If you have a company headquartered in the United States or Canada, the urge to hire offshore developers can be great to save your company some very expensive development funds. So what can I say to change my mind and hire free Java or PHP programmers in the US instead of offshore Asian contractors?
Sure, offshore contractors will undoubtedly be cheaper, but you must have heard the phrase “you get what you pay for”. Personally, I often think this is correct. You can hire a freelance programmer from across the ocean at a bargain price, but you have to deal with language, culture and time zone barriers. You are also not sure about their educational experience.
An American programmer with a degree from an American university will cost you more, but I promise you will make it easier to communicate with this person. Really, will it end up costing you more? With the booming economies of Asian countries and our own economic downturn, excellent offshore developers can charge rates comparable to those in the United States. Therefore, if your application does not work as you expect, cheap programmers may not be so cheap.
Working hours with people on the other side of the planet slows down your development unless one of you wants to work in the middle of the night. When you sleep, they are at work and vice versa, unless you or they are willing to work early in the morning, communication will be slow. I once worked for someone in Australia, although the language is not an issue, the time difference caused the project to be delayed by several weeks. If we are in the same hemisphere, instant messaging will work much faster. Since that experience, I have always made sure that my clients are located in the US or Canada.
I also noticed that many American freelance developers are retired, have 20-30 years of IT experience and are looking for jobs that can supplement their retirement income. Just because someone is over 62 doesn’t mean they haven’t kept up with the latest and greatest, especially if it’s their life’s work. Over the years, they have developed good work habits and learned how to complete a project.
It’s a good idea to ask for their code samples. You can check that it is clean, easy to read and well documented. If you want others to be able to appear and edit the project at some point in the code lifecycle, these code features are critical to creating supported code. I’ve had the unfortunate experience of editing undocumented code. The variable names are pseudo-English/Russian and the method is longer than 30 lines. If it is not completely rewritten, it is almost impossible to fix this problem. If you don’t know what good Java code should look like, take a quick look at the Java website about coding conventions. Choosing a free programmer is more complicated than choosing the cheapest one. In the long run, some pre-screening and legwork will save you money.
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