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Many of us know this situation well: we're a one-man (woman) development team, we need some extra help to keep up with all the tasks, the budget is small and we decide to get some help. But hiring someone is difficult. Either the person is inexperienced and I end up becoming their full-time teacher in the hopes they will produce work they way I want, or the person is skilled but for whatever reason doesn't hand over code within budget that I can just plug in and use without reworking it myself.

Any thoughts/ideas?

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migrated from stackoverflow.com Jun 24 '11 at 2:10

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probably get better answers at Programmers –  RoboShop Jun 24 '11 at 2:08
Are you looking for a W-2 employee or a 1099 contractor? On-site or remote? In-country or out? What approach have you taken to hiring in the past? How have you found candidates? That you end up becoming their "full-time teacher" shows you don't know how to conduct a tech interview (also that you don't know when to let them go). Did you give a knowledge test? Review code samples? If you're looking to hire them as employees bring them on as a 1099 for a 30-day test drive. Be picky - I'm a programmer that interviews programmers and most resumes I see don't even get to the interview stage. –  Paul Jun 24 '11 at 2:17
Are you sure you're budgeting enough? Not getting "code within budget" means that you're not getting good people or you're setting the budget too low. Adding people to a project increases the need for communication and hence lowers productivity. –  David Thornley Jun 24 '11 at 15:18

3 Answers 3

Short answer: Make sure you give them small, atomic tasks that are well-defined and don't take more than a day or two to complete.

I work in a corporate environment (so different from what you're saying) and often hand things off to team members in Brazil or Bangkok. They are good resources -- competent and all -- but the hardest part is always communication. I've realized that giving them an idea doesn't work. I always have to create data flows and mockups and send them over.

I've got to give them small pieces of work. Not because they aren't competent. But because small, specific tasks that don't require much integration (i.e. "these are the parameters in, I expect these parameters out") don't require much communication -- and because communication is the largest challenge -- I think that's the way to go.

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You have to charge enough up front. Good programmers are expensive. Budget accordingly.

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I need to earn more rep so I can downvote this answer. Not all expensive programmers are good. Paying a lot of money is not a guarantee of quality in any field. The proof of the pudding is in the eating, not in how much it costs. –  Paul Jun 24 '11 at 13:21
i never said all expensive developers are good. What I am saying is that you get what you pay for, for the most part. Hey hire an army of programmers for $30/hr and see what you get. Maybe itll work...Or, know who you are going to use, and charge enough up front so you can cover your development costs, instead of trying to force development into a budget –  hvgotcodes Jun 24 '11 at 14:38
the solution to his problem is not to charge the client more, which is what you answered. "Know who you are going to use" is the right answer. I've worked with plenty of expensive coders who aren't worth their rate. It's not because we don't charge our client enough - they managed to get on contract because the interviews were weak. I review all resumes and conduct the tech interviews now...I'm very rigorous. –  Paul Jun 24 '11 at 14:57
@Paul OP said "or the person is skilled but for whatever reason doesn't hand over code within budget". That indicates that OP did not properly plan for his project, and now doesn't have the resources to cover the skilled workers he requires. The fix is understand how much its going to take up front. –  hvgotcodes Jun 24 '11 at 15:00

You can hire skilled students. Most of the time they don't charge big because they want to show off their skills.

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Your answer to "how to hire skilled people" is "hire skilled people?" Great advice, Tom. –  Paul Jun 24 '11 at 13:23
@Paul: It's something to consider, and a potentially good answer for another question. The downside is that programming for college courses is much different from real-life programming. –  David Thornley Jun 24 '11 at 15:20

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