Monthly Archives: January 2013

Attracting clientele via – the 1st step

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There are lots of businesses in the U.S. and elsewhere that would like to outsource to India or the Philippines and hire your company. But first, they want to be able to talk with you. Whether you seek work in data entry or accounting outsourcing, run a call center in India, or do web design, getting work with a U.S. company all begins with how you answer the phone. Business people need to feel you are professional and can communicate well in English on the phone–well enough so that they feel confident giving you their business records and other data. Since we would like to help your company, let’s talk about how to make a good impression.

People calling your company from the U.S. will be disappointed if you just answer “Hello” and do not mention a business name. For example, of the many professional accounting outsourcing companies listed on 123outsource that we called recently, only about 3% answered with a business name or had any kind of phone answering system or protocol. Yes: we do call your company to see how you handle yourself on the phone. U.S. businesses that might outsource to India expect a bright, pleasant, professional man’s or woman’s voice on the phone at the outset, ensuring them that this could be the start of a friendly and stress-free business relationship. They are also expecting someone to answer the phone using a company name. If we have to repeat your business name several times before you acknowledge the name and say, “Yes, this is XYZ Company,” it does not create a good first impression. It sounds funny, but in some cases, the person we talked to on the phone did not seem to know that the number was listed as a business; it’s as if they had forgotten who they were! Even if you are doing accounting outsourcing and you have the very best accountants, you need to be able to speak to us. How you answer the phone is important.

U.S. clients want to hire confident professionals, whether this means a call center in India or another group of workers. When a business plans to outsource to India, the managers are very interested in the quality of your work, what software you use, how long you have been in business, and any stories about the first project you took on and how your company has continued to improve. If your expertise is data entry, accounting outsourcing, or managing a successful call center in India, being able to tell us a bit about your company and your attitude toward your work–being able to talk on the phone and tell a brief story about your company–will show that you are personable and that you are able to engage in a long-term business relationship.

We at have traveled and lived in other countries, and we understand that life is different in India or the Philippines. In many ways it is more relaxed, and that is a benefit to those of us who want to outsource to India, or hire a call center in India or a company to do data entry. We know and appreciate your culture and your views about life and work, and we would like to be able to have a brief conversation with you about your company and your experience so that we may recommend you to companies seeking to hire you.

How you answer the phone will distinguish you from other companies that are just starting out. There is a lot of work in the U.S. for companies who do data entry, have a call center in India, or do accounting outsourcing in India, but U.S. business owners who speak English would like to be able to have a 3-minute conversation with someone who speaks English and is confident, enthusiastic, and articulate about your company’s work. We would like to encourage U.S. businesses to outsource to India, but we need to be sure you have the skills companies need. People in the U.S. want to have a conversation with you. They will not make a decision to hire you simply on the basis of your website.

Email and Skype are very helpful, but businesses are interested in how you answer the phone and how you sound on the phone. If you understand us and can talk with us for a few minutes about your background and specific accomplishments, and can tell us something inspiring or educational, we will have a better idea of who you are and how you relate to people. If a U.S. business can have a brief intelligent conversation with you, that company will feel good about moving to the next step in any business relationship.

Here are a few questions for you. We would love to hear from you (really!) :

1) Can you commit to answering the phone with your business name?
2) Please provide us with business hours: when can people call your company and have a live person answer the phone in a professional manner?
3) Is there someone at your company who speaks English and is able to have a conversation about your company’s achievements? Who?
4) Is there an interesting story about how your company was started, or about the owner’s background? Let us know and we can call you. (:

(1) Your personal knowledge about your company will always trump info you posted on your website!
(2) People will not hire you purely on how good your website is. Learn to orally introduce your company.
(3) Is there an interesting story about how your company was started, or about the owner’s background? Let us know and we can call you.

You might also like:

Understanding crowdsourcing segments

How to attract more software business

Marketing your outsourcing company

Your phone system’s music really matters

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When we call from America to India and hear the music that so many phone systems use when you are on hold, it is very strange for us. The music sounds very childish. There is the theme to the lone ranger played by a computer generated tone. There are other nursery rhyme type songs that are typically played as well. To Amerians, this seems like music that is appropriate for three year olds, not adults.

So, the question is, what type of music should you have on your phone system?

Step one, is to have an automated phone system.
That way when someone calls, they will be greated by a very professional sounding message that states your company name, and what extension to dial to get an operator, sales manager, service, etc.

Step two is to select some good “on hold” music.
Should you choose a popular Hindi film song from the 1950’s that is on a muffled recording? I suggest not, unless your clients are all senior citizens in the 65+ year old range.

Should you choose some international sounding music? Maybe some American Jazz, some Tango, or Mambo? Maybe some Frank Sinatra or Julio Iglesius. Maybe a popular Rock and Roll song from the 1980’s could work. If you want to sound a little more sophisticated, perhaps some Bach harpsichord music or an orchesteral suite.

The type of music you choose should match your clientele.
If you have cool clients who like to hang out at coffee houses, then maybe Jazz or Brazilian music might be popular with them. If you have highly educated clients, then European Classical music might work. If you have spiritually minded clients, then perhaps a good raga with sitar and tablas might be a crowd pleaser. Are your customers young hipsters from Bangalore who hang out on Church street downtown? In that case a good Rock and Roll song would be my recommendation.

What if you have a mixed audience?
Outsourcing companies in India might have a few domestic clients, a few Germans, Americans, British, and Australian clients. It is hard to know what type of music to pick with so many different groups to please. Half the battle is pleasing them, and the other half is IMPRESSING them. Appealing to the musical tastes of three year olds will not impress anyone. For a mixed and educated audience, I feel that cool jazz is relaxing and pleasant as well as sophisticated.

Coffee houses study the music they play
Companies like Starbucks don’t just play any old music they feel like. They have done extensive market research to see what their clients respond better to. They even came up with their own CD of music. I don’t know what the resulst of their market research are, but I know what they play. Keep in mind that Starbucks caters to an international crowd and succeeds in pleasing almost everyone. Their music has some classic old American songs from the 40’s and 50’s that might have been popular in movies. They mix that in with some cool jazz tunes, and some Brazilian selections too. Brazilian music is very popular since it is catchy, yet relaxing and cool as well. To keep your clients wanting to hang around on your phone line — keep the music cool — not childish.

Common mistakes Indians make
Indians tend to be very uptight a lot of the time. To attract American clients you need to be more laid back about communication and LESS laid back about getting things done on time — the opposite of what Indians are typically doing now. If you pick music that appeals to Americans and other people from Anglo cultures, the music should be pleasant and laid back too. Be careful of picking uptight music. You might live to regret it.

India – a culture of begging

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Every time I visit India, I am constantly reminded that I am in a culture of beggers.

It is not only the beggers who beg, it is so many people.

While walking down the road, I am always confronted with able bodied beggers. Some are stationary and have an established post. There is a father / son team on one road, and a mother / daughter team on another road. These people are pests. They even dare to touch me with their dirty fingers if I ignore them. Perhaps these people are mentally crippled, but they are physically capable and CHOOSE not to give to society. They are takers — not givers. People who get ahead give first and then take. This is wisdom from my guru, and from Kabbalah as well; call it spiritual law if you will. The part that bothers me most is that people give so freely to these freeloaders, and also that these freeloaders train their able-bodied CHILDREN to be beggers as well. Such a waste of human potential.

So, son, what do you want to be when you grow up?
I want to be a better just like you! I want to be the best begger in all of Maharashtria, and to be known to all!

The thing we have to remember is that India is a country where people blindly do all types of self-sabotage. If you see one guy selling hats in the hills, there will be three others who like his idea and pop up beside him selling the exact same hats. Their market share just became diminished by 75% from this competition — an example of blindly copying others. There is a street near the wine growing region of Karnataka near Nandi Hills where you can see twelve people spaced out on that road selling exactly the same species of grapes. None of these people has enough money to rent a place to live — I think they live on the street. If a persons father sells corn by the side of the street, their son will take the same profession in many cases, just because of the copy-cat mentality which exists.

Guilt relief therapy
What I don’t like is that people support these beggers by giving to them very freely and thoughtlessly. I believe that people in India feel relieved when they give to a begger. All of their guilt is disolved because they helped another continue a life of uselessness and laziness — taking not giving, etc. Many beggers use their earnings to buy alcohol and drugs which doesn’t help. In India, it is common for beggers who are indentured to the local mafia to have their limbs cut off so they can make more money begging. If you give to an able bodied begger you are FUNDING unnecessary amputation — please understand this. I give directly to a homeless shelter and do not give to our local drunkard beggers directly since I know the money will go to Johnny Walker. Indians need to understand that if these beggers were told to be productive several times a day, many of them would be. By giving to these beggers, you are encouraging more to enter the profession.

