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Programming IT Technology

Finding a Ready-Made Dev Team? 294

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the just-add-water dept.
marshrew writes "We are a small startup just coming out of a period of R&D with IP and prototype code (containing open source, commercial & freelancer-built custom components) developed/integrated in-house by essentially one guy. We're at the point where we want to build out first commercial implementation which will require a handful of developers for at least six months. We really don't have time or funds to go through a developer recruiting cycle, create a practice, get the team "gelled" etc. What we'd really like to do is find a small pre-existing team which which we could form a relationship to get our product out the door and possibly continue working with. We don't mean a splinter group from a larger dev house, but an agile, self-contained team, who enjoy working together and have an existing practice. Geography is not a problem as we are used to working in a distributed manner." Does such an animal exist? What have other teams done in a situation like this?
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Finding a Ready-Made Dev Team?

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  • by FidelCatsro (861135) * <[fidelcatsro] [at] [gmail.com]> on Tuesday November 22, 2005 @04:30AM (#14088639) Journal
    In 2005, a crack Hacker unit was sent to prison by an over-zealous RIAA for a crime they didn't commit(Theft , it should have been copyright infringement).

    These men promptly got released due to a technicality ,to the Los Angeles und3rgr0und!!!!. Today, still wanted by their Previous employers due to a contractual problem and for maintaining some perl code , they survive as Developers of FORTRAN.

    If you have a problem, if no one else can help, and if you can find them, maybe you can hire...the @-Team.
  • IBM Global Services (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 22, 2005 @04:31AM (#14088641)
    That's who we used in 2001 when we needed a huge web-based Java system done. They brought in nine programmers with a top-notch project manager. It cost a lot, but it cost less than not doing it.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 22, 2005 @05:02AM (#14088734)
      In the long run, you'd almost certainly be better off hiring developers of your own. Hiring developers from companies like IBM GSA, CSC, etc. is a recipe for disaster if you aren't very careful about the contracts and other legal niceties, they'll eat you for breakfast, and then go out for seconds.

      Another poster also comments on long term support and maintenance. Combine all these factors, and I would strongly recommend keeping it in house. Yes, it's a pain, but it'll be better in the long run.

      In any event, good luck.
    • by didiken (93521) on Tuesday November 22, 2005 @05:29AM (#14088816) Homepage
      Well, since you're posting as anonymous with high praise for IBM Global Service, let's see this counter argument from Kuro5hin: How IBM Conned My Execs Out Of Millions [kuro5hin.org].



      This is a first-person account of how IBM was able to con my execs out of millions of dollars. Gullible management tries to swim with the shark and gets chewed to pieces. Witness the exec-level FUD sales techniques and the $325/hr subcontractor labor bait and switch....
      More... [kuro5hin.org]
      • by Anonymous Coward

        Nice link, but it has zero relevancy to our relationship with IBM. If you're an idiot and don't manager hourly billing with any vendor you will get burned. That's especially true when dealing with lawyers and more so with Certified Public Crooks^H^H^H^H^H Accountants. For programmers you will get burned if you don't give them good specs and make sure they're giving you what you need as they're building. The sooner you correct a programmer the cheaper it is.

        Also, in the link the guy admitted:

        There w

      • by dekemoose (699264) on Tuesday November 22, 2005 @09:51AM (#14089643)
        Boo freakin' hoo. Sounds like a classic case of mis-management on the behalf of the defense vendor. Any consultant, IBM included, will eat your lunch if you don't stay on top of them. One of my promary job responsibilities is keeping consultants focused on the project scope. It is part of a consultants job to try to get a bigger piece of a project, and if they have all the project, make the project bigger.

              "Whenever management was trying to select a vendor, or even having second
                thoughts about a vendor, this consultant would offer senior management the
                solution to their problems. Management, in a hurry, would agree, happy to
                have the matter resolved. The questions of whether IBM could deliver on
                their promises or whether their bid was competitive went unasked."

        Okay, management couldn't get their head out of their arse so they made a snap decision based on questionable information. Nice.

              "Where was the technical staff during all of this? Staying out the way,
                mostly. They knew that IBM was selling solutions two levels over their head,
                and they didn't want any part of it."

        The techies saw an impending clusterf*ck and decided to do a duck and cover rather than trying to intervene. Can't blame them, management types probably wouldn't listen, but if you've got a highly paid consultant whispering in your exec's ear and no one tries to present a counter-arguement, what do you expect?

              "Upper management was very reluctant to move back the deadline because the project
                had a lot of visibility, and executive bonuses were dependent upon completing the
                project by the end of the year."

        Okay, management had their bonuses on the line, so they stopped making sane decisions and started spending the companies money to make their own.

        The story goes on much like this. Yeah, you got hosed. IBM saw, in military parlance, a target rich environment, and they were right. That sucks, the fact that those dollars come out of my pocket sucks(since they are a defense contractor all those dollars trace back to taxes). But don't play the part of the innocent bystander, management f*cked up. Period.
        • Try skimming the article a little further down, it addresses the points you raise, e.g. "There's no question that our senior management made major mistakes in vendor selection and management." But I have good news for you: your ability to write a plausible but detail-free "executive summary" qualifies you for a management job at IBM Global Services!
      • by kpharmer (452893) on Tuesday November 22, 2005 @11:33AM (#14090574)
        A few points:

        1. The client was a defense contractor. defense contractors are some of the most absolutely incompetent companies I've ever worked with. Just as bad as telecom (old at&t) and government.

        2. The client apparently went with a waterfall project plan, in which there were few if any milestones. And surprise, they discover at the very end that there are problems. Duh.

        3. According to the poster, the client wasn't capable of simple math: didn't know that the contracting run rate would consume their budget before the project was complete. Again, duh.

        4. According to the poster, IBM was charging $325 for everyone. That doesn't sound accurate in my experience with IBM (and other large consulting companies) - in which a couple of top people would be at $325, and the shock troops anywhere from $150-$225.

        5. Also, the customer hired programmers for a small project from a large system integrator. That's never a good way to save money, it's a good way to assemble a team overnight.

        6. The poster doesn't really understand knowledge management, business intelligence, or customer relationship marketing. By simply dismissing these domains as over-hyped, he's just revealing ignorance. This isn't to say that everyone needs everything that all vendors claim they can deliver, but these are huge domains full of history and detail. And can deliver a lot *if* you understand them and their best practices. If you don't, then you're probably buying/building the wrong solution anyway.

        On the flip side, I do agree that IBM has a hard time holding onto top talent. They don't pay enough, and their bureacracy can be a pain in the butt. When you get a team you should absolutely interview every member, and put milestones in the project where you can jettison the team if they suck. But, this isn't an IBM-thing, it's something you should do for whatever team you work with.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      IBM milks its clients for the maximum money it can get. I've seen it myself, we would ask for a 1 line change in the code, even show them how to do it and they would milk it for 4 months of team money.
      5 years to make a website? No problem, IBM can drag it out that long.
      10 years to make a database, yaking so long that the hardware goes out of date before it's complete? RAF can tell you about that one.

      • by Anonymous Coward
        The worst part is, IBM treats its internal organizations as badly or worse than the external customers, because we CAN'T go anywhere else.
    • As an IBM GS employee I can say that we do this sort of thing all the time. The team I work on is great. They're all top-notch. However you should interview all the people they send you and make sure that you're getting what you want. I've seen a few people that are just dead weight and customers should get them removed from the project as quickly as possible.
  • Dev Team hiring (Score:5, Informative)

    by Old Wolf (56093) on Tuesday November 22, 2005 @04:32AM (#14088646)
    Try www.rentacoder.com , or other such sites. Although most people on the site are private individuals, there are some organizations with dozens of programmers, that can be hired for any period of time or to accomplish any set goal. Plus there is the benefit of user feedback from others who have hired the same team in the past. You can browse the list of teams with the highest user feedback, and invite them to bid on your project.

    • Re:Dev Team hiring (Score:5, Insightful)

      by frenetic3 (166950) <houston AT alum DOT mit DOT edu> on Tuesday November 22, 2005 @05:52AM (#14088885) Homepage Journal
      Yeah, you'll be able to find teams like this online. And they will have an appallingly wide variance in quality -- a friend of mine just finished getting out of a contract where he was paying $160/hr for expedited service but the consulting company either was completely incompetent or just too lazy to do the work (their spec was laughable, consisting of blurbs of text cut and pasted from open source components they were going to slough together to make the site).

      But (as a technical founder/co-CEO myself) let me tell you why even if you find a decent consulting shop that this is a bad idea.

      First, you're a startup. You're dreaming if you think your requirements aren't going to change as users start interacting with the site and you tweak your product idea and learn more about the market. This just doesn't jive with a consulting agreement, where clear expectations and well-defined specs are absolutely essential for success. Otherwise, you're asking for a world of hurt (time, money, stress) when you quickly realize that you and the consultant have a very different view of what constitutes "complete" in terms of quality and features. I guess if you have a great relationship with your consulting team, maybe they can be nimble for you. But you'll pay for it -- "Whoa whoa whoa -- you wanted to be able to SEARCH posts on your message board? That wasn't in the spec, it's going to be at least another week, and at x hours at $y per hour, plus overtime, that's..." And this is assuming, too, that you find a scrupulous dev shop -- I can only imagine the horrors of an unethical dev shop screwing over a technically unenlightened founder/CEO (I've seen it. It's not pretty.)

      Fundamentally, you and the dev shop just aren't on the same team (your "incentives aren't aligned.") Look at it from their perspective: they want to get your project done as soon as possible (so that they can start working, and making money on something else) and to do the least work possible that could pass as "complete" especially if you have a flat $x/milestone agreement. You want to make something your users will love, and you don't quite know what that "something" exactly is until a few iterations in. Think about it -- if you're a consultant, and you're trying to wrap up this damn project which is already running late (and it's your head under the guillotine for missing milestones), are you going to 1) complete the feature in the quickest way possible or 2) add a little extra to make something the end user will love... but not get compensated for it? Yes, maybe are consulting companies that will go the extra mile, but these aren't the ones bidding for the bottom of the barrel at rent-a-coder.

