Sunday, October 6, 2013

Why TheHackerCIO Doesn't Outsource

Every week outsourcing companies contact me. I get at least 4-5 emails and yesterday, a colleague I worked with 6 years ago called to offer outsourcing services!

TheHackerCIO doesn't do foreign outsourcing. 

I've heard anecdotal stories about wonderful success with foreign outsourcing. But, frankly,  anecdotal evidence is highly suspect to TheHackerCIO. I listen to it politely. I'm too kind to call they liars. But I don't accept it. Not for a moment. 

Not when I daily see the mess created by one such foreign outsourcer, who: 
  • selected a package for the client, of which they use less than 5% of the functionality.
  • wrapped JSON in XML-RPC, because they couldn't get the JSON to work end-to-end.
  • misspelled variables all over the place, in code from which database column and table names were generated. That is where you CAN NOT fix them without unloading the database, altering the schema, reloading the database, and coordinating this with code changes. I am particularly unforgiving of this, because any decent IDE will flag a misspelled word. But now, these subtle misspellings are potential problems and errors in the code base. For the foreseeable future.
I also managed a foreign offshore team of twenty plus developers on a project for a major financial client on the East coast. When the code arrived to us, it was unusable. We scrapped it, and buttressed our on-shore team to quickly attempt a re-write. Particularly shocking was the fact that even the simple modules were messed up and needed rework. We gained absolutely zip from our foreign outsourcing attempt. 

TheHackerCIO would take the management blame if he deserved it. I proactively attempted to the best of my ability -- and frankly, to the best of anyone's ability -- to ensure that they understood the requirements and the special framework within which the code had to work. But to no avail.

At an LACTO Forum meeting, a specialist on foreign outsourcing told us that to be successful, you had to travel frequently over to the foreign site and spend face-time, do team-building, etc. That doesn't fit into the business model of a small boutique consulting firm. 

So, I believe that it possibly can be successful. Well, OK, I'll leave the jury out on that one. But even if it could be, the only way it could is completely unworkable in the context of my business. So, I'll pass on the Outsourcing. And thank you very much. 

If you depend upon quality, delivery time, or even just actual delivery, I can't imaging a higher-risk approach than outsourcing. In fact, I think the only reason it came into vogue was from Pointy Haired bosses who read about how much money could be saved by doing it. And who never had any success with it any time they ever employed it. 

TheHackerCIO says, "Just say no, to outsourcing."

I Remain,


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