According to Entrepreneur Magazine, outsourcing software development, — or “digital outsourcing,” as it’s called — is a great way to maximize efficiency. But it is important to do some research. In this article, we discuss some easy steps to hire an outsourced team.

Step 1. Start with a UI Mock-Up

If you already have a UI mockup with no more than five pages, great. Proceed to step 2.  Otherwise, see “Never, Ever Invest in Specs.”

mockup

Step 2. Talk It Out

Talk to your friends to see who is has developed solutions in the past.  Find a couple of local companies that you can meet in person.  Drive out and meet them for an hour.  Meet at least 2 or 3 companies.  Meet the owner of the enterprise as their skin is in fully in the game.  Don’t bring your prototype or talk about your product too much.  Ask them these questions:

  • What is your development process like
  • How often will we meet
  • Would you be willing to produce a one-week prototype/trial?
  • What do they charge for software development?

can_i_trust_you_dev_interview

Step 3. Pick 2

Using your intuition, select the two that are the most “honest.”  You don’t want to select a development firm and feel like you have to wash your hands afterward.  If it doesn’t feel right, don’t do it.  Trust the millions of years of evolution and spider senses going off in your head.

Why pick 2 instead of 1?

You aren’t launching a rocket ship to Mars, meaning, you have to remove the stress from your decision.  After two weeks, you should have the option of selecting at least one firm that you will feel comfortable with.  If you only try out 1, then you have no comparison.   Also, if for some reason, the firm you selected can’t continue for some reason, you have the benefit of knowing your product as a fallback.  All it costs you is a small fraction of your overall budget.

Hiring Solo?

Yes, it can seem cheaper to conduct your surgery in a van down by the river, but with an established company, will likely benefit from multiple engineers providing their perspective viewpoints. Also, avoid the siren song of a “full stack developer” for various reasons. They tend to be mediocre across the board at some skill sets.

team_vs_solo_v1

Step 4.  Pre Prototype

Hold a kick-off meeting where the team briefs you on the technologies they are going to us.

What technologies Should They Build?  It doesn’t matter in a way. What does matter, is that they are using a long established* web technology that encourages rapid development. Avoid the temptation of a Humpty Frantz’s new HippityJS framework for Instagram or whatever the kids are using these days. If your developer is telling you to use something that doesn’t have mass adoption, there is a good chance that they are steering you into a canyon like A Theme and Louise.

thelma_and_louise_startup_frameworks.png

Step 5. Evaluate

Take another weekend to review the limited prototype with a “qualified technical friend.” This friend should not be a software service provider. A dishonest firm will “wow” you with flash and rush to get as much of the application completed as possible. Don’t be fooled. Take time to investigate the stack and talk to the developers who completed the work. You want to see great craftsmanship and a team that has excellent communication. There is a good chance after all that they will be with you for a long time, provided you actually have the funding.

At the end of the two weeks, go with the company that you trust and find a way to get it done.

 

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