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Anyone here Working on an outsourced Project?

Outsourced meaning:
You are working on a project that some company hired you for because;

a) they let go a large portion of thier dev staff (cost cutting) in order for you to do it cheaper

OR

b) they don't have enough resources to put on a project and don't want to hire full time employees.

How is it going?  In terms of project management, communication, requirements.

apw
Thursday, January 15, 2004

Are you also interested in option C)?

I.e., you used to work for them but you now work for us because they outsourced your dept. to us. (a.k.a. "Transitioned", euphemism for "buggered").

Paul Sharples
Thursday, January 15, 2004

option C, sure.....just interested in the other side of the coin as far as this Elseware is concerned...

apw
Thursday, January 15, 2004

The company I work for outsources about 90% of all development; I'm the only actual employee that works on the development work.  To say communication is a problem is the understatement of the year.

Name withheld for obvious reasons
Thursday, January 15, 2004

sorry for the confusion in the subject line.


I'm looking for comments from the point of view of "those who receive work" (outsource-ee) from a company (the outsource-er).

apw
Thursday, January 15, 2004

B). I think we (http://www.iponweb.net) get projects mainly because our customers (the outsource-er) have no (enough) resources. Price maybe matters too but I don't think it is a main deciding factor - usually customers are being more worried about things get done and about quality.

Ilya Martynov
Thursday, January 15, 2004

Working on a project parts of which are subcontracted to Germany, France, Finland and China.

Communication is horrendus, it's hard to motivate our contractors (who admittedly are busy on other projects).

Our customer is probably the biggest problem; changing requirements being the largest pain.

I never want to do this again.


Thursday, January 15, 2004

We've been doing it for close to 7 years now. I'm 50% owner in a small shop with 6 employees. All we do is internal, customized development for our clients' in-house systems. We don't do "shrink-wrap" (a la Joel's FogBugz/Citydesk/whatever). I've got no problems with it and it's made a more than comfortable living for 6 folks for quite a long time now.

==>How is it going?  In terms of project management, communication, requirements.

No different than if I was an employee of my clients. The only difference is a lot more phone/email/travel to various client sites 'cause we're not there in their local cube farm. You do a lot more running around as you've got clients in many locations.

The one thing I want to caution you of is the costs involved in running such a business. In the early days, prior to having employees, when we (partner and I) were solo (no employees) we ran things out of a spare bedroom. Virtually no costs. Now, with employees, an office, and all of the associated costs it costs a fortune to keep the place running. There's 6 of us. We haven't run the numbers for 2003 yet (damn! 2003 taxes are due today !!!) but for the prior year, 2002, it cost us just shy of 40K a *month* to keep the outfit running, and we're pretty much on a shoestring budget (honestly, it's worse than that, we're cheapskates <grin>) . This includes all expenses (payroll being the biggest). To stay viable as a business, we've got to pull in more than that to make it worthwhile for the owners/partners. Thankfully, we've been able to pull it off and things keep getting better.

Sgt. Sausage
Thursday, January 15, 2004

I'm on the other side of the coin -- we've hired help to get a project done.  The good thing is they seem to be fairly competent.  But communication has so far been pretty bad.  Fortunately, I have some influence, and my manager agrees with my concerns, and we are working to improve matters.

One of the biggest problems is that many (most?) developers tend not to be very communicative.  They want to sit and code, not talk/email/IM.  Or rather, they'll do it, but only enough to think they know what to do.

It's hard work to establish a culture of communication.  But it can be done.

-Thomas

Thomas
Thursday, January 15, 2004

On Communication:
- for simplification concider a US company is outsourcing work to a Russian dev team -

Is the problem that the US company has inadequate skills (language, customs, culture) to effectively communicate with the Russian team?

Or, is it the other way around? Is it that the Russian's haven't taken the time to learn who they are dealing with in terms of language, customs, culture.

I'm going to go out on a limb and say its generally the fault of the US company for the communcation problems.  Due to the general tendency of the US company to think they are superior to the Russian company.  And that "they should just know" what to do.

apw
Thursday, January 15, 2004

apw,

More likely I'd put blame on Russian dev team. Why? If they are offering offshore programming services they should know how to provide them well. It is *well* known fact that online communications are much harder than person to person and that is often the reason of failures in outsourced projects. So skill to resolve communication problems is *must have* for offshore dev team - it is their part of their work after all.

I've met situations when outsourceer was just not willing to communicate for some reason but it is rare.

P.S. You said "Due to the general tendency of the US company to think they are superior to the Russian company". To be fair I've never met such altitude from our clients.

Ilya Martynov
Friday, January 16, 2004

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