For newcomers that want to outsource the development of their first app or website, the experience can be unforgiving and sometimes harsh both financially and mentally.
I will never forget how one of my uncles, who happens to be an entrepreneur, once lost USD 60'000 hiring a software development company that was not a great fit for his needs resulting in him being disgusted by his project and entrepreneurship for a while..
This should not happen to you, and with this quick guide I will propose you a list consisting of 5 things to consider when hiring a software dev. You can apply this list to your current vendors and see if yes, or no, they are the right fit for you. Let’s start!
This point is absolutely crucial and should be one of your top priorities. Your developer or developers need to have a crystal clear and deep understanding of what your business is about. If they understand your business vaguely, they will not understand how your app or software could be improved and as such, will probably lead you into traps that are either expensive to get out of, or simply put a project stopper. In summary: take your time, have at least two brainstorming session with your outsourced resources and define clearly requirements and needs. This will help them help you.
At MMPG Consulting, we always set at least two sessions in order to understand your situation, where you are coming from and what. The first one is always free and is often the one during which we find pitfalls and the best way to help our clients.
You need to make sure that the project is well structured. This seems obvious, but is often a step disregarded by software devs and clients altogether. A well structured project contains:
- 1. Deadlines: Define when the final delivery date is. Accept the ones set by your dev, it is worthless insisting on tighter deadlines as the will be missed, or worst, will be met at the detriment of quality
- 2. Milestones: Define milestones to achieve along the way. It is important to break your final project and deadline into smaller milestones to reach along the way
- 3. Cut-off points: Be ready to pull the plug on a dev team that is not performing according to the milestones and deadline set earlier. It might be scary at first because of the resources and time invested, but it will be necessary at some point
- 4. Budget: Define a clear budget. The budget can be per hour with a bag of hours pre-bought or it can be established based on success. Usually part of this budget will be wired in advance at the start of the project and the rest will be paid at the end (usually the success of it)
You absolutely need to understand the risk represented by hiring an external developer to build your project. First of all, the road will not be all pretty and cloudless. There will be plenty of misunderstanding and frustration, deadlines missed and bugs, and probably some shouts or heated emails. However, let’s be honest, this is part of most of most outsourced projects and if you understand the risks before starting such a project, you can actively and preemptively manage them. As such, be clear about the potential risks, actively manage them and communicate extensively with your team. Things should go smoothly after that.
It is important for your wallet and financial health to understand exactly how much you are paying at any point. Make sure that the team you hire let’s you know at all time the hours already consumed by the team, the estimated budget needed for completion and if it will fit in your initial estimates or discussions. Do those checks often as they can save you from a nasty bill at the end of the month.
This one should be common practice within the industry, but is really not. Many of my clients are disgruntled clients I gather from competitors and to my surprise, when they come to me, they have nothing, zero, nada in their hands. I mean, some work has already been done and paid to the outsourced team and they didn’t send any source code. As the owner of this project, make sure that in the contract you sign with your vendors, the source code ownership is included and that the source code is always sent at the end of the current sprint which should be weekly or biweekly.
With this 5 points in mind, you should be able to have a better understanding of how your software development project should be steered and how to control the details of it, without losing your cash and sanity.
Leading our customers into this complicated world of software development is what made my company MMPG Consulting successful. We value transparency, communication and client ownership. It is part of our DNA and core values to help rather than provide a service.