Monthly Archives: April 2014

Why hire a freelancer instead of a company?

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As I get more experienced in business, I realize that BPO companies are not all they are cracked up to be. If you hire a small BPO company to outsource your tasks to, you get stuck with whomever they hire to do the work and whomever they hire to manage your work. My experience tells me that management at small companies is always dismal. I have never seen good management at a small company in my life and I have dealt with many dozen of them over the years. Keeping deadlines and doing quality work never seems to be a priority unless you are a huge client which I am not. I feel that quality should be for all clients and not just large ones. Additionally, there seems to be no desire to do what is necessary to keep clients. Companies do what they want to and how they want to, and if you don’t like it, that is your problem — they are not concerned.

Skill levels can vary
At any of the BPO companies that I have hired, there is always a vast range of skill levels. If I am paying top dollar, or need a complicated task done, I need someone who is capable and responsible. I seem to rarely get this combination, or either of its components when hiring companies. Additionally, you never know what the skill level of a new person will be at those BPO companies. Let’s say that your programmer is busy and they want to pair you with their other programmer. You have no idea how good or bad that other person will be. Your entire business could be compromised.

Personality pairing
I found that people who don’t like me don’t do good work — ever… If I hire an outside company to do tasks for me, I have to make sure that the boss likes me and that the worker(s) like me. If there is a disconnect on any level, the work will suffer greatly.

Hiring a freelancer is easier.
You are only dealing with one person. That person has one skill level and one personality. They can manage them self, or you can manage them. You are never stuck with a middleman who insists on being the go-between. Those go-betweens always fail on delivering finished work in my experience. Another point to consider is that the most talented people I have ever worked with were freelancers. I did find that around 20% of people working for small companies were excellent! But, the freelancers I hired were a few notches better than even the best people who work at companies!

The next question is how to outsource freelancing work overseas?
Odesk is a solution, but what if you don’t like the people advertising there, or what if you don’t like Odesk’s rigid terms? Is there a way to find freelanced call center clerks or programmers overseas? Hmm! Maybe we should advertise for them! Maybe that will be our next niche!

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Good sign bad sign: What to look for in newly hired workers

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From 500 programming houses worldwide down to a dozen?

Categories: Semi-Popular, Software Development | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

It is sad to say, but when you boil it down, you get the bottom of the pan, and no usable substance. I am referring to outsourcing companies. We did an experiment where we called 500 programming houses specializing in internet programming. They specialized in .Net, PHP, Java, and other online applications and languages. Most of them either didn’t answer the phone or couldn’t communicate properly. But, the ones who did answer failed our bid project.

We asked people what they charged first of all. Most companies were charging so little, that we couldn’t imagine them being any good. In my experience, someone who charges $15/hour for programming will be so bad, that they will be a complete waste of time. So, I tried to find more expensive options, but those turned out to be a disaster too in terms of the efficiency of their bids, etc. I tried to find American companies to help out, but they were too busy to assist.

We called companies in Europe, America, and India. Those who answered the phone and could communicate well, were given an easy test project to bid on. Our goal was to see if they could bid properly. The mark of a true professional is their accuracy and reliability. After we got our bids together, we found that only about 10% of the companies who could communicate well (which was only a fifth of the total who we called) could bid properly. Most bid astronomically too high on a simple project, while a few desperate and incompetent companies bid too low. Hmmm.

So, we went from 500 to 100 by weeding out those who couldn’t communicate well, or simply didn’t answer our calls or emails. Then we went from 100 companies to around 10 by weeding out those who couldn’t bid. We’ll keep you informed how our lucky 10 do.

I will say, that there are two huge programming companies in Belarus who were not the most efficient in town, but their bids were not that unreasonable and they are serious about doing business. They have hundreds of employees and do what I call “volume” business.

The most important thing I learned is that you can’t really get American programmers to be reliable in the long run. I also learned that Indian companies usually hire sloppy programmers. To get anything done, you either need to find an exceptional Indian company that takes their work seriously, or find someone in Eastern Europe. I’ll do more research and keep you posted!

