back to article Your job was probably outsourced for exactly the reason you suspected

Wondering where software developers are – or aren't – earning top dollar? Just look at a list of the leading outsourcers and their most popular outsourcing destinations.  That's the data that can be found in a global software engineering salary report this month from CodeSubmit, which develops coding challenges for technical …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    And yet

    Every software project my company out sources to Shri Lanka ends up failing in spectacular ways and rewritten by our devs in the US and Germany where our hardware products the software interfaces to are developed. Go figure.

    1. Headley_Grange Silver badge

      Re: And yet

      I figure that the people in your company who write the software design specs, write the software acceptance test specs/procedures and do the acceptance testing for the outsourced work need a bollocking.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: And yet

        It's not clear from OP whether or not it's the UATs where the spectacular failures occur. The real bollocking needs to be applied to whoever persists in sending projects to the out-sourcers.

        1. Headley_Grange Silver badge

          Re: And yet

          It doesn't matter where they are finding the failures does it? If the product satisfies the requirements specs but fails in integration then it was a poor spec. Ditto the acceptance tests. On the other hand, if it's failing acceptance testing and they are still accepting it for integration then that's a whole other group that needs to be bollocked. The fact they keep doing it does suggest something at a higher level in the company might be wrong too.

          In principle there's nothing wrong with outsourcing as long as its costed properly - and therein lies the problem. Some, most, all or more of the money you might theoretically save will have to be spent on more detailed specs and acceptance processes. You lose a lot of flexibility and when the HW engineers come up against a problem that can be fixed more easily in the code then it becomes a commercial argument as much as a technical argument. And they still need management - technical, project, QA. You might have to duplicate the integration rig/environment and ship it out. The biggest risk in my experience is the one the OP has - that the best people on your team end up fixing the subcontractor's problem instead of doing what they were supposed to do and the schedule takes a massive hit as a result.

          All this can be costed/scheduled in and a cost/benefit done to justify (or not) the outsourcing decision. But once the high-paid help have seen the shiny bauble that is the subcontractors low costs they often don't want to hear it. They already think that you spend too much time writing documents and not enough time doing the "actual" work. They dispute the need to manage them with the "that's what we're paying them to do". And you can share the rig if you plan it properly.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: And yet

        Part of the problem is the absurd idea that an Systems Analyst can fully capture every single requirement, including the mutually exclusive ones, design the perfect system and then accurately specify it down to the last detail such that it can be implemented in a single pass by low paid "generic interchangeable programming resources" who have very little coding experience, no knowledge of the business, don't speak the same language and are in a different time zone.

        When you get to the point where the systems analyst has to specify the algorithms in pseudo-code, and define all the variables and data structures, then they might as well just write the actual code in a proper programming language. That is how the job title "Analyst/Programmer" came about and it's a lot more efficient than trying the split the roles and outsource one of them. This especially applies when requirements are clarified (ie. changed) after development has begun.

        1. Alan Brown Silver badge

          Re: And yet

          Outsourcing is why B737 MAX aircraft started trying to fly themselves into the ground - for exactly the reasons detailed in Paragraph One above

        2. EricB123 Bronze badge

          Re: And yet

          Well, my toaster uses outsourced code and it works just fine. Makes great toast.

          I see no reason why that can't be upscaled just a little bit to code a jet airliner.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: And yet @Headley_Grange

        The operative phrase was "where our hardware products the software interfaces to are developed".

        If all you do is web rubbish, or financial software, or desktop applications, you can completely spec software & outsource it. That's even true if your "hardware" is some passive display computer like a Roku. But if you develop commercial hardware that actually moves and does things in the real world, like cars & tractors, robots, laser welding systems, satellites, you go through iterations of hardware & software in parallel, software especially during system level testing because specs, like battle plans, are (almost) useless after first contact with the real world (or the enemy). Even if you work on deep space probes (like I have) where it's one build & a launch, there's a lot of iterative work in hardware & software in the front end and the initial specs may not be known to be achievable and thus are targets. And on projects I have been on where the software gets outsourced, it's a waste of resources. Better to have the software guys embedded with the hardware guys so they are truly one team.

      4. Mostly Irrelevant

        Re: And yet

        In my experience, writing specific-enough specs for the average outsourcing company to produce a half-usable product is more work than building the entire application yourself personally. Communication over space, cultural divides and experience is very difficult.

    2. Warm Braw

      "Shri" Lanka

      Not the best way to advertise your superior accuracy.

      1. Version 1.0 Silver badge

        Re: "Shri" Lanka

        The the story first appear in the Guardian newspaper then?

      2. Flywheel

        Re: "Shri" Lanka

        "Shri" Lanka is a little-known island off the South-West of Sri Lanka. "Shri" literally means "tiny island" in Sinhala. Not a lot of people know that. Obvs.

        1. unimaginative Bronze badge

          Re: "Shri" Lanka

          Its not true though. Shri is an alternative spelling or Sri, and was for a few years the Sri Lankan government's preferred transliteration.

          it might have been easier just to stick to Ceylon as the name in English - it took older people a while to make the switch..

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: "Shri" Lanka

        His web browser was using an Sri Lanka outsourced auto-complete & spell checker.

    3. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: And yet

      I concur.

      Huawei have been clearly farming out much of their switch coding (you can see it in the comments if you unpack patches and images) - the quality is routinely awful and the bugs just asinine

      (But at least there are no _deliberate_ backdoors, unlike various American products)

    4. unimaginative Bronze badge

      Re: And yet

      There are some very good developers in Sri Lanka, and I have worked with them. Some incredibly good ones.

      The problem is that good developers either:

      1. work for a few companies with good reputations, pay, and that look good socially and on your CV. I worked for

      2. get promoted into management

      3. emigrate

      4. demand higher salaries (which overlaps with 1)

      The end result is that if you outsource to the cheapest supplier you get rubbish developers.

      Pay say half a UK salary in Sri Lanka (or India, or a lot of other places) and you can take your pick. Pay a 5th and one of the other options looks better. Pay a full UK salary and you can probably find brilliant people.

      The problem is that people offshoring are looking for cheap, and only cheap.

  2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    "a global software engineering salary report this month from CodeSubmit"

    Do they also produce a global software engineering quality report or a global software engineering value for money report?

    I sometimes point out here that measuring things is hard. That's no excuse for substituting the measurement that's easiest for the measurement that matters.

    1. Terry 6 Silver badge

      But where ever you look, the metrics adopted are the easy to measure ones.

      It starts before school age. Out kids are measured on "Phonics" rather than actual ability to read, and Phonics is the go to teaching method forced on to schools- because it's easy to understand, market,monetise and measure.

      The beancounters' icy hands are in control before our kids even get to age 5.

      1. Primus Secundus Tertius Silver badge

        Phonics is readily defensible in educational terms, as against other schemes based on recognising words rather than alphabetical details.

        1. Mark #255

          Yes and no.

          Phonics helps a lot of children to read, but certainly not all of them. Some children just don't learn in the same way as the others.

          It wasn't until the "phonics first, fast, and only" strategy was imposed by the DfE that it mattered. Prior to that, phonics was a major tool used by EYFS teachers, but if it wasn't helping a particular child, another method could be used to help them.

          And of course, it then turned out that the only phonics scheme that got approval was the one run by folks with links to the people approving the scheme.

          1. david 12 Silver badge

            Yes, our school also pretended that phonics was a tool in the array of different methods used to teach reading. By teachers who had learned to read without phonics, and gone through teacher training without being taught any phonics.

            Word recognition is a method most people use to read. Teaching word recognition first interferes with the learning of phonics, used to learn word recognition. Most children learn to read anyway, just not as well as if they had learned phonics first.

            1. Terry 6 Silver badge

              Incorrect. Children learn to read best when they have good language skills, are introduced to the language and rhythms of book language, have a good understanding of rhymes, have been taught a useful amount of both analytic and synthetic phonics (only the latter is permitted now), recognise a good number of useful words (not just the 100 most common ones because frequency is not the same as utility) and are given support and encouragement to gain confidence in their ability to anticipate and verify words and phrases. The phonics behaviourist lobby call the latter "guessing". It isn't. But they are very good at dog whistle arguments.

              And all of the above are important components of reading, but none is individually essential. You can learn to read without any one of them if you have the others. Except maybe the language skills. For reading to be meaningful you need to have the language to understand what you are reading.

              1. david 12 Silver badge

                We can disagree on that. The published research supports the observed population statistics that teaching word recognition before or in parallel with phonics is counter-productive.

                I (and the research I am familiar with) agree with you that reading is only one aspect of communication, and that it is difficult and unusual (impossible for most people) to learn reading without other communication skills. Phonics and alphabet recognition should be taught before reading, in the same way that finger painting is learned before brush painting before handling a pencil before writing.

                Countries that have simple phonic spelling can defer reading and writing until after the child has learned 3 languages. English is an international language with no common pronunciation, only a common spelling, and the decoding skill is just as arcane as learning to effectively use a pencil.

                1. Terry 6 Silver badge

                  Those studies - I read several. It was my job to- all compare these two approaches to find that phonics works better than sight recognition at what they have redefined as word recognition. In isolation from the aspects of reading that they anathematise, use of context above all.

                  Pure straw man arguing again, I'm afraid.

                2. LybsterRoy Silver badge

                  --only a common spelling--

                  Well sort of or are you ignoring the existence of American English vs English?

            2. Binraider Silver badge

              Without googling, I could not even begin to give you a definition of phonics in the context of how to teach a language.

              Word / image recognition is how most foreign languages are initially taught as second languages.

              And word / image recognition is how the most basic of first-language books are taught. C is for Cat. D is for Dog, etc.

              Whatever "classroom" technique is used, image/word recognition is what you do in the real world, and what parents/guardians will naturally do. For all of it's "alien" nature to us, there is something to the pictographic nature of multiple Asian languages for simplicity - the character representing a concept simply is; and there is no complication other than the sheer volume of characters to catalogue.

