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How You Can Find The Best Web Development Teams

Chances are that if you are a growing tech company in London, San Francisco, Berlin or anywhere else, you might be short of talented web developers with popular skillsets like PHP, JavaScript, React or others. The obvious solution is outsourcing, be it nearshoring or offshoring. This article will help you make sure you chose the right team even if you’re not an IT guru.

8 tips how to check that you are working with IT professionals

A  majority of people follow their gut feelings or the impression they get from their outsourcing partner. The more astute ones check and even verify referrals. But that’s definitely not enough. Let’s see all the things you can do better to verify if you are working with a truly professional development team.

What are we going to talk about?

1. Be very specific about your budget

2. Your experience, expectations and goals

3. Think about intellectual property rights

4. Check LinkedIn for past employees

5. What type of project management approach is the team using?

6. Make sure the technology has already at least some traction

7. Hiring in a distant time zone might be a problem

8. Trust the people you work with

1. Be very specific about your budget

Be very specific about your budget right from the beginning. If it’s insufficient, you want to know as soon as possible to avoid wasting time on useless meetings. Also check if the company has ever delivered software within your price range. If the supplier has experience delivering apps worth £10,000, perhaps they won’t be a good fit for your project worth £200,000.

Work with a similarly large company

The idea that companies of the same (or similar) size work best together does apply here. You get better along as a small and flexible company with a small vendor, since you’ll be used to the same mindset. A big established development powerhouse might treat you as a project “on the side” while you will expect premium care. If you’re a big company, this rule applies also, but mostly for bigger resource and time consuming projects. If you need something developed very fast and agile as a corporation, a small vendor might be the right fit no matter how big you are.

Fixed project price or hourly rate?

The fee structure is another aspect you want to consider. Some teams will offer you a fixed project price, others will have you on an hourly rate for whatever time they spend. The project price might seem better and more predictable, and if you have very good technical specifications, go for it.

Without clear specifications, a fixed project price is obviously very difficult to assess. If you still insist on getting a fixed quote, chances are that you end up paying a considerably higher price, since the vendor needs to factor in a bigger margin for error due to the inevitable uncertainty about the volume of the work actual delivered. An hourly rate is a better solution and you can cap it at  a given threshold of hours per month to protect your cash flow.

2. Your experience, expectations and goals

Be very clear what you want to accomplish. Do you have a clearly defined project with a detailed technical specification and are you looking for nothing but manpower to get the programming done? Or do you only have a broad area about what you want to accomplish and therefore need a whole team of business analysts, technical analysts and a senior developer overseeing regular programmers?

Try freelancer portals if your project is clearly defined 

If you go for pure programming manpower, you might be able to hire dedicated developers through freelancer portals. The disadvantage of this solution is the need for an effective development project management on your end and a considerably higher cost if you need to pivot with the project in a later phase due to insufficient planning at the beginning. This option is therefore optimal only for companies with experienced senior IT specialist on board accompanied by project managers who can guarantee the delivery from the outsourcing provider.

Go with professional development company for advisory and broad expertise

If you don’t have any tech skills within your company, you are better off to go with a web development company that can first spend some time helping you put together the business brief itself, then creates the technical specifications and utilizes their own proven project management and developers.

3. Think about intellectual property rights

This most important part is overlooked or underestimated way too often by people hiring a development team without any prior experience. Pay attention to the draft of their contract. Make sure you will own the code once it’s finished and all the intellectual property rights will be transferred to you. Even though the code will be yours to own, beware that most companies will void any warranty if you amend the code.

Companies are required to disclose their financial data in some countries. Try to get your hands on it! It’s very useful to check your potential customer’s history, to see how stable they are and how their business operates. A clear ownership and management structure staffed with people with a clear history is another factor you want to verify.

4. Check LinkedIn for past employees

Remember that any referral you get from the company itself will be carefully pre-selected to give you the best impression. Nothing wrong with having satisfied customers, but chances are that most companies will have several very satisfied customers to showcase. But that doesn’t help you to separate the wheat from the chaff.

You can work around that easily though. Check LinkedIn for past employees and reach out to them asking about how the company worked when they were on board. Sometimes you can even get client names that are not presented as referrals. Checking with them gives you a more realistic picture about the company. Bear in mind that referrals are often subject to NDAs, but upon request some of them can be disclosed.

Another option is to engage a third party to do these checks for you and use their platform to find the right company. Examples are https://www.digitalogy.co/ and https://clutch.co/.

5. What type of project management approach is the team using?

Ask what type of project management approach they are using. Kanban, SCRUM, Agile, waterfall? There is no right answer or the best management system, but try to check how many projects they have delivered using their selected management approach, what percentage of projects were overdue and what percentage of projects exceeded the initial cost estimate. If the company is managed professionally, those numbers should be easily available. If they aren’t sure or are trying to buy time to answer the question, chances are they simply don’t know.

Ask to see an overview of the projects already completed . You can see how they approached any issue that arose, how fast they were in their reactions and how effective the management was. If this information is not accessible, ask for a typical report from projects completed previously, check how often they report on the progress and what information are they sharing.

6. Make sure the technology has already at least some traction

Stack is a common term for all the technologies the development company is using. See if they have a solid experience with their chosen frameworks or if they jump on any hot innovation that hits the market. You want somebody stable, possessing in-depth experience and a track record with the frameworks they are using.

If you are offered a new modern framework, it may sound exciting. You’ll be ahead of the others! Or really? Not so fast! Make sure the technology has already at least some traction to make sure you’re not stuck with software based on a technology that nobody will use in the future and that will cost a fortune to service – if at all possible. On the other hand, you also don’t want a company that has a technological debt and is using way too old frameworks.

The most current technologies used by developers are available in Stack Overflow Annual Survey. This is the best place to check if what your vendor is proposing is a universally used and accepted technology.

If you’re a seasoned IT professional, probe the team with as many questions as you please. If you need to outsource technology you are not too familiar with, hire an external specialist to help you asses the best candidates.

7. Hiring in a distant time zone might be a problem

For most scenarios, hiring in a distant time zone is a bad idea. Even though some companies offer their workers at your local working hours, think about how effective you’d be working late nights or even small hours.

Again, with clear specifications and no need for sophisticated developers to elevate the product, you can hire developers in traditional regions such as Asia to save some money. Beware though that all the management and communication will be more difficult by several orders of magnitude. Get ready for that!

There is a nearshoring alternative with enough talent at a reasonable price for almost any tech hotspots in the world. Nearshoring has a benefit of easier personal access when you want to meet face to face – which you should seriously consider for smooth cooperation. Good personal relations still matter. Cultural differences might kick in with nearshoring, but they will be a fraction of what you have to deal with half way around the globe.

8. Trust the people you work with

Soft metrics do matter. Do you like the people you talk to? Do you trust in what they are saying? Do they keep their word from the beginning? When they say they are going to send something at 11am, can you count on it? You don’t need to feel like having a beer with them, but professional trust and respect is as important as the hard metrics.

Do you agree with the eight points we have listed? Is there anything else you can think of? We at Czech company Kurzor offer developer outsourcing for 10 years and we know which advantages or disadvantages this cooperation can bring. If you’re interested in outsourcing or web development, feel free to contact us at peter@kurzor.net.

Bogdan

Bogdan is the founder of Top Design Magazine. You can find him in Bucharest-Romania so next time you want to drink a beer there and talk about web and stuff, give him a message.

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