and our company is asking for more.

We’ve been contracting developers and testers overseas, known for the length of this article as Initech. (Wha?) So like I said, we’ve been using Initech for the majority of our support issues, and then using them to make up large portions of our development teams. The former, while a developers dream (never have to fix a bug in released code, holy cow) is eventually going to lead to shoddy quality and less attentiveness on the behalf of the in-house development team.

As a result, Test driven development and even more importantly any real refactoring attempts are ignored by management, and not voluntarily adopted by the majority of the development team. Test driven development will catch the majority of your issues at dev time, and ensuring quality in following builds through the magic of continuous integration. Since we aren’t writing our tests first our coverage is quite low based on our weak testing discipline, but a much bigger result is that we are not performing the third step of TDD, which is Refactor Ruthlessly.

What we’ve got now is a bunch of weakly tested, ugly, smelly code that we just need to mangle enough to produce the functionality we want, without having to worry to much about the long term quality issues.

I know what your thinking, excuses, excuses. Good developers should refactor, they don’t need a reason, they have the motivation to have quality code developed and part of that is refactoring. There are other factors, and since this is an outsourcing rant and not a refactoring rant, I can’t go into those fully yet.

The Initech guys really are talented, I’m impressed by what they can do, especially under the conditions we impose upon them. Yet they have serious lapse in their completeness. Such as jobs being reported as done just being skipped, functionality being skipped, holes in the design going unnoticed all killing us overall.

Our in house development staff is spending a large portion of their time reviewing, fixing, and completing Initech code. Add these extra duties, to the new demands of scrum, we are finding the amount of time we get to actually code is being severely decreased which leads back to in house developers not having the ambition to self impose TDD and Refactoring into their day to day efforts.

Less apparent is the effect this is having on employee moral. You can argue developers ambitions for their work but whatever they are, this process is ruining it. Our code isn’t something to be proud of, our day to day operations are contain less coding and we’re producing less of those glorious features everyone praises us for. Would it surprise you to find out we’ve had some key people leave in the last few days?

I may make outsourcing seem like the root of all evil, I don’t think we need to do away with them, but with our current process, structure, and personnel, we cannot handle the work load given to Initech. They are great tools for supporting our current in house development team, but history has shown that we can’t trust them on a consistent basis. I hope the message can be relayed to the top, otherwise life as an Initech babysitter will continue to suck.

 

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