(1) We boiled 500 programming houses down to 10 by calling them & asking for a bid.
(2) Most programming houses in India charge too little, but those who charge more are also a nightmare.

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From 100 Indian Call Centers down to 1

The 2nd test project & the second bid

The bidding war — a way to test companies out!

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It is customary for people to compare bids when hiring a contractor. But, for longer term relationships, it is more complicated. I have learned that a company might bid a reasonable amount on a particular job, but then bid a crazy amount on job #2. If you want to hire someone who can handle anything that you throw at them for the next 10 years, you need to think about how much they can handle.

I gave a bid for a moderately easy project to about 50 companies to see who was in range. I had to give it to many, so that I would be able to choose from the ones who bid within range. What I learned was that only 20% of companies bid within range. A few underbid through desperation or stupidity, while most overbid — through stupidity, or hour padding — or both. But, the lesson that I learned was that when I gave companies who bid reasonably on the first bid — a second more complicated bid, many of them fell on their face.

There are bids on easy projects, medium, and more difficult projects. The range in bids is more extreme and unpredictable on complicated projects. If you are testing someone out to see if they can handle complicated work, you might start them off with the harder bid first, and then give them an easier bid.

I’m testing dozens of companies out. I give them a test project to weed them out. Most companies are too irresponsible to complete a simple assignment on their own initiative. The problem is that after I weed companies out with bidding and small test projects, there don’t seem to be more than 2% who make it through my easy hurdles. Depressing, but at least I am learning good methodology for testing companies out.

If you need a long term service provider, a test is no good unless you test them on the hardest project that you will ever assign to them!

(1) If you’re testing companies out, do you give the hard test 1st or an easy one?
(2) When we requested a 2nd more complicated bid, most companies fell on their face!

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The second test project & the second bid

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Good Sign Bad Sign Part 2: What to look for in newly hired workers

Categories: Hiring & Firing | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

I wrote a very practical and interesting blog about what signs to look for in newly hired workers. the link to that older article is at the bottom of this page. The list was fairly complete and easy to understand. But, there are other signs to look for too. The good signs can be summarized as being friendly and willing while bad signs include complaining and refusing! You can read the previous blog to see the entire line-up. But, there are more signs to look for.

Good Signs

Fast Learners! – A Very Good Sign!
New hires that learn quickly might be good in the long run. They cost you less labor to train, and will be likely to learn new things as time goes on. The ultimate goal of hiring someone new is that they might one day be able to do more tasks for you, and eventually be a manager. Someone who can never get simple things right will be a management drain, and also will never be able to be self-managing, or manage others! Seeing who is a fast learner is not rocket science. Just give them regular coaching, as you should give any employee, and see how fast they pick up!

Saying They Like Their Work
Some people are just plain polite. Polite people are much better to have around than rude people. They life your mood, and the moods of your cranky customers. But, saying how much you like your work is a very good sign. Most people don’t really like their work, or don’t like it that much. They might be loyal to you for the money, but do they really like their job? The fact that someone takes the effort to say that they like their work means something. Sure, they might be faking it, but if you don’t see any “hidden” signs that they “really” don’t like their work, then it is probably genuine!

Returns Calls
This is so basic. Of course someone who returns calls is a “good sign” worker. But, who puts this on a list of good signs? Me! Not everyone can return calls or emails right away, but if they do it within a 24-48 period on a consistent basis, that is good. It means they didn’t forget about you.

Having a Good Attitude
I sort of summarized various sub-components of having a good attitude in part 1 of this blog. I mentioned being friendly and happy to talk, plus willingness to work. These are all effects of having a good attitude. I would look at attitude before looking at skills. Someone with good skills and an antagonistic attitude can be your worst nightmare.

