Can’t I just hire a freelance software developer from Elance, Odesk, Upwork, Guru, etc.?
Of course you can. Often, a freelancer is the most cost-effective option if the custom application you have in mind is straightforward to develop. However, unless you have experience running a software development project, interacting directly with a developer can be an exercise in frustration. Especially if your project is complex, or you don’t fully understand what you need in a piece of software.
While I happen to think that software developers are absolutely wonderful, I wouldn’t blame you if you think I am slightly biased. I will also admit that developers can be a little challenging for the average business person to work with. The following joke might shed some light on just how challenging this might be:
The wife of a software developer asked her husband to buy some bread while he was at the grocery store. ‘And,’ she added, ‘if they have eggs, buy six.’ The husband came back with 6 loaves of bread.
“Why on earth did you buy 6 loaves of bread,” she asked in bewilderment?
“They had eggs,” he replied.
Here’s a bonus joke: A developer died after reading the instructions on a bottle of shampoo that said, “Lather, Rinse, Repeat.” I’ll just let that one hang in the infinite loop hell in which it belongs…
Developers deal with devices that don’t have the reasoning power of a 2 year old. All. Day. Long. This is an industry that attracts a certain type of person. It is a medical fact that the gene that allows a person to develop software suppresses the gene that allows that same person to interact with the rest of humanity. Just kidding. Sort of.
If you’re starting to get the picture of why hiring a developer on an outsourcing site might cause problems for your business, you should add in the fact that most of the attractively-priced developers are from countries that don’t share the same culture we do. And, if you think that culture doesn’t matter in the software world, think again. Intuitive design is incredibly culturally-driven.
So, lets cut to the chase.
If you have the experience to know that your software project is small, hire a developer on an outsourcing site.
If you have a larger project, and you’ve been the project manager for a software project that is similar in size to the one you need, hire a $40-$50/hr developer or two from Russia or Ukraine. (For whatever reason, old Soviet-bloc developers are excellent.)
If your project is important to your business and you would prefer to focus on things that you’re good at (my gentle way of suggesting that you might not have enough experience), then you need the services of a software development company that can do the following:
- Listen to you and get to know your business needs
- Develop a set of requirements that can be met in software within a reasonable budget
- Select the proper development tools that will allow the developer to efficiently build software that will meet the requirements
- Manage the development process, including regular updates with you, the customer
- Perform proper QA on the product prior to release
- Support, maintain and upgrade the product after release
After all, you don’t want to end up in this cartoon: