Outsourced developers

I really feel I am getting a hang of the tricky challenge of hiring outsourced developers. And it really is tricky. There are a bunch of tools to make the choice easier like ratings, what they’ve done, testimonials and stuff, but the truth is w

hen you start working with a person you don’t have a clue of what it will be to work together.

Back in 2004 I was so thrilled when I first got a guy in India to solve a problem that had puzzled me a week. He solved it in 1 day, and I paid 24 dollars. It’s easy to understand what an eye-opener this was. A week later I had a guy working full time for $ 1.200 a month. Amazing. Yeah, the price. Not the coding. I don’t work with Indian developers any more.

That’ not entirely true. The problem is they are so many. And so many are bad. (Puneet and Raise Solutions; you guys are exceptions.) But more than anything they can’t say no. Can you do this? Yes we can. And then they can’t. Why do they say yes?

– Don’t you understand it is impossible for me to know if you are capable if you just answer yes?

– Yes

(Sigh)

Now I don’t want to say that the country they come from determines their skills, but I gotta say that Eastern European developers are fantastic coders. My main goal is that they outsmart me, and the guys I am working with now do it all the time (Emre, Lubo & Denis, I hope you guys are listening)

If I had only had a team in Sweden the office would have been busy between 9am-5pm. But as I now have developers from Xian, China to Indiana, USA there is always someone awake that can help me out with urgent issues. That in itself is a reason to get good people from all around the world. But the coolest thing is the feeling of finding a guy in Istanbul, who becomes a core asset of your business. And we’ve never even met. Not in person. So cool.

My main team is now located in Bulgaria, Turkey, China, India, Pakistan and USA. So how did I meet up with these brilliant people. Mostly it’s a matter of trial and error. I have tested so many developers in different projects. And the ones that do great work, I stick with. But the trick is to find out at an early stage if they are worth spending time one.

Here’s my little guide for all of you looking to hire outsourced developers.

1. Always start with a small project. If you have a big project, break it down into pieces. Never involve an unknown developer/team that you haven’t tested. Sure “They have built tons of similar sites” and show all these mockups of sites they made. But was it him? You don’t have a clue.

2. If they want payment up front – forget about them. The main problem is that you want to prove you didn’t make a mistake so you keep trying to make up for lost money. It’s impossible.

3. Trust your very first impression. If something feels wrong – it probably is.

4. If you are using a freelancing site. Don’t just look at the rating. Look for returning clients. I often rate 10 just because I don’t want to hear their wining about it. I know it’s “wrong”, but is that really my problem?

5. And finally of course. Contact us. We’ll help you find the perfect guy at a reasonable markup.

Good luck.

Empty Schedule

9am: Perfect. I don’t have anything planned for today. This is the perfect. The desk is full. I’ll just organize all the stuff and get all invoices paid. I’ll get to all those old emails, and then I promised to update my friends web page. That sh

ouldn’t take long. I’ll probably take the afternoon off. Maybe call my wife and have a long lunch.

9.15am: [phone rings] Really, you can’t log in? That’s strange. Let me check. You’re right. I’ll call you back.

9.30am: [email] Yesterday our restaurant got over booked. How can that happen?

Hmm, beats me, I’ll have to take a look.

10am: Site’s up again. Apparently some router in south of Sweden crashed. No clue about the over booked restaurant.

11am: No clue

12am: [call client] I see something strange here. One booking goes from 8 people to 20 people suddenly. Was this done manually? … Oh it was… Well, that is probably the issue. ok bye.

Lunch

1pm: Now time to take care of the desk. Or not? You said Gumblar? That nasty little virus just corrupted all our files and added a little script. You say I have to go in and edit each and every file on the ftp? But there are hundreds of them.

2pm: editing

3pm: editing

4pm: editing

5pm: done. I’ll do the desk tomorrow.

Entrepreneurs Anonymous

I really wish there was something like Entrepreneurs Anonymous. Somewhere we could turn when we come up with these new brilliant ideas that I can’t work on, because I have to put all efforts into one single idea.

You have this ground breakin

g idea and that’s what it will remain- an idea.

On the bright side, I am finally seeing the good side of this. After seven years of practice, I am finally focusing on one – WaiterAid (www.waiteraid.com). What initially started out as a guest management tool, is now an advanced online booking facility. But even better – by placing all development efforts and all thoughts in one product, it was really easy to see some significant improvements. And the more effort I put in, the more new ideas came about. Three months ago I would have said that WaiterAid was close to perfection. Now after 8 weeks of constant improvements we know the road ahead will involve tons of new features and functions.

But most importantly we actively started marketing and selling WaiterAid. I was naive and thought that the online registration would bring in tons of clients. Well maybe when I am Google, but not yet, that’s for sure. The first seven years generated seven clients. One per year. Brilliant, we’ll be break-even by the time I’m dead. Better now, the last 4 weeks we signed up 11 more restaurants. And this is just the beginning.

Now comes the challenging part – keeping these clients satisfied. Oh, how easy it is to bring them in and forget about them. Can’t tell that I will succeed here, but we’ll do our best.

We have the goal of 100 restaurants by the end of February 2011. If we make it I’ll write all these blog posts about how to create an online business. And we will. I hope.

But back to my disease – being an entrepreneur. Unfortunately I am not yet cured. I am quite ill right now. I know when I am sick, because that’s when ideas start popping into my head. And right now, they just won’t go away. But you gotta understand. I have the solution to how media shall charge for content. And I also have this embrio of a pan-European second-hand fashion destination. How can I just let that go?

 
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