[thelist] Outsourcing

Steve Lewis nepolon at worlddomination.net
Mon Jan 30 12:09:44 CST 2006

Hershel Robinson wrote:

> He told me that his research indicates that "if you do your due 
> diligence there are some very reliable programmers." He is looking to 
> build in PHP/MySQL using an MVC pattern.

I wish you both the greatest success.  I would add the following to what 
others have said:

My company has years of experience in collaborating and managing 
outsourced Asian and Eastern European development teams.  There are some 
fabulous junior developers to be found, and waiting to be molded.  For a 
middling-to-large project, however, I would have to put money against 
your potential client's success.

We have found it incredibly difficult to get reasonable quality without 
heavily micromanaging the development process.  That means we are 
required to code review every line that comes from all the overseas 
development teams every morning to catch shortcuts, violations of best 
practices, and architectural flaws.

Our experience was that there were some fabulous individuals all over 
the world who are breaking this unfortunate mold.  Our experience says 
that those individuals rise very quickly and frequently attrition out of 
teams to do more rewarding, and higher paying work elsewhere.  The teams 
that can be hired most readily are often left hamstrung for technical 
leadership and experience.

On larger projects, where experience plays a greater role in the success 
  of the application architecture, the overseas teams have proved less 
valuable than the developments shops you can find in the more developed 
(and competitive) markets, where the costs associated with building a 
team are higher and therefore a bit more care is commonly taken to 
nurture talent.

Our current solution is to send the experienced developed-market 
technical lead to ride the overseas team directly.  We will see how that 

> Even if we require all these things from the programmers, what will be 
> the quality of the code itself and therefore how easy it will be to 
> continue to work in it?

If this project is of a large enough size, and he intends to use the new 
code base for a while, finding an overseas team qualified and ready to 
do the work may be a tough challenge.

There is a very real risk that he will end up with a bunch of 
inexperienced, informally trained but eager junior developers.

There is a very real risk that there will be practically no comments or 
documentation.  This is a natural result of having to work in three 
languages at once:  the developer's native tongue where he does his 
thinking, the programming language, and English.  This has very real 
implications for the success of ongoing maintenance.


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