              Back at home, as a teenager, I could not for one minute understand how 15-16 year olds who were in remedial classes for reading were expected to function in the same classrooms that I was sat in for GCSE-whatever. And even less-so now, with bigger classes and teachers expected to do more with less resource.

              One size does not fit all, it never will, especially when it comes to education. And here we are in the fourth decade of government attempts to meddle in standardisation that does not work for everyone.

        2. Terry 6 Silver badge

          That is a straw man argument. One much used by the phonics lobby. The whole word recognition approach was a common one when I learnt to read, in the 60s.

          By the 80s it had been replaced by a much fuller understanding of the reading development process. Reading as a complex set of cognitive activities. But that is much harder to explain to the public, much harder to market and much more expensive to produce materials for. Nor does it satisfy the demands of the Behaviourist theoreticians who'd been pretty much expelled from mainstream Psychology outside of education. Phonics, however, is an absolute Behaviourist approach.

          Phonics is marginally more effective than that old "Look and Say" approach, but Look and Say was an approach that was pretty much obsolete by the late 80s. It didn't stop the powerful and vociferous phonics lobby from attacking it as if it was still current and, more importantly, falsely, defining everything other than phonics as if it too was "Look and Say".

          1. david 12 Silver badge

            Yes, this is exactly what our education system was claiming for the last 40 years. But the teachers had learned to read using look-say, and went through teachers college without learning anything else (3 years of writing essays). Our school has specialist remedial teachers to teach phonics to children whose reading skills are far behind their communication skills.

            But even if the pretense that the schools were using blended appropriate methods was true (it wasn't), it is still the case that phonics should be taught before reading.

            This isn't 'behaviorist'. It's got nothing to do with that.

            On that separate subject: classroom teachers learn modern education theory, but go into a classroom and see that what they are actually doing is behaviorist. Teaching look-say and whole word methods, which are still in use (sometimes in parallel with the pretense of phonics) with behaviorist methods.

            One of the reasons that they choose behaviorist methods for teaching reading is that the kids don't have the base of good phonics skill which would enable rapid discovery learning.

            Children learn communication skills, including reading, talking and understanding. They learn to use their tongue and ears and eyes and fingers, and then develop those body skills further as they mature. Synthetic phonics is an arcane base skill that should be learned before reading, to enable further development of communication skills.

            1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

              "Synthetic phonics is an arcane base skill that should be learned before reading"

              As a by-stander in all this I find the above somewhere between mystifying and alarming. If it's an arcane skill why is it taught/learned at all?

              However this exchange does at least underline my original statement: measurement is is hard.

              1. Terry 6 Silver badge

                In educational terms measurement is both essential and fraught.

                We need to measure the outcomes of our work- or how do we know if we're doing the right things for the right kids at the right time.

                But, as soon as measurement becomes public and political it becomes counterproductive if not totally destructive. Because the pressure then is to provide easily understandable measurements showing steady progress at an apparently impressive scale.

                The reality is that the aspects that are the easiest to measure are seldom the most relevant. That individual items are not significant in isolation, but rather progress is most often seen in how they integrate. And that progress is not regular in identifiable steps. Over any given period there will be small progressions in some components, some big progressions in others. Some plateaus and some sudden surges. Some total blocks that the teacher will have to deal with*, and some sudden flashes when the learner will just "get it".

                *Deeply suspect are any programmes and methods that require the teacher/student to just do more of the same, or keep repeating a unit until it's achieved. The professionalism of the teacher is to decide whether they should try to do that and how much. Or find some alternative method. Or reduce it down to just the essential elements or maybe simply provide a workaround that lets the kids progress- and come back to it later, if that is what is needed.

                1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

                  A bit of a whoosh there, Terry. In the post which I was querying it's synthetic phonetics, not measurement which was being characterised as an arcane skill to be taught, and hence learned, as a base skill before reading.

                  Something arcane is exotic, specialised, used only in limited circumstances and needed by few people. That is the exact opposite of a base skill except as a base for something at least equally arcane. It's being presented here as a base for teaching reading. I hope reading is still far from an arcane skill in schools.

                  Which is why I regard the statement that "Synthetic phonics is an arcane base skill that should be learned before reading" both alarming and mystifying. It seems to me that educational theorists have gone deep down some rabbit-hole and left behind a world where we can sit down with our pre-school children and Ladybird 1a, 1b, 2a etc and just teach them to read.

                  1. Terry 6 Silver badge

                    Not sure what the whoosh is. I totally agree with you. I wouldn't have used the word "Arcane" for it, at least not in its original form and probably not at all. But I think the poster was using the term as in a mystical art. And there I'd agree it - even if it's not the correct use of the word..

                    Synthetic Phonics - which started as simply being linear decoding (c+a+t=cat) has morphed into being a quasi-religious system that has to be "Pure". (The word is actually used). And Analytic Phonics (aka Onset and rime) is seen as being a serious Heresy, along with any kind of fun, focus on meaning or even, in some of the more extreme cases admitting that some words may not be decodable.

              2. LybsterRoy Silver badge

                Or as someone once sort of said - I recognise and understand all of the words individually but I cannot understand the sentences.

              3. unimaginative Bronze badge
                Paris Hilton

                As fas as I can make out, phonics does better in classroom settings: does not require individual attention, and people tend to learn at more of the same speed (so you get less of a gap between the fastest and slowest to learn in a class).

                The problem is that it is a boring chore and is slower for a lot of kids.

                Whole word recognition can be a game. Its fun to try and recognise words on flashcards. The you can move fairly quickly to books with actual stories (Peter and Jane) and you can easily be reading proper books for fun at 6 or so. My kids did not think it was any different from any other game they played.

                It is how my mother taught me and my sisters, it is how I taught my kids. We all love reading because it was fun from the start.

        3. M.V. Lipvig Silver badge

          Yes, fonix only becas aceracy isnt neeeded wen u no wats ment, rite? Were aceracy maters is wen u ned 2 no detals on

          I can't do this. Grammar and spelling are VERY important to know what is meant, not what is being spoken. Many words have different spellings for the same spoken sound with each spelling having vastly different meanings. Teaching using phonics never should have happened.

          1. Terry 6 Silver badge

            Teaching some phonics is very useful. It's a good way of getting a good part of many words. The wheels come off when it becomes the only authorised approach for the whole of teaching reading, with a specific authorised methodology and specific targets that are required to be met.

            There was a time when some academics were so anti-phonics that the kids in some schools weren't being given that skill. I fought very hard with the schools I was supporting to make sure that it was taught. The absolute minimum is that kids can recognise the sounds of most of the letters instantly, so that they know what sound the word begins with. But equally I fought against some schools where a scheme was followed slavishly when it wasn't productive.

            An example. A consonant blend is a pair of consonants that run together (e.g. "sl"). It's almost as useful to be able to get these at the start of words as simple consonants. But one school was complaining about, and asking for help for, several kids who weren't getting enough ticks on a list of the blends they were required to learn by rote. But they were all getting a fair few. The simple and (should be) obvious solution is to teach the kids to generalise from one to many. If they know "sl" they can get {st,sp,sw,sk...}. Also {bl,cl,fl,gl...}. Then {bl,br,} and so on. You can ( I did) make a diagram with "sl" in the middle and the other sets on paths radiating outwards. The school took this up. The long standing problem resolved itself within a couple of weeks; leaving me to take up referrals for the kids who really needed specialised help.

            1. LybsterRoy Silver badge

              As an old fart born in 1951 I was taught in the incredibly old fashioned way. I'm feeling extremely baffled by this thread (obviously not as much as Mr. Lipvig - hi there Moist) so I'd like to ask what to me is a fairly fundamental question.

              How does phonics (I assume derived from phonetic spelling) help with vocabulary and understanding the meaning of words - parrots can quote some words but do not understand them. I have a sneaky suspicion that being able to sound out a word does not enhance ones ability to understand its meaning.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                "I have a sneaky suspicion that being able to sound out a word does not enhance ones ability to understand its meaning."

                Amen to that. My wife is Bulgarian, and so over the years I have picked up the knack of reading cyrillic - ie I can look at a string of cyrillic characters and (after some study) come up with a word pronunciation (likely as not the wrong one). But whether I am actually pronouncing it rightly or not, the chances are that I have no idea what it means, since my actual vocabulary is limited to a couple of hundred common words.

                1. Flywheel

                  my actual vocabulary is limited to a couple of hundred common words

                  No problem! I spent a week in the Czech Republic with a vocabulary of "hello", "yes", "no", "2 beers please"

                  1. TimMaher Silver badge

                    Re:- 2 beers please

                    Both for you? Or did you have company?

              2. Terry 6 Silver badge

                Well, to add to your understandable confusion. As the Phonics Only movement has progressed we've moved away from giving kids "Real books" to stupid books that only serve to rehearse the phonic patterns required.

                One for the 5 year olds runs along the lines of "Hello Fox" /"Hello Box"/Ox comes in- [Ox then sits on the top of the next page and plays no part in the rest of the book] It continues "Fox is sad"/"I can fix it". I'm not sure how you fix sad, or what that is telling the 5 year olds about mental health.

                The latest iteration of this is that the kids can only be given books with words that are phonically regular*. They are not allowed any rhyming songs, or sounds games to help them remember, or enjoy. It has to be "pure" Phonics. At 5 years old!

                The impression coming through ( no one is paying for research as far as I'm aware) is of a generation of kids coming through who can read mechanically, but don't want to - and who some observers are suggesting struggle to read challenging texts even if they wanted to.