      You can maybe align things better with clever contingencies. You can negotiate a support contract or retainer (for bug fixes afterwards) or something with them. But after the project is delivered, you are in a _terrible_ negotiating position as you desperately NEED them for bug fixes and enhancements (i.e. your alternatives are terrible), and they can easily make you pay dearly. Plus, what if you're willing to spend the money but your former lead dev at the consulting shop gets staffed somewhere else? or leaves? etc.

      And all this even ignores the major point. Your product is your special sauce; the thing you do better than your competitors; the source of your sustainable competitive advantage. It's just suicide to try to contract that out to someone else. It's one thing (and highly recommended) to outsource ANCILLARY business functions (accounting, legal, etc.) that to you are basically a commodity. But not your crown jewels. Did Google, Microsoft, Yahoo, Amazon, or frankly ANY successful startup start by outsourcing/offshoring the development of their core IP? (There may be RARE exceptions, and I'd love to hear them, because I know of precisely zero successful companies that have done this)

      So I shudder when newbie founder/CEO or MBA/management major types say they'll get their first product done for $20k and in 3 weeks by shipping
      • Re:Dev Team hiring (Score:2, Interesting)

        by daigu (111684)

        On the whole, this is good advice. However, I would like to provide more detail here:

        "It's just suicide to try to contract that out to someone else. It's one thing (and highly recommended) to outsource ANCILLARY business functions (accounting, legal, etc.) that to you are basically a commodity. But not your crown jewels. Did Google, Microsoft, Yahoo, Amazon, or frankly ANY successful startup start by outsourcing/offshoring the development of their core IP?"

        You can do this if you core IP is marketing and

      • by mdarksbane (587589) on Tuesday November 22, 2005 @09:36AM (#14089540)
        I used to work in residential construction, where through the contracting of a house only the very largest companies actually do the whole process in house.

        We had a small crew who did framing and all the odd jobs to glue all the pieces together. But painting, trimming, electric, HVAC, plumbing, and architectural design all got handed off to a specialist who was paid by the job, and didn't get hired again if he did a crappy job. After a while it became very apparent which guys in town were worth hiring, and they're the ones who got all the jobs on the next projects.

        Sure there were problems, but none of this "oh you wanted the walls actually painted? I thought you just wanted a primer" BS that I seem to hear all the time out of computer consulting services.

        And, for the most part, people stand by their work. All work is pretty much guaranteed for a year - if it was their crap that broke, they'll fix it free. Only time you have to pay them for extra work is if it's something in their expertise who breakage wasn't their fault.

        And when people did screw up horribly (like ending up with two different shades of paint in the same room) they worked overtime for the rest of the week to fix it so we could make our schedule or they didn't get paid for the lousy work! Why doesn't anyone enforce this sort of thing in the CS environment?
        • A large part of the difference is the maturity of the field. People have been building houses for a LONG time. The processes of collaboration are firmly in place. Just as importantly, the expectations one unit will have of another unit are well established, and accepted by both sides of the equation (i.e., your painters know that they are expected to put up more than a layer of primer, you know they know this expectation, and so on). This is not necessarily true in a coding environment. Coding practice
        • by satherto (513840) <{scott} {at} {athertontech.com}> on Tuesday November 22, 2005 @10:55AM (#14090159) Homepage
          It's hard to enforce this with programming.

          With construction you have set plans that don't change too drastically, with programming you'll find people changing their mind through out the build.

          Think of it as your building a 4 bedroom single family house and the developer is constantly making little(to him) changes to the plan, you know, add a new bathroom, change the den into a formal dinning room, oh, and the garage is actualy supposed to be part of the house, not a seperate building (didn't we mention that?), and yes it wasn't on the plans we signed off on originally, but those plans just don't work anymore.

          Now with 50% completion, the owners decide that what would work at this location, is actually a 4 family duplex.

          Now that the building is finished and awaiting final inspection, we need 1 really quick change, insteaad of regular telephone jacks wired to each room, we need Cat 6, as we will be doing IP phones, but thats a real easy change right, a couple of plates is all? Now that you've done that, we talked to the guy who bags our grocerys and he had a great idea, move the hoy water tank from the basement to the attic.

          Would you expect the contractors to just eat the difference, or not ask that the deadline change? You as a contractor would point out the changes are all going to cost time and money and aren't in the original thst you based you quote on, but the developer is convinced that it has to be done and pays the extra costs. of course once everything is finished, the developer will go on and on how expensive the project is, and how long it took, and how it still isn't exactly what he wanted (but is exactly what the plan and change orders asked for).

          And yes I've seen this, I've provided IT to costruction and HVAC companies for over 10 years and see this all the time. They complain about delays annd costs, and compare it to how they build projects.

          • You know what the real difference is? In home building the design is probably 10 or 15% of the total cost (pulled that out of my butt), but in software, the design is 98% of the total cost. When you finish the design (the code), you're essentially done.

            When you're designing a $250,000 house, and you're half done the design and the future owner wants to move everything around, then it might become a $260,000 or $275,000 house cost and the owner sees a small percentage change because design is a small perce
        • We had a small crew who did framing and all the odd jobs to glue all the pieces together. But painting, trimming, electric, HVAC, plumbing, and architectural design all got handed off to a specialist who was paid by the job, and didn't get hired again if he did a crappy job. After a while it became very apparent which guys in town were worth hiring, and they're the ones who got all the jobs on the next projects.

