Chris R's Weblog

Daily link November 12th, 2007

BeerCo is funding a white paper on Freelance outsourcing

A lot of people use freelance outsourcing at RAC, elance and other services, but are they throwing their money away? Since this week we are on a string of “firsts”, such as the first search engine based in Canada that we are about to release, let’s do another first!

The first white paper study of 3rd party outsourced code to 3rd world developing nations. What are people actually buying? What are the qualifications of these people to write software? We will take samples and analyze them along with answers to a questionnaire that should help people shine some light on this dark and dirty issue.

Are BILLIONS of dollars being put to waste each year on 3rd world programmers that can not complete projects to specifications? This is a massive question with no real answer, until now. Sure there are white papers on huge companies like Microsoft which actually set up code factories in India, or Dell which sets up outsourcing phone support in Malaysia. The difference is, they actually spend millions of dollars on hiring and training these people in house. When x,y,z VC and independent entrepreneur needs help and they don’t want to pay for a typical 85K+ US salary, they may use this service, to disasterous ends with no research done to help guide a positive decision.

So I think the goals of this project are pretty clear now and I hope that the data is useful once published. Look for a blog post with the finished white paper in mid December. I will link to it on this blog and a new “white papers” section of the website will be created to host it.

I hired a sample coder from Malaysia, one from India, and another from Eastern Europe represented by Romania to get a broad slice of what is available and to collect data.

The image “http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2371/1986143366_4b082276c6.jpg?v=0” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.

DISCLAIMER: We’re doing this research for all of our customers, future and present. We’re going to let you duck so that we take the swing and hit for you, and give you nice, neat and orderly research stats and summarizations. We’ll let you know exactly how much it hurt. We know the cost of doing business, and we want you to know too.

UPDATE:

http://www.dkimages.com/discover/previews/775/45005718.JPG

7 Comments »

  1. I have been reading your blog for a few weeks. I’ve been looking for a potential partner who could handle some outsourced work (primarily appliance related unix work) and my initial impressions of you were that you were technically competent although I thought some of your blog posts were a little over the top. Nonetheless, I’ve been entertained by most of your posts.

    However, after reading this post and the numerous comments on this issue that you made over at Techcrunch, I would not consider any commercial agreement with you or your company. The comments in particular smack of bigotry and demonstrate a very poor knowledge of software development in developing nations. Outsourcing work to *any* country is a risk as you will find that the majority of people offering services have below par skills. This applies very much for the US, Canada, Australia, etc. I have personally been burnt by independent contractors from all these countries who claim to have sufficient experience and skills but can not deliver. Developing nations suffer from exactly the same problem - you may have more of the small time shops but if you are sensible you will easily filter those out and make sure you are dealing with appropriately qualified people.

    Your ‘white paper’ is going to look at three different outsource providers in three different countries? That is statistically insignificant so it serves absolutely no purpose.

    Quite frankly, I think this whole episode reflects very, very poorly on you and your company. If I were you, I would either cancel the idea and apologize for the offense you have caused, OR cancel it and delete the posts and let it quietly fade into a distant memory. It is unlikely that we will be doing business in the future, but taking these actions may prevent other customers from being negatively influenced by your comments.

    Comment by Mike — November 12th, 2007 @ 6:43 pm
  2. No apologies. The white paper is going forward and will be available to all next month.

    “. I’ve been looking for a potential partner who could handle some outsourced work”

    This is laughable. I would never hand over intellectual property of this importance to a 3rd party. Especially not one from a developing nation. How badly would some of these developers like to get the Google source code to “work on it”.

    No thanks. The companies we know here in North America have something those of developing nations do not, and that is accountability. That is worth the 85k over the 2k per year alone.

    http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=indian+call+center+credit+card+fraud&btnG=Google+Search&meta=

    You never give something of high worth to desperately poor people. I’m sorry if that offends you.

