Are you afraid to admit that the "programmers" you outsourced to suck?

32 replies
Being in the technology world one of the biggest pitfalls I see people falling into is that they believe so much in the "Programmers" they outsource to that they deceive themselves into thinking that they are infallible.

Worse yet many unqualified outsourcing teams or people pretending to be "Programmers" pretend that because they cannot do simple programming tasks that would be "no brainers" and standard for standards based educated and qualified developers and programmers that somehow its someone else's fault that they do not know what they are doing.

This is extremely common for small businesses and self funded start ups...

Many business owners do not know how bad that unqualified "programmers" and outsourcing teams make them look to clients and vendors who they force to work with programmers.

It is my policy to be brutally honest with a client know when they are being duped, lied to, mislead, or made to look bad by fake programming shops and outsourcing teams that get in over their head...

For example I might say:

"The team you hired is unqualified, does not even have high school level understanding of the most basic standards, and needs to be fired if you want to get anywhere."

Unfortunately many people don't want to say it... but they feel they are stuck with the team because they do not have the budget to hire qualified people and already have invested into the project and are afraid to loose what they have already invested.

The best avenue for people in that position is to stop throwing money at a dead horse.

Its rare for people to admit that their outsourcing team sucks, is not qualified to do the project, and should be fired once they have already gotten underway... but many times that would be the best course of action.

These fake programming teams and unqualified development shops are everywhere bidding on projects and networking throughout the internet trying to get people like members of the warrior forum to hire them...

And unfortunately tons of time and money is wasted having to redo or undo what unqualified outsourcers did not know how to do correct in the first place.

If you are outsourcing any type of coding... and do not have a background in programming, software development etc. and do not have anyone consulting you and reviewing code for your company...

You are probably laying a trap for your self and building a foundation that will later have to be ripped out and completely rewritten from the ground up if you plan on taking your company anywhere significant.

Its great that people can be self taught... but my advice to all you who are hiring these bargain basement outsourced development teams...

"Invest in standards based development or what you build will go nowhere."
#admit #afraid #outsourced #people
  • Profile picture of the author Matt Bard
    Josh,

    Are you saying that I can't find someone to make me an app that will make me $4000 a day on Fiverr?

    You need to take your negativity somewhere else because you're a bummer dude.
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    • Profile picture of the author seoguru1
      awww man... and so your telling me a $5 investment wont pay out to a million dollar profit? I better up my budget =/

      Originally Posted by Matt Maiden View Post

      Josh,

      Are you saying that I can't find someone to make me an app that will make me $4000 a day on Fiverr?

      You need to take your negativity somewhere else cause you're a bummer dude.
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      • Profile picture of the author Michael Silvester
        Originally Posted by seoguru1 View Post

        awww man... and so your telling me a $5 investment wont pay out to a million dollar profit? I better up my budget =/
        Yes, Increase your budget to $6 and you get a much more quality coder

        Take Care,

        Michael Silvester
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  • Profile picture of the author christopher jon
    You know the deal, most marketers are cheap and in many cases I don't think quality or the customer is a concern. It's getting something made as cheaply as possible for a big launch and making as much money as possible.

    It's not just programming, it's writing, graphics, web design etc... quality was thrown out the window when somebody was willing to do it for next to nothing.

    BTW, I think I'm gonna have my next million dollar app developed on fiverr, just one gig.

    Its great that people can be self taught... but my advice to all you who are hiring these bargain basement outsourced development teams...

    "Invest in standards based development or what you build will go nowhere."
    I see a WF lynch mob headed your way.
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  • Profile picture of the author Istvan Horvath
    These fake programming teams and unqualified development shops are everywhere bidding on projects and networking throughout the internet trying to get people like members of the warrior forum to hire them...
    Every other question in the Website Design and Programming Talk subforums are answered by such teams pimping their "offer"
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  • Profile picture of the author E. Brian Rose
    Great post, Josh! I have been there! At first, it was hard to admit that I hired a moronic crew. That made me look bad and feel bad about myself, so I let them finish a project whose final product was unusable.

    These days, I am quick to do my Donald Trump impression whenever it is warranted...