          Well, when you're hiring developers it's slightly more complicated because there's a lot of fish
      • I agree. My three rules of business:
        1. Always know your core business.
        2. Hire good people to do it.
        3. Outsource the rest.

        marshrew: Note that your core business may change slowly over time. If and when that happens, you have to be able to identify the change, because #2 requires that you then hire (and fire) people. When you get big enough, you will be able to slightly over-hire in case of contingencies, but that sounds like it's a ways down the road for you yet. The key is to take the time to find the right m

      • This is dead-on correct. If the software is being developed in order for you to achieve competitive advantage, keep the the development process as close to you as you can. At very least, the core team should be on the payroll.

        If you're looking to do "commodity" IT work, look at outsourcing partners (maybe offshore, maybe not). Examples are setting up back-end systems, package configuration (SAP, Siebel, etc), Oracle apps for the beancounters. There's value in these being as standard as you can make them.
    • NO, no, no, ... (Score:4, Interesting)

      by hummassa (157160) on Tuesday November 22, 2005 @06:13AM (#14088940) Homepage Journal
      what about a serious and renowed technology firm? These guys [vettatech.com] have your team ready and can assemble/send you a new one -- a GOOD one -- in a matter of days. OR they can manage them for you.
      Disclaimer: I don't work for them, I do NOT receive any $$$ from them, but most of them are former University colleagues of mine, and I can vow for their honesty and seriousness. Visit their website, give their clients a call, give them a call, IIRC they can even send someone to talk to you in person.
    • There are all kinds of teams like this. Mercenary teams, teams constructed on-the-fly of freelancers, teams leftover from somebody else's emergency project, teams that are slices of bigger companies. We reply to projects on such sites - particularly guru.com. We're probably too busy, and possibly too small, but contact me if you like. You didn't specify what kind of development or platform you're targeting; that makes a difference, too.

      The big problem you have is you can't trust anyone. Even if you rea
  • by LiquidCoooled (634315) on Tuesday November 22, 2005 @04:35AM (#14088655) Homepage Journal
    I hear there are a group of developers who are just being dropped by Song BMG, perhaps you could give them a call ;)
  • Have you tried... (Score:4, Informative)

    by xor.pt (882444) on Tuesday November 22, 2005 @04:36AM (#14088657)
    Sourceforge? www.sourceforge.net
  • Look for layoffs (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward
    When a company shuts down or lays off a bunch of developers, whole teams become available. I've seen hiring 'feeding frenzies' resulting from this, you're not unique in wanting to hire teams. Sometimes a team is hired as salaried staff, sometimes a team leader gets asked if he can get a team together for a contract (ie "form your own company, and we've got a job for you").

    Either way, its rich pickings and unfortunately not that hard to find.
  • Try Origin (Score:3, Informative)

    by mustafap (452510) on Tuesday November 22, 2005 @04:42AM (#14088667) Homepage
    in Cambridge, UK. I worked with them once. They are like a small Logica.

    Or S3 (Silicon Software Solutions) in Dublin, Ireland. I used to work for them.
  • power of 3 rule (Score:5, Insightful)

    by timdaly (539918) on Tuesday November 22, 2005 @04:42AM (#14088668)
    This is optimistic at best. Remember the power of 3 rule:
    (where UOW=unit of work (man/month :-) )
        1 UOW = program for yourself
        3 UOW = give it to someone else
              (you install, you copy, etc)
        9 UOW = give it to local group
              (howto, platform change)
      27 UOW = shareware/open source
              (configure/make/make install)
      81 UOW = product
              (real docs, slick UI, support teams)
    243 UOW = business
              (lawyers, CEO, sales, marketing)

    you're looking at a lot more work than you're willing to
    admit. unless it is a trivial application you need to
    understand that writing the program in the first place
    is the easiest part of the whole problem. Teams which
    don't include the original developer are even harder.

    Tim Daly
  • OSS Community? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by chrstphrb (885917)
    Have you given SourceForge http://www.sf.net/ [sf.net] a good looking over for projects similar in scope and application to yours? Seems to me it shouldn't be too hard to find a group already working together working on X.application developing in X.language. Good luck...
  • Team 345 (Score:4, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 22, 2005 @04:44AM (#14088676)
    These were some guys who worked with my company in Massachussetts. They're pretty Java-focussed, I think, but they're good. They formed their group to do exactly what you're asking for. They were composed of three or four guys at the time.

    http://team345.com/ [team345.com]
  • Be cool enough (Score:2, Interesting)

    by pmv (913984)
    Speaking as a developer starting out, and having just joined a startup myself, I believe if your project is cool enough, people will be willing to work with you. And what's more, the people you'll attract will most likely be the ones who stand to contribute most to the project. The converse is also true [inq7.net]. Startups have succeeded and and failed according to this rule.

    Motivation is a key factor among geeks. Spread awareness of the project, show people that it's worth something, and that its success is in th
  • Consulting Engineers (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Hektor_Troy (262592) on Tuesday November 22, 2005 @04:51AM (#14088694)
    If we abstract it a bit, it sounds like exactly the type of work my previous employer contracted inhouse. They specialized primarily in building automation, but that's just a different field of work.

