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Outsourcing PHP Scripting
internetheaven




msg:3380699
 10:28 pm on Jun 27, 2007 (gmt 0)

Have just fired my fourth PHP programming firm. In all I have lost six figures due to programmer incompetence over the past few years.

I've tried searching for a UK/US/CA firm and just can't find one. How on earth do you find a good programming firm?

Any help would be appreciated, I'm really losing money by the second at the moment!

Mike

[edited by: eelixduppy at 4:10 am (utc) on June 28, 2007]

 

Steerpike




msg:3380912
 7:04 am on Jun 28, 2007 (gmt 0)

4 firms in a few years sounds like a bigger issue than just poor decisions on which firms to hire.

Without knowing anything about what you expected from the development firms or what you're trying to end up with, there's not really any way to supply an answer.

jtara




msg:3380917
 7:15 am on Jun 28, 2007 (gmt 0)

I've tried searching for a UK/US/CA firm and just can't find one

You've got to be kidding, right?

You mean you literally can't find one, or you can't find one that will do it for an insanely low price?

internetheaven




msg:3380999
 9:33 am on Jun 28, 2007 (gmt 0)

You mean you literally can't find one, or you can't find one that will do it for an insanely low price?

No, I'm willing to pay quadruple what the Indian firms were charging for good work! Every firm I contact and pass a project description to says "ooh! bit difficult for us, all we really do is steal scripts from elsewhere and modify them ..."

(Okay, so I'm paraphrasing ...)

Without knowing anything about what you expected from the development firms or what you're trying to end up with

Basically some custom CMS's and some database programs. Nothing that can't be done, it's just that every firm I've hired has done them badly (one even wrote in programming language so old that it just wouldn't work on my servers!). It seems that all they do is take my thousands of dollars, buy a $24 pre-made script off the web and try to adapt it ... which always fails ...

Jack_Hughes




msg:3381201
 3:08 pm on Jun 28, 2007 (gmt 0)

I was recently quoted 350 ($700) per person per day for some custom development. So, for say 3 months work, you'd be talking 21,000 ($42,000).

It is bloody hard making above min wage doing custom development, so I can understand why good people want to charge a lot.

bcolflesh




msg:3381208
 3:12 pm on Jun 28, 2007 (gmt 0)

No, I'm willing to pay quadruple what the Indian firms were charging for good work!

You got good work from an Indian firm?

jtara




msg:3381277
 3:55 pm on Jun 28, 2007 (gmt 0)

I've hired has done them badly (one even wrote in programming language so old that it just wouldn't work on my servers!).

You didn't tell them what language to use? And then they didn't tell you what language they were using before you let them proceed with coding? You just let the project go to completion and then discovered this after-the-fact?

It seems that all they do is take my thousands of dollars, buy a $24 pre-made script off the web and try to adapt it ...

Did you specify that you required original work, and/or disclosure and pre-approval by you of any third-party libraries or scripts? If not, why not?

Another poster wrote:


I was recently quoted 350 ($700) per person per day for some custom development. So, for say 3 months work, you'd be talking 21,000 ($42,000).

That sounds about right for U.S. based development. Maybe even a little low.

Good programmers in the U.S. make from $50,000 to $100,000+/year (the lower figure for a recent graduate), with of course differences depending on local market. Companies have overhead, taxes (consider especially various employment-related taxes) and have to make a profit. You do the math.

It is bloody hard making above min wage doing custom development

Huh? Are you saying that programmers are paid just above minimum wage? Really? I think I'll quit and take a job as a greeter at Wall Mart. Fewer hassles. More appreciation...

so I can understand why good people want to charge a lot.

The best piece of common sense I've read here so far.

I think this post makes a good case for requiring a "drivers license" for purchasers of programming services.

How completely and carefully have you specified your requirements? Have you considered hiring a consultant to help you determine your requirements and then write a specification to put out to bid? Do you think it's possible for a business owner to do this without experience?

Have you considered going to a technical services agency and hiring an on-site programmer who can work more interactively with less formal specification? A good agency can psyche-out your needs and make a good match.

Jack_Hughes




msg:3381898
 8:38 am on Jun 29, 2007 (gmt 0)

Huh? Are you saying that programmers are paid just above minimum wage? Really? I think I'll quit and take a job as a greeter at Wall Mart. Fewer hassles. More appreciation...

Nope, that's not what I meant. When you quote for a job the project risk transfers to you. If things take longer than expected you start working for less than your hourly rate. I've done contracts, though not web based ones, where I've got it so wrong that I've been earning well under $10 per hour.

So I can understand why people just want to take a script and mod it a bit. It removes a lot of risk out of the job for them. A lot of people (and I'm not suggesting that you are necessarily one) really don't understand the issues regarding transfer of risk on these kinds of contracts. You aren't simply paying for somebody's time, you are also paying for the transfer of risk too.

DXL




msg:3381918
 9:18 am on Jun 29, 2007 (gmt 0)

My first experience outsourcing PHP scripting and other coding work went fine, and has continued to work well for me. Like most webmasters, I'm deluged with emails from Indian companies offering their service. I submitted a request in commercial exchange and got a few contacts, one was a freelance programmer in the Ukraine.

I've had him work on a few things for me so far and have been pretty pleased with the results. His English is really good, he responds to questions in a timely manner, the custom work is very affordable and gets done on schedule. If I had more projects which needed custom programming to give him, I'd put him on a monthly contract (which was his most cost effective deal), but I don't need that much programming.

I've heard a lot of stories about firms unhappy with outsourcing to any number of countries, I guess I lucked out the first time around.

internetheaven




msg:3381993
 11:54 am on Jun 29, 2007 (gmt 0)

jtara - sounding a bit argumentative and quite petty comments really.

You didn't tell them what language to use?

Are you serious? They build a database structute and use PHP that hasn't been used by "proper" firms for years and I'm at fault for not saying "please don't write it in un-usable coding that only works on your servers from 1998".

Did you specify that you required original work

Why would I be angry about them not doing original work if I hadn't asked for original work? Again, very ridiculous comments ...

I think this post makes a good case for requiring a "drivers license" for purchasers of programming services.

Bypassing the obvious personal issues you might be working out here (yes, I noticed your name CC'd on all the emails I got about this thread) you're saying that I'm at fault for the programmers not providing programming that works? How does that make any sense in your head? Search functions that don't find what they're supposed to find, Add/Edit function that don't Add/Edit anything, click tracking that doesn't track ... I somehow went wrong here and it is my fault?

What exactly are you suggesting? So far it sounds like your in a ranting mood and not making any understandable argument whatsoever.

internetheaven




msg:3381998
 12:00 pm on Jun 29, 2007 (gmt 0)

I'd quite happily pay $50,000 - $100,000 a year for a good programmer ... where are they? They don't respond to job ads, they're not on freelance sites ... that is my problem, I'm willing to pay I just can't find someone to do it right. I was paying the Indian ... (sorry, not allowed to state facts) ... I was paying the "outsourced company" $36,000 a year - I wasn't budgeting so was expecting them to be able to code.

Jack_Hughes




msg:3382047
 12:55 pm on Jun 29, 2007 (gmt 0)

I'd quite happily pay $50,000 - $100,000 a year for a good programmer ... where are they? They don't respond to job ads, they're not on freelance sites

They're working somewhere else for the same or more money in good work environments with all of the benefits. Good people are like rocking horse sh*t in any industry.

Why do you think that the likes of Steve Jobs & Bill Gates spend a good lump of their time recruiting the right talent? Perhaps you should be a bit more pro-active and find the talent yourself and then lure them away from their current gig. Maybe going to conferences & other similar networking events would be more fruitful?

jtara




msg:3382145
 3:09 pm on Jun 29, 2007 (gmt 0)

Jack - sorry, I misunderstood the "minimum wage" comment. Yes, quoting fixed-price contracts can get you in this situation. I've worked both ways - hourly and fixed-price, and have managed not to get into this situation. It helps to break projects into manageable units that are each paid when completed.

IHN, as for the "language" issue, again, I misunderstood. I assumed you meant some language *other* than PHP. You didn't say "an old version of PHP", but "in programming language so old...". Frankly, I saw an "a" there that wasn't there ("a programming language so old..."). Mea culpa.

But, yes, you certainly should have specified the version of PHP to be used. It's a major issue in PHP programming. Some sites don't use 5.x and require 4.x. Some run 5.x, and that means either using a compatability mode or rewriting some 4.x code. If they were using something older than 4.x, their bad for not telling you!

They should have asked. You should have told. Both of you missed the boat. It's a common PHP issue that should have been worked-out up front.

Sorry if I seem argumentative. You sometimes have to guess what's really going on behind posts here. Logic tells me where the blame likely lies behind multiple failures to get satisfactory execution of programming contracts.

Basically you are saying that a bunch of programming firms screwed you. I'm suggesting that you let them.

I'm trying to help you. I think you should seriously consider my suggestion to put a body on site where you can gain some control of the situation. First, learn how to work with a programmer in an interactive situation where mistakes can be corrected quickly. Then you can move on to letting fixed-priced contracts and/or outsourcing.

If you can't put somebody on-site, at least break things up into small sections, and approve each section before going on to the next. Make sure you identify and correct mis-communications so that they don't happen again.

I'm afraid I don't understand your comment about my name "cc'ed on all the emails you got about this thread". I've received no emails. (Or stickys.)

Jack:

hey're working somewhere else for the same or more money in good work environments with all of the benefits.

This is why I suggested going to a technical services temp agency, if practical. (Say, it's a short-term, one-man project.) These firms have a pool of talent that they know is proven, and have the skill to match the right person to the job. Go to one that has been established for a number of years - they wouldn't still be in business if they didn't deliver.

A firm taking PHP contracts, particularly offshore or anyway selling nation-wide can scam and scam again and still the victims will keep coming. A local technical services firm is a slave to their reputation. They wouldn't last long if they sent out duds.

bcolflesh




msg:3382149
 3:12 pm on Jun 29, 2007 (gmt 0)

A firm taking PHP contracts, particularly offshore or anyway selling nation-wide can scam and scam again and still the victims will keep coming. A local technical services firm is a slave to their reputation. They wouldn't last long if they sent out duds.

Wise words.

DXL




msg:3382603
 12:55 am on Jun 30, 2007 (gmt 0)

I'd quite happily pay $50,000 - $100,000 a year for a good programmer ... where are they? They don't respond to job ads, they're not on freelance sites

It was hard for me to find someone even willing to handle basic php projects for me. I usually had to find someone already working at a firm I was familiar with and have them code in their spare time.

I was paying the "outsourced company" $36,000 a year - I wasn't budgeting so was expecting them to be able to code.

I guess I can't say what the Ukranian I outsource to charges as a monthly fee to have him on board as a full time programmer, but I know people who flip burgers that make more than that amount. He does graphic design as well, though not on the level a few of my projects would probably need, which is a shame because I'd probably be able to outsource most of my design work to him if that was the case. Most of the Indian firms I've come across are strictly using Photoshop templates and php scripts off of eBay, I could just do that myself if that's what type of end product I wanted.

[edited by: DXL at 12:56 am (utc) on June 30, 2007]

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