It’s time to go shopping. No, it isn’t groceries or school supplies this time; you need the right developer for your precious software program. Your first instinct might be to load up a ton of potential developers from a Google search and start firing off a static email to them. This sounds efficient enough, but what do you do then? How do you know if they have the abilities you require? What are the responses that would clue you in to someone being the right fit? Watch this video to gain a perspective from the developer’s point of view, so you can be armed with a better approach to making the right team connection.
Working with the IT industry
The better the requirements, the better the price that you’ll get. The activities we did upfront, you generally get better pricing when you give people requirements because you’re putting in less risk margin.
Don’t send blind emails. Do not send out an email to twenty software development companies with a request for a quote. You will be shocked how bad the response will be. Instead have a look at their website and ring a bunch of them up. Go and see three or four of them and find people.
If I get a blind email, I have no idea how many people it went to. Your motivation to respond is typically pretty low. You want to talk to someone and you’ll get a better response.
Pick your provider based on their focus. Alliance Software has twenty staff of which over half are engineers. Clearly we’re a software engineering firm. There are firms that I know of that will say they do software development but when you look at it, they might have fifteen graphic designers. They’re clearly going to be good at graphic design because they’ve got a lot of graphic designers. You want to pick firms that have the primary focus of what you’re using them for.
Be pragmatic. Refine over time. I think this is one where people get stuck. The beauty of custom software is we can evolve. We want to get incremental things out and be prepared to work up over time.
Early price guesses. I like giving people early guesses to prices on projects as long as they don’t hold me to them. I say that quite seriously. You’ll often have a conversation and after two hours they’ll say, what do you think it costs? I’ll say, somewhere between $50,000 and $100,000. That’s a really good number to get because if they have in their mind that I’m probably going to spend $150,000 on this thing, we’re fine. If they had in their mind that they were going to spend $15,000, we’ve got a problem. So the early guess is good, but it’s a guess. It takes time to pull things apart and get numbers.
Custom software needs upkeep. You’re going to pay for some custom software upkeep. The reason you’re going to pay is not that the industry is trying to gouge you, but things change. What worked with a small set of data might have challenges with large sets of data. Browsers change, server operating systems change, the industry moves, then there will be a degree of maintenance in what you do.
Work closely on complexity. I think this is really important. The more complex your project, the closer you need to work with your developers. Scott is going to talk about working offshore and it’s a principle that comes out in that space. The more complex the work that you’re doing, we like to get our clients to come and sit in our offices if they can. The harder it is, the better it is to work closely.
Consider whether you need a long term engagement. There are some firms and I know the owners and they’re good firms doing good work. Their specialty is putting lots of people on big projects and smashing them out quickly. That’s what they’re good at. Alliance Software is actually the opposite of that. We have long term clients, so we sometimes struggle to put a whole bunch of people onto one project. But those firms, I’ve talked to the owners. I’ve said, “what do you do about maintenance?” They say, “If at all possible we don’t do it. We hand the project over”. So think about if you want the big bang or whether you want the long term.
Identify and tackle risks head on. If you look at the spectrum of a project, typically 90% of your project is easy to do, it just takes time. Ten percent of your project will be hard. Often people want the price on the hard bit upfront. And we don’t know. Until we get into it, there is an element of risk and so you can do this thing called a spike. A spike is where you touch something really quickly. We do a quick prototype and we do two or three days worth of work.
And people might think, I’m not going to get an outcome from that. No, you’re actually getting a whole lot of certainty that you didn’t have.
So if something is hard, just say to your developer, why don’t I give you a day. Just get in there and have a play. Let’s try something out and often that can be a really good way just to resolve something.
Nothing could be more important for the success of your software project than working with the right team. The perfect developer will understand your goals and also your budget. There is always a way to make a plan work for every party involved, but it starts by finding the perfect fit. You may think that the company with the most developers or the most experience in your field is the right choice. However, until you communicate directly with the candidates available, you really don’t have the details necessary for a wise decision. Factor in the real process, cost, potential bumps in the road and the work philosophy and you will find it much easier to determine the best fit for your project.
If you are searching for the perfect team to work with your precious software project, give us a call. We’re excited to see if we can help make your dream a reality.