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6 Tips for finding the right developer for your next project

5th December 2019

We’ve all probably heard tales from friends and colleagues about a “project from hell”, be it a new website or software project that’s gone wrong. Something that ends up not delivering on the requirements and usually well over time & budget! So, here are 6 tips to consider when choosing your developer that could save you a lot of time and trouble.

Start with a clear idea of what you want.

It sounds obvious, but you’d be surprised how often projects get kicked off with a fuzzy idea of what success should look like.  Try and make sure that you’ve got agreement internally as to what you want to have built, how long it should take and the budget you’re willing to spend before you start talking to developers. With this in hand, your initial conversations should help you ask direct questions and get direct answers.

Beware the ‘instant’ quote

If a developer is willing to give you a price for the job before they have all the details of what’s going to be involved, then you’re opening yourself up to two possible outcomes. Either the cost of the project is going to keep going up as more details come to light and it will be difficult for you to walk away from the investment you’ve already made. Alternatively, if you hold the developer to their original quote, they are going to become less incentivised to finish the project properly, instead they’ll cut corners or start working on another project when they should be finishing yours.

Measure twice, cut once

A good developer should be prepared to invest the time in working with you before any code is written to make sure both you and they understand and agree on what is to be built. Ideally, they should produce a detailed document that includes example screens and flowcharts that you can review before signing up for the major cost of the development. This should prove to you that they have fully understood what’s required and you are both on the same page.

Remember, it’s a lot easier to amend a document should something be unclear than it is to rewrite thousands of lines of code. Also, this document will give you something to sign-off against when it comes to evaluating what’s being delivered.

Onshore or offshore?

In our globally connected world, the prospect of having your project developed overseas where costs are less might sound appealing. However, before selecting an offshore developer there are some points that you should give serious consideration to. Although the development itself might be cheaper, you should be prepared to spend a lot more time and effort in planning and then managing the project.

An offshore developer is probably not going to be communicating with you in their native tongue and will not necessarily understand the nature of your local market, so you can’t assume anything. It will really increase your chance of success if everything is detailed in a way that there is really no room for interpretation.

Waterfall or Agile?

Agile methodology is very ‘en vogue’ currently, especially in software development and it can be very useful for certain types of project. It breaks down the development into short ‘chunks’ of work called sprints (usually a couple of weeks) where a small amount of functionality is developed, then reviewed before moving on to the next ‘chunk’. This is great for bigger, more complex projects where the requirements can’t all be determined at the outset. However, this does mean that the final cost and timescale of the project also can’t be determined at the outset. You will also need to be prepared to make important decisions quickly as to where the project is going at the end of every sprint.

Waterfall is the more traditional methodology which can be better for small and medium sized projects where there is a clear definition from the outset of what’s required. It’s easier to determine a fixed cost and timescale for the project and usually it’s easier to manage as you can define milestones at the start and judge whether the project is meeting them.

So, when picking your developer, find out which methodology they plan to use and think about whether it suits the project and the way you want to manage it.

Here today, gone tomorrow…

With websites and software systems becoming increasingly integral to the way we now do business; you need to look beyond the initial development and make sure your developer is going to able to support what they build for you in the long term. The internet is still developing at a rapid pace and what works well today might not necessarily work in a year’s time without some degree of updating, so check whether the developer can offer you an ongoing support contract which means they’ll stay responsible for ensuring the software remains viable in the long term.

Although you’ll hopefully find a development partner that will be with you for the long run, they may not always be there, so check at the outset of the project what happens if you part ways. Are they going to use a language or framework that’s widely used by lots of other developers so it will be easy to move it elsewhere?

Check with them to see who owns the Intellectual Property in what they develop for you. It might be worth paying a little more so that when the development is complete, they assign the IP to you and give you access to the source code.

I hope these tips will help you find the right developers for your business and will become your partners to success and growth.

Written by:
Sigal Kellermann, co-founder of CM System Designs