    I would be surprised if you couldn't find consulting engineers (no clue what you call them in English) that specialize in software development. While I don't personally know of any, try calling around to various consulting engineers, or visit in person if there are any in the local area. I know that my employer had calls like that at least once a week (not software development though), and they never had a problem in directing people to the right company (knowing that they in turn will direct people to them). Even if they don't know a company for sure, they'll probably know who might know, or they'll get curious and start asking around themselves.

    I hope this helps - and if you manage to find some that do this, by all means tell the rest of us - we never know if it might come in handy.
  • Correct approach? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Underholdning (758194) on Tuesday November 22, 2005 @04:52AM (#14088696) Homepage Journal
    I would strongly advice against such an approach. Say you manage to get a team of super coders from India to China to the US. They create a product ready to ship in 6 months and then they dismantle, continuing on with other exciting projects.

    Now, what happens when the product is in need for support? Who are going to support code written by a team of super corders?

    What happens when there's a demand for extra functionality? Who's going to implement that?

    Who will maintain the code?

    Yes, you could try to reassemble the team, but developers hate support. And besides, the team will much rather start on a new project than supporting the old one.
    My suggestion is, that you take your time and hire people the old fashioned way. If you don't have enough time to do that, your project is doomed anyway.

    • First, why are you assuming he can't hire home grown consultants?

      Second, you can usually get the same consultants back for maintenance work. And if you can't because they are busy, there are other consultants, often with the same firm.

      Hiring lots of permanent employees is not the only way to go.

      -- John.
      • First, why are you assuming he can't hire home grown consultants?

        I don't assume anything - I just reflect on his statement: " Geography is not a problem as we are used to working in a distributed manner." . He doesn't say which country his company is in, but if it's in the US or Europe, then coders from India is definitely cheaper.

        Second, you can usually get the same consultants back for maintenance work. And if you can't because they are busy, there are other consultants, often with the same firm.

    • Offshore outsourcing your development team may be far more expensive than your estimated (3 programmers X 6 months). As the parent poster points out, disbanding that team when the project is polished does not account for support/bug fixes/enhancements. Management of offshore programming staff is not an insignificant task. Worse yet, your start-up company will have relinquished control of your IP, which will be well out of reach of the USA court system if redress is needed.
  • by LittleLebowskiUrbanA (619114) on Tuesday November 22, 2005 @04:55AM (#14088706) Homepage Journal
    AGILE.....goddamnit. It's software, not a 4 legged creature!
  • by Raindeer (104129) on Tuesday November 22, 2005 @04:56AM (#14088710) Homepage Journal
    The question very much reminds me of what I guy I know said when his 15 people ICT security company were looking for a new guy: "All the good people already work for us, or we know who they work for. Now we're looking for the person nobody else has found yet". This will be the same with the ready made development team. They have a job somewhere, so unless they are a small contracting team that just happens to have an open spot in their schedule you're more or less doomed.

    Managing this group is even tougher. The way you describe your company is that it is small, tightly knit, build around one person. Now you need to get new people to work with your group, to smoothen out differences in development philosophy, to get the leader to let go of parts of his baby etc etc.

    Tough job ahead of you. Good luck.
  • by pelorus (463100) on Tuesday November 22, 2005 @05:07AM (#14088754)
    The way one local (and now powerful) company did it was by "hiring" people for pizza. If the product is cool, then you'll corral some college geeks to do the groundwork and free up your good coders for the cool work.

    This has been touched on recently in some blogs ( http://www.wilshipley.com/blog/ [wilshipley.com] and http://www.drunkenblog.com/drunkenblog-archives/00 0713.html [drunkenblog.com] ) that college students, who were used and abused during the bubble, remain a good resource of, dare I say it, cheap labour. They like the prestige, need the experience, and are used to working in small project teams. And yeah, you can pay them peanuts.

    And no, they don't even need to be in college. Two of the most impressive code monkeys I know dropped out of High School.....
    • Just keep in mind that if you make a development team completely out of inexperienced/little-experience programmers you'll end up paying for it over and over again.

      Programmers which are inexperience or have little experience, are cheap because they make lots of mistakes (after all they're still learning). Even then most gifted ones are unaware of how, in the middle/long term, an application evolves in a real-life environment.

      Expect hard to change applications, strange bugs, costly to bugfix applications, es
    • As a matter of fact, I have my senior project class next semester. Do you have any girls?
  • Partner up? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by tbee (398341)
    You could try and partner up with an IT firm.

    We currently are partned with three startups; our company provides the IT knowledge for a seriously reduced fee in exchange for a partial ownership in the product that is being build.