My other experiences with regular folks
When I went to a small church museum, I was given a one minute tour, and then the security guard started begging me for a tip. Police sort of beg for bribes in a sense. Politicians get bribes too. Many people in India think that working for a living should yield pennies, and that the big money should come from unearned bribes. It is unfortunately part of the national culture. I once gave a programmer a generous tip, and he was disappointed because he wanted an obsenely large tip like the last American gave him. Their salaries are typically pennies, but when they get tips or bribes, people are expecting millions. There is no sense of scope or proportion here.

The blog
I am noticing the same type of problem with Indian companies. There is a consciousness of taking without giving. We need stories for our blog. But, companies are only interested in begging for jobs. No company seems interested in giving us any information we can share with others about their experience. What these companies need to understand is that customers are gained when you are sharing and useful to others and NOT when you only say, “give me give me give me”. Every day I get about ten misspelled emails from various companies telling us that they are ready for “the” assignment. There is no assignment — and I don’t know you. Rather than begging — it is helpful to get to know who the job providers are and try to impress them and get to know them before you start asking for something.

Phone etiquette for outsourcing companies

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It was a long night, and my assistant and I called 55 outsourcing companies on our directory by hand. To our dismay, only one company out of 55 answered their phone professionally.

What does it mean to answer your phone professionally?
You need to announce who you are at a minimum, and also state your company name. Otherwise people will doubt you as a professional, and also not know if they dialed the correct number. Answering the phone professionally means that ALL of the people at your company need to be trained on how to answer the phone. If someone dials your cell number after hours, you never know who that is. It is safer to answer that professionally as well.

Why bother answering professionally?
If you are an outsourcing company in India or the Philippines, you are up against an enemy called “Doubt”. Americans, Australians, British, and other westerns are suspicious about giving work to companies overseas. The first question is — will they cheat me? The next question is — will they be reliable in their work? My personal experience is that outsourcing companies are more likely to give you trouble than an American company, however, American companies give a lot of trouble, and charge five times as much — which in most cases they are not worth! Putting experience aside, to eliminate all of the various types of DOUBT, you need to make a good impression.

How do outsourcing companies typically answer their phone?
Most companies we call answer with a dull “Hullo”. They sound like very low energy, low brainpower people to me. We have to ask one, twice, or thrice what company we called. Many of them act perplexed when we want to know what company they are with. If you are in a foreign country, do you want to hire a company who doesn’t know what their name is? How will they handle complicated outsourcing tasks if they don’t even know their own name?

Answering machines and phone systems?
Ideally you need a phone system that announces your company name, and perhaps has a menu with departments to select. If the person you want to reach is not there, there should be a personalized message box that clearly announces the person’s name who you are leaving a message for. Typically, when we make calls, we get standardized messages such as, “The person you called is not available, please call back later”. That is very unprofessional, and no foreigner will want to hire you with this type of non-answering machine.

Cell Phones?
Cell phones are a good back up number in case you are out of the office. But, your main number needs to be a reliable land line. In India it takes time and money to get a land line, and that proves how professional you are if you use one.

Changing numbers and web addresses is bad.
Most companies in India are constantly changing their mobile numbers and web addresses. They even change their companyname repeatedly. Companies gain trust based on LONGEVITY. So, if you change your company name every two years, you will come across as being a fly-by-night, and nobody overseas will trust you. We want to hire stable and reliable companies. Mobile phones in India are based on SIM cards which can be lost or rendered disfunctional. Therefor, your main number should be a landline which will not be disconnected.

Call me back on Skype?
If someone is calling about business, and you tell them you don’t want to talk, or you ask them to call you back on Skype so you can save a few rupees, you might miss out on a million dollar deal. Why should a big company who wants to use you have to call you again? If it were me — I would call again — but, not YOU — I would call ANOTHER company and deal with them. My effort for making the extra call will get more return calling someone else.

(1) If we know more about your company than the person who answers your phone: it’s time to learn phone etiquette.
(2) When you pick up the phone, are you so out of it that you sound like you are in your own time zone? #outsourcing #ust+24
(3) Unless your company name is “Hello”, don’t answer the phone with a dull “Hello”.
(4) Most overseas phone lines are so muddy, your chance for attracting prospects is over by the 3rd “What?”
(5) There is something to be said for continuity & changing your # every six months isn’t one of them!

(6) Professional US companies keep the same phone # for decades. How long have you had your #?
(7) Change is good, but not if it means changing your number every 6 months.
(8) How will former clients find you if you change your # every six months? Think about it!