Bad Signs

Being Critical of the Boss
Workers who criticize their boss might have a point. Their boss might really be at fault sometimes. Some workers just criticize just to be jerks. In most workplaces, criticizing the boss is not tolerated, especially in India. But, in America, bosses have to be tolerant of difficult personality types,simply because America is a breeding ground for difficult people. I had one person who was so antagonistic, that when I criticized negligent people who worked for me, he turned it around and said that I also was negligent about many things. When you have a labor shortage, it is hard to have high standards for your workers. You take what you can get. But, if your workers constantly are harping on you, it is time to try some new people.

Suggesting that you fire them
If you criticize a worker, and they suggest that maybe you should fire them, or that maybe you are not a good fit, watch out. When someone talks like that, they might not be correct about the good fit part. They might be a very good fit, with a very bad attitude. Unfortunately, in the world of work, attitude matters more than skills in the long run because the person with the bad attitude will either quit or get fired which nullifies the value of their skills. The person with the good attitude might not know as much, but you will be able to “work with what you have” in them in the long run, plus they might be able to learn. I have had two people suggest that I fire them. I didn’t fire them right away. But, in both cases, the relationship deteriorated into a very antagonistic mess. If someone suggests that you fire them, end it as fast as you can, and you’ll be glad you did. Or, at least put them in a position where they are no longer critical to your daily functioning!

Neutral Signs

Lack of confidence or too much confidence
I am not so concerned about confidence unless you are in sales. Those who lack confidence might be the smartest people around. If they learn to be excellent at what they are doing, then the confidence will come. Confidence comes and goes based on your accumulation of success and failures in your life.

When hiring new workers, a good attitude, reliability and compatibility come before hiring the person with the best skills. Even if hiring for a technical position where they don’t need to be a people-person, you need someone who gets along with you and the others.

(1) Are your new workers fast learners who are happy to be there? That is a very good sign!
(2) If your worker suggests that you fire them, take that seriously. That is the worst sign ever!

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Part 1 of Good Sign Bad Sign: What to look for in newly hired workers!

What does Warren Buffet look for when he hires people?

The right sized company to outsource to

Categories: Management, Popular on Twitter, Semi-Popular | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

In my quest to find the right programming companies, I have learned a lot. There are different cultures, different skill levels, and different sizes of companies. Some companies have workers who work remotely, while others have everyone in an office. I learned that I didn’t generally do too well with one-man shows unless they were above average in skills and always answered their phones. I found a writer who fit that description. But, programmers have the “Don’t answer your phone” gene that prevents them from matching my criteria.

I was thinking that bigger = better. But, the bigger companies were often too snobby to work for me, or too uncoordinated to even know what their schedule was like. They also lacked the intimacy of smaller companies.

After a lot of looking around, I found that companies that had 6-12 people total were ideal. Unfortunately, in America there are very few that match this criteria. I hired a company in India with 20 people who was good. But, they grew to 45 members and now it is too crazy to deal with them. They lost their star employees and replaced them with chaos and more chaos. In my case, the closer a company gets to having 9 employees, the better they are. But, if they have less than 6, it never works out. I’m not sure why this math determines a result, but the numbers don’t like.

A company of the right size is important. You can get to know the boss well. If that company grows out of control, the boss will be too busy to talk to you or manage things well. So, I need a lot of backup companies. What if I find someone perfect, and then they grow too much? They might stop being perfect — what a scary thought. Additionally, I might add that in India the companies with 6-20 people generally make it easier to talk to someone really smart. At larger companies in India, you start off talking to someone who is so dumb, they can’t even answer the question, “What city are you located in?” They always need to transfer me the minute I ask them a trick question like that. I can’t figure it out!

(1) In my quest to find the right companies to hire, I have learned a lot.
(2) Companies with 6-20 people generally make it easier to talk to someone really smart.
(3) Large companies are often too snobby to accept smaller clients.

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Is bigger always better in business?

Good sign bad sign: what to look for in newly hired companies or workers

The world’s best cities to live in

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The best cities in the world to live in might not be the best for you. Rankings for which cities are best are normally based on crime levels, quality of medical care, levels of censorship, weather, schools and transportation. My personal qualifications for a good city to live in include how good the hiking is, quality of weather, how nice the locals are, and how good the Chinese and Thai cuisine is.