                The research aspect is interesting. For years I used to get the journals and there'd be plenty of research about teaching methods- often very nuanced or persistence of reading in older children, or approaches to comprehension and retention of written material. In the last couple of years before I retired all that had disappeared. All the studies were about comparative success of Phonics teaching in, for example, different alphabets. Absolutely nothing about attitudes to reading, relevance of reading to different age groups, etc etc.

                *I guess in another decade or so they'll be taught to drive on roads that are empty of other cars and only allowed to turn left.(In the UK).

                1. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge

                  B.I.T.A. & Twisted

                  When I went to primary school, we were taught to read through i.t.a. (Initial Teaching Alphabet), which was great. /sarcasm

                  Except for the fact I'd already been taught to read basic words from the newspaper by my father & was confused why what I was previously reading correctly was now not correct at school, consequently I was held back, I think by the second year where the teacher was writing everything twice on the board, with one stream copying "normal" from the board & those still "stuck" & not advancing on the i.t.a version.

                  One day I simply decided I'd had enough, viewed i.t.a as too hard to copy\complex\beneath me & advanced myself, the teacher called me up to do one of those spot checks at her desk on what we were doing, told me I was naughty & shouldn't change over like that without her telling me to do so, to which I responded I can read what's on both lines, she sent me back to my desk I don't recall if she told me to use one over the other or left it open ended (She was of the older variety of school teacher & was probably glad there was one less to migrate).

                  I think I completely wiped everything of i.ta. from my mind the moment I migrated & started walking away from her desk. Not another word was said on the matter & I don't recall when i.t.a dropped off the blackboard completely (Sneaking suspicion it was Year 3).

                  While I consider myself unaffected by the whole debacle & had developed a love of reading*, I have encountered others who were more severely handicapped by it.

                  *Helped a lot by a certain range of novelised TV scripts by the publisher Target.

                  1. Anonymous Coward
                    Anonymous Coward

                    Re: B.I.T.A. & Twisted

                    My wife was put through the abomination that was ITA.

                    To this day she will ask if certain words are spelt correctly as they sometimes "look wrong".

                    She collects old ITA books so she can show anyone who will listen how bad it was.

                    To me it kind of resembles Old English lol

                    1. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge

                      Re: B.I.T.A. & Twisted

                      It might explain a lot about the ex Mrs Oncoming Scorn literacy difficulties to be honest.

                      I'm starting to wonder if there was a increase in dyslexia type symptoms, over the years it was in use.

                      1. Terry 6 Silver badge

                        Re: B.I.T.A. & Twisted

                        Quite likely. It's another example of ideology in education overtaking knowledge and sense. A quick look at WikiP. It had 44 sounds. Which is still the touchstone of phonics teaching. But ITA tried to represent each one with its own character. So kids had to memorise and then decode not 26 symbols, but all 44. And some of these pretty hard to distinguish one from another.

                        Barking imho


                  2. Terry 6 Silver badge

                    Re: B.I.T.A. & Twisted

                    I saw some ITA stuff when I was doing my (rather specialised) PGCE. Pretty horrific. As far as I could understand it, it was designed to make Phonics work by making the spelling of words match how they sounded. How the fuck kids were then meant to transfer to real letters seems to be unexplained, or at least it wasn't part of that ( historic) module we looked at briefly.

    2. Warm Braw

      I've yet to find any recent trustworthy study on the quality or economics of software engineering - the few that exist seem to go back to the days of tape and teletypes.

      In fact there seems to be active resistance to attempts to measure an unquantifiable "art".

      Given the vast number of identikit JavaScript framework frontend + REST backend projects that make their way through the software sausage machine every day you'd think there'd be enough data for a reasonable stab at a comparative study.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        For the OP's case the measures would appear to be how much of it doesn't have to be rewritten and what's the overall cost when it's ready to ship, including both the out-sourcing bill and the rewrite costs. If they have the resources they could do a comparison - cost and total elapsed time of out-sourcing plus in-house, in-house cost split out from that and cost anfd in-house time of writing from scratch with a separate in-house team.

        1. batfink

 the opportunity cost penalty from your in-house devs not doing whatever it was they were supposed to be doing instead.

          1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

            Taken as included.

      2. GrahamRJ

        Quality is fairly measurable by quantity of defects - but only if your company is rigorous about tracking and evaluating issues. Many are not, which is where your JavaScript sausage factories fall down.

        For quality, most of them probably happened between the late 80s and the early 2000s. That's where development standards like MISRA, DO178B and the like were set up, based on evidence from tracking issues in various safety-related applications.

        Some of the details will vary (C coding standards about using pointers aren't that relevant for JavaScript), but the overall process requirements are unlikely to be any different. You still need to specify your system-level problem, break down the system-level problem into implementable requirements, code up those implementable requirements, (optionally) test that you got the implementable behaviour you specified, and finally test that you got the system-level behaviour you wanted.

        Evidence from back then was that bug frequency before testing was mostly language-independent - it correlates much more strongly with coder experience than anything else. So the other conclusions about quality are probably still valid too.

        As for economics, that comes back to the constant debate of quality versus speed to market. You can't study that, because any benefit of being first to market is going to be radically different depending on the market.

    3. jmch Silver badge

      "That's no excuse for substituting the measurement that's easiest for the measurement that matters."

      Absolutely!! See also: GDP / GDP per capita

  3. David Pearce

    Realistic rates

    In Malaysia you can get a fresh graduate for $6000pa

    A competent software developer who can write a spec and follow it and test will cost you far more, from $25000pa, but still much less than in the West

    1. Strahd Ivarius Silver badge

      Re: Realistic rates

      If you write the specs, you can easily follow them and have the test passing...

      however following specs written by someone else is another matter.

      1. Persona Silver badge

        Re: Realistic rates

        Normally, but not always. I have once come across a developer who's code passed all the unit tests but failed spectacularly during integration testing which used different test data. Oddly they went off sick just before integration testing commenced. When we pulled the code apart to find out why it was failing it transpired that the unit test cases were built into the code as specific instances. Rather than being a general solution the code only worked with those specific unit test conditions.

        1. cantankerous swineherd

          Re: Realistic rates

          agile innit

        2. Nifty Silver badge

          Re: Realistic rates

          Ah right, using standard software development methodology then.

        3. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: Realistic rates


        4. Richard 12 Silver badge

          Re: Realistic rates

          Test driven development at its finest.

        5. This post has been deleted by its author

        6. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Realistic rates

          I once observed a software and platform test person progressively comment-out failing chunks of their script, until they finally were left with "echo PASS" at the end.

          Success declared, they moved on. It apparently hadn't occurred to them that the unit under test actually was out in the weeds. Or maybe they were simply trying to check the box for (micro-)management metrics.

          Dunno if the script was ever checked-in, I'd like to think someone more experienced caught it in code review, but that's probably not the way to bet it....

      2. Warm Braw

        Re: Realistic rates

        Regrettably, specs of any kind have become increasingly unfashionable.

        1. Primus Secundus Tertius Silver badge

          Re: Realistic rates

          "My eyes are dim, I cannot see

          I have not brought my specs with me".

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Realistic rates

          > Regrettably, specs of any kind have become increasingly unfashionable.

          We call it holistic software development. :)

      3. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Realistic rates

        "following specs written by someone else is another matter"

        As is writing the right specs in the first place.

        1. Mike 137 Silver badge

          "following specs written by someone else is another matter"

          Often because no attempt is made to clarify what is not fully understood. I've worked with developers who made design decisions that broke applications because they hadn't come back to discuss what was actually needed when the spec was ambiguous. It's a perfectly valid point (as another commentard has said here) that no specification can be 100% complete, so active communication between developer and designer is essential to ensure that the required functionality is translated into code. That was a fundamental principle of the agile manifesto. Unfortunately, current 'agile' practice doesn't always adhere to it.

          1. tekHedd

            "the agile manifesto"

            Agile, a specification for a process. A great example of how there's more to implementation than just following a spec. You can enhance the spec until it's highly detailed, at which point it becomes too complex to follow, and you still may get the implementation wrong.

            Agile is like music theory. Music theory is a great way to study the reasons we like a piece of "good music", but a composer without talent can follow every theory rule down to the last detail and create something unlistenably awful.

    2. Fred Daggy Silver badge

      Re: Realistic rates

      Agreed, the east can be much cheaper than the west.

      However, what happens is often the top of the market (west) is compared to the bottom of the market (east) because, looks prettier in Excel. Show the most POTENTIAL cost savings. However, if you want quality, east or west, it is going to cost you. It could cost less in the east. But we know that bean-counters have no column for quality in their spreadsheet.

      It is only after years of sustained failure and success by accident, not by strategy, that the ACTUAL COSTS start to reveal themselves. However, by this time, everyone involved has collected their bonus and promotion out the door.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Realistic rates

        "But we know that bean-counters have no column for quality in their spreadsheet."

        Add in a few columns for remediation, support, training & so on that are the otherwise hidden costs of poor quality. Then work out RoI after a few years and base the bonuses on that. It means that collecting bonuses means a long term commitment and a vested interest in quality..

  4. Grunchy Silver badge

    We outsourced to India

    The Indian outsource company did drafting updates on mechanical drawings according to redline pdfs sent to them, but the work was as shoddy as possible. We had to fix everything they did, most times it was easier to throw away their update & redo it. This persisted for months, finally in frustration we inquired with management why this was still happening? The boss was mystified because what he saw was that the Indian firm was turning around work overnight, faster than our dept could do it, and the status reports (sent directly to him from the Indian firm) showed 100% accuracy and completion! We said, hey wait a cotton-pickin minute, what status reports???? But the boss didn’t want to hear any bad news because this was a personal success for him. So we put 2+2 together and started rejecting the Indian updates no matter how urgently they were needed, and allowed their success rate to sink back to the true 15%. Once we let the company’s cost-cutting initiative fail, we at last were free of those outsource goofs.