You might also like:

Are you tired of outsourcing to India?

Are your callers annoying?

I’m busy — please send me an email = a lost contract worth US$10,000 per month?

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My assistant and I have been calling companies in India recently. We find that less than 10% of the companies on our directory had satisfactory communication skills. People were not answering the phone in a professional way. There was just a dull, “Hullo” at host of the companies we called. It is our practice to put the companies with better communication skills towards the top of the list.

But, what about the people who DID answer their phone, and even might have been professional the way they answered? Many people were too busy to talk to us. We understand that you might be busy, and might have 20 things going on simultaneously. We are busy too. However, if you do what Americans call “Blowing people off” (making some excuse not to talk to someone, show up someplace, or do something), you might lose critical clients.

Your success as a business depends on CATCHING new clients. New clients don’t grow on trees. They call when they feel like calling, and if you don’t have someone who can not only answer the phone, but also speak intelligently for a few minutes; you will lose business. What if were were offering a one million dollar contract to an Indian BPO company, and the 1st ten companies either didn’t answer their phone or told us to “send us an email, we are too busy to talk to you”. Do you think that I would send them an email? Or, do you think that I would move on to the next company down the line who would actually engage us in a conversation?

I have learned that people who can interact nicely with people are much more likely to catch new clients — especially if their firm has the technical skills to handle the job. If you tell someone to sent you and email — you are telling them that you don’t value their business.

On the other hand, if you have an existing client who is bothering you about a small thing, then you can ask them to send an email. Or, if your company’s reputation is so amazing that people would rather wait for you than go to a comparable firm that answers their phone — then, you are in business. But, for calls from strangers (cold calls), you can not afford to be too busy to talk to them. Hire someone good to answer your phone! Preferably one that speaks good English, and Hindi, and perhaps a few other languages on the side.

Offshoring & Outsourcin​g — which country is right for your company to offshore to?

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The world of outsourcing is baffling. So many of these companies out there are unprofessional and fly-by-nights. If you look at outsourcing directories, many host companies with disconnected phone numbers, or companies whose websites are long gone. It is a scary world, and is like a jungle. So, how do you play the game? First, find stable companies that have longevity and you will be safer. Get to know the company bosses who you will be dealing with as well. Visit these companies in person if the work you are giving them matters a lot. But, what country should you target?

India – My personal experience has been with India.
I live in Los Angeles where we have boatloads of people from all over Asia and Latin America. I am familiar with all of their cultures since I’m amongst them on a daily basis. But, I have not sampled life in their countries except for Taiwan which does more electronics and manufacturing and doesn’t engage much in the type of outsourcing tasks that we promote on India has more companies doing the type of outsourcing tasks that we promote than any other country, and they seek work more agressively than other countries as well.

Honestly, India is a very sloppy country where there is a hair raising incompetent way of doing everything. There are no doors on the inner city trains, so people can fall out and die (and they frequently do). Instead of picking a number at a hospital, you sit in a row of 50 chairs and play leap frog everytime the person in the front of the line is picked. All 49 of the remaning people move over one seat. At the airport, they always inspect my passport and then lose it under a bunch of papers — or drop it on the floor and then can’t find it (as a matter of practice). I always get diarrhea, food poisening or dyssentary almost every trip to India — otherwise I start asking why I didn’t experience any gastro-intestinal disorders. It is common for the sidewalk repair people to just abandon a large pile of dirt or bricks for months at a time on the sidewalk. The only traffic rule that exists outside of Mumbai is that you bribe the cop if pulled over. No other rules apply — not even driving on the left which is merely a recommendation and not a hard fast rule (or so it seems). 70% of rick shaw drivers either try to cheat me or proudly announce that their meter is broken.

If you hire companies in India, you will be dealing with people who grew up in this mess that I began to describe. PROCEED WITH CAUTION. I’m not saying don’t offshore to India. The cost benefit is definately there, but you will be putting up with a lot more nonsense than in most other places. More than 90% of companies in India do not even announce their company name when answering the phone — how unprofessional. Workers in India usually have some technical skills (varying degrees of competency), but lack people skills. The owners have good people skills, but those are not the people who will be doing the actual work.

The Filipinos are catching up in the technical outsourcing professions. There are more programming and internet marketing companies in the Philippines than before. They are known for call centers and they just overtook India as being #1 in the call center industry a year or two ago. Medical transcriptions are another profession that is popular in the Philippines. Filipinos have very good people skills, and there are many who have excellent English skills. For jobs that require communication, you could start your search here.

