Let's assume that the effort required for repartitioning and training is the same for outsourced projects as for homegrown ones (a dangerous assumption). The communication effort required for outsourcing is much higher. Language, culture, and time-zone differences add overhead. Worse, offshore development teams are often prone to high turnover rates, so communication rarely improves over time.
Little wonder there's no shortage of offshoring horror stories. Outsourcers who promise more than they deliver are a recurring theme. When deadlines slip and clients are forced to finish the work in-house, any putative cost savings disappear.
Offshoring isn't magic. In fact, it's hard to get right. If an outsourcer promises to solve all of your problems for nothing, maintain a healthy skepticism. That free lunch could end up costing more than you bargained for.
Programming myth No. 2: Good coders work long hours
We all know the stereotype. In popular culture, programmers stay up late into the night, coding. Pizza boxes and energy-drink cans litter their desks. They work weekends; indeed, they seldom go home.
There's some truth to this caricature. In a recent analysis of National Health Interview Survey data, programming tied for the fifth most sleep-deprived profession. Long hours are particularly endemic in the video game industry, where developers must endure "crunch time" as deadlines approach.
But it doesn't have to be that way. There's plenty of evidence to suggest that long hours don't increase productivity. In fact, crunch time may hurt more than it helps.
There's nothing wrong with putting in extra effort. Fred Brooks praises "running faster than necessary, moving sooner than necessary, trying harder than necessary." But he also warns against confusing effort with progress.
More often than not, Brooks says, software projects run late due to chronic schedule slippage, not catastrophes. Maybe the initial estimates were unrealistic. Maybe the project milestones were fuzzy and poorly defined. Or maybe they changed midstream when the client added requirements or requested new features.
Either way, the result is the same. As the little delays add up, programmers are forced into crisis mode, but their extra efforts are spent chasing goals that can no longer be reached. As the project schedule slips further, so does morale.
Some programmers might be content to work until they drop, but most have families, friends, and personal lives, like everyone else. They'd be happy to leave the office when everyone else does. So instead of praising coders for working long hours, concentrate on figuring out why they have to -- and how it can stop. They'll appreciate it far more than free pizza, guaranteed.
If you believe the tales, somewhere out there are hackers so skilled that they can code rings around the rest of us. They've been dubbed "10x developers" -- because they're allegedly an order of magnitude more productive than your average programmer.
Naturally, recruiters and hiring managers would kill to find these fabled demigods of code. Yet for the most part, they remain as elusive as Bigfoot. In fact, they probably don't exist.