June 27, 2007


I read about the guy outsourcing his own job on

I've had good and bad experiences managing outsourced people and projects. I seem to be in a business thinking kick lately, so here are my rules of when to think about outsourcing software development (with a bent on that outsourcing being offshore).

Pursue offshore development when:
  1. Project management/quality assurance can be 40% to 50% of the application (not 40% to 50% of the cost, but 40% to 50% of the total hours).
  2. Project management is allocated to working hours that offshore developers are working - at least 1/3 overlap. That means a lot of really early mornings or really late nights...or both.
  3. The project is VERY WELL DEFINED. The specifications need to be exact, right down to writing the error messages and every business rule. Offshore developers will not fill in missing blanks. And be sure you do your own database design.
  4. The project is a new project, not maintaining older code that is in good shape.
  5. Iterative development is OK - there's a lot of back and forth with offshore development - fix this, change this, etc.
  6. Project is in .NET or Java. Stick with the standards. Perhaps there are a bunch of proficient PHP and Ruby and what-have-you offshore scripting shops, but don't bank on it.

Posted by hln at 02:26 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

June 23, 2007

Addendum to Getting Things Done

Business 2.0 has an article about David Allen, the author of Getting Things Done. I perused this while I ate lunch today, and there are five overarching things mentioned that are summarized as Collect, Process, Organize, Review, and Do. I might've said "Doh" out loud. I have my own principles to add to this.

Never, ever neglect the little things. In my "Organize" phase of each work day, I put together a bunch of little things that would advance other efforts if they were done. These can be as simple as sending short e-mails to setting up a new user in a system - anything under or at 30 minutes is a small thing. These take higher priority than bigger things (which will come next) because I can do a boatload of them and make sure they don't get swept to the back burner. It's usually the little things that make or break someone's customer service view of you and, by extension, your company.

The ball never drops with you. DO NOT DROP THE BALL. If you're in the middle of a tennis match in your work, as I often am, make sure you do what is necessary to send that ball lobbing over the net. It can be as simple as a response e-mail telling the other party when you'll officially respond. But do not, ever, let something sit for more than a day without some communication unless you are on vacation or cannot reach the other party.

But sometimes you need to, on purpose, leave the ball in the air/on the other side of the court. What, Heather, I thought you just told me not to drop the ball? Well, if you leave it in the air, you didn't. When you had last communication, especially if it's documented like e-mail, you do have the option of re-hitting the same ball or firing a new one. If re-opening communication fits with your overall agenda, goals, and workload, sometimes you re-lob. But often you don't. If you have projects that jerk into hurry up and wait, sometimes it's better to smash the ball over the net and let it sit in your business partner's court. You do run the risk of the unexpected smash back at you months later (oh, those are fun, out of the blue, TENNIS BALL), but if you've got no time for start and stop clients, do your due diligence, and let that ball mold on the other side of the court.

What else - oh - Make sure your definition of quality is higher than the other party's. You really can't go wrong here except in frustration level when a business partner doesn't mind putting marketing material to fore that says "Best Companie's to Work For" or something equally offputting. If you can remind yourself that you're pleasing yourself and that by doing so your client(s) will be pleased, now you're on the money.

I know I meandered off of getting things done, but to me getting things done with all these qualifiers is how business should be done.

And I felt strongly enough to actually write about it.


Posted by hln at 12:28 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack