 30 days notice. Only the smaller companies have exercised that right so far, and that has always happened shortly after we would have reached cruise speed, that is, become fully acquainted with their code and the technologies they use, get used to the new tools, and so on.

(The case that had completely p****d me off: After more than four years of buying our services, a customer has stopped paying our invoices and responding to our emails and faxes, even though their business was doing fine as we have learned via a third party. That was the last thing I would have expected from a Swiss company...)

At the same time, "never work for a small company again" would have been too strong a remedy. I have been considering some measures to improve the bottom line in such projects:

- Work against a retainer in time and materials projects; demand an advance payment in fixed price projects;

- Demand working through an escrow service, e.g. Guru.com Safe Escrow;

- Sliding scale, e.g. first 160 hours $X/hour, hours 161 to 500 $X*0.9/hour; hours 501+ $X*0.75/hour;

Outsourcing works, our references can tell you that. Just keep in mind that the more experienced providers most probably have had enough incidents like the above, and the best of them have enough projects coming their way to filter yours out if they don't like the conditions. Disclaimer: we are not among the most experienced, though I would pretend we are among the best in our specialty.

Good luck with your outsourcing engagements.

Dmitry Leskov Send private email
Sunday, August 10, 2008
Outsourcing my ass. I hate the people going here and  trying to advertise their outsourcing services be it Russian, Chinense, just a bunch of crap.
Scott Send private email
Sunday, August 10, 2008
Scott: BoS readers are not our target market. I doubt (m)any of them  would ever need a custom compiler or OpenJDK port. So there is no ground for offense (unless you have recognized yourself in my post :) ).
Dmitry Leskov Send private email
Monday, August 11, 2008
(unless you have recognized yourself in my post :) ).


People should realize that just like not everyone in the US is a worthy programmer/developer/employee, not everybody in India/Russia etc are good. If your programmer turned out to be not too good, look for blame within yourself and next time try to improve the process by which you pick them.
Monday, August 11, 2008
> If your programmer turned out to be not too good, look for blame within yourself and next time try to improve the process by which you pick them.

This doesn't match the model of very large outsourcing contracts.  For billion dollar corporations that outsource entire product groups or business units, the outsourcing contracts start with the guys at the top negotiating a huge deal with the front office of a large firm.  There are no one-on-one interviews between technical managers at the main firm and engineers at the outsourcing firm.  If there were, I believe most of these really big deals wouldn't go through.  The whole deal is sold on the basis of really cheap labor.  The fact of the matter is that the cheapest programmers anywhere produce bad code, but I doubt many VPs who sign these outsourcing deals even understand that.  I'm sure there are talented engineers in all of these markets, but they don't work for the bottom of the market rates, and they won't be working on some mundane corporate project that is so unimportant to the company that it has be chosen for offshoring.
It is these kind of projects that produce very bad results.  There are smaller boutique outsourcing firms that do a better job and charge a lot more, but these aren't going to win a huge contract with a billion dollar company since price is often the only factor that ever seems to be considered.
David C. Blake (Ardfry Imaging, LLC) Send private email
Monday, August 11, 2008
+0.99 David. Not +1 because we are seeing the signs of that approach changing. Things such as quality, adherence to requirements, and commitment to schedules are pushing immediate cost savings down the priority lists, even in billion dollar companies.
Dmitry Leskov Send private email
Monday, August 11, 2008

I was referring to the individuals (as oppossed to big companies) who say that they or their small company had a bad experience with outsourcing. If its within your control to choose the right talent, then do so by all means, if not, no point in complaining.
Tuesday, August 12, 2008
I think outsourcing could be great, sometimes it's not so good.

I live in a country where there's not so much programming talent, I have tried many online solutions with mixed results, the best for me was odesk hourly jobs, you get to see what the person is doing for the time they billed you, if they're too slow, or you hate the results you could easily know and replace them within the first week.

Here are my results (given as grades)
Indian Personal Assistant (A)
Russian Programmer (C)
Russian Programmer (A+)
Egyptian Data Entry (A)
Totally Agreeing
Sunday, August 17, 2008

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