Does outsourcing programming to India really save money?

flickr/Friar's Balsam

A blog post by John Larson details a startup who shipped their initial programming to India, paying $14 per hour. Can you get quality programming at bargain rates?

In "Why I Will Never Feel Threatened by Programmers in India," Larson tells the story of poor quality programming stalling the startup, and how they approached him to fix their code. He also compares the performance of a project he rewrote in four weeks after an Indian outsourcer produced crashing code while taking four months. In fact, Larson says flatly, "I have yet to see a project done overseas at that sort of hourly rate that has actually gone well."

Programmers everywhere are happy to share their opinions. Some object to what they see as an almost racist rant, but others completely agree. Quality costs money seems to be the overwhelming sentiment, although some have found good ways to leverage outsourced programming effectively.

Pay peanuts, get monkeys

I am a programmer from India….and I AGREE with you! I used to run an outsourcing outfit till six months back with 8 programmers. I grew increasingly frustrated when I had to teach and explain even simplest of the things to my fellow programmers.

Yash on

If you feed peanuts, you will get monkeys. That is true for anywhere in the world. The broad sweeping generalization of this article amazes me, it borders on racism.

IndianDeveloper on

Well, am a programmer from india. And i agree that there’s an element of truth to this… For the most part what is sold as outsourcing is either creative time management or the mundane parts of development.

Anand Jeyahar on

Blame the suits

that low hourly rate seems to hypnotize the client, which is natural. I think this problem will work itself out naturally. No matter how many times you warn someone of shoddy work overseas, they won’t be able to think long-term, so they’ll pull the trigger, which will coincidentally cost them a whole lot more in the long-run.

Kevin Pruett on

The crux of the problem is that working with a remote team is a very different proposition than working with people onsite - a fact that is obvious but that people generally fail to act on.

compay on

The last company where I worked would change their mind mid-stream every couple of weeks and it added almost a year of extra time onto the final release date.

paulhauggis on

Here's the trick

You can outsource to save money, but only once someone stateside essentially blueprints EXACTLY what needs to be done. Then touched up.

Bryan on

Nor are you guaranteed of getting good results at $125/hr. Many US programmers also suck.

ghjm on

The suck in outsourcing doesn't come from the location you outsource to. It comes from hiring bottom of the barrel programmers embedded within a large bureaucracy.

ori_b on

Too bad programming isn't like all the children in Lake Wobegone, or all the programmers would be above average.

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