Tag Archives: Test Project

The second test project & the second bid

Categories: Semi-Popular, Software Development | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

It is like pulling teeth to find good software companies to hire. I started off by hiring software companies / software outsourcing companies who talked well on the phone. Then, after I saw their work I realized that talk is cheap. Of course the ones who didn’t talk well, couldn’t function when we needed to communicate. Damned if you do and damned if you don’t.

So, to get a sense of perspective about how efficient companies were, I gave many a test estimate job. Some bid too high, while others bid too low. What I realized is that the ones who bid too low were not realistic or reliable. The ones who bid too high were crooked. Those who bid right on target were too good to have time for me. So, I tried to find companies who bid a little higher than what I wanted — but, not too much higher. I overlooked a few things.

I found one software outsourcing company who bid perfectly on a test project. I wanted a bid of 40 hours, and they bid exactly 40. Then I had another project which took other programmers about 2 hours. This same company wanted 16 hours for 2 hours of work. OMG! They bid very realistically on the first job, and insanely on the second. So, I am realizing that my screening process needs to be longer and include more than one bid.

Another company was given a job that I thought an American software company should take 4 hours to complete, but that an Indian company might take 6 hours. They came in at 5.25 hours. I was very happy, and their work was flawless. Then they bid on a 60 hour project and wanted 800 hours. What happened?

I feel that before settling on a particular software outsourcing company, shop around and really put people through two test projects and several quick bids to see if they are in the ball-park each step of the game. If they are sometimes out of the ball park, you could lose your shirt very quickly.

Never judge a company by their first bid!

(1) If ur testing companies out, give them a 1st test project, and then a 2nd before hiring them.
(2) If a company bid sensibly on test project #1, they might bid insanely the 2nd time around
(3) Never judge a company by their first bid!
(4) Don’t judge a book by its cover or a company by its 1st bid.
A 2nd bid proves you’re consistently in the ballpark!
(5) Baseball is back! As you visit the ballpark, make sure the IT guys bidding are in the ballpark! Or they’re…OUT!
(6) Bidding too low: unrealistic.
Too high: crooked.
On target: too busy for me.
A little higher than ideal? 🙂
(7) Don’t judge book by its cover or company by its 1st bid. Get two bids to make sure both are in your ballpark!

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How to Make Sure Outsourcing Companies Follow Directions

Categories: Management | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

How to Make Sure Outsourcing Companies Following Directions

Following directions is a problem in any company. But, if you work with offshore labor, or outsourcing companies, they always blame the customer if they didn’t follow directions. Remember — the customer is always wrong. Most companies just don’t value the work you are giving them in my experience which is where the problem starts.

But, the resolution to the problem is easy. Here are a few steps to ensure that your offshore company follows instructions well.

(1) Give them a test run before you give them any real work.
If a company is too sloppy to give a chance on something that might be time sensitive or critical, test a few companies out on your dime on a test project. I recommend TWO test projects. Companies tend to be “trying” more on the initial test project, and will slack off a lot more on the second one.

(2) Let the offshore company believe that the 2nd test project is real
Outsourcing companies will let you down a lot of the time if you are a small client. They just don’t care much about the little fish which doesn’t make good business sense. Little fishes are easier to catch, easier to keep, and lots of little fish add up to a big fish. Companies will be more careful in your assignment if they feel it is a test. If the second test project is a real project, then they go back to their regular habits of taking forever and making lots of mistakes in many cases. A second test is like a second interview. People are being “themselves” the second time around — and you need to know what the real “themselves” is before giving them anything critical!

(3) You need to keep clear instructions in writing, and then go over the instructions verbally after the fact. If you flood someone with emails, you will create a mess. So, only send needed emails and keep the information in them well organized. Anything that was assigned orally can be disregarded and YOU will be blamed. People can forget what you told them, or just blatantly disregard what you said. Or, if someone gets upset with you, then they might decide to not follow instructions.

(4) Have your offshore company check in with you periodically
It is impotant to have work get done in steps. You need to inspect each step. The first step should be the smallest. That way if your offshore company is on the wrong track, you can get them straightened out. But don’t assume that because you corrected the company, that they will follow directions from then on. Assume that they will continue making mistakes as they usually do. In real life they might make some of the same types of errors they made before and perhaps a few new ones too!

(5) Deadlines should be in writing
Give lots of smaller deadlines in writing that are reasonable. Use these to double check all of the work. The secret to having people follow directions is to screen out those that are beyond help, and to keep coaching the good ones! Deadlines assist in the checking process. They also provide a definitive line where you can fire someone. You could even have multiple deadlines for the same stage in the process. The first deadline gets you a bonus, the second keeps you going, and the third gets you fired for sure — no excuses! You can engineer so many business strategies with creative deadlines. Don’t overlook this opportunity.

Keep an eye on everyone, communicate all pertinent points in writing every time, and good luck!

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