This will be a bit of a flashback post because my experience with RAC (www.rentacoder.com) goes back WAY before I ever thought of starting this blog. Well, I felt it was very important to list a few of my experiences with this company that got me on the track to real outsourcing.
First RAC Project – Convert site from ASP to PHP:
I had a site I created in college which was programmed in ASP with (ugh) an MS Access DB as the backend. The site was growing quickly and I desperately needed someone to convert it to something more scalable. I understood the importance of a LAMP environment so I knew PHP / MySQL were the way to go. I posted my project, received bids and hired a programmer in Texas. After a week or two of little work and less communication I asked RAC admin to kill the relationship with the provider and re-list my project. They graciously agreed and my project was back on the list. Same process as before and this time I hired a programmer from somewhere in Eastern Europe. Long story short, I had to micro manage him quite a bit and I ended up doing 90% of the QA, but at the end of the day he got it all done at an amazingly good price.
At this point I was hooked. I realized I’d need to put in quite a bit of my own sweat equity, but that I could get stuff programmed and created quickly and inexpensively!
Second RAC Project – Develop Customer / Project Management Portal:
I was working for a very tiny startup at this point. No funding, bootstrapped. We needed an application built to go along with our services business. I mentioned my RAC experience to the CEO and told him we could get it done cheap. He not only agreed to do it, but we even experimented to hedge our bets. We hired 2 different programmers in 2 different countries to create the exact same product. Each was paid in full for their independent work and we were left with 2 interpretations of what we wanted. Both were similar and functional and we had our pick of which one we liked best. We ended up with an application that was 99% of what we wanted, a completely separate backup application “just in case” and we got both of them completed for 1/4 of the price it would have cost to have someone in-house program just one.
Third RAC Project – Create a Social Networking Site:
Social networks? Sure I’ll make one too. The niche is my church and had a lot of potential. Instead of posting a project on RAC I decided to search RAC for “Friendster clone” and similar terms (yes, I’m dating myself by the fact I was trying to clone Friendster instead of MySpace or Facebook). I found a few projects posted on RAC for this very term and a few were completed. I emailed a few of the developers directly (note: many developers use the save username in many places and you can often do some sleuthing for their email address) and one of them got back to me. He lives in Bulgaria and owned the rights to the social networking script he developed. For a couple hundred dollars he not only gave me a copy of the site but he also did a ton of customization and new programming! This has by far been my best experience with any outsourcing to date.
To this day I continue to use this coder for multiple projects and, for the most part, continue to pay him through RentACoder. I hope that some day I’ll have enough work to employ this guy full time.
In general I’m realizing with outsourcing there is the trade off between cost and the need for micromanaging / project management. You can pay a fraction of going rates in the US but you’ll have to be extra diligent in writing out every single requirement and following up (read babysitting) like crazy. On the other hand you can hire someone who has project management experience and tons of project history behind them, but their rates will be proportionately higher.