The world’s best coders are...

With burgeoning international competition for software work, there’s increasing interest among coders and those who hire them in figuring out which nation, if any, tends to provide superior skills. Subjective opinions abound...

Bart Higgins, executive vice president for sales and marketing at Auriga Inc., Amherst, N.H., says outsourcers, particularly in India, have became very innovative in the areas of process maturity as a result of specialization and competition. “In the U.S., you still don’t find many firms that have adopted CMM, but in India, almost all the larger outsourcing organizations are certified at level 4 or 5.”

The Russians are making strides too, Higgins adds. The Russian value proposition and the level of process maturity are different, he says. “They are focused more on pure technical skills, so if you are looking for more generic services, most people will focus on India,” he says. On the other hand, if you need someone to work on an operating system or develop embedded systems software or a compiler, “Russia, and to some extent, China, will be especially well prepared.” Higgins notes that most programmers in Russia have a background in mathematics or a science such as physics, in addition to programming.

Oliver Houck, principal consultant at the Outsourcing Institute, based in Jericho, N.Y., has a similar take on national expertise. “The Chinese, Russians and Europeans seem to be better at solving problems, where Indian firms are more capable of writing to a specification.” However, he says, that’s evolving, and more Indian firms are showing design capabilities.

Beyond such subjective views, Topcoder, a company with a unique business model for delivering applications and programmers, has some hard data, too. Based on results from participation in the company’s frequent algorithm and software writing competitions, the company currently ranks an American, with a score of 2768.80, as the best coder in the world. Other nationals listed in the top 10 are, in order of declining scores, from Canada, Poland, China, The Russian Federation, Germany, Ukraine, Sweden, Romania, and Australia. However, that national triumph for the U.S. is balanced by data on average performance among Topcoder contest participants. By that measure, programmers from the Republic of Korea are at the top of the top 10 ranking and the U.S. doesn’t even place on the list!

Top 10 Factors for Successful Outsourcing 1. Understanding your company’s goals and objectives 2. A strategic vision and plan 3. Selecting the right vendor 4. Ongoing management of the relationships 5. A properly structured contract 6. Open communication with affected individual/groups 7. Senior executive support and involvement 8. Careful attention to personnel issues 9. Near-term financial justification 10. Use of outside expertise Source: Survey of current and potential outsourcing end users, The Outsourcing Institute membership

About the Author

Alan R. Earls is a technology and business writer based near Boston.

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