Outsourcing? Dev for CA$H … A few Stories and a Twitter Micro-Spat

So I just quit my Twitter account. 3 days after quitting my Facebook account and two days after Reddit. Yay! Feels good.

I just had a micro-spat with another developer over a tweet and it turns out that was the tipping point I needed to quit the final bastion of my social media accounts. I’m sure they’re now gafawwing over the fact the accounts gone, truth is I’ve been on the edge for months. And, shock horror, people can’t sometimes stop and think someone else might have more experience than they do. He told me his age, and I was only out by a year when I said I’d been writing code for longer than he’d been alive. OK, OK, 1 year and 1 days out.

Anyway. The tweet. It was a developer making a point about him being a developer and essentially in it for the money.

I replied. Probably not the best opener I have to admit but hey it’s Twitter, right.

This is where SM and context vanish and what would be a positive face to face exchange is twisted out of all proportion and missing all the physical queues. Just proves that anything more than platitudes on SM are futile.

When I see someone quoting something that I know is a demonstrably dangerous and damaging attitude I tend to pull rank a bit. I think if you have an audience it’s even more important.

That Was My Life’s Savings …

I’ve seen this too many times now. And it’s directly related to the original Tweet. Imagine this. A client comes to you with an app that doesn’t work. They outsourced its development as they are the ideas people. Fine. I’ll take a look.

Then when you do take a look, it would be rude to even call it spaghetti. I spent a few days picking my jaw up off the floor continually. Code so unbelievably broken and not fit for purpose it’s a stretch to even call it code. Such as this gem …

if(true)
{    
    LoggedIn = true;
}

When I first looked at that code I assumed it was something to do with a test. Oh no … that was the sum total of their authentication code. I honestly had no idea how anyone could have made a worse code base that did anything at all. How they managed to actually get it to display things, when it worked, is beyond me. My brain was hurting just looking at the code.

Another example.  There were over 800 instances of …

new HttpClient();

… in their code.

So back to the original point. Whoever wrote this had no idea what they were doing. At all. They had engaged with my client. Convinced her they could do the work and shat out a mess that didn’t work. All for £45,000 … or … in other terms, my clients life saving and her dreams.

All as a result of chasing a quick buck. It had taken that company 6 months to deliver nothing at all. I rebuilt the entire thing, properly, in a month.

Money is a terrible motivator. In fact it’s renowned as being the worst motivator in every HR circle I’ve ever mixed in. It can be a carrot or a reward of course. But motivator? No. There have been enough studies, polls and white papers published to safely say it definitely is not a good motivator. Even a quick Google for it being a GOOD motivator will show you it isn’t.

Do you think money drives Elon Musk much past the first billion? Or would he lose interest at the 70th Billion? $170,000,000,000 maybe?

The Industry

I wish this was my only experience of this happening.

It generally follows a pattern …

  1. Ideas person has great idea
  2. Looks for someone to execute as they don’t have the skills
  3. Someone pops up their radar and claims they can do it
  4. Ideas person has absolutely no way of knowing if they can or not
  5. Ideas person engages
  6. Ideas persons bank account gets drained
  7. Where’s the app? How’s It going
  8. Silence
  9. Developers deliver bag of shit to client
  10. Nightmare ensues
  11. Legal action rarely make financial sense due to cost of recovery
  12. Idea persons idea probably dies

I’ve seen this happen with small companies and I’ve seen this happen with medium sized companies too. If you do outsourcing, you have to have someone that knows what the outsourcers are doing and keeping tabs on quality and fitness. You just can’t escape that reality.

In fact depending on the project, outsourcing can have as much overhead as doing the damn thing yourself another way. Either through direct employment, yes that might be cheaper (see above) or by doing some kind of equity share with someone closer to the project with the skill set and skin in the game.

Stay safe!

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