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  • Profile picture of the author christopher jon
    Every other question in the Website Design and Programming Talk subforums are answered by such teams pimping their "offer"
    You mean the standard WF rules don't apply here subforum?
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  • Profile picture of the author tpw
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    • Profile picture of the author KirkMcD
      Originally Posted by tpw View Post

      We had problems hiring programmers, until we decided to try to hire Americans instead.
      American's aren't always the best either though. We once wasted over $100,000 on a project before we pulled the plug. They just kept jerking us around and wouldn't listen to what we wanted.
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      • Profile picture of the author tpw
        Originally Posted by KirkMcD View Post

        American's aren't always the best either though. We once wasted over $100,000 on a project before we pulled the plug. They just kept jerking us around and wouldn't listen to what we wanted.

        I honestly believe it is an advantage to have a programmer on your team.

        But you don't hire the programmer to program your apps, but to run go-between between the company and the outsourced-programming team, to provide a clear set of eyes to judge what the outsourcers are telling you.

        The programmer on your team can see through the bullshi+ and identify a problem before it becomes a $100k mistake.
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    • Profile picture of the author liamondrop
      Originally Posted by tpw View Post

      We had problems hiring programmers, until we decided to try to hire Americans instead. Suddenly, all of our previous problems disappeared overnight.

      Stop hiring overseas, and you may find your problem of finding quality programmers disappearing immediately.
      That's funny, as someone who hires a LOT, Americans tend to be the laziest, most demanding, most expensive, least responsive, etc. Not always true, but it's a pretty good rule of thumb.

      But really, my only qualifier that matters to me anymore is how well the potential contractor can respond to a specific pre-hire challenge. I don't care where they come from if they can get the job done and are willing to stand behind their work 100%.
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      • Profile picture of the author Josh Anderson
        Originally Posted by liamondrop View Post

        That's funny, as someone who hires a LOT, Americans tend to be the laziest, most demanding, most expensive, least responsive, etc. Not always true, but it's a pretty good rule of thumb.

        But really, my only qualifier that matters to me anymore is how well the potential contractor can respond to a specific pre-hire challenge. I don't care where they come from if they can get the job done and are willing to stand behind their work 100%.
        You're hiring from the wrong pools.

        With the salaries I pay I would not keep anyone longer than 1 day who demonstrated any of those characteristics... and I doubt they would make it past the interview and hiring process let alone the trial period.
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    • Profile picture of the author RevSEO
      Originally Posted by tpw View Post

      We had problems hiring programmers, until we decided to try to hire Americans instead. Suddenly, all of our previous problems disappeared overnight.

      Stop hiring overseas, and you may find your problem of finding quality programmers disappearing immediately.
      Sounds like you didn't hire correctly.

      I've only had problems with one of the programmers that I've hired. I always say, hire slowly and fire quickly.

      It also greatly depends on WHERE you are outsourcing your work to. Generally I stick with Eastern European countries for programming needs and if you know exactly what kind of programmer your looking for its easy to start with good programmers to interview first.

      For example, on one of my latest projects in which we needed a CakePHP developer with great experience I turned to oDesk and set up filters in my search and found a great list of 10 programmers that I reached out to for interviews. We finally narrowed it down to 3 after interviews, and then setup tiny "test" projects that were similar to the bigger tasks we'd have. From there we were able to find our programmer who's been absolutely amazing.

      You CAN find great talent outside of the United States if you know where to look and how to find them.
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      • Profile picture of the author alniches
        Originally Posted by RevSEO View Post

        It also greatly depends on WHERE you are outsourcing your work to. Generally I stick with Eastern European countries....
        It's true. The best programmers I have worked with and will continue to work with are Russians or Belarusians

        USA and UK do have great and friendly programmers but IMHO, their rates are a bit high, as compared to the other three countries with a huge population of programmers.

        -Al
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  • Profile picture of the author MichaelHiles
    Josh, people actually have to understand a little bit about the technology itself to know whether or not their outsourcers are FOS.

    And THAT'S a problem that even plagues major corporations, not just tiny startups of dreamers who wanna be on der interwebz.

    Was there ever any really successful SAP implementation? All the ones that I ever knew about didn't actually finish after years and millions of dollars spent.

    Con job?

    Bad technology?

    Hack implementation team?

    Who's to say? But suffice it to say that there were a ton of issues with lots of high dollar projects that caused them to go south.

