Sep 26, 2012

Price of the coding - is it a nationality issue?

Couple of weeks ago Finnish magazine 3T got their hands on secret internal report from an large Finnish company about efficiency of coders in different countries. Report stated that even though Indian coders cost approximately 30% of what Finnish coders do, Finnish ones are 4,5 times more efficient than their Indian counterparts. This then means that Indian coders turn to be 35% more costly than Finns eventually. (Source: (in Finnish) 3T - Salainen selvitys: Intialainen koodaus on suomalaista kalliimpaa).

I've worked with at least, Finnish, Indian, Chinese, Russian, Polish, Turkish, Slovakian, British, French, Mexican, US and Canadian coders and I have to say nationality doesn't make a difference. Despite the nationality there are really efficient coders and coders who just can't make it happen. There are noticeable national differences on work methods, but those don't explain the efficiency.

Trend in buying coding from some specific country drives to the situation, that there are too much demand for the knowledgeable resources. In these countries some less capable people do get hired and easily sold to high demand customers in countries where coding prices are high. This might make it look like coders in some countries are less capable than in others.

In countries where price of coding is higher, only the efficient ones get to keep their jobs. When the competition is fierce, less capable ones turn to do something else than coding (I bet many of you think managing of the coding now).

I like to believe that, in most of the cases price of the coder is irrelevant. Good coder can easily be 100 times more efficient than some other. I don't mean they make code 100 faster than others, but they can make much more clear code and create much less errors than others. So the overall result might be 100 times less work was done for some piece of software.

Also a good team can make a difference. Team with good internal ways of working, like code conventions, code review practices, architectural guidelines and open discussions will improve efficiency dramatically. These in their own sense make evaluation of SW project length a challenge. It's the team and following their efficiency that make it possible to estimate what's the cost and time of certain SW project.

There are noticeable differences in efficiency of certain coders and team of coders. I don't believe it's a nationality issue, it's always about how competent the individual and the team is. It doesn't make buying of SW development easy. What it should state to the buyers though, is that price is small function in SW development efficiency. There always need to be other measurements in use, to know the real price of the coder and the team.

Written by +Henri Hämäläinen


  1. when teams are distributed, and not in same premises, the communication efficiency will drop a lot. this is because you just cannot use the same tools & modes then compared what you can use for internal teams. amount of misunderstandings will grow which decreses efficiency. someone has said that if the team members sits >20m away from others the efficieny starts to decrese. true or not, i do not know, but that is somehow easy to belive.
    just compare email and F2F at whiteboard efficiency:


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