    Basically we're investing (the reduced fee is still very much required, so that there is an incentive to actually finish the product). However you still need to convince the IT firm why it should invest.
  • ...you have a mamoth project that you cant cope with yourself and you want some other people to work for you for free.
  • by Wonderkid (541329) on Tuesday November 22, 2005 @05:30AM (#14088818) Homepage
    ...working with software (and hardware) engineers is this.

    a) Only work with people you know and trust. Until you're Microsoft, you cannot (CANNOT!) afford to make hiring mistakes, everyone in your team must be experienced and brilliant.

    b) Try to arrange for everyone to be in the same building or room, THE only way to brain storm is on an old fashioned whiteboard, not on a chat client, which is really only suited to quick questions and answers, not visual thinking. That's why companies still have physical offices, even in a world of broadband and video converencing.

    c) ONLY allow remote workers if you can be guaranteed they WILL be available online when YOU are online to ensure maximum productivity and real-time discussion of vital issues.

    d) Only farm out small modular tasks to remote workers, keep your core coders close to hand and reward them with ownership in the project.

    e) Have a well written contract and strict but fair code of conduct that should be signed by all parties on paper (not e-mail 'replies').

    f) If you lack the personality to be firm with those who let you down, or cannot hire someone to take on such a role, do not embark on your venture, else your ship will drift all over the place only to be washed up on the rocks.

    g) Else, go for it and if you need any more tips (or can provide any!), reply to this with posting.

    Good luck, and "May The Force be You!"

    • Don't you hate it when that happens? You write something well meaning and helpful, do a Preview, and yet still fail to spot all the errors until after posting it. I guess it's the thought that counts! The fact most /. postings are written by busy people in the mo of the heatment mean that mustooks are bond to hippin wonse in a wyle. Oh whell. :-)
    • ...assign any potential engineers one or two tests to evaluate their ability to a) Solve problems b) Respond on time. After all, how can you project manage if one or more members of your team cannot be relied upon? Don't just say YES to the first resume or team that you discover or that approaches you. 'Shop around'. Have a one on one on the phone to evaluate their personality. However, be aware that an arrogant or socially hopeless engineer may well be a great coder, so don't be put off. All you should car
    • a) Only work with people you know and trust. Until you're Microsoft, you cannot (CANNOT!) afford to make hiring mistakes, everyone in your team must be experienced and brilliant.

      Ok so you are going to pay high 5 figures, even 6 figures then?? Experienced and brilliant = EXPENSIVE. something a startup can not afford.

      You need to hire realistically, what's the budget? what is the resource pool? experienced and brilliant and not near you = their salary + $20K or more to move them to you unless management is
  • by femto (459605) on Tuesday November 22, 2005 @05:31AM (#14088820) Homepage
    What is in it for the developers? The real value in any start up is the people, not the product. Rather than being a start up company looking for a development team, perhaps you are really a product looking for a start up company?

    I don't mean to be facetious. It's just the team you describe would normally be 90% of the value of a company, so they will be in the position of strength. In their position my first question would be "Why should we go with you when we could probably get to same position by ourselves?", especially given that you seem to be low on resources.

  • build your own (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    My experiences from a few years freelance consulting in mid-sized development projects are:

    • If you know what you want to achieve and who you need, it doesn't take long to build a team (maybe 2 weeks)
    • you can build a team gradually - start with the project manager and technical lead; add analysts and architects first, and add QA staff later; involve the project manager and technical lead in the team building process
    • for being a team it is more important to have a common vision than having worked together
  • Students are often willing to do extra work and/or skip their diploma and head straight out to real life. They're used to working in teams and you might be able to find a bunch of students that have worked a lot together in the past.
  • We were one... (Score:5, Informative)

    by cyberjessy (444290) on Tuesday November 22, 2005 @06:17AM (#14088947) Homepage
    I had one such practice a few years back. However, in 2001-2003 there were fewer people looking for this kind of service. People were generally unwilling to take risks, and nothing much was happening in terms of application development. Atleast nothing like whats happening now, or back in '99.

    Although many websites (like rentacoder.com) offer this functionality, it is difficult to guarantee the quality of people you will end up working with. The surprising limitation of these sites is that they have no mechanism to ensure quality of bidders or participants. Which is exactly why Arzoo.com (by the hotmail founder) failed. Bad quality. Add to that, people simply trying to outbid others. I have even seen $100 for a 1 month job!!! If you go to such sites, you are very likely to lose some time trying to filter out the not-so-good ones.

    Since you will be working with people you know little about, there are however things that you could do, before making your final decision.

    1. See if they have blogs. Look at their attitude, language, code quality, passion, whatever...
    2. Talk to them. Check for conversational skills. These are very important!
    3. See if they have done any open source work. (That will be a real bonus!)
    4. Ask them to send source code.

    I feel such a practice certainly has a place in modern IT. Agile, Quality-Concious and Inexpensive.
    Things are looking up again, and thats good news.

    Good luck to you.
  • Cambridge is crawling with them. Ran my own one there years ago.

    If you leave some contact details I will try to put you in touch with some of them.

    Mike.
  • Recommendation (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Elrac (314784) <carl@smot[ ]z.com ['ric' in gap]> on Tuesday November 22, 2005 @06:47AM (#14089015) Homepage Journal
    I've had a good working relationship for some years with SoftRP.net [softrp.net] . The Web site says they're in Canada, and this may be true, but the outfit originates from the Ukraine. AFAIK, most are graduates from the University of Kiev.

