Outsourcing: Ain't it Grand?

Or: How the "Global Economy" is f***ing us over

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17 Replies - 1000 Views - Last Post: 02 February 2008 - 05:04 PM

#1 Programmist  Icon User is offline

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Outsourcing: Ain't it Grand?

Posted 01 February 2008 - 01:32 PM

We released a new version of our software recently, but it was a disaster. We are a multi-group team with the teams spread all over God's green earth. I work on a customer-facing app that depends to some degree on many of these other group's projects, so when we do a release, it's literally a global event. There's usually an open conference call bridge with people from all over the world listening in, testing, and reporting issues. The deployment is supposed to happen like this.

One Saturday Morning...
8AM - application is deployed to servers
9AM - key developers arrive to be on hand in case anything goes wrong.
9AM - users validate application
noon - we all go home.

This never happens. But this last time was the worst. Several of our outsourced groups had problems in their software that needed to be fixed. One of them, in particular, f***ed up so badly that their release eventually had to be rolled back. But we had to be there, most of the day, while they tried in vain to fix it because our app could not be tested until theirs was working. Lovely. What was the problem? The people working on the defunct app were not qualified. Their work was sub-standard. But, there were plenty of them. Oh yeah - you can hire 2-3 of them for every one of us her in the greedy 'ol USA. Why would anyone pay such a premium for a US developer when they can get 3 from <insert country name> for the same price? Well, that anecdote was your answer. They worked on this release for months and it affected thousands of customers which did not get their promised deliverables, which cost us a lot of money. And this is not the first time it's happened. In fact, many of our outsourced groups do crap work - save for one of them which produces good work. But even that group made a small "oopsie" that brought down the servers of a large customer of ours that does literally millions of dollars in monetary transactions daily. Ever heard the phrase "time is money?" Yeah - that was an expensive oopsie.

So, what would a sharp executive type do in this situation?

Pay for some better training of outsourced workers?

Nope.

Send an experienced US dev over there to oversee things for a while?

Nope.

How about moving some critical operations back into the US?

Nope.

Hey I know. What if we outsource the remaining US people to <insert country here>?

Bingo.

Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. Good luck with that.

This post has been edited by Programmist: 01 February 2008 - 01:33 PM


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Replies To: Outsourcing: Ain't it Grand?

#2 Martyr2  Icon User is offline

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Re: Outsourcing: Ain't it Grand?

Posted 01 February 2008 - 01:59 PM

Do you guys not have a test environment where you can take old production data and run it through the paces before actually throwing it out to customers? Just curious.

Can you guys maybe only test it on a smaller subset of your customers before going big with it to limit problems?

I hear exactly what you are saying. When my boss started speaking outsourcing to one of our regions I almost rang his neck.

:)
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#3 PennyBoki  Icon User is offline

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Re: Outsourcing: Ain't it Grand?

Posted 01 February 2008 - 02:08 PM

View PostMartyr2, on 1 Feb, 2008 - 01:59 PM, said:

I hear exactly what you are saying. When my boss started speaking outsourcing to one of our regions I almost rang his neck.

But why? Isn't Capitalism great? ;)
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#4 Martyr2  Icon User is offline

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Re: Outsourcing: Ain't it Grand?

Posted 01 February 2008 - 02:38 PM

View PostPennyBoki, on 1 Feb, 2008 - 01:08 PM, said:

View PostMartyr2, on 1 Feb, 2008 - 01:59 PM, said:

I hear exactly what you are saying. When my boss started speaking outsourcing to one of our regions I almost rang his neck.

But why? Isn't Capitalism great? ;)



I am beginning to think your anarchism ideas look pretty good there penny. :)
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#5 Fygar  Icon User is offline

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Re: Outsourcing: Ain't it Grand?

Posted 01 February 2008 - 02:39 PM

I do not agree with anyone with an anarchy symbol.
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#6 Programmist  Icon User is offline

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Re: Outsourcing: Ain't it Grand?

Posted 01 February 2008 - 03:01 PM

View PostMartyr2, on 1 Feb, 2008 - 02:59 PM, said:

Do you guys not have a test environment where you can take old production data and run it through the paces before actually throwing it out to customers? Just curious.

Can you guys maybe only test it on a smaller subset of your customers before going big with it to limit problems?

I hear exactly what you are saying. When my boss started speaking outsourcing to one of our regions I almost rang his neck.

:)

We (meaning my group) don't have these problems. We have separate dev, QA (integration), and UAT environments where we test our stuff. Often-times these other groups are not ready to integrate, so we end up having to mock up their bits, which is not good. So, basically, UAT is often when they integrate with us (also not good!). And by the time deployment rolls around, things should be working. But they manage to f*** it up anyway. Don't ask me how. We only have control over our group. We cannot influence what other groups do, even though we complain. Basically, that's up to people at a higher "pay grade" than me. So yeah - we do what we can, but we're basically powerless to stop other groups from being idiots. And, since we're the customer-facing app, we catch all the flack.

