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Made in India, offshoring PHP development - Comments

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Made in India, offshoring PHP development

Posted 25 July 2011, 9:00 AM
A very large proportion of web development on Western websites is secretly done in Eastern countries. It's the elephant in the room, or in this case, the Indian Elephant in the room.

There's a huge advantage to offshoring PHP development: cost. The numbers seem extraordinary, $8 per hour vs $100 per hour.

In this article I will try and explain when offshoring PHP development works, and when it does…

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I am in no position to comment on the discussion as far as 'quality' of the work is concerned.

I am, however, in a position to comment on 'stereotypes', 'cliches' and 'bias', with the massive advantage of age (67 this year) and the fact that I originally hail from the sub-continent.

Although age isn't necessarily considered an advantage in this huge explosion of modern technology, and although I can't say I am mentally nimble enough these days to 'keep up' with the strides that are being made, almost daily, I am sufficiently arrogant enough to consider myself ahead of most of my generation. I make this declaration, because I am impressed with the mature head you have on your young shoulders, Chris.

Hailing from the sub-continent is, I suddenly find, not necessarily an advantage either when attempting to respond to this article. My cultural background was (and is) distinctly different from the average Indian, formulated by parental and peer prejudices that with hindsight were shortsighted and misguided. But that's another story.

The point I wanted to raise here is that 'price' can be further broken down by the simple factor that the cost of living in India is far lower than any you can find in any western country. So, your $8/hour price tag becomes understandable when you compare that with an average monthly wage in that country. I don't subscribe to the "… you're paying peanuts, just how hard should I bust my ass for you?" theory, because they are already getting a higher-than-average wage and would not want to lose that nice little earner. Don't expect it stay that low as the country emerges into a power-player on the world stage.

Whether the 'quality' is of an acceptable standard is another matter altogether. Grammatical and other errors are endemic, but not necessarily if they are working only with code. These differences already exist between English and American languages. And there ARE differences, often insurmountable!

Just my 2 worth!

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Fletch said

Grammatical and other errors are endemic, but not necessarily if they are working only with code. These differences already exist between English and American languages. And there ARE differences, often insurmountable!

I have to disagree with you on that point Fletch. You still need strong English skills when writing code for an English speaking client.

At a minimum you have internal code documentation, but there are test cases and reports to be written (amongst other things) and just basic communications and comprehension.

I speak with first hand experience here. There were far too many situations where what was written was either too ambiguous or totally opposite to what was intended. It was probably a 40%-60% split as to the root cause being problems with the comprehension of the specs (the language in it, not the technical detail) and their written documentation, reports or communication.

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I can't say I am mentally nimble enough these days to 'keep up'

I can.

I don't subscribe to the "… you're paying peanuts, just how hard should I bust my ass for you?" theory, because they are already getting a higher-than-average wage and would not want to lose that nice little earner

I don't either, but I think there is a lack of supply of developers meaning there is no 'stick' for them to be fired easily, and a lack of ability to raise salary so that's not a 'carrot' to push yourself. It's a bit of a bizarre economic situation.

Don't expect it stay that low as the country emerges into a power-player on the world stage.

No, indeed. Zoho Office is developed in India. I think increasingly things will be innovated there. I don't think offshoring prices will rise (it will lose it's purpose) – instead, the number of available workers will shrink.

Grammatical and other errors are endemic, but not necessarily if they are working only with code.

Yeah, I don't think it translates to code either. You will see spelling errors in variable names etc, but it's nothing to do with code logic quality. temp1024 is correct though regarding general communication.
I always thought that these offshoring companies really should hire some very Westernised people (plenty of people in India who have grown up as culturally English) to go over their own websites and improve it. It's frankly an embarrassment looking at their text sometimes.

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Chris Graham said

I always thought that these offshoring companies really should hire some very Westernised people (plenty of people in India who have grown up as culturally English) …
The feedback I am getting these days is that 'Anglo's' (like me) are becoming a sought-after commodity for precisely that reason.

To think I spent my last years of study in Bangalore, and then emigrated! Mind you, most of my time was spent on the football, hockey and cricket fields. I guess ultimately I wouldn't have been 'fit-for-purpose'!

And I think temp nailed it when he stated the problem was 'comprehension'. Thereby hangs the tale!

 :thumbs:

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Chris Graham said

but I think there is a lack of supply of developers meaning there is no 'stick' for them to be fired easily, and a lack of ability to raise salary so that's not a 'carrot' to push yourself.

I seriously doubt that there is a lack supply. We've had a lot of Indian churn (far less then local staff) but the language quality didn't really improve.

What also tends to happen though is that those with better language skills tend to get moved to the team leader / supervisor / client liaison roles.

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I seriously doubt that there is a lack supply. We've had a lot of Indian churn (far less then local staff) but the language quality didn't really improve.

I have first-hand knowledge from three sources that there is (I make a habit of probing people whenever I can to get to the truth of things). Demand for cheap development is really huge.

What also tends to happen though is that those with better language skills tend to get moved to the team leader / supervisor / client liaison roles.

That's true.

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