The experts chose cities like:
Auckland, NZ
Perth, Australia
Helsinki, Finland
Sydney, Australia
Adelaide, Australia
Calgary, Canada
Toronto, Canada
Vancouver, Canada
Vienna, Austria
Melbourne Australia

I remember reading articles about the same subject many years ago and Sydney, Melbourne, and Vancouver, BC were at the top of the list.

It is interesting that no city in the United States is on the top ten list. Americans pride themselves in being the best nation on earth, and fight overseas for freedom while we have very limited freedom at home. Yet, our cities are ridden with gangs, traffic, poor public transportation, pollution, bad schools, but really good Chinese good. Listen, I know what my priorities are! I am not sure why America doesn’t put a priority on having nice places to live. I guess people are too busy thinking about themselves to care.

Vancouver, BC
I will say, that I visited Vancouver, BC and it was very nice. There were wonderful markets on the metro stops where you could browse dozens of small stores. The harbor had great views, and wonderful marinas. The people were not that bad considering it was Canada (sorry for the sarcasm.) But, the food was really atrocious. Be cautious eating Chinese food in Vancouver. If you are in the wrong neighborhood they will Anglify to the point where it shouldn’t be consumed by human beings. Overall it is a slow city, with quiet people, and very bad food. Beautiful to look at, but not a place for a fast moving person who enjoys the finer aspects of life.

Toronto, ON
I also visited Toronto. The food was much better than Vancouver and there were people from all over the world. Cosmopolitan as it was, the weather there is really bad, and there were very finite things to do. I visited a few museums which I liked, but after two days of touring, I had run out of things to do. Toronto seems like a boring place to live with a high standard of living.

Personally, based on what I know about the world, my list might be a little different.

My top 10 list (well, let’s start with 3 for now)
I’m not sure how to categorize my top picks of cities. These cities are good for those who will enjoy their attributes and offerings. The above top 10 list has great cities, but too sleepy for my taste. Here are some more active cities with unique offerings.

Singapore is a beautiful island. It is culturally slanted towards modernized Chinese people, but very hospitable towards all cultures. And they speak English in addition to Mandarin, Malay, and Indian languages. Rent in Singapore is considerably less expensive than in the USA even though they are an island. The food is excellent, and the city is clean. Sure, the government is controlling, but there is hardly any crime, and no traffic! The thing the locals complain most about are the fines. In Singapore you can get fined for littering, jay-walking, or even failing to wash your car every several days! Ouch!

Dubai: UAE
I have not been to Dubai, and it is not for everyone. The weather can be a little intense. Additionally, the residents are typically wealthy or poor, and the percentage of middle class folks would be less in Dubai than a Western country. On the other hand, it is clean, safe, and the standards for life are high. Friends have told me that the quality of any type of restaurant is far better in Dubai than anywhere else in the world. Also, there is an element of creativity gone wild. They have architecture that is all-out in a sense. They have a cork-screw skyscraper which is as unique as it is tall. They have the Barj Al-Arab hotel which is a very classy and uniquely shaped building (shaped like a sail.) They have “The World” where you can buy an island in a microcosm of the world built purely out of piles of sand in the Arabian Gulf. You can also go on a camel tour of the desert. English, Filipino, Hindi, and Arabic are widely spoken there, so most people will have an easy time communicating! I’m not sure how Dubai compares to Perth, or Vancouver, but there is a level of excitement and speed in living that cannot be paralleled in the sleepy cities of Canada or Australia.

San Diego
Although all American cities tend to be a bit disappointing these days, San Diego is unique. As with Los Angeles and other areas in Southern California — you can visit the beach, desert, and mountains all within hours. In the case of San Diego, you can visit all three in about twenty minutes if there is no traffic. San Diego offers great food, friendly people (much better than Los Angeles) lots of water activities, hiking, spiritual venues, and more. You are minutes from the border with Mexico where you can enjoy a completely different culture. I would wait until after the drug war is over to visit Tijuana, but that is up to you! There are unique areas like Old-Town where you can enjoy traditional shops and restaurants. There are also many unique suburbs other nearby areas to explore. The desert has many diverse ecosystems near San Diego, and within a few hours, there are endless natural places in the desert to explore.

