How to Hire Outside Development Help

How to Hire Outside Development Help

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Hiring is tough. Especially when you're hiring an outside company for your development. There are a lot of things that can go wrong and without an established relationship, there can be a lot of risk.

That said, there are many reasons when it makes sense to hire outside development help:

  • when you aren't able to find the talent you need
  • when you don't want to commit to a long-term employee relationship
  • when the quantity of work you need is more than you can hire for in the short-term
  • when your company has strict employee hiring rules
  • when you need someone outside of your company culture to affect change

Whatever your reason, this guide will outline a process you can use to reduce the risk when hiring outside development help.


Upfront planning

Before you can really start evaluating companies, you need to be clear about what you're hiring a developer for and why.

What do you need?

The first thing you need to be clear with is the "what". What are you doing that needs outside help?

It is very simple: you wouldn't hire a plumber to fix your car, would you? Knowing the "what" is important to help focus only on who can help you.

This can be easy or difficult to answer, but take the difficulty as a sign of how thought out the project is. If this question is easy and clear to answer , then explaining that to an outside developer shouldn't be difficult. If it's difficult to describe to yourself, it will be twice as hard to an outside developer.

What would you like?

One thing to be clear about is the difference between what you need and what you want. What you need is the minimum project you need from the company, while what you want might be a lot more. Keeping them separate and clear will make it easier to prioritize with your outside developer.

Great developers who understand the business side of this can also help you discover your answers to these questions. Their expertise might even help you find a different path that is better than your first one.

What is your budget?

The next step of planning you'll want to think about is your budget.

Every developer will ask about the budget. It helps give them an idea about the size of the project and also about how serious you are.

You'll laugh, but there was a project request where a client wanted a clone of Windows that was 100% compatible with all Windows programs for $5,000. If it only cost Microsoft that much to create Windows, that explains why they were so profitable. But that's not the case.

Along with the total budget, try to think about the schedule of payments for the budget. Some developers require 100% upfront, some 50% upfront, some charge week-by-week, and some bill Net 30. Try to find what different schedules you can accommodate and what your ideal one would be.

Forethought about the budget upfront will help you when you're talking to developers.

What's your timeline?

Similar to the budget, you'll also want to figure out what your project's timeline will be. If you have to hit specific launch dates, those will be important to write down, along with any major milestones that might occur. You also might not have a hard timeline in mind, but you want to make progress on this project. If so, write that down.

What if you can't find someone?

This final part of planning is missed by a lot of people. Ideally you'd find someone perfect for you right away, but you need a contingency plan if that doesn't happen.

What will you do if you can't find someone? Can you just keep looking? Will you have to cancel the project? Will you use your own staff and just proceed slower?

Finding the right outside developers

The biggest part of hiring an outside developer is finding the right one.

It will be time-consuming. It will include false starts and dead-ends. At times, you might feel like nothing is happening.

This is okay. Keep trying to find one, reach out to your network for referrals, look at advertising for them, and just keep going.

Far and away the best way to find a developer is through your network. A referral is gold on both sides, and starts a relationship on the right foot.

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