Hiring Teams of Offshore Software Developers

Over the last five years one of my responsibilities was interviewing and hiring software developers and many of them were physically located overseas. In this post I’d like to share with you my thoughts (and get your feedback) on one of the aspects for offshore hiring: pros and cons of hiring individuals vs. teams.

Our company, has people located in the USA (East Cost) and Eastern Europe. We have a number of clients here in the USA, and some of our consultants work on sites. Sometimes a team of our developers works for the clients remotely. In some cases we provide not only a remote developers to augment the client’s team, but also a senior software architect and/or a manager too.
Our consultants works for us for years, we trust them, and they have a steady stream of work. But once in a while we have to quickly ramp up the team. For example, a new customer needs a team of five remote developers, and they need them now. We are a small software boutique and don’t have a long bench of people sitting without of work. So where to find talent quickly? In such cases we are facing the hiring dilemma:

a) we can contact to our long time partners – large offshore companies – and subcontract their developers.
b) we can start some serious interviewing process trying to pick the right talent in the open market of freelancers.

The first option is more expensive, but more preferable cause we worked with these partners for a while, the quality of their resources is typically higher, they are collocated in the same building, and the chances of losing a developer in the middle of the project are slim.

But in both cases we are getting offers to hire a team rather than individual developers. If you are looking for five developers, an offer to hire a team of five sounds very lucrative, but we never do this. Yes, having a group of people that already worked on several projects is great, but the skill-set and experience of each team member varies. But your offshore vendor charges a flat fee for each developer.

I always reject such offers. I want to interview each and every person from an existing team to make sure that I’m not getting a team of four C-players and one A-player. I’d rather work with five B-players than with one star with an entourage. This strategy allowed us to maintain a bit higher rates for our services.

Interestingly enough, our smaller size clients or startups understand the advantages of not having weak people in the vendor’s team, but thus is not the case with large corporate customers. They want to minimize the hourly rate. Period. The hiring manager won’t fight to get a particular vendor for more money just because they’re more experienced – this is not something you can easily measure. But the hourly rates are easy to compare. I remember a corporate manager who asked me, “Can’t you hire developers willing to work for a bowl of rice?” I can’t, and I won’t.

What’s your take on this? Does your firm has a list of approved vendors and you are forced to hire teams or are allowed to build them?

3 thoughts on “Hiring Teams of Offshore Software Developers

  1. What if a team would present you evey individual in their team explaining/showing his/her advantages and disadvantages(and of course would let you interview every single person in the team), would give you different rate for evey person, but at the same time would prefer to stick together to do the job because they already have such a smoothe workflow working together in their team?
    I know sounds too good from one hand side and too much on the other, but would you even consider something like this?


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