South Africa
There are many types of outsourcing companies in South Africa. We have found many web design companies, and companies that do a lot of translations, editing and writing. There are many high end people who will do very professional work for you for a great price in South Africa.

There are some call centers sprouting up in Kenya. These are popular with British clients since the Kenyans speak British sounding English. You will find a large work force with great people skills in Kenya.

Costa Rica
Known for its cultural affinity with the west, many companies find it easier to do business with call centers and web design companies in Costa Rica. They are swimming distance (well, not quite) from Florida, and on a similar time zone as the Eastern United States. Once again, just like the Philippines, Costa Ricans have comparatively good communication skills and there are many with supurb artistic abilities too.

This is a country that we found to not be very businesslike. However, the artistic skills seem to be the best in the world, and at bargain basement prices. Web design or any other type of design should be done in Argentina — at least they should be the 1st on your list.

I am about to try out a company who has one leg in the United States and another in Vietnam. I have no experience or knowledge about outsourcing to Vietnam. There are many programmers there, but English skills are somewhat limited based on what I have heard and experienced with Vietnamese living in California. I do not know how their technical skills typically compare to those at smaller companies in India. Is Vietnam a hidden outsourcing gem that few ever think about? We shall soon find out!

Getting better ROI setting up operations overseas

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Many companies set up shop overseas. Some prosper and others don’t. Many Americans are violently against this. But, people need to consider that it is very expensive setting up shop in certain locations. The labor rate might be high just to get mediocre employees. The rent might be sky high as well. There are other costs that you could consider as well. Avialability of labor that has the skills you need is another huge factor. Many companies will consider political stability as well. Starting an outsourcing company in Kabul might not be the best idea these days (or any days). There are various factors you have to think about when setting up an operation in a location.

So many locations?
Let’s say you were setting up a call center. You could do so in India, The Philippines, Costa Rica, Africa, America, Romania, or Canada. Which location makes more sense? America has the most expensive labor, but has workers who speak clear English and have cultural skills which might be a challange tofind overseas. But, the rent is not necessarily more expensive in America! You can get five square feet of space in Arkansas for the same price is one square foot in Pune, India. Is that foot in Pune any better than it’s corresponding foot in Arkansas? Africa has cheap everything, but god knows when the next coup d’etat is coming not to mention if your internet will be compromised. Each country has different attributes and costs, so how do you decide?

Look into the future
Big companies do very sophisticated analysis as to where they should set up their operations. Some choose Mexico because it takes 17 hours to truck their goods to a central location in the U.S. Others like India for its huge pool of people with technical skills. One company might choose Canada to save on its air conditioning bill (just kidding). But, you have to remember, that conditions never remain the same. The cost of land in India might be expensive NOW. But, in ten years, the population will be up by a significant percent due to the unending birthrate. Additionally, the wealth accumulated in India in the next ten years will push the price of Real Estate up yet another notch. Companies in India are often moving into remote areas to save on rent. But, those remote areas will not be cheap for long the way things are going. The beauty of America is that land in Texas was cheap in 1850. It was still cheap in 1950, and will still be cheap in 2050. If you buy the realtor a few bottles of wine, he might even throw in a few longhorns on the property.

Calculate ahead of time
The bottom line is that some places will have land prices that are priced out of the market in 10 years. Other places will have labor rates that are impossible in 10 years. Many places might have been blown off the face of the earth after 10 years due to political problems. The only way to make up your decision where to get optimal ROI is to really study numbers and look at trends. Visit the places you are thinking about investing and get to know the locals. Get to know what is going on.

Outsourcing can save you 60-90% of costs

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We all know that you can save a boatload of cash by outsourcing.  But, outsourcing is scary and risky because you have to deal with overseas companies who you have never met.  Only god knows what they will go to you — or if they will leave you high and dry.  The truth is that companies in America are very likely to cheat you and leave you high and dry. You might be able to sue them here, but getting taken for a ride is no fun on any side of the Pacific!  Outsourcing involves more skill when managing work and choosing companies.  There are cultural differences, geographical differences, and time differences.  It is harder to meet with your overseas counterparts in person, and harder to talk to them on the phone.  So, is it worth it to do offshoring, nearshoring or outsourcing?  If you plan on mastering the skill, you will save 69-90% on related expenses and I say — JUST DO IT!

