What do we mean here by a Custom Program or Application and why should you consider it?
I will start with what it is not. It is not an application you can purchase online. There are plenty of applications on the market to fill particular needs. An example is QuickBooks for bookkeeping. QuickBooks is a great product. Moreover the best products have tried to anticipate user requirements and have built in methods to customize the product to meet a particular requirement. So QuickBooks allows you to modify their standard templates for specific types of transactions.
But when all is said and done and the application cannot be manipulated to do things your way, and there are no better products out there on the market, you may wish to turn to Custom Programming. QuickBooks is written in the C++ language and uses a Sybase Database . If there is no product to satisfy your need you have to think about doing it the same way QuickBooks did. Choose a programming specialty or language that is appropriate to your need and a database if you need one and begin writing it. Cambria’s business since 1984 has been writing such Custom Programs for our clients from scratch in just this way.
A second reason many choose to have a custom program written is because it is sometimes cheaper than an otherwise acceptable commercial application on the market to do what you wish. Building real flexibility into a commercial application is difficult and expensive while a program written just for you can disregard the unneeded functionality and just do it your way.
A third reason to consider a custom program is longevity. Commercial applications cannot easily anticipate new developments and if they are fading from the market cannot build in the flexibility to handle them. So long as you have been wise in choosing the programming language and database you are not in much trouble when this happens. If Cambria wrote it for you we can always update it. If Cambria is gone from the earth, and you have made sure to own the “source code” . If so you can always find a programmer who is expert in the language used and continue to “maintain” the software.
A final reason that might resonate was stated by Roger Williams, the past President of Industrial Health, Inc. in Palo Alto: “If you are not in control of your software you are not in control of your company.”
What can go wrong? A lot can go wrong. The old saying that you get what you pay for is just as true in the programming profession as it is in any other profession.
Wrong choice of Programmers: As in all professions programmers vary in their capabilities. I am sure Cambria is not unique in taking over projects done by others that either were not ever finished or done so badly that a never ending sequence of debugging was required. Sloppy programming is fairly common especially by self-taught and inexperienced programmers. One problem is the project may get finished, and work fairly well, but still be a sloppy project with bad coding and lack of internal documentation. This will become evident if you have been careful enough to own the source code and hire another programmer to maintain it. If badly written it will be expensive to maintain and a recommendation may come to rewrite it altogether.
Ask a few questions:.
- Ask for references: But bear in mind that any programmer who has been around long enough to have had lots of projects can cherry pick two or three of those references. You might try to get a representative example by asking for every client they have worked with the last 6 or 12 months. And check every one.
- How many years of professional experience do you have?
- How long in your present job: This is an important one if they work for a programming company. If they are good the company will try to keep them.
- How many jobs for the last 10 years. The resume should tell you this and more.
Wrong choice of Language: Computer languages need “maintenance” just as much as other software. They need to be supported by the company who owns and sells them. And it is not easy for someone not in the computer business to tell how to choose. You might believe, as many do, that “you cannot go wrong by choosing a Microsoft language”. But even Microsoft is guilty of leaving users out in the cold. Foxpro, a wildly popular language in the 1980’s is an example of one that was dropped. Classic ASP, a perfectly respectable and pioneering back end scripting language, used in hundreds of thousands of websites on which millions of dollars were spent, is being left to wither on the vine and no longer actively updated. Microsoft Access and Visual Basic are headed in the same direction.
Wrong Database: Modern databases use a “Structured Query Language” (SQL), a standard way of asking the database for information. Make sure this applies to your project or get a good reason why not. Examples include Microsoft SQL Server, Sybase, Oracle and others. Older non-SQL systems that have fallen by the wayside, such as dBase, Foxpro, Paradox and many others have had proprietary databases with non-standard ways of addressing them. Even Microsoft Access falls into this category but, unlike the others mentioned, it is fairly easy to upgrade an Access databse to a standard such as Microsoft SQL server.
Choosing the right programmer is the most important of these. With his/her advice you can avoid the other pitfalls.
How does Cambria achieve this high quality, for which we are known?
In one way it is pretty easy. We hire nothing but seasoned professional programmers. We have no junior or mid-level custom programmers. Have a look here or click on the programmers on our homepage. There is nobody on it who has less than 5 years of professional programming experience and most have more. All have project leadership skills and are capable of dealing directly with our clients.
And this is important! No Middlemen
Our clients deal directly with these professionals without going through some middle manager. Anyone who has dealt with offshore programmers will appreciate this. And most of us are in Manila.
Why Manila? Why outsource your Custom Software to Cambria's Offshore Office?
In a word, "QUALITY". In the Silicon Valley Cambria has to compete with the likes of Google and Apple for software development talent. By contrast, in this huge English Speaking country 1, with as many English speakers as the UK, we can hire the best, keep them, and still offer great rates and a quality that is consistently higher than when all our work was from the USA.