(1) The experts say the best cities in the world to live in are in Canada & Australia
(2) IMO, the best cities in the world are clean, safe & have lots to do!

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Imagine yourself managing multiple blogs

Categories: Social Media | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Running and managing blogs is not easy. But, the challenge comes about when you are running multiple unrelated blogs. We have a Notary blog that does well. We get lots of new visitors for our Notary site from the blog. The blog helps with our SEO as well. We have established social media channels that help crank traffic into the blog. All is well. It was not easy to figure out what works, but we are experienced enough now to know what our readers like. It is about tuning into your audience.

But, the problem was more when we started a 2nd blog. The outsourcing blog. Yes, it is what you are reading now. The audience is different. Instead of being purely American, there are people from all of over the world reading this. They don’t communicate with us much, or give good comments either which makes it hard to know what to write about. We can only track what gets click on and how much. The social media channels for the outsourcing blog we run didn’t work well. We tried Twitter for years, Facebook, and Linked In. I would say that Linked In gave us the most serious browsers, but the quantity was lacking and the price tag in dollars and hours spent was hurtful.

What if you do blogs for a living and run multiple blogs with a small team of people helping you. You would need to understand multiple audiences and their behavior. You would need to understand how each social media network “behaved” with each of your blogs. You would need to find writers who could be flexible in what they wrote about and who could write about anything.

The key is to be an expert at generating traffic, and quality traffic. Good traffic can turn into big dollars. If you can write about topics that are well read like finance, travel, or sports, you could become rich doing blogging. All you need is a way to figure out how to get a million visitors a month, and your cash register will get you into a million dollar house!

(1) Running multiple unrelated blogs is not easy. The key is studying traffic patterns
(2) When you run a blog, it is not easy to learn what works. Google Analytics helps!

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Overseas Outsourcing in the 21st century: Different Countries, Diverse Benefits?

Categories: Of Interest, Semi-Popular | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The notion of outsourcing work to overseas companies is, of course, not a new one. For many years, a large number of American businesses have selected to recruit talent from abroad rather than enlist assistance from within the US itself; for a variety of reasons; tax benefits being among the most prevalent. For many years, India has dominated the face of outsourcing; and in recent times, India’s economy has witnessed an incredible $69 billion boom from outsourcing alone; causing previously unheard of destinations such as Hyderabad and Chennai growing to become thriving business cities. However, as the 21st century marches on, the stronghold that India holds on the outsourcing market begins to loosen. Other up and coming countries are staking their claim; and US companies are gradually broadening their horizons and exploring outsourcing opportunities in other lands. So just what are the countries currently challenging India’s position as number one outsourcing nation in the world, and what are the benefits to working with them?

Countries on the Rise

In recent months, the US has witnessed a number of relative ‘newcomers’ to the outsourcing scene, making distinctive impact on the market. identifies five particular countries on the rise in the IT sector; including unsurprisingly, China, but perhaps more surprisingly, countries such as Bulgaria and Egypt. Interestingly, a number of global companies in the US are turning to Middle Eastern outsourcing services; partially due to the ‘skilled programming workforce’, but also due to the considerable tax incentives that the Egyptian government (and others) are offering to outsourcing prospects. Interestingly, large Indian companies are also outsourcing to the Middle East, such as Wipro and Satyam. also identifies other up and coming major players in the outsourcing arena, such as Poland, Brazil and Argentina.