    (It didn’t matter though, management succeeded in scuttling the company after all. The CEO got out with a $50 million payday, all us greebs got was a kick in the arse.)

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: We outsourced to India

      A bank I was working for outsourced an IT project (Java based) to a subsidiary in India (note: it is not an outside company, but another branch of the IT department).

      The main IT team at the HQ kept working on the project, sending back to India all the information on how to set-up the dev, test, qual environments, so they would be able to take over at the end of the handover project.

      Just before the handover date, the HQ project manager left the team (got promoted in another division), a move probably initiated because he knew what would happen.

      The HQ team leader left also after the handover, and the HQ team was dissolved because the Indian team had proved to management that they were able to do the work.

      One month after the handover, a major change happened, with the end-of-life of a major Java version and the update of all JRE instances on the bank systems.

      The only application that was not yet ready was the one sent to India; the Indian project manager announced that it would take 9 months to update everything (even if he had sent progress status before stating that everything was ready).

      It was also at that time that someone discovered that the configuration files used by the Indian team were still referring to a server that had been decommissioned half a year before, meaning that they never did any test before sending updates to production...

      Of course, because the outsourcing project had been deemed a success, people managing it at HQ got their fat bonuses.

      And when I came back a few years later, I discovered that all development was back at HQ...

      1. Lordrobot

        Re: We outsourced to India

        Another sad, very sad, testimonial.... Perhaps next time your brilliant management will see that the Indian chaps get upgraded software on time.

      2. Warm Braw

        Re: We outsourced to India

        So, a project was outsourced and none of the necessary project management was put in place to ensure its success and the requirements failed to identify the critical end-of-life. The managers responsible for this state of affairs did nothing to correct the situation and sloped off before the consequences became apparent.

        Doesn't sound like the problem originated in India.

        1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: We outsourced to India

          "Doesn't sound like the problem originated in India."

          But it developed there and as we know all problems originate with manglement.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: We outsourced to India

      started rejecting the Indian updates no matter how urgently they were needed

      How badly where they needed when you redo everything anyway?

      We had crap outsourcers, and a co-worker asked "how do you live with producing such consistently shit output?" and the answer was "nah mate, we don't care, we get paid anyway"

      If more people hit them in the wallet by rejecting the shoddy work, their quality would improve. Too many people go "well, it's crap but we can fix it" and perpetuate the issue.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: We outsourced to India

      I worked for a relativley well known outsourcer for about a year and I had to leave as moronic drudgery was killing me. These were the rules but written in popular parlance.

      1) You never, ever question the customer's requirements. If they send it, then you make it work, even more so if more cost is required.

      2) The customer is never wrong. Note I did not say "always right", I said never wrong!

      3) You do NOT do anything outside the spec or account requirements. If you need to step outside the spec for a good reason, do not do it. Request a meeting with your direct line manager and the account manager, get the info into a "idiot proof lingo" and the account manager then states the extra required cost to the customer for the required work. If customer agrees, you may proceed. If customer doesn't or won't pay, ignore and let it fail but only within the bounds of the contract, account manager can clairfy the "bounds of contract".

      4) Always do the minimum required to ensure it works, no more and where you can, do less to cut the time and the internal cost.

      5) Do not ever tell the customer you finished in time or on time. Always tell customer just after the set time has completed, this allows the company to state a bigger requirement and re-spec which involves more consultancy and more revenue.

      6) Never, ever exceed the "extra time" as this would invalidate contract, always after the time but before the "extra time" so no penalty costs incurred.

      Final rule: You're not paid to think ( ie make decisions ), you're paid to do. Just get on with it.

      1. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge

        Re: We outsourced to India

        Final rule: You're not paid to think ( ie make decisions ), you're paid to do. Just get on with it.

        Some years back, I had a conversation with a engineer on a series of boards I was testing & failing & he told me to think about the issue & I quoted "I was told I'm not paid to think, shortly after I started here".

        Who told you that?

        You did actually!

        He had the grace to apologise, by which time I was ready to icon (About 15 months before the factory did the same to its employee's).

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: We outsourced to India

      Our problem seems to be that the people writing the specs tend not to have any real-world experience, so they write the specs, hand it over to the devs, get it signed off, then leave for the next lucrative career-move... The devs then code it, hand it over after testing, get it signed off then leave for the next lucrative career move... Then, a few months down the line we need a change made or a bug fixed, but the devs have left, the replacements can't figure out the problem from the original docs so they partially rewrite it, and the whole F****** cycle begins again. But it's cheap, and that's what matters.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Being one of the people being outsourced to, it stings to be paid so little when you're one of the competent developers in those countries, doing just as good work as the people in the US, UK, etc. If not absurd, given that all the work for the past two years was fully remote, and with flex hours there's really no difference between a developer in Poland and in UK as far as working hours are concerned.

    The thing is though, that if you hire people only based on how little you can pay them, you won't get motivated workers, be it the fast food industry in the US or software developers in India or China.

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Good point. Pay peanuts, get monkeys. On the other hand, paying a dev in a country where the exchange rate means the $ goes much further and the wage is good for the that job in that country, then everyone wins. The problem seems to be that the outsourcers are NOT paying what is considered a good wage for the job in the outsourced country,

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        > The problem seems to be that the outsourcers are NOT paying what is considered a good wage for the job in the outsourced country,

        I have limited outsourcing experience but that, and what the previous chap posted, agree with what I've seen.

        The very best developers who command top rates do seem to get significantly more in e.g., the US compared to other places, even after adjusting for cost of living.

        The absolute worst is where the widest gap is. The difference seems to be that it's harder for an incompetent bastard to get a job where his salary would be higher.

        Which leaves us with the middle of the pack: competent developers who can produce decent code at a decent pace. I was surprised that the gap wasn't all that significant at those levels.

        We still do a bit of outsourcing from time to time but it's not primarily about cost. It's more about not putting all the eggs in one basket plus an element of helping out good professionals in developing economies.

    2. Cederic Silver badge

      Well, your cost of living is substantially lower too. I have to pay more than the cited annual Nigerian salary just on housing costs, energy costs and broadband each year, because that's how expensive stuff is here. I knew a few Infosec people that hated working on-site in the UK because they couldn't afford the multiple staff members their households in India enjoyed, and the other costs were compromising their ability to invest in their property portfolios.

      You may be doing the same work but that's why you're an option. Your lower salary if why you get the work, not us.

      But that was obvious back in the late 90s, which is one reason I made career choices that moved me into roles that don't get outsourced.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Is my employer paying for my work or for my living accommodations?

        Yes, paying higher wage when the work needs to be physically performed in London is expected, not so much when basically all developers worked remotely for the past 2 years.

        Or to put it other way round: if they sell their solutions for exactly the same price in Poland and UK, why they don't pay their workers the same in Poland and UK?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          > Is my employer paying for my work or for my living accommodations?


          At least in the sense that you wouldn't accept the job if the pay didn't cover what you needed.

          In your ideal world where they pay the same globally, it's unlikely you'd see your pay rise - instead everyone else's would lower to the same as yours.

          In practice, of course, they'd then not be able to attract any staff anywhere with a high cost of living.

          There was a similar "surprise"* here a little while back with insurance - people campaigned on the basis that it was unfair, and sexual discrimination, for car insurance to charge Men more than Women. They were successful in their campaign, but seemed surprised when the result was insurers raising Women's premiums rather than lowering Men's.

          Honestly, life is much happier if you focus less on what others are getting, and more on whether what you're getting allows you to live comfortably.

          * read: predictable outcome

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            What I need is holidays abroad, electronics, a car, and Netflix (other streaming services are available) to relax after work.

            None of which is cheaper when you move outside UK or US. So the discretionary spending goes far, far further in the UK or US. If you assume around a third for housing and a third for transporation/foood/utilities, then an average UK developer has as much discretionary spending as an average Polish developer earns total. It gets only worse if you compare it to US wages.

            Now, you may call it different things, but I will call it exploitation.

      2. This post has been deleted by its author

        1. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge

          Wibbly Wobbly

          I took a job\contract closer to home with a pay cut, which cut down on my expenses of working in London, so the status quo was maintained.

          Around the same time, the Met Office relocated from Reading & the local rag ran another of its infamous misjudged articles*.

          They focused on a family that claimed since relocating they could barely afford to live in Devon & that the wife had to have taken on a part time job to make ends meet, while mentioning the husbands salary which was about 7 times higher than the average employee in the area, that they had sold their house in Reading (When the housing market was booming), while seemingly oblivious to the fact they had bought the biggest house they could afford in a affluent area a few miles out of the already expensive small market town.

          *Another infamous one was plying for the sympathy for a group of teenage girls (Photographed In school uniform, despite being in the middle of the summer holidays - I'd loved to have been a fly on the headmaster's wall on the first day back in September), that were caught vandalising a local park at around 11.30 at night by the cops, while still in cells at 2am awaiting for parents to sober up\get taxi's to collect them. They could hear the sounds of other detainees & claimed they were scared they would be raped & assaulted in their (locked) cells. It's funny how the inevitable backlash in the letters stated funny that they weren't scared of the same happening in a unlit park late at night when 6 local pubs would be kicking out it's customers & that they were in the wrong & should stop trying to wriggle out of the charges (One girl at least had the good sense not to be interviewed or photographed).

    3. Shuki26

      Off-shore better than outsourced

      My company has a relatively significant presence in India with real offices so I don't think they are considered outsourced. I guess that is the price to pay to have higher quality off shore talent who are not mere virtual assistants to the US-based company. The salaries of my colleagues in India are definitely not as low as Nigeria and due to the increase over the years, the company is looking for cheaper counties. Outsourcing to Ukraine failed even before the war, and the company was not yet ready to establish an office to properly off-shore.

    4. druck Silver badge

      There are very competent developers in out sourced companies, but their primary role is to front each new contract and move on to the next, leaving you with the far less competent ones.

