My Offshoring Experience

Well, okay, it’s not a bad story.  But it should serve as a reminder that offshoring isn’t for everyone and it comes with certain risks.

I put my project up on Guru and in a day I had a half dozen replies – all of them from Indian companies.  I sent emails to several and ended up choosing one that had a US representative because I felt it was important that I be able to communicate with the people doing the work for me.  Their representative is an American who walked me through on how to get going and asked good questions about the project.

A few days later they gave me the price (which was reasonable) along with a fairly detailed project scope.  I gave my approval and I promptly received an invoice from Guru for half the price up front which I thought was reasonable.

I talked to an engineer from India several times and was pretty happy with the process.  I was invited to see their progress via screen sharing and how it worked (live) on their demo server.  Generally I was pretty happy with the progress though it took three weeks rather than the two they had initially talked about.  Really, the time frame was no big deal.

I asked when they were going to merge the existing customers and they came back with another price!  According to them the number of customers in the database exceeded the number they had expected and that it would take 25 hours to manually enter them by hand.  Oh, and it will cost an additional $600 to do it.  (Keep in mind that the original contract said they’d convert the data).

Wow.  I don’t know about you friends, but in 25 hours I could write a whole import routine that would do the whole thing in seconds.  And these people were supposed to be experts at using the CMS software.  After a very brief phone conversation they halved the price and I said go for it because it was holding up my business.

The saga continues because to get the software changes put on my server I had to pay the entire remainder of the bill.  Again, I balked and paid them all but $100 (plus their additional money for the ‘conversion’).

It took them a week to get the conversion done and then I started getting some trickle down reports from international users reporting that they couldn’t create an account.  After investigation I determined that their code didn’t have proper error handling which I reported to their engineer.

To their credit they’ve responded promptly to my emails but I doubt they will fix it given they’ve been ‘working on it’ for over three weeks.  I have no leverage over them.  For $100 it’s not in their interests to spend that much time trying to fix the bug.  What am I going to do?  I dunno, it’s not like I can take them to court, but I can give them unfavorable ratings on Guru and I can write blog posts about their behavior and shoddy work.

I won’t name them because they still have work to do (assuming I can get them to do it).  If you want to know who they are, send me an email.

All-in-all I am very unimpressed with their business practices.  If you are interested in off-shoring your project I think you should think twice about it.  Once they have your money you don’t really have much leverage with them.

Let me state this for the record:  I do not believe that all off-shoring companies are bad.  This one has certainly not been good for me.  Obviously I’m not their average client.  I am a developer myself.  I have multiple clients that I work with on pricing and bug fixes and so forth and I don’t think I’d be in business very long if I treated my clients like I’ve been treated.

What stories do you have about off-shoring?  Any similar experiences?