Searching for a product development firm?

Looking to build a new web product, or augment your team for an existing app? Here are some questions to ask about your dev shop, written from an insider’s perspective…

Do they communicate well?

Because that is the most important key to success in any project. Code itself is only a means to an end, there to help solve problems and achieve business goals.

Are you listened to carefully to understand your projects’s particular requirements? Are you presented with options when appropriate, and helped to understand the considerations and tradeoffs among different solutions, balancing development time, performance, and budgetary costs? Do you receive status reports proactively, or do you have to nag for updates?

Good communication is timely and insightful, and the right questions about business goals and project requirements can save time and money, while increasing the chances of a successful outcome.

Do they use technology for its own sake?

Also known as the “kitchen sink” approach, sometimes devs use your project as an excuse to play with new technologies, while throwing every sort of tool at the problem. Some companies even adopt obscure tech stacks in order to charge higher rates.

Sure, new tech can enhance a project, and it is important for the practitioner to stay up-to-date with new tools and trends in the field, but these should be applied judiciously, using discernment that comes only with experience.

Related to this, are they using tools with broad community support? This is another area where tech choices are important, because this can create issues for later hiring as well as finding product support if the latest-and-greatest thing lacks widespread adoption and problems are discovered.

Who’s working on your project?

Is it the same person you were introduced to and became comfortable with, or were you handed off to someone cheaper and less experienced?

In a service environment with a practical ceiling on project rates, big companies seek to increase profit margins by cutting costs, and that may impact your project.

(At Jaidee, you’ll be in direct contact with your developer.)

Daylight, or darkness?

Do you have visibility into the project via regular updates, or is your project lost in deep space?

Project management apps, messaging, or simply email—there are different options, but the idea is to know what is happening, and when.

This is also important when encountering speedbumps in a project, because having some business or technical issue that impacts delivery is almost inevitable.

Personal service, or impersonal indifference?

If you hire BigGiantCodeFactory, you will likely be insulated from the devs working on your project by layers of account and project management. While this can sometimes help developers maintain focus, in practice this lack of direct communication can create problems, for example if the people implementing your requirements weren’t present when you described them, and are unable to communicate with you directly.

Much context can be lost when this occurs, and the end-product may resemble what you said, but not what you meant, or even miss the target completely.

With a smaller shop, you are more likely to receive personal attention. Consider the idea of ownership, in the sense of taking pride in and responsibility for the successful implementation of your project, versus it being just another source of billable hours for some behemoth.

Does tech really matter that much?

Similar to using technology for its own sake, here’s something many companies won’t tell you: different languages and frameworks can help you accomplish your goals, and if your project succeeds beyond expectations, then scaling or other growth challenges will most likely lie elsewhere.

At the other extreme, an app or site without any users also has other problems to solve.

Are they experienced?

If you hire the cheapest and least experienced developer available (or are assigned one to cut internal costs, as explained above), there’s something you’re not getting in the deal: hard-won wisdom that comes only from experience. The experience of making and learning from mistakes, understanding common business and technical solutions to features and problems that appear in every project, working in a collaborative environment, and so on.

In other words, experience that was likely paid for by someone else during a developer’s formative years, so you don’t have to.

Sometimes a project budget based on a cheap rate is exhausted by long hours of churn-and-burn.

Do they care?

One final consideration, and perhaps this should go without saying, but are you treated like a valued customer?

Yes, business is business, but it’s noticeable when a company doesn’t care about its work, and doesn’t treat its clients well.

Find a company that cares.

Man, having you on the team is such a nice help. All the attention to detail you spent, it seriously paid off. Thanks a ton, seriously. You must function on 0 sleep. ;)