      We had a great developer come over from India to do a proof of concept for a contact that would involve one on site role and a team off shore. He was as sharp as a knife and exceeded expectations. After they were awarded the contract, we we told this developer would not be available for on site due to family commitments back home, but would be leading the off shore team. Which he did for about a week, after which he would still answer questions on the phone, but had had been moved on to the next project and the one after.

      What were left with was another on site guy who had to clear every breath he took with the out sourcing company manager, so preferred not talk to anyone. The off shore team produced very poor quality cut and paste code, the company was only interested in ticking the boxes on a spreadsheet, and not delivering anything close to a useable product.

      Luckily we only wasted 3 months of money before pulling the plug.

      1. Fred Daggy Silver badge

        I can completely understand what you have seen. Living it right at the moment.

        Warm bodies are being placed on every project. However, they don't actually do anything apart from ask a lot of questions that were answered during knowledge transfer. So instead of one competent person looking after around 20 systems. We have 5 looking after 1 system. HOwever, so long as they have ticked the box marked "not us", they are happy. Actually solving the customer's problem is not in their remit.

        Time to touch ticket has plummeted. Time to resolve issue has ballooned.

      2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        This was a known problem with consultancies back in the '80s if not earlier.

        Years ago the IR, as it then was, had this one sussed. To combat it they had a specimen contract for services on their site which included provision for a "key man" clause. Such a clause specified that a named person from the supplier was to have a given role in the performance of the services and could not be replaced without the client's agreement. I think I may even have a copy of it somewhere.

        It stayed on for some time after IR35 was introduced but then disappeared to be replaced IIRC by some very vague guidance about how to contract for services. The fact that it could have been presented to a tribunal as proof that the IR did not consider naming an individual as being inconsistent with a contract for services might have been entirely coincidental, of course.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Domain knowledge and experience >> coding skills

    It is unlikely you'll find someone that already knows the software (environment) you are using and even more important has knowledge about the field you do work for.

    This is true for both hiring locally and outsourcing but unless you create an offshore office in the country you outsource to you're unlikely to have the same engineers around for multiple projects.

    Creating a subsidiary in some offshore country where you get skilled people for lower wages works better but only if you can keep the people in the company.

    Even the fast learners need at least half a year to learn the ropes at HQ, it usually takes longer for new employees elsewhere (probably because of a lack of experienced colleagues answering questions directly).

    When engineers from countries with low salaries figure out others (in the same company) earn way more money for the same work you'll have a hard time to keep them around for the same initially low remuneration.

    Bottom line is I don't think outsourcing will put a lot of software engineers out of their job - the actual coding that is easily off shored is only a small part.

    1. elsergiovolador Silver badge

      Re: Domain knowledge and experience >> coding skills

      Bottom line is I don't think outsourcing will put a lot of software engineers out of their job - the actual coding that is easily off shored is only a small part.

      It is also false economy. It takes much longer to fix shoddy code than writing it right from the start.

      Often when outsourcing, the manager or developer you speak to isn't really the one doing the job. They outsource too...

    2. Plest Silver badge

      Re: Domain knowledge and experience >> coding skills

      Having worked with quite a few devs over the last 35+ years often times I've found most devs understand the code AND the business requirements very well indeed. Outsourcers simply see "code monkeys" and that's when problems start. Working in financial orgs I've seen some amazing devs who really do understand where their code fits in and why, outsourcers are sometimes brought in and you spend half your time having to explain why something should be done a set way to make it work.

      I'm having a pop at coders in outsourcers, I'm sure their coding is top notch but they're mercenaries, jack-of-all-codes and they don't get time or pay to understand the nitty gritty that local hired-in company dev has.

      If all you want is hired guns to bang out generic code that passes tests, go for it. You get what you pay for. Don't be surprised if that other company with in-house devs steals a march on you 'cos they get the business need and why they're coding.

      For the record, I'm not even a dev, I'm just a sys admin one of the easiest people to replace but I respect that a lot of good devs are not just "code monkeys".

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Domain knowledge and experience >> coding skills

        "Just" a sys admin? Surely not "just", as in "merely".

        A good sysadmin can be harder to replace than a good dev, if for no other reason than there aren't that many of them to begin with. IME it's not a heavily populated career, and it's shrinking.

        And, while I'm nitpicking word choice again: you might easily lose a good sysadmin or dev, but you won't easily "replace" them.

  7. Lordrobot


    If you were located in the UK or USA and needed steel for your products and you were subjected to insane protected steel prices in the UK and USA what would you do?

    First you would attempt to buy steel from someplace else. In the US and UK, to do this you would have to beg the Gov and you have to fill out some 300 pages of steel specs just to get the damn sheet metal so you can stay in business. 99% of applicants get turned down. So now you either go broke or YOU MOVE to where you can get steel.

    That is not outsourcing, that is bloody moving to a place that wants to do business.

    Well then came EVOLUTION. As businesses move from the UK and USA to Survive, they also find the countries with lower priced raw materials, also speak English and have computers and code writers. How shocking. Code is software and does not require a massive outlay of capital so it is ideal for countries that have less industrial edifice. It is similar to the theoretical physicist as opposed to those dependent on the George Bush SuperCollider in Texas... I digress. Up to the plate comes India with lots of code authors.

    The next evolution is AI code writing software. When this happens and the AI program reviews the US and UK DEVs team code, the AI software will be instructed to insult the human code writers calling them third-world hacks, and saboteurs, and will print the DEV teams' jobs termination documentation.

    The moral of the story... if your job is being outsourced; it wasn't much of a job to begin with.

    If Memory Alpha serves, Captain James T. Kirk suffered a similar insult in a more Shakespearean way of course as Captain Dunsel...

    Dr. McCoy: What does it mean?"

    Spock : "Dunsel, Doctor, is a term used by Midshipmen at Starfleet Academy. It refers to a part which serves no useful purpose."

    1. OhForF' Silver badge


      I'm not sure i understand your point correctly (so i didn't down vote).

      Are you saying the lack of code monkeys willing to work for minimum wages is forcing companies to move abroad as they had to do to get access to raw materials like steel?

      As for AI doing the coding i expect it to go the same way as the idea that CASE tools would allow project managers or even sales and marketing guys to graphically design some use case and end up with a software application ready to install for the customer.

    2. Nifty Silver badge


      Could see the downvotes coming before I scrolled down. But actually you deserve a beer.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      > I digress

      No arguing with that one.

    4. elsergiovolador Silver badge


      The next evolution is AI code writing software.

      AI can't write software and will never be able to, because it can't think and reason. AI is really just pattern matching, that often gives impressive results that can deceive.

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

        1. ITMA Silver badge


          You're thinking of AD - Artificial Dishonesty ;)

          See my posts in:

        2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge


          "AI will be able to."

          Only 5 years away. Fully autonomous road vehicles will follow as soon as the AI has written the code for them.

    5. M.V. Lipvig Silver badge


      My job as a data circuit tester at a rather large US telecom was outsourced to the Phillipines. When I did the job, circuit failures were troubleshot within 15 minutes and usually repaired within a few hours due to field techs needing time to drive. I now do the same job with another rather large US telecom, and have to deal with the same people that took my job over, so this means they have 10 years experience doing my job. Those same repairs now take a minimum of 2 days to fix, and more typically a week to complete repairs. Oftentimes it takes referring the problem to them severalntines, because once their trouble tickets have been escalated high enough they get closed as "camr clear while testing." Never came up, but now they have a new, unescalated ticket.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward


        We had facilities management outsourced.

        Come Winter the heating didn't come on in part of the building. It was diagnosed as a pump failure and 'fixed' by diverting everything via the remaining pump. Replacement was to be ordered. Job closed, new ticket opened for replacement of pump.

        Next Winter none of the heating came on. The remaining pump couldn't take the extra load and had failed. That new ticket for the replacement... closed as 'inactive' because no one had got round to ordering one and no one had escalated (because it was no longer cold)

    6. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      I've just had to deal with debugging auto generated code from MATLAB.

      It's not thread safe.

      It is not easy to workout what sections of C code relates to the MATLAB script line.

      The code is stupidly inefficient. It uses large numbers of globals.

      It uses approaches to coding I would reject and would not advocate. But I've been told the code because it's auto generated is safe.

      Error check is non existent. Probably a side effect of the original script writer. But still some of the errors are due to a mathematical solutions not converging but the way this is handled causes array subscripts to be well out of bounds.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward


        Sounds way better than any MATLAB code I ever wrote. :(

    7. Doctor Syntax Silver badge


      "So now you either go broke or YOU MOVE to where you can get steel."

      What do you do when you find that the steel and/or fabrication you've found abroad doesn't meet spec and parts fail?

  8. Nate Amsden Silver badge

    9:1 for me

    A company I worked at a long time ago had an outsourced to HCL in India tier 1 ops team. My first and only experience working in an organization that had something like that. At one point the company thought HCL was too expensive so decided to build their own ops team over there(tier 1 only again). They hired away some of the HCL people I think and a manager to build the office/team. I recall one of their new candidates actually never showed up for the position, another candidate was caught doing stuff with malware on the network. Eventually they built a team that was somewhat stable from what I recall.

    Fast forward a year or so and I leave for unrelated reasons. Fast forward another year or two and my former manager said(to a mutual friend) they hired 9 people to fill my role (I assume all overseas??). Apparently 9 wasn't enough(since they still struggled). Company went under a couple years after that(went under because they slowly lost all their customers except for their largest, then their largest cut ties as part of a larger change in strategy and they were done then).

    (I haven't been tier 1 ops except for a brief stay at a .com back in the year 2000)

  9. thejoelr

    The Philippines wage is not a living wage. No one qualified is going to accept that salary. Even call centers will pay more than that. The price of a US developer is a lot lower if you don't force them to live in places like the bay area. I think you can almost halve that if you hire in places where the cost of living isn't so outrageous.

