Tag Archives: Programming Companies

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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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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Slow-but-good verses Fast & Sloppy programmers

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

Programming is a very meticulous task and you can ruin someone’s business if you are sloppy. The programmers I have hired in the past were all sloppy which is why I am changing my hiring algorithm to include a testing process involving a two hour programming test. The test is easy to pass, but most people are not paying attention and fail. But, let’s say that some people do pass the test. Then what?

If one company delivers slow and meticulous work, that is wonderful. But, what type of project do you put them on? If one project is time sensitive and my company will suffer $2000 / day in damages if there is a delay — then slow and meticulous might not be the ideal choice. On the other hand, if I have a very complicated project which doesn’t need to get done for a few months, then slow and meticulous might be a great choice.

Fast & sloppy can work too on a NEW project that doesn’t have any customers or data yet. If they fix their mistakes right away, you might be able to make some real headway, and working on an experimental project might be great with this type of team — once again assuming that they fix their mistakes as quickly as they make them.

But, what about fast and meticulous. Programming companies are so short-staffed, that it seems almost impossible to get fast service at any price. I think you could make a mint if you hired really good programmers and charged insane prices. Some people will pay for it, at least when they are in a bind — which seems to be the case for many companies. If you get a client who is short on time but packed with money, they might like to have someone fast and good who charges 50% more than the market rate for programming services.

The moral of the story here is to think from the perspective of the customer. They are the ones paying you, so try to find a way to cater your programming (or other services) to their needs in terms of speed, accuracy, customer service, or anything else that matters to whomever is paying.

Choose a company from an area that specializes in what they do?

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Choose a company from a region that specializes in what the company does?

I recently chose a programming company that was in an area that specialized in wine and small farms.  I found that the skill of the programmer was quite good.  However, the attitude about getting things done, and getting back to me was very lackidasical.  Perhaps this is the culture of the area they are in which is famous for wine, and a great place to take a weekend away from home if you live in the big city. The area has wonderful family owned small farms with all types of produce.  There are wonderful small restaurants, bars, seashores, oysters, and much more.  Is it bad luck that I had bad luck with this company, or did I break a rule of life?
My last programming company was in suburban Los Angeles.  The head programmer was quite good, and the boss was excellent. But, once again, they were not completely focused on programming, and had only two programmers. Now, they have zero since the market for programming got slow nationwide.  I’m thinking that they are in an area which is not focused on programming. Our area is focused on Hollywood, and the clothing industry, and other things, but not IT work. 
I talked to some smart young guys I bumped into at an Indian fast food joint.  They were in the social media and programming business in the management end.  These guys told me that in the Los Angeles area, only one out of ten programmers is good and hard working, while in the Bay Area (silicon valley) which is famous for the computer industry and where the the computer and internet was invented, that 80% of programmers up there were good in their opinion.  I think these two gentlemen summed it up, and proved my point.
If you want to hire a wine expert, go to an area famous for wine. If you want to hire a great cook, look for one in an area famous for food.  But, if you want to hire a programmer, hire one in an area famous for programmers.   Bangalore, Pune, Hyderabad, Silicon Valley, and Phoenix Arizona are places that come to my mind.
The company I am using now for programming has been working on projects with me for five years. They are in Pune which is an up and coming programming hub in India.  This company has 45 programmers.  This proves how serious they are about the industry in contrast to companies in America that have one or two programmers who are perpetually late completing projects, etc.