We supplied the contract house with everything they needed to get the job
done. The first thing they did was tell us how our tools and equipment were
out-dated, and besides we were using them incorrectly. (Due to legacy issues
and budget restrictions, constant hardware and software upgrades are not a
way of life here.) The next thing they did was re-format all of the code on the
project, including code outside the scope of their portion, to meet their own
formatting preferences. Any request for information was like pulling teeth.
They made me and everyone on my team feel like we were imposing
anytime we asked them about the project (usually technical questions.)
The most appalling thing is that towards the end of the project, they debated
us on how a portion of our system worked!!! It was very insulting to have
them infer that they understood our system better than we did. They have
been blacklisted from our entire corporation.
Story 2: "The Underbid"
The contract house gave us a very competitive #xed-bid on a project. This
raised some concerns, but not enough to rule them out - money talks, and
we were trying to spend as little as possible. In retrospect, going with them
was a big mistake, but hindsight is always 20-20, right? As they got further
into the project, the scope of the project "grew". Why? Because they did not
give the project's complexity any credit when they bid. We were not adding
features or functionality - they were just beginning to realize the scope of the
It was clear their sales force had over-committed their engineering staff in a
terrible way. Their engineers resented us and their own management, and it
showed in their dealings with us. Not even halfway through the project, they
admitted they had underbid - now they needed more money to complete the
project. (Ironic, since one of the primary factors in choosing them was the
attractive price tag.) The project was completed by our own staff in-house
once we decided we'd cut our losses and sever our relationship.
I don't know if we would outsource again. I feel like we bought software
development services from a used-car salesman.
Story 3: "Bigger Isn't Always Better"
You would think that a multi-billion dollar company that charges very high
hourly rates for its staff would be the best firm to hire for a high-stakes
project, right? So did we. As it turns out, the amount of "red tape" we had to
cut through just to get anything done was ridiculous. The protocols we had to
follow to initiate any action on their part were very time consuming.
Getting anyone on the phone was difficult. Getting a technical person on the
phone was a miracle. The "calls-per-contact ratio" (as we began to call it)
was extremely high. Email would go unanswered, or worse, it would be