  10. Primus Secundus Tertius Silver badge

    Talk to the coders

    In London for a US company, I once had to maintain some software originally outsourced to India. As I found one problem after another, I felt the coders in India had never talked it over with the designers in the US. It always used to be expensive to make phone calls in or out of India; but I suspect also that management in India was reluctant to admit that there really were problems and queries.

    1. martinusher Silver badge

      Re: Talk to the coders

      They don't. A friend who's used to Indian S/W developers told me that they code exactly to your specification. If there's an obvious flaw in that specification its not their problem, its just more work when you then have to correct it.

      Don't underestimate them, though. Their business model might require this kind of bloody minded myopia but on the whole they're as good at their job as anyone.

      1. Cederic Silver badge

        Re: Talk to the coders

        That's changed then. India developers used to be great at churning out code but being good at their job means going beyond the basic spec and doing a professional job.

        You don't tell your plumber to leave no leaks when installing your bathroom, so why would you need to tell your developers not to leave gaping security holes and inevitable service failures when developing code?

        Professional software engineers don't write to the spec. Don't tell me that someone that only does that is as good at the job as the people that do the job properly.

        1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

          Re: Talk to the coders

          >You don't tell your plumber to leave no leaks when installing your bathroom

          You do when the plumber bids on a fixed price contract for the install, but is then allowed to charge $$$$$$/day for any fixes/changes not in the original spec.

          See also companies bidding for both motorway construction and then maintenance contracts on the same road.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Talk to the coders

      I had a similar experience as a PM with a fairly simple set of program amendments sent to a new Indian support company. There was no attempt to resolve ambiguities in the specification, whilst the answers would have been obvious to an experienced in house developer with subject knowledge I would have expected an email to confirm the query and assumption made, this never happened. It actually felt like the offshore developer would guess the answer rather than try and communicate with us. My only contact was the on site PM from the outsourcing company and their BA onshore. Whilst these were both highly skilled and very articulate they were focused on the larger delivery not the amendments required to allow my project to amend an interface for an upgraded feeder system. we also had issues where deadlines would be missed even though weekly status reports had been green for delivery for weeks. Two lessons were learnt by me, the first was that specs have to be absolutely detailed to the nth degree with all potential ambiguity removed, this means I need a BA / systems Analyst to write the specs, which I do not normally have, and secondly that status reporting has to focus on whats left to do rather than whats been done. You also have to have to allow time for a number of failed cycles before the message gets across. my experience is over a decade old but it seems like not a lot has changed.

  11. Irony Deficient

    “US tech companies are saying, …

    … ‘We can hire an engineer in the United States for $300,000 […],’ ” Bakke said.

    I presume that that $300,000 per annum is not exclusively the engineer’s salary, but also includes health care coverage, employer contributions to a retirement plan, paid time off, &c.? (If it were exclusively salary, then it would be interesting to learn which US tech companies offer such remuneration.)

    1. Richard 12 Silver badge

      Re: “US tech companies are saying, …

      I've read that there's a general rule of thumb that an employee costs roughly double their salary.

      I would be quite interested to learn how that multiplier varies between countries.

      1. Headley_Grange Silver badge

        Re: “US tech companies are saying, …

        Last time I worked for a large UK electronics engineering company the total overhead on an engineer's salary was about 120%. So an engineer paid £50k would cost the project £50k+1.2*£50k.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: “US tech companies are saying, …

          I know that £795 leaves the NHS coffers to pay for me, only £423 of which enters my bank account.

    2. doublelayer Silver badge

      Re: “US tech companies are saying, …

      I think, based on the averages, that's a fully loaded cost for the employee. Depending on the company, that might not only include benefits above the salary, but taxes paid by the company, office space or equipment for the employee, time to manage the employee, and other costs they think will grow by hiring another person. That said, if you have skills that are wanted and others don't, some companies do have a lot of money they don't mind throwing at someone who can solve their problems quickly. That average certainly gets pulled upward (and downward) by some outliers.

    3. This post has been deleted by its author

    4. Tom 38

      Re: “US tech companies are saying, …

      L5 at Google pays on average $189,855 in salary, $132,341 in stock, and $36,352 in bonus for a TC of $358k

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

  12. martinusher Silver badge

    Not all outsourced work is for lower costs

    Some years ago I found myself an accidental employee of a "major multinational semiconductor manufacturer". As part of my work I had to spend a week at their Haifa office working with the developers there. They're good at their job -- just like we are in the US -- but what surprised me is how generous their employment terms were compared to ours. Quite apart from building in the overhead from the requirement of periodic military service -- three weeks -- they had remuneration packages and working conditions we could only dream of. The free food was great -- but a free car? The explanation was that the divisional head was from this area. Once our usefulness was over we got shot down, our jobs transferred to eastern Europe and our personnel -- at least those willing to relocate -- to a massive cube farm up north.

    (Its not confined to this company. I had also dealings with a 'major network company' who had a branch office in a rather nice part of CA that never seemed to have anyone working in it, it just housed a test lab (which could have been anywhere). The explanation was that one of the directors owned property in the area and liked to have an office conveniently located for his use....also convenient for the local airport. "How the other half lives".)

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Execs greed

    I have been in this IT industry for 30 years now. I have interacted with people in several countries across the globe.

    Predominantly, irrespective of culture, people at the lower levels of organisations are hard working, ethical and honest.

    It is the greed of the top management, and this again universal like politicians, who wreck havoc for short term economic gains. Especially those in the USA who are only bothered about their stock options, bonuses and satisfying quarterly hunger of Wall Street. For example, at a major US software company, which acts as a door to the IT world, they realised they are paying $284 per device per month for Level1 support. A company in India charges $6 per device per month, of course with 99.5% of the tickets auto closed within 3 days (never mind if the problem was solved or not. Even better if the problem is not solved - let the user open another ticket). The execs at the said US company literally fell off the chair hearing the price and are pushing for to outsourcing to the India company and knowledge transfer immediately. Really pity the ~3k US employees who will be asked to rebadge or quit.

    So please stop bashing the soldiers in the trenches like Devs, Architects, Testers, etc.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Execs greed

      "Predominantly, irrespective of culture, people at the lower levels of organisations are hard working, ethical and honest."

      But not necessarily adequately trained.

      I've told this before. I did contract work that involved liaising with one of the Usual Suspects who was very keen on all the parties working on their contracts exchanging data in XML. The Usual Suspect had an ongoing contract with an Indian S/W house. They did development in the UK but with staff shipped in on, I suspect, 6 month visas from India.

      My first contact was having to explain to their developer why you couldn't just have a name such as O'Neill in the middle of an element in XML and how you had to handle that apostrophe (these day's I'd have to go and look it up myself but this was a long time ago).

      The problem was fixed but then every now and again an incoming document would be checked at as not well-formed XML and there would be a naked apostrophe, presumably the consequence of someone either removing code they didn't understand or adding a new bit of code and not knowing to check.

      Clearly inexperienced staff were being set on the job without ever being trained on the minutiae of the XML at the core of their client's projects. In effect my client, another subcontractor, was having to may my fees to train their staff for them.

      OTOH it was a relief when we ducked one of the English bullshitters they'd contracted and we could talk to the more experienced, higher level Indian staff.

    2. elsergiovolador Silver badge

      Re: Execs greed

      he tickets auto closed within 3 days (never mind if the problem was solved or not. Even better if the problem is not solved - let the user open another ticket).

      This should be regulated and illegal.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Execs greed

        Contractual matters are subject to civil law. Unless it constitutes fraud it won't come under criminal law at all. But if the contract doesn't allow it then it would appear to ba a breach of contract and the client should decide how to deal with it. Letting it slide might be one way. Not a good way unless "good" includes covering the our-sourcing protagonist's blushes.

  14. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge

    Welcome to

    my world.

    Where major customers whine constantly about 'getting it made in China(or another outsourcing country)' because its cheaper. even after we've made the effort to reduce prices and increase productivity.

    And then they do goto 'insert country here' and take ALL the work with them .. goodbye 3 shift system.. hello 1 shift with overtime (if you're lucky..P45 if not).

    its right royal pita... especially where $multinational then calls you up and says "Can you make XXX part for us? 3000 per week as before oh and as a generous offer we'll knock 10% off the price we were paying before we dumped you"

    Upon further enquiry , we found out that their new supplier could hit the production targets , but not the quality targets. so the counter offer went back offering 2 weeks development charge for us to rebuild the fixtures, grippers and recover the programming and then resume delivery at 25% more than we were charging before.

    "WE CANT PAY THAT" came the answer...... "How much per hour does it cost to have your assembly line stopped?" we answered.

    To be honest at that stage , we were gouging them, and we had enough work (just) to stay in business and didnt care if that deal came through or not.

    And as the law of purchases says "Pick 2 of the following 3 options : Price, quality, delivery"

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Welcome to

      Don't get mad, get even.

    2. elsergiovolador Silver badge

      Re: Welcome to

      The problem is that if you don't make parts in China, you won't be competitive or you won't get margins necessary to sustain the company.

      My biggest pet peeve is when you find a component that looks right, has all the correct specs and the price could work and you really really want to have as much parts done in the West as you can, then you study the product sheet to find they actually make it in China. Then I say, okay, let's see if I can find the Chinese fab they make it in (sometimes it takes a while). I contact the fab, show them original product specs and say for how much they can sell me their product with the same specs. 100% time I can get the price at least 10 times lower than the "Western" product and the quality is the same, just it has original Chinese branding.

      It's a chicken and egg problem. Corporations want all these great employment regulations, green taxes and so on and then they outsource precisely to avoid all of that.

      They think it is smart, because small corporations won't be able to manufacture in Asia and it won't be profitable to manufacture onshore because of the lobbied regulations. So they get rid of competition and get great profit margins that help with funding the lobbying.

