Choosing the right software developer for your project can be a daunting, stressful process. This decision will likely have financial and operational impacts on your business for five to ten years to come. In previous posts we’ve covered choosing the right partner and reviewed when to fire a developer when things go awry. Now, we’ll review some of the early signs that the developer you’re evaluating might not be the right choice for your project. Too many times, we’ve seen clients make the wrong decision, only to end up spending more time and money cleaning up a mess.
Outdated or Custom Content Management System
There are a number of proven, standard Content Management Systems (CMS) out there, from Wordpress to Joomla to Drupal. Each of these has an existing and growing ecosystem of add-ons, security features, and a simple, robust user experience. If the developer you’re talking to has a proprietary or custom, in-house system, that is a concern. First of all, keeping proprietary CMS platforms current with the pace of advancements in web development technology will prove extremely difficult, causing these solutions to become outdated very quickly. Second, when you work within a proprietary platform, rather than an open platform, you run the risk of being held hostage by that solution, unable to grow and migrate to another solution as you scale. Therefore, if your developer is selling you the advantages of their custom-made solution, mark that down as a reason to keep your search open.
It’s important for your success that you separate out any ‘self-proclaimed’ gurus right away. These are people who talk (and sell) a good game but don’t have the real experience to follow through. Here are some signs that you might be talking to a one of these:
The Self-Proclaimed part is heavy. They really push how amazing they are, how others can’t compare, how they’re so cutting edge that nobody has caught up to them. In reality, a proven developer will focus more on your business and the project than on their own corporate ego.
Lack of Expertise. In order to stay up-to-date with technology and best practices, your developer will most likely have the training and certifications needed and hold leadership and speaking positions with key organizations.
No Matching Example Projects. Do they have solutions like the one you need developed? That one’s easy.
No Raving Fans. An unqualified developer won’t be able to come up with good references or testimonials. Even a developer whose business is new should be able to cite other projects they’ve worked on with other companies. If they can’t, that’s a bad sign.
Designer When Your Need a Developer
In the old days, you could call a tow truck to unlock your car door when your keys are inside it. Not anymore. Technology advancements mean you’ll need a trained locksmith. The same goes for custom software development. A good web designer will realize right away that what you need is a software developer and refer you to one or bring one into the project. An unqualified designer will try to patch together a solution with plugins and add-ons, and you could find yourself in a mess. Not sure which you need? Check out this post where we discuss how to choose between a developer and a designer. If you find yourself getting a proposal from a designer when you really need a developer, that’s a sign that they’re likely not a good fit for your project.
Their Approach to Project Management
A software design project is a long and involved process that requires input, feedback and testing from both the developer and the client. Ask the developer about their process. One of the first things they should ensure you of is communication. Probably the top complaint of web development customers is the lack of communication during the project. A project should be rolled out in phases with all parties having a clear understanding of their roles and responsibilities. If this isn’t crystal clear to you during the proposal phase, imagine what the project is going to look like. The proposal cannot be vague and should be followed by a clear project plan. When deadlines are missed, that will cost your company real money, in both project costs and opportunity costs incurred through the absence of the new software.
As you evaluate partners for your new software project, it is just as important to quickly weed out the wrong companies so that you can spend your time choosing the right company. As you do so, you can ask these five questions to help you along the way:
What platforms do you use for your projects? Do you recognize them? If not, ask them if it’s proprietary, and do some research on what they use.
Tell me about a project you’ve done that’s similar to mine. Can they, or do they offer up excuses?
What happens during the project? You should hear about communication, responsibilities, and phases rollout.
Ask yourself, what’s in the proposal? Does it really lay out the project, timeline, costs, and expectations?
What kind of projects do you work on in your own time? Software developers love writing software and will have pet projects they work on. That’s a sign of passion for the craft.
We hope this helps you on your journey to getting your custom software developed. We also hope that you realize that you’re already in the right place. Let us get you a proposal for your project. Call today, (928) 275-5611.
This post is an update to our original post.