The New Web Technology World Order

Outsource vs. Insource

Over the last few months and year I have learned quite a bit about Outsourcing programming overseas and the IT job market in the US.  The two are totally connected and interdependent.  And what I am finding is a conundrum.  First, the cost of software development has and will continually be driven down by offshore development, some of which I promote.  So, you would think there would be less programming jobs and therefor more technology management jobs like web web manager,  product manager, producer, project manager, Director, VP and CTO, especially to work with these outsourced teams from the Ukraine and India, for example.  Trust me these outsourced teams have moved up to the point where their skill levels are often superior to US based programmers, so we thought programming jobs would go away.

More Programming Jobs, Not Less

The truth is, there are even more programming jobs being offered all across the US and less and less management jobs, especially here in South Florida at a time when outsourcing is easy and cuts costs.  So what happened? And just understand, this is my opinion.   Well first off, even when applications are developed overseas and sit on remote websites there still needs to be an accountable local representative who can manage or oversee the deployment of the system.  This is the operations person or manager.   The biggest drawback to outsourcing is flexibility and communications.  You are not in the same room obviously, but Skype makes it seem like we are next to each other. When you have a programmer working with you in the same room  (if you were the guy or gal in charge), you are more agile and you are more likely to fix minor things quickly.  This is always going to be an issue with outsourcing.

The Heavy Lifting

The biggest positive with outsourcing is the cost and the speed of the heavy lifting.  Just think about how you paid a mover when you moved last time.  If you moved yourself, it probably took a longer time to accomplish the task, but in my experience I hired a moving company that showed up with 3 big guys who moved it all without any problem.  Same thing with outsourcing. So when there is some significant application with a lot of technology that needs to be built, sending it overseas totally makes sense.

Less Management And Not So Good For MBAs…

But more importantly I see a flattening of IT management across both large companies and SMB (Small and Medium Businesses), meaning the need and relevancy of levels of people between executives and programmers has declined.   So if you are building a building (similar to a big software program), companies, especially smaller companies, don’t see the value in hiring an architect or engineer if you follow the analogy.  Smaller business owners see the value in the construction worker and in this case the programmer, because programming value is more tangible than management value, especially during a recession.

Flying Low And Blind

Whether this is a recession issue or not, what this means is that 90% of software ventures and technology projects, especially outsourced ones, are often flying blind.  You don’t always require a project manager, but if you are spending more than $50,000 on a software project, you should have one.  If your software project has tons of features, unique pricing and other complicated parts then you probably should have a product manager.  If you are creating a product for the consumer market, then often you need a quality assurance expert.  It sounds logical, but actually only larger companies have these roles, and these roles are declining in the IT profession compared with programmer demand.  It tells me that (and I will put on my programmer hat on) that application development has gotten so much better over the years that entrepreneurs and basic users think they can take on these roles and are in fact becoming IT management experts themselves.  I have met many of them out there!  You would be surprised how may talented individuals have picked up these IT management  skills. And some people are great at this, but experience in this area can make all the difference in getting a website or product to market.

Need To Build A Social Network, Read On

Over the past year I have been working on the first serious social networking site, with heavy Facebook and Linkedin integration, and I have found the following to be true.  When you first start out looking to build out a website with social networking functionality you come across the following solution “methods”:

1. Free/Opensource “Downloadable” Social Networking Solutions
These are things like BuddyPress (WordPress), Drupal Based, Joomla Based Solutions, and Others.
Pros: Sometimes easy to deploy, designs easy to find on ThemeForest.net.
At first glance this seems like a perfect solution.  4 or 5 standard functions like friending people, messaging, groups and chat.  Well, it’s a perfect solution for small outfits that want a social network to be added on to something like a store or a group that has all the needs for social-like functionality.
Cons: Biggest con of them all is niche functionality.  If your social networking-like site (I use “like” because this is a qualifier) is anything other than a social networking site these solutions are not really what you want.  Trust me, all the developers in the world that do development will tell you they can take BuddyPress and add on all kinds of functions, make groups do this or that, but in the end, the amount of customization involved is going to be higher than the original cost of something I am going to mention later.  Another big con is the overhead.  You wanted a social network, but you got  a big pile of code, and with this overhead and complexity.  So, this is a good solution for your book club group or groupies of a band, but if anything needs to be different, like you don’t want the ability for people to friend and groups are kind of different, than stop now!

2. Hosted Social Networking Solution
Ning and others
Pros: Sounds great, right!  You use Ning and they generate a site for you. Speed to market is the biggest pro and learning curve is lower because you don’t need to learn WordPress for BuddyPress so you are not having to take a class!
Cons: Well, the biggest con is you don’t control your data.  You may be able to get a download, but who knows where it is and what they are going to do with it.  You have to read the terms carefully.  But even more so, like the con in the downloadable opensource solutions, you lose control of your app.  If you want to do something or anything outside the norm, you are going to be limited to their functionality. So great for these little social networking sites, but not for prime-time or something serious.

3. Customized Solution In-sourced Social Networking Solutions
Having a customized solution built by a local programmer or programming team is plausible, but it is financially practical.
Pros: Control over the project.  Able to meet with the guy in charge. Get it general close to what you want.
Cons: Cost.  You are going to get burned financially.  A good social networking implementation should cost, in the US about $35,000, and that is for a basic implementation of friends, connections, groups, specialized forms, contacts, and any facebook like or Linkedin like functions.  It could end up over $100,000 if you choose the most expensive team or use a web agency.  That is what it costs to build a site with this kind of functionality, using a typical american development firm!

4. Customized Solution Outsourced Social Networking Solution Without Team or Specialized Experience
You meet some guy on oDesk who says he can do it at $15 an hour.
Pros: Cheap
Cons: If it is a sophisticated implementation, this is going to be a disaster.  Let’s just start with communications.  Even the best outsourced firm will get things wrong.  That’s because english is often not their primary language.  And they most likely will be truthful, but you will find that most of these implementation, especially one man team ones. turn out to be 10 times more costly than you thought and all the functions will be completely wrong!  In fact, I have seen 3 in the past year that were disasters!

5. Customized Social Networking Solution Outsourced With Specialized Experience In Building Social Networks!
Contact us about building a customized solution!
Pros: If you are serious and there is a serious budget or opportunity to build your social network the way you want it, then do it right and control the project.  This is not cheap, but it is cost effective.  In the end, it is cheaper.  This particular team I work with are experts at social networking functionality, so that is the key to working with them.  Just choosing a random solution provider, based on price, is pretty much a mistake.
Cons: I am sure there are some, because there are few in this situation.  One con that comes with all outsourcing-like projects is that the communications must be continual and work correctly.  That is why the team I work with has a specific process for managing the web development from design through html, to a final website or app.

Ok, now that we have gone over all the options for building a social network, please consider building one with the team I have used.  Just fill out the form below and start the process of working with us:

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