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Outsourcing Quiz: Cheap vs. Good

By Alex Polonski

Someone can say, `Why do you oppose this?` So I`d like to prevent such attacks and tell that this article is dedicated mainly to the issue if it`s worth to look for the cheapest solution.


Software and web development market is overwhelmed nowadays. Hence, as soon as there is a possibility to get something for nothing the usual approach in search for developers is a choice of the lowest price. The logic is understandable enough, `Why should I pay $1000 for this bit of software if I can find somebody that will develop the same for as much as $200?` Is it true? I bet it is.

Anyhow, think once again about the phrase `something for nothing`. Do you really believe it`s possible? If you really think so, I`d suggest you should consider several issues while picking up a developer.

1. You are paying for what you are getting. Normally, any developer will charge you on a basis of the total man-hour they need to complete the project. Talking about offshore development will let us take the price of $8-$15 per man-hour as a base. So any project`s price consists roughly of these two elements.
Should you want to get a lower cost, you should either negotiate the lower hourly rate, or find people who need less time to develop the application. However, as soon as you won`t fall lower than $8 at any Indian company (not prestigious enough to charge extra money for quality insurance etc.), let`s look for somebody who needs just less time.

2. People can do as much work per hour as they can. It`s obvious, different people have different efficiency. So if it will take just 2 weeks to develop a simple application for some programmer, it can take several months to do the same for another one. It`s logical, professionals charge more for their services. In return they can develop things other programmers can`t make for you even for the less money. But keep you brain cool. Even the best programmer is not a speedy typist. Typing of code, in addition to its design and development, also takes some time. So don`t demand programmers to develop something in a day just because you believe the task is simple.

3. Someone`s told you he can develop it two times sooner? Ask him what exactly he`ll do? As I`ve already told, definitely, there is a great lag in programmer`s capacities. However, the speedier the programmer is, the more expensive his services are. Surely, there are some ways to shorten the development time. They are:

Usage of existing open source software. Although, some products are just great, don`t expect continuous support and the developer`s awareness of how everything works within his product.
Denial of the code`s optimization necessity. There are situations when e.g. web based software refuses to work properly on servers just because it consumes too much server resources. Why? It`s mainly because the code is clumsy and under-optimized. The more quality code takes more time. Absence of any single line of comments in the source code. Commenting of the source code takes time but doesn`t impact on the final product. Surely, you can get such product and be happy with it. However, should any bug happen, it will take astronomic amount of time to find the proper line and change it even for the original developer. As for another programmer, it would be in most cases almost impossible.

So consider all advantages and disadvantages once more. You have a choice of paying e.g. $1000 to a reliable company that can`t afford to provide you with a poor quality product; hence, it does everything to make it properly. Or you can spare about $800 and get running, however unstable software without comments and under-optimized enough for its best performance. Surely, it`s up to you what you should choose.

And again, there is no equivalence between "cheap" and "bad quality", as well as between "expensive" and "good quality".

However, if somebody offers you just unreasonably low price, make sure that at the end you will get not just an imitation but the product you actually need.

About the author:

Alex Polonski is a Senior Sales Manager at XITEX Software Company, Ukraine. The company works in offshore software development market since 1999 and has a fair expertise in J2EE and .NET technologies. Among company’s own-developed and marketed solutions, one can see a J2EE content management system, WebContent M1.

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