Knowing Where to Hire

Now that the playing field has leveled out, and India is no longer the only viable option for a US company looking to outsource, the question on every business owner’s mind is ‘where to head to for outsourcing work now?’ With a number of excellent options now available, the company must now start to take a number of things into consideration. Of course, wages are as relevant as ever, but it is also worthwhile to consider other aspects, such as performance; for example, if outsourcing call center services, how adept is the center at US English, and how understandable is the accent? (Many customers cite ‘hard to understand’ call center workers as a pet hate when communicating with a company). Consider turnaround time too. A lower wage rate may look appealing on paper, but if the job takes twice as long to complete, then it may well be false economy. It is a good idea, before committing to a large-scale outsourcing venture, to visit the establishment and get in-depth knowledge of their working arrangements, level of commitment and working conditions. Of course, this can be a straight-forward business trip, or it can be combined with pleasure; giving you a valuable opportunity to not only familiarize yourself with the company, but to learn about the culture of the country you are about to enter into a working alliance with.

Harnessing the Power of Outsourcing

Used appropriately, outsourcing still remains one of the most cost-effective decisions that a US company can make. For example, a Chinese manufacturer earns on average, around 60 cents an hour; considerably less than their US counterparts. With savings such as this, it is clear to see why outsourcing is such an appealing option. Obama recently spoke out against outsourcing, and recommended revamping the federal tax code to encourage more work to stay on US soil. But even with tax laws relaxed, it would be hard for comparable US outsourcing services to compete with those from abroad. Quite simply, the current international economic structure supports outsourcing from overseas. For US companies, outsourcing also means being able to hire from a greatly increased pool of talent. For example, Brazil currently boasts a huge number of professionals who are expert in JAVA programming, but will offer their services for a considerable amount less than their US counterparts. It is unsurprising why more and more US companies are broadening their outlook and turning to overseas companies to develop their products and improve their productivity.

(1) India has dominated the outsourcing scene for years. But, Bulgaria and Egypt are on the rise!
(2) Getting a good price on outsourcing is one thing, but what if the turnaround is slow?

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You are on vacation and your world falls apart

Categories: Of Interest | Tagged , | Leave a comment

I always fear going away on vacation. I will be away from my desk, my checkbook, my familiar setting. What if something goes wrong? The worst problems I have had in business had to do with connecting a person working an American schedule with someone in India. I am flexible and can be available at any hour of the day or night, but others are rigid and work in offices. It took a week of me pestering everyone in site to get John and Ramesh on the phone together to solve a very simple technical problem. Why is life like pulling teeth.

But, recently, I was not in India. I was in Arizona, only a few hours from my home. I went away to get some desert energy in me. I feel very boosted up after a quick trip to the desert for a few days. The spirits do healing on me. The cactuses are soothing to me (even though they have needles.) The break from work for a few days also does miracles.

But, my site went down while in Arizona. My site goes down every several weeks. But, getting it back up requires me to bug the hell out of whomever can get it back up to talk to the server company for me. Connie called me and let me know what had happened. Then, I called John, and left him messages. I couldn’t reach John, my regular contact. So, I called my new programmer. He was also not there. I was really sweating at this point. We get 5000 visitors per day on my site and going down for more than an hour will get us complaints and ruin our stats. So, the programmer called me back an hour later and we were back in action.

The point is that I had to learn how to be the “At home me” and solve problems while I was in my car in the desert on an Indian reservation. I’m not used to solving serious problems while driving around. But, I managed, and I lived to tell about it. Yes, I get overly paranoid about things that might not phase others. But, maybe that is why God entrusted me with a few critical operations and not someone else! He knows I care.

But, I’m reading about people who go on vacation for a month with no phone? In my business we might be out of business if that happened. Others don’t seem to be able to put Humpty Dumpty back together without my intervention. Yes, it makes me feel needed, but seriously — can’t other people do anything without my constant nagging?

(1) I read about a guy who went on vacation w/o a phone? I would be out of biz in days like that!
(2) what if you go on vacation & something breaks or someone quits while you are gone?

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Is it better to hire your own top-notch employee or outsource your task?

Categories: Management, Semi-Popular | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Is it better to hire your own top-notch employee or outsource your task?