How does Cambria find and keep these great programmers?
First, there is an ocean of talent here: The Philippines has more than 100 million people and no nation has a monopoly on talent. There is a widespread education system here that produces more educated English speaking adults than the nation can absorb.
We are selective: Nobody even gets invited to an interview unless they have 5 years professional experience. This is now a hard and fast rule at Cambria and is important. But experience alone is not enough. They have to also be really good at what they do! so read on..
Rigorous Testing: Interviewee visits begin with several written tests. First a general one to test logical abilities when faced with common programming situations. Next skill specific tests with content from the internet and our own specialists. Those who fail, approximately 80 to 90 percent, are politely dismissed.
Structured and searching personal interviews by experts in their specialty: Only a few make it this far and of those that do only a small fraction are offered a position on our staff. Those that do make it have to be good. But performing under pressure and deadlines can nonetheless be a challenge. Consequently we take full advantage of Philippine law that allows for dismissal without cause for the first six months.
Trial Period under fire: A new programmer at Cambria is usually put on one of our larger projects and works under the guidance of permanent staff. For example, Arianne right now (December 2015) is working on B2B under the direction of RJ. We already know skills are good. This is where we find out if they can maintain good client communication, perform to spec and meet deadlines. If a programmer passes this final stage they become members of our permanent staff.
Past experience: We did not always do as described above and over our first few years in Manila had to learn from our mistakes. When we first came to Manila in 2007 we tried having James Cerezo in California act as a middle man, This seemed reasonable but didn't work and the resulting overwork and late hours caused us to lose James, our best programmer. Later we proceeded as in the USA, simply have informal interviews of graduates from good colleges and make on the spot judgments. We had successes but too many failures and came to realize that we needed an approach that rigidly filtered applicants before wasting professional time on interviews and then make the interviews themselves structured and organized. It has proven spectacularly successful.
Drawbacks of this approach: The procedures outlined take a long time. During one period in 2015 we went for 4 months before finding an acceptable .Net programmer we needed. Consequently we cannot hire for a particular job that comes in and in fact our hiring procedures are constant and we often hire the right person even if there is no immediate job for him/her. We often have to turn away projects for lack of staff to respond quickly.
Advantages to Dick of this approach: The boss, Dick Crewdson, can sleep soundly and relax on weekends knowing projects are almost always being handled professionally and expertly. Moreover, because clients stay with us our growth is steady because old clients stay with us and our new clients simply add to our business.
Advantages to Client of this approach: Getting the job done right the first time is the main advantage. But our low turnover means the programmer you last worked with, and who knows your system, will be here in the future when needed again.
Software Development Hourly Rates at Cambria
In summary, our staff is stable and talented. You can expect the people you deal with to be at Cambria the next time you need them. This is because, in addition to being the best in the field, they are paid accordingly and treated like the professionals they are. For this reason don't expect the lowest prices in Asia. We are not bottom feeders. But we are still in Asia and our rates are low compared to prices in the highly developed world. You will be hard pressed to find a better combination of price and quality programming. Get in touch with us to get a quote for an hourly project.
Reasons to use Cambria when you need Custom Software Services?
We may have more software development experience than any software consulting company. We have been in this difficult business since 1984 and are still going strong. Another strong reason to consider Cambria is that we have a staff of custom programmers who, taken as a group, have expertise in all the mainstream programming tools needed to create web programs, dynamic web sites, mobile applications and the old reliable desktop programs we have been creating for more than 34 years. That is, we do not have an axe to grind when it comes to recommending one way of programming versus another. Together with our clients we can choose the best tool and the best type of program for the job. And don't overlook the pleasure of chatting with our charming Jenny whenever you need help.
Cambria is a Software Services Company
By this we mean that we will write software that is tailor made for the specific need of the client. What our British clients call bespoke software. It could be a product our clients wish to develop or software for an internal need when they cannot find reasonably priced commercial products to do the job. Custom software programming was the original service provided by our company when it was founded in 1984 and is still the centerpiece of our activities. Our custom software staff includes programming experts in a variety of the languages and tools necessary to produce custom software, ranging from a compact Microsoft Access database to high-performance data-driven web sites or software to run on a mobile device such as a smart phone.
Opportunities at Cambria for Experienced Programmers
If you are a programmer with five or more years of experience and are looking for another opportunity then please check the "careers" section of this website to see if we are currently hiring. If you look through our site you will see that we do everything from desktop programming and web programming to programming for mobile devices. A day does not go by that we do not have at least 100 projects underway.
1 More than 100 million people and a majority speak English often as a first language.
2 Hence the enormous emigration of educated Filipinos to the rest of the world. The money they send home is the biggest part of the national income!