The Ten (plus ten) Commandments of Hiring Developers

Mobile applications have become a quintessential part of any organization’s digital marketing strategy. Countless companies have taken the plunge and decided to create a mobile application for their brand. However, not everyone has internal resources to develop a spectacular application that will serve their requirements. The natural choice then is to outsource to experts who know how.

But how does one determine that a particular individual/agency is the best suited for the job? Well, here are a few pointers on what you definitely should and shouldn’t do when you outsource application development.

What you should do

PoA is paramount:
Given the impact that smartphones have on us today, chances are that you don’t go anyplace new without Google maps. So why would you head into a major project without a clear sense of direction? Make sure that you are clear on what objectives you expect the app to achieve, what the mandatory features are in comparison to additional features, whether you want to monetize the app or develop a free app with in-app purchase options and ads and so on.

Looking for oysters? The sea is that way!
Knowing where to look for developers is as crucial as knowing how. General purpose hiring portals are probably not the best idea in such situations. Look to specific focused communities where developers flock to like Github and other similar networks.

Portfolio exploration:
Make sure that you take the time to look at the portfolios of developers you’re considering. Download the apps they’ve created in the past to see how they work. Consider the UI/UX of the apps, ratings, reviews, any bugs as well as the developer’s experience with the project.

Reference follow ups:
References are possibly more important when you’re looking to outsource for obvious reasons. When speaking to the referrers, avoid typical leading questions and seek to understand the developer’s skill, style of working, approach and so on.

Peer recommendations:
Another facet to references is recommendations from peers. If available, these recommendations can provide a different angle to the entire exercise.

Assess right:
When looking to outsource development, you need clarity on the skills that are required. Once you know, consider assessing the skills of the developer you have in mind. Ask trusted contacts in the field to check sample codes from the developer.

Big picture interest
When you hire a developer who is only keen on the project at hand, the result may tend to seem a little disconnected from what your organization stands for. Aim to find developers who are interested in what your organization does and that interest will result in the creation of an app that fits seamlessly into the rest of your offerings.

The special touch
Every developer has a unique approach to creating a specific app. What you need to know is what unique value addition the developer can bring to your app. This can help a great deal in deciding which developer is best.

Communicating right
Before finalizing the deal, ensure that all communication aspects are to your level of comfort. This means that you need to establish a common language of your choice (especially useful when your developer resides in another country), mode of communication (e-mail, phone calls, Skype calls and so on) as well as frequency of communication.

Seal the deal
The crucial aspect to discuss and agree upon are the terms of contract. This is where you need to make sure that all details are expressed clearly in the contract. Make sure that you include the basics such as pricing, mode of payment, scope of work, ownership and attribution, terms of delivery, details of progress updates required, mention of the point of contact (ideally a single point of contact) and so on. The contract should leave as little to the imagination as possible in order for it to be clear and fair to both parties concerned.

What you definitely shouldn’t do

Skip your homework
When looking out for developers, it is always a good idea to conduct due diligence and carry out the required research before contacting them. This could even serve as a preliminary screening round so that you contact only the developers/agencies whose portfolios interest you.

Wear blinders
Developing an app is much more than just coding. Design, development, testing and submission to app stores are all equally important components that need to be taken care of. Determine whether you wish to outsource the entire process to an agency or get some parts done in-house and outsource the rest.

Prioritize pricing
While having a set budget for app creation is a must, but being stingy about it is a whole different thing altogether. Be aware that developers whose USP is “competitive pricing” need to be approached with caution. The ones who produce stellar work usually charge higher than the rest. When your entire quest is based solely on meeting monetary limitations, you will end up sacrificing quality along the way.

Ignore portfolios
A portfolio is what determines any developer’s worth. Overlooking portfolios when hiring is a huge risk that no one in their right minds should take.

Communicate inaccurately/insufficiently
When having discussions with potential hires, you need to express what you have in mind in as much detail as possible without violating any NDA clauses. This will not only give the developer a good idea of what you’re looking for, it will also give you a chance to decide whether his response to the same is what you’re seeking.

Be casual about setting expectations
At the discussion stage, it is also very helpful if you can put your expectations upfront in terms of where you want your project to go and how you want to go about it. Clarity is always a great idea. It makes it a little easier to decide if the developer and your organization are the right fit for each other.

Hire purely based on casual recommendation
There aren’t too many people nowadays who don’t have a network to boast of. While networks are great for leads, you shouldn’t base your decision on your network. Just because your employee’s brother’s batchmate in college is a developer, that isn’t a good enough reason for you to hire him.

Outsource to developers unfamiliar with trends in your region
When you outsource app development, you need to be sure that you and your developer are speaking the same language. Not just literally, but figuratively as well. If the sophistication that you seek in your app is not something that the developer is familiar with, then you could be in deeper trouble than you realize.

Forget to account for timezone differences
When working with developers who aren’t in your region or country, it is essential to consider the time differences both when estimating the time required to complete the project as well as when establishing frequency and timing of updates and revisions.

Forget to include functional testing from end-user perspective
This is an absolute must-have in the process. Without carrying out functional testing, you will be releasing the app into the market completely blind and letting your success be at the mercy of your audience hands entirely.

While there is nothing such as a thorough guide to hiring developers, these pointers should get you well on your way to sailing through the app creation phase with a great developer at the helm of it all.

 

Image courtesy:
Alan Cleaver
https://www.flickr.com/photos/alancleaver/4320245924

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