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Outsourcing

My company has a problem: we don't have enough developers to finish the work that we have for the next couple of months.

When looking at possible solutions, I checked out different companies that offers outsourcing.

I have no experience what so ever with outsourcing programming work. Therefore, I would like some advice.

First of all, is outsourcing worth anything? I guess it works for Microsoft, but can anybody else make it work?

What are you suppose to look for in a company offering oursourcing?

What additional work does it give you?

Does anybody have experience with asian programmers, especially chinese? I know everybody else is going for India, but my company has an office in Shanghai, so that would make things easier, I guess.

So, what do you say about? Any advice, thoughts, comments that you would like to share.

Rasmus

Rasmus Grunnet
Saturday, November 16, 2002

Rasmus,

My suggestion is to talk to some of your local clients' (if you have any) and ask if they have any IT consultants they recommend.  I work for a consulting company and that's how we get alot of our business.  Word of mouth.  I would recommend staying local though.  Telecommuting is ok (I work from my home office 75% of the time) but most of the time you'll need some face-to-face time.

Giorgio Galante
Saturday, November 16, 2002

Microsoft doesn't outsource programmers. Just FYI.

Krzysztof
Sunday, November 17, 2002

Steve mcconnel has a very good article about software
outsourcing. Go to http://www.stevemcconnell.com/articles/art07.htm

for more general information on the topic.

Of course you'll need to make sure that the guys doing
the outsourced work have acceptable working experience,
they need to write using your coding conventions, use
your source control system, write decent documentation
for their design etc.

You also need to nail down the requirements to a very
detailed level. Otherwise - you'll need to pay for each
undocumented requirement later (in general - assume that
every undocumented requirement, even if it makes sense
will not get done).

And, finally - work only with companies with high recommendations. You don't want to experiment ...

Good Luck

Liron Levy
Sunday, November 17, 2002

Are you sure you want to "oursource" to get your next two month's work done?

I thought outsourcing was something you did with non-core parts of your business, either because they were too difficult to do inhouse, or because they were very basic non-urgnent stuff you could send to a lower wage economy (transferring paper forms to electronic forms for example).

I would have thought you would have needed to do a load of planning. If you're overworked won't you find having to write the specifications for the foreign company to actually make the short-term problem worse.

Couldn't you get some temps to come in and work with you. If they're physically in the office you will have less need to spend time on detailed documentation.

If you are going to outsource I would make sure you have a senior member of the team on the spot at the outsourcer's site.

Stephen Jones
Sunday, November 17, 2002

This sounds like a sneaky way for your MGMT to get you to oursource youselves.  Last poster is right, it makes no sense to outsource overseas for 2 months worth of work.  I bet they are dipping their toes for a larger long term plan.  Be careful. 

Bella
Sunday, November 17, 2002

Rasmus,

<quote>
My company has a problem: we don't have enough developers to finish the work that we have for the next couple of months.
</quote>

I would consider whether the most appropriate response is 'throwing people at the problem.' The Mythical Man Month (book by Brooks) would suggest it is not always the most logical response.

Seeya

Matthew Wills
Sunday, November 17, 2002

I'd like to second the suggestion for getting in some temps. If you are talking a few months with no rigid outsourcing experience on your behalf, the overhead of setting this thing up will negate any possible gains.

Just me (Sir to you)
Monday, November 18, 2002

From Brook's classic "The mythical man-month" : Adding manpower to a late software project makes it later.

[ This "law" has been proved many times over and over and still management usually doesn't care. Strange!]

The extra people being in or out (even more costly out for the reasons mentionned above: contract negociation, detailed specification, strong management)

Your only solution:
  either get more time
or
  reduce the functional perimeter

No other choice! Good luck!

Robert Chevallier
Monday, November 18, 2002

Thanks for all the responses.

It was really helpfull.

I looks like the customer we are working for has agreed to let us ship in two parts, therefore allowing us to deliver what is already ready, and then be a little "late" with the second part.

As for outsourcing, maybe we will take a look at it later when we are in more control of things.

Thanks again.

Rasmus

Rasmus Grunnet
Monday, November 18, 2002

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