      Politicians don't see the problem, because they get paid handsomely to not see it.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Welcome to

        Obviously green taxes must include corresponding taxes on non-green imports or manufacturing will just move to countries causing the most damage per unit output, acting to increase global warming.

        And also, incidentally, alienating the working classes whose jobs were outsourced.

        1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: Welcome to

          And on the product miles needed to import.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Welcome to

        If your company must rely upon slave labor to compete, perhaps your company needs to fail.

    3. Tom Paine

      Re: Welcome to

      "Gouging" seems to be what I was taught as supply and demand in A level economics.

  15. Jou (Mxyzptlk) Silver badge

    $110,140 is not much in US...

    Due to their health "care", work-life balance, the fact that everything is more expensive there etc 110k is not much for a developer. The same amount of income, before tax, is a lot more worth in central EU countries + UK.

    1. Richard 12 Silver badge

      Re: $110,140 is not much in US...

      Depends on exactly where.

      London, Oxford, New York, etc are crazy expensive, while Newcastle etm are cheap to live in.

      Healthcare is of course far cheaper and better literally everywhere outside the USA, but housing varies by orders of magnitude.

    2. elsergiovolador Silver badge

      Re: $110,140 is not much in US...

      The healthcare in the UK is a myth. Reality is that you more often than not have to pay twice.

      You have a choice to wait years for a surgery or pay privately to have it done timely.

      Same with seeing specialists or even a GP...

      You also pay so much tax, often you won't have enough money to pay for private healthcare, after you pay rent, bills and day to day costs of living.

      1. Jou (Mxyzptlk) Silver badge

        Re: $110,140 is not much in US...

        > The healthcare in the UK is a myth.

        I can only speak for German healthcare since I am. And I know a bit of the US system from various youtube-US-living-in-EU channels. I still have to complain about German healthcare of course, there is always room for improvement. Lots of room. The UK healthcare is beyond my knowledge...

      2. werdsmith Silver badge

        Re: $110,140 is not much in US...

        You have a choice to wait years for a surgery or pay privately to have it done timely.

        Same with seeing specialists or even a GP...A

        In my direct and real experience, this is an outright lie based on tabloidy shit stirring that is focused on a few outlier cases. Healthcare afforded to me has been prompt, thorough and extremely effective.

        1. elsergiovolador Silver badge

          Re: $110,140 is not much in US...

          It really depends on your postcode. You may be the lucky one and / or you didn't have any more complex health issues to deal with.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: $110,140 is not much in US...

          Me too.

          I have several (thankfully minor or or low level) conditions. Some genetic- like my high cholesterol level, one which was seriously suspicious a decade or so ago but was investigated with painstaking detail to be absolutely sure that it's not sinister rather than annoying..

          NHS treatment has been speedy, thorough, efficient and effective. And free.

        3. Danny 2

          Re: $110,140 is not much in US...


          I don't like to admit it on an international forum but care in the NHS has declined sharply and remarkably in the past decade. We still spend half the amount of GDP on healthcare that the US spends, and still have better outcomes, but it is not what it used to be. 'Free at the point of delivery' is meaningless if it isn't delivered.

          Weigh your positive experience against survivorship bias. My dad died last year partly because the ambulance centre two minutes walk away took thirty minutes to get here, and then the hospital five minutes walk away wouldn't admit him because they don't do trauma. What sort of hospital doesn't do trauma?

          It's funny how one, two and then three rotten Tory governments can undermine a national institution. Let's just take our current incumbent. His Brexit bus said £350 million per day could go into the NHS instead of to the EU - could being the operative word, didn't being the qualifier. 40 new hospitals turns out to be 2 new hospitals. Nurses rely on food banks.

          I can't get my teeth fixed unless I claim Universal Credit, which risks my flat. I've got an ophthalmologists appointment tomorrow which I certainly need but never asked for as I haven't been able to see a GP in years, but my first thought was, "It's a trap!"

          Oh, and it's far worse in England. All their NHS records are monetised and come with adverts now.

          1. elsergiovolador Silver badge

            Re: $110,140 is not much in US...

            After being pushed for 4 years from one "specialist" to another I just gave up and gone private which was life changing. In the sense that once I got that diagnosis, the NHS specialists had lightbulb moment and confirmed it which got me a referral to a specialist hospital. That being said in my particular case NHS cannot do anything, because the medication that exists can't be prescribed on NHS, so I have to pay out of my own pocket, which is like having a second mortgage in terms of cost.

            Recently I had an appointment for which I had to wait two years where they basically said there is no change. My next appointment is in 2025...

            There is not even an option to at very least have a private health care tax deductible if NHS is proven useless.

          2. Missing Semicolon Silver badge

            Don't dump it all of the Tories...

            ..when TonyB rejigged the GP contract to buy their votes, and "Agenda for Change" (ha!) became a box-ticking exercise to maximise incomes of NHS staff. So now nobody is paid to actually look after the patients, as they are now "too senior".

            The result of this "investment in public services" was to vastly increase costs without improving productivity.

            1. sabroni Silver badge

              Re: Don't dump it all of the Tories...

              Yeah, of course, people don't get much more left wing than Blair.

            2. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Don't dump it all of the Tories...

              Indeed. The Blair era of insisting that everything had to be based on targets did severe damage to many public instututions, including NHS and education.

          3. Terry 6 Silver badge

            Re: $110,140 is not much in US...

            And that's a comment I can't argue with. Better than a low bar isn't the same as good enough.

          4. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: $110,140 is not much in US...

            @Danny 2

            "Oh, and it's far worse in England. All their NHS records are monetised and come with adverts now."

            I assume from that comment that you're from one of the devolved nations of the UK, in which case you should be aware that healthcare is handled by your govt. - SNP for some time in Scotland and Labour in wales for some time, so not sure how you pin the problems on the Tory's.

            1. Danny 2

              Re: $110,140 is not much in US...

              @Pete B

              Pro-independence Scot, not party affiliated, loathe the Tories and blame them for everything, even genital warts.

              Health care is devolved, but funding for healthcare like all Scottish funding comes from a portion of what your budget is. Plus what we scrape together from other budgets. Last year we gave our nurses 4.5%, while you gave yours a clap every Thursday. 4.5% is nothing now, what can I do? I give nurses and porters lifts to the hospital. I give them chocolates and wine.

              I've lived in Europe, and the healthcare was far better in the Netherlands, Germany and France. Saddening, but true. I feel the four nations of the UK should double the amount we spend on healthcare, to US levels.

      3. Richard 12 Silver badge

        Re: $110,140 is not much in US...

        That's not even a myth, it's a simple lie. The truth is the reverse.

        As a share of GDP, in 2018 the US Government actually spent more (8.5%) than the UK (7.7%) on healthcare and yet 28 million US residents get no healthcare at all.

        (That's both taxation and compulsory charges like compulsory insurance, prescription fees etc)

        UK residents spend 2% of GDP on voluntary private healthcare, while US residents spend 8.8%.

        In raw numbers per resident it's worse.

        So no, it's actually US taxpayers who pay twice.

        You might want to think about why that is.

      4. old_n_grey

        Re: $110,140 is not much in US...

        "The healthcare in the UK is a myth..."

        Ah, I love the smell of hysterical hyperbole in the morning

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "or we can hire somebody great internationally with very similar experience for $75,000"


    I had the 'pleasure' of rotating through some of these outsourcing companies (not by choice I might add), and I can tell you now that NONE of them (off-shore or shipped on-shore), bar one or two exceptions, knew what the hell they were doing. All on-the-job training. They had to keep a number of us employed just to sort out the regular screw-ups that occurred. I might have shrugged it off as a bad experience had it only happened once with one outsourcing company - but 4 times?

    Even then, the good ones left at the slightest whiff of a pay rise.

  17. TM™

    Perfect example of making important what you can measure (cost of N programmers) vs measuring what is important (quality of output).

    Anyone who actually understands programming knows that objectively measuring programming 'output' is pretty much impossible ( That's what a manager who is technically competent is for - they will get an understanding over time of how their team (subjectively) performs.

    FWIW my experience of outsourcing is that it is always a disaster. Funny how we never outsource senior management jobs...

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      "Funny how we never outsource senior management jobs..."

      No need to. Those can always be done badly in-house.

      1. ecofeco Silver badge


      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Quite. Plus the management consultants they often bring in are almost never cheaper.

  18. 45RPM Silver badge

    I can see advantages to hiring in India (and elsewhere), but the motivator shouldn’t be saving money. The motivator should be getting the broadest perspective possible - culturally diverse teams build better products in my experience. A monoculture does nobody any favours!

    I’d be interested to know if there are particular types of software development that get offshored for the purposes of saving money. My gut feeling is that it probably isn’t green field development, the development of something entirely different and new. My gut feeling is that ‘the outsourced for reasons of cost’ development is for cost reduced versions of something which already exists.

    1. stiine Silver badge

      What is a culturally diverse for loop? Is it the difference between tabs and spaces?

      1. Dinanziame Silver badge

        There is definitely a problem with US developers coding like only the US will be a target for the product — No internationalization, not support for multiple currencies, or different payment systems, etc.

        1. Swarthy

          See also Facial Recognition failing on faces that are not pale/male.

        2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          That's specification. (US will also assume (a) everyone lives in cities and (b) all postal codes are purely numeric. I've also come across an assumption on a German site that all street addresses have a number.)

      2. 45RPM Silver badge

        If loops and whether tabs or spaces are used is your primary concern then I’m guessing that you’re either very junior or working on the type of software which is likely to get offshored for reasons of cost.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    As one of these evil people from Poland here to tehker jerbs, I can tell you this: if you offered a Polish senior dev 23k USD yearly, you could hear their laughter clear across the Northern Sea and/or Atlantic.

