Did you know that random app developer making your product is potentially costing you hundreds even thousands of dollars per month just from the decisions they make?
Choosing A Software Developer
Normally when we think of software developers we think they’re a dime a dozen. And while this may be true from the sense of just how many of them there are the QUALITY developers are hard to find.
Why is this?
Well, truth be told software development is an art form. Just like it takes a skilled artist to make a world renowned painting it takes a skilled developer with the right combinations of skills to make a project successful. Unlike art, however, a software developer must use their skills to create something PERFECTLY if the final product is to work. They can’t just write up some code and pray that it will work. There is a balance between desire, competency and skill that goes beyond what most fields demand.
If you are relying on a sole developer/development team to make your project successful it is important you make the right choice. While it’s easy to say “oh, I need an iOS developer” or “I need a web developer” what you are actually looking for is someone with a much broader skillset (unless you’re competent in technology and can manage them yourself).
From our experience, here are some things a software developer MUST have to drive a project to success, especially if you have no technical experience to manage them:
Skills in the desired areas of development
ex. iOS, Android, Web development etc…
Experience creating products from the ground up.
Tool cost analysis
Do not hire a ‘yes man’
Business plan analysis
Cost of Ownership Analysis
Notice anything interesting? I listed the technical skills as only “important” while many other skills are “critical”. What’s going on here? Aren’t technical skills the utmost important thing I need on my project? But I found a genius developer who worked for a Silicon Valley company!
“Do not make the mistake that a competent software developer can be a competent project owner.”
If you found a crack-shot coder first I would like to say good for you. It can be difficult to find someone of that caliber who can crank out something like there is no tomorrow. Second, are you sure that is someone you want making critical business decisions for you?
Let’s break down why technical skills don’t always align with your goals.
Technical Skills: Smarter Isn’t Always Better
We always want the best person for the job. So when looking for someone to hammer a nail we always look for someone with the best hammer. This is all well and good but what happens if the person with the best hammer doesn’t know where to put the nail? They may just be great at hammering and not actually building things.
This is the hard truth. Do not make the mistake that a competent software developer can be a competent project owner.
Let me repeat that. Do NOT make the mistake that a competent software developer can be a competent project owner.
While competent developers are necessary for projects requiring large teams they are not usually the people you want managing the product. They use a very specific hammer (i.e. programming) and tend to think everything is a nail that needs to be hit by that hammer.
User engagement down? Write more software!
Having a hard time getting users? Write more software!
Monthly cost for the platform too high? Write more software!
Users don’t understand the product? Write more software!
“When you’re great at hammering everything looks like a nail.”
This might not seem like a problem at first but down the road you may see the project fail through high costs of maintenance, unhappy users and project/time management issues.
Who to Hire? The Biz-Dev Developer
Ideally, anyone offering to build you a software product should have your best interests in mind. They should be able to fully understand your goals and have various suggestions on how to hit those goals. Offering counterpoints, pushing back on feature-creep and making the product in such a way to align with the end in mind.
Essentially, an individual with a combination of soft-skills, hard-skills and business acumen. Someone who shows signs of CTO level skills. What I call a “Biz-Dev Developer”.
This is hard to find, but not impossible. And if you find one, hire them.
Here are some things to look for. Someone who:
Has proven long-term clients.
Will first learn to understand your goals.
Avoid those who just “want to start working”.
Understands the differences in project management types.
i.e. waterfall vs. agile. Spoiler, you want agile for software projects.
Does not charge less than $100/hour.
Someone with business acumen is going to know their worth, and know how to charge for it.
While it is possible to find someone for cheaper it is much harder to do so. Those are usually “diamonds in the rough” and can cost you time and money trying to find one.
Gives information on how designs, tools, features and goals will affect costs of the product.
Explains what they are going to do and why.
Can clearly articulate difficult to understand technical ideas.
Suggests feature priorities and pushes back on things that may be unnecessary for your goals.
While this is not a conclusive list it does help shed light on the skills that can increase chances of project success.
“You Get What You Pay For”
Where Can I Find A The Right Developer?
Ah, yes. This is the hard part. Where do you find someone with all the right skills you need? Well there is no clear-cut way to find them. There are services out there that can help but it really comes down to spending time looking and maybe even being a little creative about it.
Here are some things you can do:
Search hiring sites like ZipRecruiter or Indeed by posting your job.
Post your job on freelancer sites like Upwork or Freelancer.
Network with people you know to find references.
Attend technology conferences where they might be attending.
Use a professional development company.
If you plan on posting your job somewhere like Upwork/Freelancer make sure you write out all the requirements you think you need. Put effort into this. Many professionals will dismiss project postings with vague requirements as too risky or that the project owner isn’t serious about paying for work. If you don’t know what you need then clearly state that. Something like “I am looking for some suggestions on price and scope of work since I don’t know what I need” will go a long way and they will appreciate the honesty.
Lastly, Be Smart About Budget
The old adage “you get what you pay for” holds truth here. When you are figuring out how much it will cost to make I would suggest staying off of sites like Upwork and Freelancer. They will give you an unrealistic idea of software development costs. No, it doesn’t cost $500 for a Tinder clone, and yes, this was a real job posting.
If you don’t have the budget yet to meet your goals with a proper developer don’t try to find someone drastically cheaper. Best case scenario, you have something that isn’t broken. Worst case, you spend tens of thousands of dollars on something that is broken and dead on arrival (most common with cheap developers).
Remember, the developers your are looking for will happily give you a real estimate along with ways to cut costs to help meet your budget.