But it's not my problem anymore, is it? :)

View PostMartyr2, on 1 Feb, 2008 - 03:38 PM, said:

I am beginning to think your anarchism ideas look pretty good there penny. :)


Even though I abhor political parties, my leanings are probably more toward Libertarianism, or "Anarchy Lite." :)
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#7 capty99  Icon User is offline

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Re: Outsourcing: Ain't it Grand?

Posted 01 February 2008 - 05:55 PM

slightly unrelated : the asia/middle east internet semi-blackout killed a bunch of overseas IT teams. especially tech support.
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#8 ferrari12508  Icon User is offline

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Re: Outsourcing: Ain't it Grand?

Posted 01 February 2008 - 06:47 PM

I love how tech support was taken out. Maybe now companies will hire people who actually can sit at a computer and help you without constantly have to ask questions like "Can you repeat that" and "Please don't talk so fast".
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#9 aj32  Icon User is offline

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Re: Outsourcing: Ain't it Grand?

Posted 01 February 2008 - 08:01 PM

View Postferrari12508, on 1 Feb, 2008 - 08:47 PM, said:

I love how tech support was taken out. Maybe now companies will hire people who actually can sit at a computer and help you without constantly have to ask questions like "Can you repeat that" and "Please don't talk so fast".


That would be VERY nice...
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#10 PsychoCoder  Icon User is offline

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Re: Outsourcing: Ain't it Grand?

Posted 01 February 2008 - 08:48 PM

Im pretty sure, given the vast majority of <insert country> members we have here, y'all dont want to hear my opinions on out-sourcing, lets just sum it up with I think it sucks, its killing the economy in this country, its costing well qualified programmers jobs. I've seen more than one software house go under because of outsourcing, and when we at work (thanks to the VP of our IT Department) outsourced some work we had 3 developers walk immediately, and I was almost one of them.

The work was handed back to us after they "completed" it, and it took us almost as long to fix it as it did for them to create it. No comments, No error checking, very little documentation, all in all it was some of the worst .Net programming Ive seen, well since .Net first came out. It was all web based, and it looked like the old spaghetti code of classic ASP.

There Im done before I piss anyone off too much lol :)
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#11 supersloth  Icon User is offline

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Re: Outsourcing: Ain't it Grand?

Posted 01 February 2008 - 10:30 PM

Posted Image
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#12 capty99  Icon User is offline

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Re: Outsourcing: Ain't it Grand?

Posted 01 February 2008 - 10:41 PM

if a line breaks.

that just means they will drop about 20 more, that can handle more data. and allow for more it.
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#13 Amadeus  Icon User is offline

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Re: Outsourcing: Ain't it Grand?

Posted 02 February 2008 - 05:33 AM

From the experiences related here, it sounds like your companies have not done proper research into who they were hiring - always a mistake. I'm no particular fan of outsourcing, but you have to do your homework. I would not use any less stringent a process for hiring outsourcers that I would hiring someone local. I'd want proof of ability, a portfolio, and a contract that specifies deliverables, quality, and the penalties for not meeting them. Easy to blame those who delivery, but I would wager to say that the companies in question should actually shoulder the brunt of the blame.
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#14 PsychoCoder  Icon User is offline

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Re: Outsourcing: Ain't it Grand?

Posted 02 February 2008 - 07:01 AM

View PostAmadeus, on 2 Feb, 2008 - 04:33 AM, said:

From the experiences related here, it sounds like your companies have not done proper research into who they were hiring - always a mistake. I'm no particular fan of outsourcing, but you have to do your homework. I would not use any less stringent a process for hiring outsourcers that I would hiring someone local. I'd want proof of ability, a portfolio, and a contract that specifies deliverables, quality, and the penalties for not meeting them. Easy to blame those who delivery, but I would wager to say that the companies in question should actually shoulder the brunt of the blame.


I completely agree, but in my case our VP outsourced it to a company where he was friends with the owner, knew the man, knew his staff, etc...then the outsourcing company sent it to one of their offices in <Country not named here> and we ended up with what we got.

Needless to say, he made it abundantly clear there would be no more outsourcing since this turned into such a fiasco, and in the end ultimately cost us double for something we could/should have done in-house anyways.
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#15 Amadeus  Icon User is offline

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Re: Outsourcing: Ain't it Grand?

Posted 02 February 2008 - 10:15 AM

View PostPsychoCoder, on 2 Feb, 2008 - 09:01 AM, said:

I completely agree, but in my case our VP outsourced it to a company where he was friends with the owner, knew the man, knew his staff, etc...then the outsourcing company sent it to one of their offices in <Country not named here> and we ended up with what we got.

Needless to say, he made it abundantly clear there would be no more outsourcing since this turned into such a fiasco, and in the end ultimately cost us double for something we could/should have done in-house anyways.

An excellent point - outsourcing companies often outsource the work to yet another party. Glad you mentioned that.
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