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Inexperienced? Perhaps an offshore resource isn’t the best choice

A customer last week told me that one of their partners has hired a freelance programmer in China from a forum for a development project. This partner has no experience managing a software project. This is their first time.


Look - I get that software development is expensive. And I realize that offshore developers are often available at very popular prices.

But do you honestly think that selecting a developer you can't meet with in person is the right move for your FIRST development project?

The truth is that as an inexperienced purchaser of software development services, you don’t know what you don’t know. You will have no way of evaluating what they are telling you.

Managing a successful development project is hard enough without added logistical and communication challenges. Many software development projects fail, even ones without the additional obstacles presented by an offshore resource.

Do I know of successful offshore projects? Yes - absolutely. But for every one of those stories, I've heard twice as many horror stories. Where the customer didn't end up with working software. Where the delivered source code was maintainable. Where the developer just disappeared in a puff of smoke.

Wouldn't it be better (especially the first time around) to hire someone you can work with in person when needed? Someone who can walk you through the process? Someone you don’t have fight in a non-U.S. court if there are contractual problems?

This might seem self-serving. But honestly I’m not worried about losing work to offshore competitors. Inexperienced customers aren’t my target market. And there continues to be plenty of work for everyone.

But I am worried about my customer’s partner. I hope it goes better than I fear it will.

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