The answer is not so simple.
If you have repetitive tasks that require exactly 40 hours per week to do, then hire an employee. But, what if you only need a few hours a day of specialized service? You might outsource the task to a company, or a highly skilled freelancer! In the end, it is really about finding someone who can get the job done they way you want it done.

Being in control of your new helper
Sure, you can hire your own employee. If you hire someone, it is easier to watch them if they are sitting next to you than if they are hundreds or thousands of miles away working for someone else. It is also easier to control an employee. You can say, “Do it my way or your’re fired!” Try saying that to someone at an outsourced company. They have to do what THEIR boss says, not what you say. You will be more in control (generally) if you hire your own person.

The outsourced company might be better at hiring
Anyone can hire someone to help them out. But, someone who specializes in hiring within a particular specialty might be better at hiring those types of people. On the other hand, the company might have mediocre taste in those that they hire, while you might be more discriminating. Additionally, it is easier to work with someone who you have a good personality match with. Someone who you hire is more likely to be compatible with you than an outsourced worker. Bad personal relationships almost always lead to substandard work with outsourced workers!

Having enough work?
If you run a small company, you sometimes don’t have enough work for a full-time employee. The other problem is that your full-time employee might not be able to do all of the tasks that you assign them, or might not be that good at half of the tasks. If you outsource a task, they do as many hours as you assign them. Freelancers are in the same boat. If you don’t mind having an employee sitting around twiddling their thumbs, or being paid overtime, you might be able to handle the work fluctuations. Or, if you have more than 40 hours of work per week to give to someone new, hire an employee and give the remainder to an outsourced company!

Letting it pile up?
If you have 25 hours a week of work for someone to do, and you let it pile up for a while, it might become 40 hours a week of work if you include playing catch up ball. On the other hand, if your new employee quits or gets fired quickly, you might quickly find yourself very painfully behind. The pile up strategy is very interesting, but has its pitfalls!

What should you do?
If you need to outsource a task, consider all of the options. Interview lots of outsourced companies, freelancers, and prospective employees. Try your best options after some analysis, and then commit to the best option and see what happens!

(1) If you have repetetive tasks that require exactly 40 hours per week to do, then hire an employee
(2) If you need specialized service, hire an outsourced company or a highly skilled freelancer!
(3) It’s easier to watch your help if if they are right next to you & NOT 5000 miles away in India!
(4) If you hire your own employee rather than outsourcing, you’re more likely to get personality compatibility!
(5) If you run a small company, you sometimes don’t have enough work for a full-time employee. Time to outsource!
(6) Bad personal relationships in the workplace almost always lead to substandard work!
(7) If you have 25 hrs/week of work to do and let it pile up for a few months, it becomes 40 hours playing catchup ball.

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Outsourcing to the Philippines — things I noticed

Categories: Philippines | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

I have never outsourced to the Philippines myself, at least not yet. I like certain attributes that the Filipinos have as a culture. I have been made aware of several tendencies that you might want to be aware of.

The Philippines is very integrated with the West as far as business is concerned. It is common for Caucasians to live in Manila, Cebu or other outsourcing destinations in the Philippines. Westerners find the culture comfortable, friendly, and inviting, not to mention the warm climate. It is normal for Westerners to work at multinational Filipino companies in management and sales.

What I learned is that they are great talkers. They are smooth, friendly, and fun to talk to. Even the Westerners that live in the Philippines conform to this norm. The accent is different, but the message is still the same. The minute I tried to get anyone to email me information it was like pulling teeth. I tried to get a German guy managing a small company in Manila to return a quote to me. I asked twice and then gave up. I asked a Filipino manager and call center worker to return a quote to me. I had to ask five times and finally got it. Filipinos and often foreigners who live there are wonderful orally and horrible about writing anything down or returning emails.

There is yet another experience I had. The lady was the nicest person I have ever spoken to in my life. Her photo was a knock-out too. She was the most beautiful female I have ever seen — at least by photo. Later, I noticed broken links on their site, and a failure to return emails.