    These are a varied and skilled bunch of coding mercenaries, and they quickly and graciously executed a number of small projects for me (figureheading for a small company that was the actual customer). Their prices are a bit higher than your run-of-the-mill Indian/Chinese shop, but that was compensated by their ability to think for themselves and produce a working product off a simple, not overly detailed spec. Also, and I find this important, they ask questions rather than stumbling into blind alleys. As I mentioned, I'm a one man show and my projects were small, on the order of few man-weeks, and I was sorry not to have a decent-sized job for them to chew on. They certainly suggested they had manpower in reserve.

    No, I'm not affiliated or kickbacked or anything. I'm just a satisfied customer and would likely hire them again for the next project that comes up.
  • by Vincman (584156) <[ vincent.vanwylick] [at] [gmail.com]> on Tuesday November 22, 2005 @06:49AM (#14089021) Homepage
    OK fair enough that you can't afford to do the recruiting cycle for a whole team, but I would go through the effort to hire someone you trust to find and manage the right team for you. Whether these are student "code-monkeys", international cheap-labour, or the IBM-team from hell, all that doesn't matter if you have someone that works close to you and knows how to find and utilise these resources to their fullest potential.
  • What about language? Chinese ok? Korean? Japanese...? Call now - operators are standing by.
  • If you can't afford to recruit a development team, you can't afford to be in business as a software vendor. End of story.

    Outsourcing involves huge overhead and dicey contractual negotiations, and you'll spend more money than you'll save as a small outfit, even if the coders themselves are in India. The money you save in HR you'll blow on travel, telecoms and lawyers. Especially lawyers, and you'll lose the company if you try to half-ass it.

    If you are unwilling to hire more than one geek to do the work neede
  • that there are a number of crack development teams in India just waiting for a chance to prove themselves.

    Go for it.
  • There are couple of consulting firms that you could consider. But you must be ready to pay top dollar. Remember you get what you pay for. For example ThoughtWorks [thoughtworks.com] .

  • For instance me.

    I have a list of people I know personally and have worked with and allthough I'm not the Über-developer I'd say I could come up within a month the most with a team that can pull off nearly any coding job. People who know me call me with the most remote and unusual developement problems, because they expect me to have some ace up my sleve that will bring their project up to speed. And ususaully I have.

    There should be other people like this, because this is a market, as it fills the gap b
  • We'll sure be able to work something out.
  • We really don't have time or funds to go through a developer recruiting cycle, create a practice, get the team "gelled" etc.

    I have seen this before. I once interviewed for a job with a small group of wunderkinds who had done "all the feasibility work" and had all the "IP in place" and "just needed to hire some developers to productize". I ran screaming from the building as fast as I could. It was abundantly clear they viewed the development job as just converting their brilliance into code, as if coding
  • "In 1972 a crack commando unit was sent to prison by a military court for a crime they didn't commit. These men promptly escaped from a maximum security stockade to the Los Angeles underground. Today, still wanted by the government, they survive as soldiers of fortune. If you have a problem, if no one else can help, and if you can find them, maybe you can hire the A-Team."
  • rentacoder.com (Score:3, Insightful)

    by rixster (249481) on Tuesday November 22, 2005 @09:57AM (#14089686) Journal
    I had a bad experience and then a very good one with rentacoder.com - basically I had this pain in the ass problem to do with VOIP and I couldn't get to the bottom of it so at the end of my tether I thought - what the hell - I'll drop 100 USD on rentacoder to see if there's someone who wants to take up the challenge. Anyway, I got a couple of bids and eventually I gave the problem to this chap who seemed to know what he was doing. FOUR WEEKS LATER he's only logged into the box once - so I didn't feel that bad when I asked the rentacoder arbitrators to review the 2 week overdue project (or has he put it "ratted me out"). So my options were then either to get the refund from the escrow account ( they do this to prove that you have the funds - but they won't release it until you're 100% happy) or try again - ah what the hell, why not eh? ... sooo I put the project up again and this new chap offers to fix it within 24 hours - I immediately accept his bid ( can't be bothered waiting till the end of the "auction") and send him the IP and login details (this is at about 11pm). By 10am the next day, the dude has fixed exactly what I needed fixing and come up with a number of suggestions about other improvements I could make. Additionally, I've now put approx 800 USD worth of other coding + configuration stuff his way since then.

    My advice :

    Start with something small - i.e. around the 100 USD mark. By all means say that it's part of a larger project soon to be up for bidding, but make sure the project tests several areas in which you need experience and expertise, but is relatively straightforward and simple for people who actually know what they're doing. This will hopefully attract the attention of the coders you want and hopefully make it easy for you to weed out the wannabes.
  • Ebay

    They occasionally sell entire IT teams. loaded and ready to deploy.

  • I've wanted for years to hook up with a VC firm / incubator and provide this.

    Your alternative is to find one good developer and hire everyone he wants to work with. If you came to me with big bags of cash, I could get you a team of 5 good developers that have worked together before. But you'd have to lure them away from mostly secure positions with stable companies. That takes cash nowadays, not just equity positions.
  • Try findind companies that work in outplacement (helping companies that need to lay off entire teams or divisions).

