by Samantha Urban, CEO of Urban Translations

How many times have you had an idea that can change the world through innovation?  It happens quite often.  But unfortunately, some people don’t have the technical background to get it off the ground.  As a software CEO and previously an engineer, here are my top 10 considerations for contracting developers to bring your idea to life:

  1. Can you try out the developer(s) on a small project before signing a more in-depth agreement? For example – if you already have an app built, you can contract them out on a new product feature or a bug fix.  This will allow you to see how they communicate and deliver.
  2. The most important documents to create before any development work starts are: wireframes, user flows, and a spec.  If you don’t have someone on your team who can create those, can the developer(s) create the docs with you?  If not, find someone who can.
  3. Do they provide accurate estimates? Always ask for an estimate before any development starts, ensure they track time as part of your contract, and compare the timing at the end.
  4. Ask for references and example work (and find out exactly what they worked on). If they just give you a website URL, find out exactly what they worked on.  It may not be the entire website.
  5. My recommendation is to never work with someone who requests payment upfront. The agreement should be constructed as milestone based or the full project to be completed bug free.  Alternatively, an hourly rate for work completed is great too.  Ensure your contract states that they receive their final payment when you have all the documentation, credentials, and a bug free product.
  6. Find out what their turnaround time is for answering emails while they’re working on development and put it in the contract. You should also pre-define what their response time is for requests and bug fixes post-launch.
  7. If you’re not technical, can they be more strategic and work with you on a technical product roadmap?
  8. Do they QA (test) their own work? If not, do not hire them!
  9. Depending on your software, can they handle both front-end and back-end development? What about DevOps?  Overall, understand where you have gaps and get them filled.
  10. If you’re contracting out a dev team, what is their company culture like? Remember, when developers aren’t in your office, it’s harder to influence culture.  If possible, visit their offices and ask to speak to many of their employees one-on-one.  Be prepared with lots of questions and ensure you’re aligned with how they operate.

I am always happy to help people on this topic.  I want everyone to save valuable time and money.  Please reach out via email if you need a trustworthy referral or more advice:  Samantha Urban