    Take this situation:
    Upon arriving in a developing nation you realize that you have gunk on your hands, and need to to get it off, then you find a sandaled shoed man at the corner of the restroom and say:
    “Oh just hold my diamond ring for a second while I go wash my hands in the bathroom overseas”

    You wouldn’t do it in real life, and if you’re smart, you won’t do it via proxy or online either.

    Comment by Chris R. — November 12th, 2007 @ 7:29 pm
  3. To clarify, we are looking for someone to configure a linux appliance for us, not looking for you to outsource work to us. Not sure why that is laughable to you (do you laugh at all potential customers?).

    The application is our intellectual property not the configuration of the appliances. The application is already being distributed to clients (in non appliance form) so we don’t stand to risk IP by outsourcing the configuration of the appliance machine.

    Comment by Mike — November 12th, 2007 @ 7:39 pm
  4. “To clarify, we are looking for someone to configure a linux appliance for us”

    We don’t even do that. A company from the Dominican Republic asked me to do that last week and I had to decline. We get asked that a lot. This company has actually paid us several thousands in the past for work, so I would be more likely to take their repeat business if we could. We no longer do non-term contractual work.

    http://www.beercosoftware.com/rates.shtml

    Our services are stated on that page.

    You can always hire an Indian freelancer on RAC. Since the application is already being distributed to clients, you probably won’t care if it shows up on thepiratebay.org by some miracle right?

    At any rate, good luck to you. I am going to do what makes sense to me, and what makes sense to me is doing a study to the best of my ability with the budget I set aside.

    I’ll be honest, I’m not going to give these people easy tasks. I will give them enterprise level code and expect them to do their best. Then I will rate what they did do(either with test suites or if it’s not running I will manually grade it). VC’s and entrepreneurs want the same level of quality as enterprise right?

    Most of them don’t even know what that is or how to gauge that. That’s what this white paper will help show. B2B stuff, enterprise tier frameworks, ect..
    IBM Websphere has a free community version, so there’s no financial hurdles that will stand in their way of getting it done. I’ll even specify that they can use Tomcat if they want and the Apache suites. It will however be business logic oriented and it must be secure.

    It will come down to whether they have the training and skill or not, and if not how well they adapted to try to complete the project.

    Comment by Chris R. — November 12th, 2007 @ 8:25 pm
  5. “I have been reading your blog for a few weeks. I’ve been looking for a potential partner who could handle some outsourced work”

    I had read this as you having read my posts about needing a keyword sales interface and was offering to find a partner to actually provide that work. I think that is where the misunderstanding took place. Had you read the services we offer, you would see that we do not do short term work, nor do we do hardware related work, except under extremely special circumstances. The part about the special circumstances actually isn’t posted, but I’m telling you now.

    Comment by Chris R. — November 12th, 2007 @ 9:12 pm
  6. […] challenge, part 2 In a blog post last week, I wrote about a study I am doing to see what the differences were between Western world coders […]

    Comment by BeerCo Software Blog » Blog Archive » Rent-a-coder challenge, part 2 — November 15th, 2007 @ 11:23 am
  7. I want to add that I ended up not giving them a Websphere/Tomcat specific project, because ultimately some data is better than none. I ultimately ended up specifying that they can use whatever programming language they feel ok with.

    That should give them a fighting chance. I also did give them a cheap little http file server project to get them going.

    So hopefully not all of them will bail and I can get the data to finish the study.

    Comment by Chris R. — November 15th, 2007 @ 4:19 pm

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Chris R. works at BeerCoSoftware.com (title: President of Development and Sales). This is Chris's work blog.

Disclaimer: BCS will not let personal views of any employee, including Chris, regarding any software product, company, standards or otherwise get in the way of any company that hires it to provide a solution. Companies pay BCS and BCS provides solutions regardless of the views of any employee. That’s part of being professional, and BCS is a professional software company.

Everything here is Chris's personal opinion and is not read or approved before it is posted. No warranties or other guarantees will be offered as to the quality of the opinions or anything else on this blog.

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