My last example really cost me. My dentist is also from the Philippines. She is a wonderful person and great at her work. But, her record keeping is in handwriting, and not that organized. Although I see her four times a year for cleaning — We/she forgot to give me x-rays for a few years, and I had to have a root canal.

The bottom line is to appreciate the people from the Philippines, but just don’t expect much from them in terms of written communication. If you get lucky and find someone who is punctual and methodical about emails and keeping records that is great. Just expect that you will have a very difficult time getting them to write or type much.

(1) Filipinos are great on the phone, but how good are they at written communication?
(2) The Philippines is very integrated with the West as far as business is concerned.

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Vampire Programmers from Transylvania!

Categories: Popular on Google+, Popular Posts, Software Development | Tagged | Leave a comment

Vampire Web Developers in Transylvania? Beware of Signing Contracts–in Blood

It was early evening as I arrived for the meeting. Twilight, that mysterious time between day… and night.

I was in Transylvania, as they now spell it, an area of Romania, for a meeting with a web developer. The outsourcing firm was called “Count Source,” and the CEO had assured me “After you meet with me, your life will never be the same.” I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. As I walked up to the large wooden door in the dark stone building set back from the road at the end of a long driveway, I had the odd feeling I was being watched. I shrugged, stood at the door, and knocked. Count Dracula? Count Source Outsource? I laughed to myself. Why worry?

“Good evening,” said the strange man who opened the door. He was dressed vaguely like a butler. “I am Ambrogio. Mr. Strigoi is in the office. Have a seat. He is just finishing up a session.” At that moment, a piercing scream came from the next room: “MY CODE!!! What will happen to–” Silence.

“Would you like some…wine?” Ambrogio asked.

“No thank you. I have an appointment with Vlad Strigoi,” I said, suddenly uncomfortable. I looked around the room. “If this is a bad time I can–”

“Oh no,” said Ambrogio. I couldn’t remember where I had heard that name. “He will be with you in just a moment. We have been expecting you,” he said, smiling in a strange, sad way. He walked slowly toward the ‘office’ where the scream had come from…somewhere down a long, shadowy hall.

I looked around the room. I realized it was not only quiet but dark, lit with a few electrified candelabras on antique tables. Dark wood. The air smelled musty. This was more like a parlor, an ancient sitting room, than the waiting area of a modern hi-tech office. In fact–it looked nothing like the brochure I had seen online!

In a moment, a dark figure dressed in black walked hurriedly down the hall towards me. The first thing I noticed were his eyes: gleaming, electric, hypnotic. I was already sure this was the developer for me…

“So pleased to meet you, Mr. Montbel,” he said smoothly, barely whispering. “Won’t you come in?”

“Thank you. That’s Belmont,” I replied, but added, “Yes…Montbel…also a lovely name… I want to give you the codes to my site at once,” I murmured– not even sure why I was saying this.

Imagine the rest. In a moment, I had given a stranger the codes to my website–and all my personal information. As if I were in a trance… dazzled by the sample websites and figures and company information I was being shown. But–there was no company! No employees: only a man named Strigoi…in a room that smelled strangely like–blood. I could almost taste it, metalic and salty. And there he stood, with those swirling, penetrating dark eyes– holding out a pen for me to sign–a 200 page contract–just to get 100 hours of initial programming done! And as he gazed at me, he came ever closer…closer.

Suddenly, just as I was about to sign and give Strigoi a $10,000 retainer– I awoke from my daze, put down the red pen–and ran from the house. Suddenly I remembered: Transylvania meant “the land beyond the forest,” and Ambrogio meant “the undead” or “immortal.” Strigoi– was the name of an ancient clan–of vampires!

If you are beguiled by a sales pitch and a smile, then persuaded to sign a contract just to speak with the company about its services, or to be able to give them a test project, or do a few hours of programming–beware: it may cost you–more than you planned for or really want to spend!

(1) Programmers from Transylvania prefer to sign their contracts — in blood!
(2) An outsourcing company in Transylvania was called, “Count Source”
(3) After you meet with them, your life will never be the same: Outsourcing to Transylvania

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