    Was Twitter really a "fail whale" because they adopted Ruby On Rails, which really wasn't scalable to the extent they needed for rapid growth?

    I dunno. I don't really have an answer to that question except that unless someone is really close and connected to the technology itself, it's hard to really say what does and doesn't work based on the context that something is getting developed.

    Just ask a Mac person what they think about .NET.
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    • Profile picture of the author mariusvdm
      I don’t think the quality of programmers depend on the country. I want to believe that there are good & bad programmers in USA, India, Philippines, SA and any other country. I developed a large ecommerce system with an Indian company very successful and very cheap. I went through three other teams for the next project before I found a good team again - everything is excellent with the new team in India again.

      My first Virtual Assistant (VA) in Philippines worked more than a year for my before she move back to her full-time job. The current VA is doing nearly everything from data entry, finances, invoices, fixing html programs, maintain my WP blogs, creating videos & multimedia etc. - all for $1.98/hr - I cant ask for anybody better.

      People are people and you get good and bad people in all countries. It help to realise culture and life-style differences - because that help with communication - and good communication is paramount if you work with a remote team. I am in the UK and very happy with my remote developers in Indua and Virtual Assistant in the Philippines.
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  • Profile picture of the author sbucciarel
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    I paid 50% on a project on scriptlance that never was completed or even marginally functional. I did a lot of homework ... read all the reviews of this team and gave them detailed specs. Don't know what else I could have done not to get ripped off. It wasn't the cheapest bidders that I chose either. It's risky choosing a programming team unless they have been recommended to you by people you know.
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    • Profile picture of the author Josh Anderson
      Originally Posted by sbucciarel View Post

      I paid 50% on a project on scriptlance that never was completed or even marginally functional. I did a lot of homework ... read all the reviews of this team and gave them detailed specs. Don't know what else I could have done not to get ripped off. It wasn't the cheapest bidders that I chose either. It's risky choosing a programming team unless they have been recommended to you by people you know.
      Yep, it happens all the time. I got ripped off by one of the top rated developers on script lance years ago... and this is after he had been donig quality work for me for three years and I had always paid him more than he asked.

      I live in a market where there is no end to the hungry local talent. Hiring local has been a huge boon for me and happy employees who love their work environment are a peasure to work with :-)
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  • Profile picture of the author Rockid
    Bib Indian outsourcing firms, the ones that do lots of stuff for guys like MS, Google and other best buyers, hire new university students (without prior experience) in India for about $12-15 per hour. And rest assured that these guys have lots of leverage to get people really cheap. On the other hand, when you hire an individual indian programmer through odesk/elance/etc you can easily get one with a ton of education/experience/best rating for $5-8/hour.
    This kind'a makes me suspicious why would a giant Indian IT company with an insider access to Indian labor market pay 2-3 times more than I do? are they dumb? or lazy? or too generous?
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  • Profile picture of the author GarrieWilson
    My worst experiences are w/ Americans. One told me simple things wasn't possible and didnt understand specs. Same for another. Another always late but does good quality.

    My best experience was with a Russion. He did great, fast work.

    It's a crap shoot on coding sites but it helps if you understand programing concepts.
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  • Profile picture of the author Josh Anderson
    Someone just PM'd me for advice on finding a good programmer here was my reply:


    personally all my programmers work in house. I don't outsource any more. That being said I recommend starting any new programmer on a test project... then pay an actual developer to do code review. Also the "warriors for hire" section has programmers... look for people who have been members for a couple years or more with reviews from recognizable respected and long term experience.

    on freelance sites look for bidders with long histories and lots of feedback.

    Start with a small low budget test project... hire two programmers to do the same job. Tell them you are looking for someone to do multiple or longer term projects after they demonstrate their skills. Tell them you will have thier work reviewed by a developer who will review it for demonstration of standards based work. Be blunt about your expectations... scare off the fakers. choose the best of the two pay a bonus to the winner and carefully move forward. Make them provide full source and completed work every step of the way. Ensure its properly documented BEFORE they get paid in full.

    never hire anyone you are uneasy about. Its always better to cut losses and start over with a new programmer than to continue to throw money at a project that is sub par.

