Making the final decision to hire a development team to build custom software or an app for your business can be a nerve-racking experience for those who aren’t technical themselves.
Maybe you’re not sure your developer — or the company you’re hiring — has all the skills needed. Or maybe what’s making you uncomfortable is that you don’t know what you don’t know, and thus don’t know to ask your developer if they know it.
That feeling sucks, but rest assured you aren’t alone in feeling it. We’ve had many clients come to us because they thought they had a great dev, only to learn later that nothing was getting done properly, on-time, or on-budget. We’ve also been brought in to fix a problem –– or even create a whole new app –– because a client was previously burned by an offshore team that wasn’t current on technical knowledge, or they didn’t understand the business goals.
If you are thinking if hiring a developer, consider asking these two questions:
- Does your team provide business insight as well as development support?
- How do I know your developers are best-in-class with up-to-date knowledge?
Question #1 matters because your application doesn’t exist in a vacuum. You need it to serve a specific business purpose –– which means your development team needs to intimately understand that purpose and help you achieve it, throughout the creation and launch of your app.
Question #2 is an open-ended question that will shed light on how the team works and stays current. Best practice advice can change over time, so the answer to this question will help you gauge expertise. You don’t need to know how to code, but knowing how a company approaches sharing insight and learning internally is an indicator that you’re in good hands.
In this article we’re breaking down ways you can gauge answers to both questions, and we’ll share some insight as to how we approach these.
1. Your business needs should drive the conversation
When we meet a client, one of our first questions is: Why do you need this app built?
Asking this question to start out is important because it gives us an opportunity to hear about the pain points or opportunities that have inspired you to want to build an app.
We have a few different types of developers on our team, and the answer also provides detail for our solutions architect to consider when structuring the app. We want to provide solutions to real problems, and avoid replicating any problems that may already exist in your workflow.
At this point in the process, we still haven’t talked about code. A good development team will function like a business partner, and not just a technical support resource. So when you are assessing who you should work with these qualities should be high up on your list.
Once we understand the business needs we can then start to make recommendations on what type of app you need.
You should be concerned if your app developers are not trying to deeply understand you and your business goals as the primary drivers of the process.
2. Your developer should have a process for sharing insight
Being a developer can be a tough job. Platforms change, there are always many ways to tackle a problem, and best-practice approaches will evolve over time.
The ways in which your developers stay on top of changes will distinguish bad, from good, from great.
For example, Apple released iOS 15 this fall and for consumers and end-users it doesn’t mean much other than faster, more stable operation. But for developers, iOS 15 is the biggest change in four years and has several changes for workflow and development features. At Vog App Developers, we stay on top of changes like this by building in opportunities to share learning and news across the company.
For instance, each of our platform teams have their own learning group that meets weekly to discuss industry innovation they have learned about and are implementing in their projects. In this way, every member of the team is aware of any new changes to iOS or Android operating systems, for example.
We also have a policy called the “the rule of two” that we employ. Not only is every developer educating themselves and others on their team about industry updates, but we have documentation practices in place that ensure a second developer can pick up where the first developer leaves off in a project. How? Because they’re all following the same development techniques and process.
This helps us ensure both quality control and uninterrupted timelines if a developer has to take part in a project started by someone else.
Internal knowledge sharing is important, so we recommend you ask the development team you’re considering hiring how they keep up with change.
Staying on top of industry standards
In addition to the experiential knowledge and insight our development teams glean in their day-to-day work, they also turn to regularly updated industry tools to stay current. For example, our devs routinely engage with the following resources:
- Apple and Android developer platforms for straight-from-the-source information (which includes conferences, videos etc.)
- Regulatory bodies like the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) for things like security recommendations
- Developer-specific blogs, newsletters and resources like Stack Overflow, who even have to develop tools/processes for identifying information that has already become outdated or inaccurate on their own site
So again, before you engage a development team, have a conversation with them and ask how they are keeping up with industry trends and changes.
Their knowledge will make all the difference for your app and your related business objectives.