Use the outsource, Luke?
July 20, 2005 11:36 AM   Subscribe

Should I use an online outsourcing service?

I have a number of programming tasks that I want to accomplish, but I want to get them done within months rather than years. I've heard of sites like RentACoder and ELance, but I'm hesitant to use them.

Has anyone here used such a site? What was your experience like? What would you have done differently? FWIW, I'd be supplying the coders low-level (almost pseudocode) design documentation and a series of unit tests to confirm valid functionality.

I'm a pretty compentant developer and I could write all the code myself, but I want to focus on the one or two areas where my project will differentiate itself and farm out the rest. I'd be looking for Flash, ActionScript and database stored procedure skills (doesn't have to be from the same developer).
posted by lowlife to Technology (6 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
In short, no. There's a variety of reasons, but the questionability of being able to work back to a person if the code has problems is the primary one for me.

I'd find a small, local developer if I were you... someone who's incorporated and maybe has two or three employees. They're usually as reasonable as the eLance people, and you'll have a MUCH better working relationship and warranty.
posted by SpecialK at 12:03 PM on July 20, 2005

I wouldn't hesitate to do so. Most of those programmers are just as good if not better than the ones here, and cheaper. I hired a foreign guy after he got his master's degree in computer science here in the States. He lived here for three years and I paid him $55,000 per year.

He recently decided to move back to his home country. I hire him to do work on an hourly basis for $20 an hour. It works out better for both of us.

If you don't mind communicating over instant messaging, and working sometimes odd hours (we're almost 12 hours apart) I'd highly recommend it.

In fact, the reason he moved back is to start an IT company over there. If you want, I can put you in touch with them.
posted by b_thinky at 3:25 PM on July 20, 2005

b_thinky, what programming languages does your guy know? My company is in a similar situation and may require outsourcing from time to time. If you don't mind giving me his contact information, my e-mail is in my profile.
posted by Blue Buddha at 3:45 PM on July 20, 2005

Best answer: I've used ScriptLance three times:

1) Fairly complex, but pretty well-defined module. Got a Russian programmer, who was fast, cheap, and maintaned excellent communication, always "got it". The code was very good to excellent in quality, and minor fixes were handled promptly and without further charge. A fantastic experience.

2) A small stress-testing application. The developer (native of a Spanish-speaking country, if I recall) didn't really understand the scope of the project, and it took a little longer than I wanted and he anticipated. We ended up with a somewhat clunky, but mostly correct implementation. It was dirt cheap, though, so I look at it as a wash.

3) I wanted two things integrated that it turns out cannot be reasonably integrated. Got replies to this effect, didn't cost me anything.

You can get bids that are so low, it's really a no-brainer to give it a try, but getting for a competent individual is more important than getting the lowest bid.
posted by trevyn at 6:31 PM on July 20, 2005

Best answer: Mark Fletcher, who created Bloglines and flipped it to Ask Jeeves, had as one of his main suggestions for new entrepreneurs that they use elance to get discrete development projects done, especially if they were willing to create good documentation. Take that for what it's worth.
posted by anildash at 1:55 AM on July 21, 2005

no! no! no! they're evil sites and the reason that more and more programmers can't make a living (who can compete with a dollar a day?)!
posted by mirileh at 8:55 AM on July 21, 2005

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