Costs are deceptive – willingness to work is  a factor
It is baffling comparing costs when outsourcing tasks.  I have seen programming companies that charge $15 per hour and others that charge $180.  The irony is that the company that charged $180 refused to do business with me, and the company that charged $15 per hour took me on, and then refused to finish projects.  Those who say, “You get what you pay for” are simply wrong.  The reality is that you get people who either refuse to function or can’t function unless you shop around and find people who actually do function.  A rate of $15 per hour is not a real rate if you refuse to complete work — or if you say that the work is complete when you never started.  A rate of $180 per hour is equally meaningless when you refuse to take on new clients.

Definition – A REAL RATE is a rate that someone charges who is actually willing to work on a regular basis for that rate without putting you on hold for two months while they are busy with another project. Don’t compare rates unless it is a REAL RATE! And there is no way to tell what a real rate is unless you have tried out a company for 3 months and seen how they function.

Hour padding – adjust for slugginness and dishonesty

Many employees and bosses do hour padding. They will add on hidden costs, or say that something took longer than it did.  Koreans do “Reverse hour padding”.  In Korean culture, you lose face if it took you too long to do a simple task.  Koreans are notorious for learning to be the fastest and the best at whatever they try to do. My experience is that if a Korean does one hour of work, they will charge you for 45 minutes.  While, someone in India might take 2 hours to do the same task and then bill you for four.  The Korean might charge $125 per hour and accomplish the work relatively error free.  Hour bill would be $100 for 45 minutes from the Korean in my imaginary example.  Meanwhile in Hyderabad, your Indian counterpart will be finishing their samosa and finishing the two hours which they will bill four hours for and submit a bill of $60 for work that is far from being up to specifications.  So, after all is said and done, the Koreans are still more expensive  on a “by the job” basis. But, the error rate will probably be less which saves you management time.  Therefor, your total expenses including management time are EQUAL when you compare a $15 per hour company and a $125 per hour company in this silly example — make sense?

If you work with companies and have a sense of how long particular tasks should take, you can guess how much hour padding they do, and you can keep a log book of what their REAL hourly rate is.  Additionally, you can consider various factors to give them an OVERALL SCORE

                                Hourly Rate  Adj Rate       Follows directions          Page speed         Consistancy  
Sun Myung & Co           125                100            80% rate                         Fast pages             A                

Chakrapati & Co              15                  60            40% rate                           Slow                      D        

Krishna Infosystems        25                  40            70% rate                        Medium speed     B+

AKA Infosystems           150                  120          80% rate                         Great                   A          

In my example above, Krishna Infosystems (a fictional company) doesn’t have the lowest published price.  But, their work is more efficient and less “padded” than their other Indian counterpart.  Additionally, they do a better job following directions. When all is said and done, they would be your ideal company to hire.  Their rate is cheap, they don’t cheat in any detectable way, and they follow directions relatively well.  No programmer that I have ever met has a 100% rate of following clear written directions

Mistakes are costly

If you hire a programmign company to do a task, and they do it in a way where pages load slowly. You might have to have them recode much of the work.  This is very costly, not to mention the lost revenue that you encounter as a result of your slow pages.  If you hire companies that make mistakes, you are looking at very big costs.

What to look for first when hiring an offshore company to attain cost effectiveness.

I tend to have a “what does it really mean” attitude when people quote their prices.  If they quote too low I will think they are incompetent. If they quote too high, I will wonder if they are really, “all that”.  What I am looking for is much more involving questions that effect overall cost efficiency:

(1) How hard do I have to crack the whip to get you working.  Do you start on your own, or do you ignore me?

(2) How fast do the pages you create load. If it is too slow, then the work is almost useless.

(3) How consistant are you about getting work done?  If you have a competing big project, do you put me on hold?

(4) What is your rate of following directions.  I have seen 20% to 70% in real life.. 40% being the minimum to not get fired.

(5) How much do you pad your hours or cheat? (at this point it is actually a much smaller concern than points 1, 2, and 3)

(6) How much work do you get done per hour?  Do you do 30 minutes worth of work in an hour?  It is all relative to my past experience how I define how much an “hours worth of work” really means.

(7) Do you return calls… ever?  If you do, then I don’t believe that you are a real computer programmer.

(8) Is there a project manager involved? Is he/she/it a complete fool, or a competent professional who is, “on the money”.

(9) Can you handle really complicated and sensitive tasks?

There is a lot to analyze when trying out new companies.  I would try out a handful on a small project, each for three months to see how cost effective they really are.  Remember — if a company refuses to lift a finger, then they are not cost effective, and they are not EFFECTIVE at all.