    Seek programmers with college degrees and/or professional training who can demonstrate standards based programming and meticulous commenting skills.
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  • Profile picture of the author Josh Anderson
    Also keep in mind that just because someone is endorsed by muliple warriors saying they are a great programmer or genius software creator does not mean that they are. It takes more than impressing a few novices to truly BE a qualified programmer.
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  • Profile picture of the author Michael Colson
    Bad programmers plague the industry. That's why you should hire me

    Every time I see a discussion like this I am reminded of Linus Torvald's response to why he writes in C (Linus Torvald's is the creator of Linux):

    Originally Posted by Linus Torvalds

    C++ is a horrible language. It's made more horrible by the fact that a lot of substandard programmers use it, to the point where it's much much easier to generate total and utter crap with it. Quite frankly, even if the choice of C were to do *nothing* but keep the C++ programmers out, that in itself would be a huge reason to use C.
    Source: Gmane Loom
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  • Profile picture of the author Jake Gray
    This is a HUGE problem within outsourcing communities. Due to the fact
    that there is no way of proving that someone is able to code can be a costly
    mistake for sure. If you are looking for the cheap way out when it comes to
    coding, I can tell you right now that you will end up losing money. Whether
    you're outsourcing to the states or somewhere overseas, you need to find
    someone with a proven track record and NOT CHEAP.

    Most big coding-related businesses (such as plugin development, platform
    development, etc) have in-house programmers. Although this is a lot more
    expensive, it's worth it if you plan on going somewhere with your business.
    You might get away with it once or twice hiring a cheap programmer, but it
    will end up biting you in the rear-end.

    Jake

    Originally Posted by Michael Colson View Post

    Every time I see a discussion like this I am reminded of Linus Torvald's response to why he writes in C (Linus Torvald's is the creator of Linux):
    C = Linux Kernel
    C++ = WIN32

    You should now understand why he uses C.
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  • Profile picture of the author Kyle Stankiewicz
    The same idea applies to all outsourced work, some people are just plain bad freelancers whether it be writing, graphics, or other jobs. Programming is an area that can't be compromised so you really need to have a rigorous hiring process.
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  • Profile picture of the author Michael Colson
    If your plan is to not actually have a business, by all means outsource. If you are planning to build an actual business around your site, then you need real programmers in-house.

    The problem arises not after the delivery of the product, but 6 months later when you hire another guy to make some simple edits to the program. Since the first person had bad coding style, it will take the second person 3-10x longer to complete the task. And the time to make changes just piles up until you eventually rewrite the entire application for $200,000.

    Find a programmer with code-smelling abilities and a strong understanding of design patterns and you'll have found a good programmer.
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  • Profile picture of the author Luke Graham
    Originally Posted by Josh Anderson View Post

    Being in the technology world one of the biggest pitfalls I see people falling into is that they believe so much in the "Programmers" they outsource to that they deceive themselves into thinking that they are infallible.

    Many business owners do not know how bad that unqualified "programmers" and outsourcing teams make them look to clients and vendors who they force to work with programmers.

    And unfortunately tons of time and money is wasted having to redo or undo what unqualified outsourcers did not know how to do correct in the first place.
    All very true, however, this problem doesnt just manifest itself in programming - it is IT in general.

    I used to work for a company that made their IT dept (4 people) redundant and outsourced it as a cost saving exercise. When you discover that said cost saving involves a cost per new starter (for adding them to the systems) and monkey work like moving monitors to another desk, you have to wonder what cost savings there are exactly....

    Back OT, anyone can program - but its the same as art. Programming is about logical thinking and having the right mind set - anyone with that can easily code in any language. Case in point - i once was hired for a job in a language i'd had no experience in because of my mind set /problem solving skills. After that, syntax comes easy.

    There are far too many people that try to blag it however for a cheap buck so as per your original post I couldn't agree more. Sadly, it wont do any good because people, far too many, are always looking to do it on the cheap.
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  • Profile picture of the author Michael Colson
    A friend of mine introduced me to a job offer at a startup as a programmer for 2 guys looking to create a web company. I had the benefit of knowing the other potential hires, all of whom were foreign coders and not very good. After the interview I emailed back and forth to discuss the hourly rate. They wanted around 10 and I was not settling for below 15. The gave up on me and went with one of the other guys for $10/hr.

