Monthly Archives

March 2016

10 Minute Guide for Hiring an Outsourced Team

By Innovators

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.”


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?


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.


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.


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.


Related Articles: How can I Move My Difficult Team to Agile? | What in the World is a Backend Developer?

Never, Ever Invest in Specs

By Design, Innovators, Leadership, Software Lifecycle, StartupNo Comments

So, here is a scenario… you want to develop a new software product, but you aren’t sure who to hire or how much it will cost. What should you do?

Don’t Do This

Before I tell you what you should do, lets talk about what you should not do… pay a development team to break your application down into user stories or worse yet, a requirements document.  The amount of waste that you will spend on this is enormous with little value for a potentially large investment.

Common myth:  Once you have the specification, you can hand it to other developers who can create estimates for your application, right?  Wrong.  Developers cannot possibly pick up a cold specification and accurately estimate the project.  They still need to walk through the application, visualize it and ask questions about the features.  Even if a developer understands the application after investing an enormous amount of time, they still might not be able to accurately estimate it.   Why?  Read this.

Specs are Boring and Painful to Read


If you aren’t going to spend money on specs, what should you do?

Steps To Preparing Yourself

Step 1.  Become a hermit 

Roll up your sleeves and invest in learning a simple mockup tool like, Lock yourself in during a weekend and mock out what you want your application to do.  In a weekend, a founder can reasonably figure out how to build the critical 5 or 6 pages of their application.  Then, they can provide this to a development team to get their concept across and produce a well engineered prototype.

Step 2 . Pick up the check… the lunch check that is.

Use the money you saved by not paying someone to do your specification and take a few people out to lunch that are friendly to you AND understand your market very well.  Use this time to shore up your thoughts and produce another version of your application based on what you have learned.

Step 3. Deliver a working Prototype

Select your team using this simple outsource process.   Not sure how do this? Check out our “10 Minute Guide To Hiring Outsourced Team


At the end of the day, you are accountable for every dime you spend.  You are the only one.  You can blame a team delivering poorly after a few sprints, but that it is.  As an entrepreneur, you are responsible for selecting people to work for you and firing them.  If you blame your development team, then you are weak sauce and not ready to run a startup.  Be prepared to fire.