    Even for a mid-level position that amount of pay is on the very lowest end of the scale, and that's taking into account the rock-bottom exchange rate of the Polish złoty.

    A sort-of corollary to "Lies, lies, and statistics" is "and among of them none biggest than the average as the sole provided central measure".

    1. Jou (Mxyzptlk) Silver badge

      Re: Bollocks

      > As one of these evil people from Poland here to tehker jerbs

      Thanks for the insight, neighbour! I thought about how that can be so low. Maybe 23k $ for a three to four month stint?

  20. Danny 2

    My last contract in England was in 2000, £28ph, and I quit after a month because it was awful living in a B&B in Norwich surrounded by English folk. I enjoyed the work, learned a lot, would have stuck it out if it wasn't for the costly, ghastly B&B, and half my money going to tax.

    I was replaced by six university graduate Indian MCSEs. Now I wasn't earning six times the minimum wage so they were being paid less than the national minimum wage, which Norwich Union could get away with because they were on one year contracts from their Indian branch. That is one way to avoid outsourcing, insourcing.

    I'm a bit nativist but not racist. My family has been supporting two Indian girls who were ignored by their parents once a younger brother was born. One is coming to stay for a year but apparently can't speak English very well so won't be able to use her nursing qualification here. I have a plan. Sit her in front of my mum's huge TV playing all 9 series of 'Still Game', and coax her to repeat the spraff. Dissnae matter yer skin colour or race, if you can adopt the accent and the vernacular then you are accepted as a Scot.

    I'm an anarchist, I think, but I opposed the 'No Borders' campaign. My forebears fought and died for workers rights, unions, social care, and the only people who benefit from sudden mass migration are landlords and business owners. I think we need to re-think the Refugee Convention. Once it's safe to go home, go home - Ms Patel, Mr Sunak.

    1. sabroni Silver badge

      re: Once it's safe to go home, go home - Ms Patel, Mr Sunak.

      That's not anarchism, you've got that confused with racism.

      1. Danny 2

        Re: re: Once it's safe to go home, go home - Ms Patel, Mr Sunak.

        Who am I racist against? Well, yer English and Americans and Italians, but that doesn't count, they are the same race as me just less pale..

        I volunteer with refugees. My favourite was a Palestinian who hated Scotland. "Everyone is racist, the food is awful, and there is no sun - how can you live without a sun?" Folk are normally overly polite so she made me laugh. So why don't you go back home? "Because they'd kill me". Fair enough.

        I'd like an end to borders, multilaterally and simultaneously, but removing ours unilaterally is just inviting the worlds poorest, it will impoverish us - and I'm already poor. I'd like to expand the number of refugees we take by a huge number, but on the understanding they go home when it is safe for them too.

        My Palestinian pal had a Kurdish pal. They were both treated well. Crappy flats admittedly, albeit better than mine, but free cars, decent clothes. He went home to Iraq for a holiday to visit his family. I ask you, if you are able to fly home for a holiday are you really a refugee?

        Try to lecture me about anarchism Sabroni. Half wit.

  21. Tom Paine

    It me!

    ...though the cunning plan to get my boss promotion by saving money by replacing expensive me (snr security bod) in central London with a group of nice, but highly inexperienced 20-year olds in Manila on £16k didn't work out too well... I heard he was sacked six months after I was made redundant. Which was, well, not much consolation TBPH.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Outsourcing to the UK

    I work for a small UK software house that writes software for larger companies.

    We get contracts not because we are cheap but because we are effective and flexible.

    We keep a core team and bring in contractors as needed (outside ir35).

    There are a number of areas in which we bring domain knowledge which you would not get elsewhere except at an even higher cost, if you could find them.

    We have a number of customers that have very large software development resources but they still come to us... because they find it difficult to find people with the right domain knowledge or experience.

    Funnily we have in the past been asked by an Israeli company to do work for them (domain knowledge)... we turned them down primarily because we are not geared up for international outsourcing.

  23. GraXXoR

    An indian friend of mine lives in Japan and instead of doing the dev work himself, he just outsourced it to a bunch of guys he knew back home in India. This cost him about 1/3 of his salary.. He then actually spent his time he spent developing a CRM solution for another client. He was pulling in about $150k and AFAIK his company never cottoned on to what he was doing.

  24. trevorde Silver badge

    Don't get mercenaries to defend your castle

    Inherited a project which had been outsourced and then brought back in house. It was the *worst* code I have seen in 30 yrs of professional development. It had every anti-pattern imaginable and a few I'd never seen before.

    Turns out the outsourcer's devs were expected to write 200 lines of code per day and were punished if they didn't meet this target. Their motivation was to write 200 lines of code; not to write nice, clean, intelligible code.

    Our in house devs had the exact opposite motivation. They were paid regardless, so could concentrate on writing good code.

  25. Dr Fidget

    Outsourced CEOs

    Funny how it's so difficult to outsource board members such as CEOs

  26. Binraider Silver badge

    Small team of competent, local devs acting as "technical assurance" plus very large swathes of offshore groups that do what they are told.

    Or one moderate, competent team of local devs.

    TCO apparently favours the former, despite it being proven endlessly that it's more expensive, significantly more inefficient, subject to language and business jargon barriers.

  27. MJI Silver badge

    Good programmers move

    To where the pay is good.

    One reason outsourcing often fails

  28. CheesyTheClown

    What about liability?

    When you outsource, you specify a project and set acceptance criteria and then pay a company who can be held liable to deliver.

    Yes there are horror stories of how this can go wrong. The British and U.S. governments are absolute experts on botching their procurement of IT systems on a biblical scale. But overall, most projects outsourced generally are delivered accounting for the fact that the original price and deadlines are set by who can lie the best. Meaning that in order to win a tender against similar companies, all the vendors tend to intentionally underbid and quote delivery times over optimistically knowing they can ask for more once the project is in progress. So, it’s generally best to estimate at least 50% extra cost and time.

    Even then, most systems are extremely similar. Using mature tools and platforms, vendors can estimate quite accurately the amount of time and resources required to deliver most any business system. For more technical projects, they can often throw large numbers of developers at making them happen.

    When you employ your own development staff, you have no one to hold accountable but yourself. You need to have expert knowledge at planning and executing development projects. You can see salaries double in the time it takes to complete a project. Many such projects can see entire project staffs rolled over during their lifetime.

    If you are going to farm out development to an external organization anyway, why waste time or money going local when going overseas will yield similar results? I haven’t met many great ITT grads, but I’ve known a bunch of good ones. And for most projects, you just don’t need great. You need good enough.

    And don’t forget, most people in IT, no matter where you look are about equal. Each place has their rock stars, each place has their slow but steadies and each place has their “there’s gonna be a law suit or a lynching” and all in about equal proportions

    If I were to outsource, I would look to Lithuania. I have worked with IT people all around the world. I have even been in one country training their IT staff and a month later in Lithuania training their replacements following a surprise outsourcing. The Lithuanians real impressed me on every count.

  29. Locky

    Outsourcing problems are generally in house

    I've been involved in a number of outsourcing programmes and they have all fallen apart because the old in-house teams had the undocumented knowledge.

    Management are sold the dream that an off shore team can do the same job as the more expensive incumbent, and they probably could. But changing an entire team all at the same time without every single process fully documented down to the smallest keypress is going to cause problems.

    The depth of the knowledge gap is generally only found once the original teams have been let go and the first big change fails to make it's mark and only then does the value of constancy become apparent. The outsourcers will deliver what they promised, but what is often missed is that the terms of a contract is the maximum you will receive, not the minimum

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Outsourcing problems are generally in house

      "what is often missed is that the terms of a contract is the maximum you will receive, not the minimum"

      And still less than the minimum of that's actually needed.

  30. GeordieSteve

    Out sourcing will come, but it will not be as simple as companies hope.

    I have been writing code for over 40 years and in my earlier days I always thought, sooner or later I would see my profession outsourced to countries with lower wages and tax burdens, but here I am still hacking away. I am not saying it will not happen eventually, but over the years a common theme to out sourcing has not been with lack of cheaper talent abroad but the lack of mentors. Over and over again I have seen projects where the work out sourced has failed because the younge talented engineers may understand the syntax of coding, but fail to understand the complexities of the projects environment, the hardware, and their customers market and needs. Managers who have no appreciation of the technology, tend to think development is like it is in hollywood, sit someone in front of a screen and 24 hours later they will have solution in their hands. In reality I have met 2 engineers I would describe as having exceptional talents, with the rest of us at best may having some idea of what we are trying to achieve. In the end a typical coder spends 10 percent of their time producing code and the rest of the time googling solutions to the problems which arise as the work proceeds. Which is where the mentors come in, they can provide direction and ease the search for enlightenment.

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I'd like to mention

    not without any glee / schadenfreunde / etc, though with some general bitterness, that developers still have enjoyed, a relatively long period of financial stability. There have been other professions, paid relatively decent money, who have been decimated over the last 20 - 30 years, first by outsourcing, and then, driven to near-extinction, by certain... technological advances. That's capitalism for you, neverending drive to increase profit and reduce cost.

  32. phillfri

    What I find amazing through the years is that "upper management" costs overseas are well below half of what "upper management" costs in the U.S. are - yet no one proclaims that "upper management" jobs should be outsourced to save money. Gee - I wonder why?

  33. CountCadaver

    similar if not higher cost of living and half the salary

    UK has frankly been taking the pee.for decades in terms of pay, cost of living here is as high if not higher than the USA yet the pay is half as.high.

    Though quoting salary is of little use if the cost of living varies massively i.e. silicon valley rents etc are going to be massively higher than in Bangalore etc....

    A far better metric would be salary Vs cost of living

  34. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Cheap, fast and correct?

    With nearly 4 decades in the game, and lots of experience with this - you get what you pay for.

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