    A good source of tips could be asking CA [ca.com] employees about recent events. IMO CA [ca.com] excels at laying off / firing many competent people and keeping the chaff (yes, I worked there and no, I wasn't fired or laid off, I got out before they figured out I wasn't chaff :P )

  • I had an idea to create just such a team a while ago. But I realized that I had neither the skill nor the desire to deal with the business end of the idea. So for those that want to liberate my idea, here's the gist of it.

    Put together a crack team of 5-6 guys. Finding these people is a tricky business, but if you've been in the industry long enough it should be possible.

    My idea was to put it together as an XP style team (although you always have to bow to your customers' wishes). 1 "customer proxy" and
  • Short version: visit sourceforge, find a team with skills that actually brought a project to version 1.0 or higher, and offer them money to help develop a hybrid OS/closed source project.

    Seriously, browse through sourceforge. Find a project in the same rough skill as your project, e.g. if you're creating a web app in Ruby, find a group that made a web app in Ruby. Don't necessarily look for a group doing the same task, i.e. if you're making a calendar, don't feel you have to get calendar people. Platform
  • I heard a rumour that Google is working on a "dev team in a box". It is a 20x40 foot container complete with air holes and laptop computers inside. You upload your requirements then set a couple of knobs controlling how much up front design to do, what programming language to use, and how often to shower.
    The box itself is stackable with the "data centre in a box" also rumoured to be in the works at Google.
  • It is X-mas time. Games are shipping. When a game is complete, the publisher of the game tends to cut all support to the developer, or at least stretch time taken for negotiations of the next contract to an extreme. Since small developers usually live milestone to milestone - they don't have the money in the bank to survive their burn rate for more than a month or two.

    So, watch for "Gone Gold" announcement of smaller games, look up the developer, and give them a call. You can get an entire team for pric
  • Hi,

    my team is at 50% unoccupied and we can shift the the rest on a project like yours. We have alltogether 6 developers, 4 senior developers with 15 - 20 years experiance. See: http://www.visualsphere.com/ [visualsphere.com] (sorry web site still not mature but should give a good impression, typos you find you may keep :D ) We have 2 ScrumMasters and a very brought skill set.

    Our server was down last week and mail is still not reconnected, so contact me if you are interested.

    Or look here: http://www.hotdispatch.com/ [hotdispatch.com] a web site
  • This reminds me of the insanity of the dotcom boom (which looks very much like it's coming back to plague us and bust once again), with every dev team and their mothers coming out with some killer app that will "capture the market". The only difference to 1999 is that these days the pay sucks and no one has money for off the wall untested projects, which leads to the siuation described by the author: masses of code that have to be out the door yesterday but we can't afford the time or the devs to build it o
  • I work as a manager at a not-for-profit (as opposed to non-profit) research organization - Southwest Research Institute (www.swri.edu). We do work for big places like NASA and the Veterans Administration, but we also partner with small firms in just the situation the original poster describes. Sometimes this is to help prepare a proposal for some type of Small Business Grant, and sometimes it's for Angel Investors who are trying to help get a business off the ground. Because we're a not-for-profit, any pate
  • subcontracting.....
  • Please tell slashdotters the name of your startup so we can be sure our money does not get invested in that dead fish.
  • Buying a small organization who did a similar project - especially a successful one - is a great way to do it.

    In addition to the team, you also get whatever parts of that project are relevant to yours.

  • In 1972 a crack commando unit was sent to prison by a military court for a crime they didn't commit. These men promptly escaped from a maximum security stockade to the Los Angeles underground. Today, still wanted by the government, they survive as soldiers of fortune. If you have a problem, if no one else can help, and if you can find them, maybe you can hire the A-Team.
  • One of the huge strengths of silicon valley is that it has a big population of technical and business savvy folks who have worked with each other at a succession of startups. When its time to ramp up at a new startup, people already know people they have a good track record and they'll either try to hire those people, or ask them to reccommend people they trust.

    Similarly systems are at work in other areas like Seattle, Austin, Boston and even NYC, though none are as well developed as silicon valley.

    You can
  • Okay. Maybe that's a bit strong. But my former company, Summa Four, Inc. (since acquired by Cisco), made just such a move. We brought in an outside development team to help with our next-generation telecom switch. Four really nice guys would then show up from time to time for dog-and-pony shows, including their president, one Ted Griggs. Ted would bring along his wife. She would -- no kidding -- make really excellent cookies.

    THE ONLY THING THE WHOLE GROUP EVER SHIPPED ON TIME WERE HER COOKIES.

    On top o
    • It is a dangerous business naming names. There have been a number of people sued over the years, along with the organziations that provided the veil for their anonymity. By, for example, naming Mr. Griggs, you are providing only one side of a story, without giving him an opportunity to reply. Since this could harm his ability to get new business, this might be grounds for legal action. Of course, as we say on slashdot: IANAL (I am not a lawyer) nor do I play one on television. So what do I know.

      • Y'know what? I thought about it. And, to an extent, I agree with you.

        Nevertheless, I wrote nothing but the truth.

        Frankly, if he sues me, that'll make a far bigger splash of my words than anything I, personally, could do.

        So, I guess we'll just have to wait and see. But I didn't take the cop-out route, and post anonymously. Because, to be honest, I'm still pretty darn irked at the whole affair.

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