    6 months later I shooting the breeze with my friend who hooked me up with the interview and he told me about what happened to them. They hired the guy for $10/hr, and it turns out he didn't have a place to live so they let him live in one of rooms in a property they owned, and he could pay rent from his salary. He worked quietly for 6 months on the project. At the end, he was kicked out of the place and had only written a few dozen lines of code.

    I consider myself to be a very good programmer. I've been writing programs for 16 years now in all languages and platforms imaginable. The difficulty I face in IT is that I can't convey that I am a good programmer because I don't have a degree in Computer Science (my degree is in a different field) or any certification. And all the people I've met with just certification are terrible hires.
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  • Profile picture of the author alniches
    Oh my Josh! I do have some programmers who sucked big time...

    One of them gave me a quote for a client's project and told me he needs 5 days to complete and being the sucker I am I said ok...now 3 months later, after telling me he's doing it on his local machine countless time...gave me nothing in the end...now I am stuck with a project and had to fork out my own money just to complete the project as I have under quoted my client.

    ...another kept asking me to escrow and escrow funds, and his rates are high...and he told me that he's not a junior programmer......but now after two projects, I have to actually finish them up myself as he left so much gaping even after payment released.

    I normally only stick to one programmer who'm I consider great and requires minimal supervision but lately, I've learned not to put my eggs in one programmer and always have a contingency programmer within reach...

    My rant and just my 2cs

    -Al
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  • Profile picture of the author Michael Colson
    "One out of twenty programmers... produces twenty times the software compared to an average programmer."

    "half of all programmers could be terminated without any software projects missing any deadlines"

    How To Write Unmaintainable Code - Ensure a job for life ;-)
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  • Profile picture of the author MichaelHiles
    I highly disagree with the idea that good programmers vs. bad ones are a geographic issue. Complete BS. Borderline racist even. The idea that someone has better or worse programming skills because of their nationality is simply illogical at best.

    I've hired great programmers from all of the places mentioned on this topic thus far, and I've hired abysmal ones. I agree that having a good programmer on your team to function as your outsource development PM is the best idea of all.

    By far, the hardest folks that I've found to communicate concepts with are Indians. The language and cultural gaps just don't translate well sometimes - but that's as much a problem on my side of the fence as it is on theirs. The starting point in each of our perspectives leaves a very wide gap that has to be closed. It just requires a lot of patience, and the willingness to keep working at the communication without getting emotionally frustrated.

    And if you don't have a good idea of exactly what you expect, then remember that programmers will typically deliver the shortest distance between two points - which may or may not be maintainable over the long haul depending upon your goal and plans with the software.

    In many cases, the "what" must be accompanied with a "why" so the developer understands the context of the requirement, not just the requirement. If they know that you're trying to develop a maintainable system that will be expanded upon down the road, then the idea of object-oriented development vs. waterfall coding becomes more relevant. Database entity relationships and architecture takes on a much different approach if you're creating a scalable web app vs. a one-off registration page for a webinar.
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    • Profile picture of the author Josh Anderson
      I am with Michael...

      Geographic and national generalization is not useful when it comes to finding a great programmer.

      I can be just as efficient with programmers working in other areas of the world regardless of what country they are in. What matters is the education, training, experience, and skills...

      ...if I have an in house developer who tests them and does code review. The minute they consistently fail to meet standards and follow corrective instruction they are fired.

      Language and cultural gaps are real but education, training, and experience gaps are the main issue. There should be no language gap. If a company or individual is bidding on projects outsourced by English speaking companies... and they have significant language gaps... that is a sign that you should NOT work with that company because if they were truly qualified to provide services to clients who speak only English then they would staff their firm with solid English writers and speakers.

      If you are outsourcing to anyone who does not fully understand written and spoken English and you do not speak their language then that is a red flag that you need to look elsewhere. Don't bargain hunt and create language barriers.

      Most warriors starting out do not have the liberty of laying the six figures a year it usually costs to hire a qualified developer to work in house for them managing their projects, programmers, and code review...

      You have to start somewhere but if you do not have the budget to have someone in house to test your programmers and review their code and comments then look for some way to contract at least initial testing and review and don't enter into any long term development project with programmers until you feel comfortable with the results of the initial tests and reviews.

      It can be fun and rewarding when you are just staring out to outsource low budget coding projects and see what sticks... it can be a valuable learning experience. But don't let that be the foundation of your business.
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