Open Source, BlogBridge and Offshore Development. I've been using several neat offshore development options in my work on Blog Bridge, a new kind of Blog Reader that I've been working on (very) part time. You can read all about it: here.
There's a developer in Russia, a designer in China, a programmer in Norway and one in California (ok, not really offshore.) I don't want to exagerate, each of these folks has done one project for me, mostly pretty small. It's been an experiment for me to see how this works and how effective it could be. So far so good.
The designer in China redesigned the www.blogbridge.com web site. You can take a look. It was very reasonably priced and the work was professional. Nothing extremelyy fancy, but clearly fancier than I have the skills to do. The three developers did various pieces of Java code, installation script and even a windows .dll. So, real code: again very reasonably priced.
Open Source. As you may or may not know, Blog Bridge is Open Source. I've had several people say, it's open source and your paying someone to work on it? At first this may sound counter intuitive, but really it's not at all. After all, if I personally work on Open Source stuff, I may not be paying cash, but I am certainly paying with my time. It's just that I choose to make the fruits of my labor freely available to anyone who wants it. I see no contradiction.
How the heck does a small shop like mine get offshore development going? This is actually quite cool. It turns out that there are several online 'markets' where I can post a functional spec or project description and receive quotes from contractors who want to take on the project.
I have been extremely impressed with the quality of people that bid. How do I find out? Well there's always a bit of back and forth on email while you are considering a bid proposal. By the questions that they ask as well as the answers they give to your questions, it's usually pretty clear who's good and who is not.
My favorites of these markets are Rent-a-Coder for development and Elance for design. I've used both to good success. But there are some others that I am experimenting with, that might be worth a look if you are interested: Scriptlance.com, TheCentralMall and Assembla Talent.
If you are a tiny organization or even not so tiny, it's an avenue worth looking into.