Five Reasons to Fire Your Developer Friend

Posted on August 31, 2017 Mary Merritt

How much money are you ACTUALLY saving by hiring your “developer friend?”

Some of you might think the title of this blog post is really harsh. But hey, there’s a lot of noise out there - we have to get your attention somehow. This blog post is meant to outline some of our experiences with clients who have come to us after their “developer friends” didn’t make good on their lofty promises. These are folks who hired their freelancer friends with the hopes of saving some serious coin on development costs, but they ended up LOSING money instead (late on time-to-market, or perhaps they had to hire another company to fix and/or finish their friend’s work, etc). Not only have they lost money, but they’ve also lost lifelong friendships. Let’s talk about the key issues that we’ve discovered, and what factors you should look into when trying to find a solid development partner.

First and foremost, if you have a developer friend who does projects for you and you’re consistently happy with them...DON’T LOSE THEM! We’re not here to tell you that the independent developer doesn’t exist - that’s just not true. However, it is sometimes hard to find a great web developer or application developer who isn’t overbooking themselves. Which is a great segue into our first point.

#1. Your developer friend is constantly overbooked.

Are they just too nice to say “NO” to projects? Are they also counting the hours between 10pm and 8am as work hours? Perhaps they think they can get something done in a shorter amount of time than it actually takes. Whatever the case may be, the most common issue we’ve seen with independent developers is that they quickly overbook themselves. In the service industry, we are literally capped with regard to man hours. There are only so many hours in a day that you can work. If your friend isn’t creating a forecast and looking at their workload regularly to make sure they can deliver on their promises, then you are going to end up very frustrated. Your friend will be frustrated, too.

#2. Your developer friend needs a Project Manager.

A developer is just that, a developer. Many developers will not even come close to claiming that they also have impeccable project management skills. From our experience, the best developers work very well with Project Managers - making sure that they understand their deadlines and priorities. When you have to develop AND set your deadlines and priorities, it gets a bit dicey. Are there developers out there who can project manage themselves perfectly? YES! Of course. It’s just not commonplace.

#3. Your developer friend needs process.

Developers are amazing people, but not everyone can be good at engineering solid development workflows and processes. Using code repositories, creating code that can easily be worked on by other developers, and creating detailed sprint plans is not something that everyone is good at. However, setting up sprints and executing upon your processes means that you will stay on schedule and on budget, which is a BIG complaint about failed projects that we’ve heard from a lot of our clients. To build a schedule that prioritizes the most important features, and sticking to it takes incredible skill - and that has nothing to do with coding.

#4. Your developer only knows one framework.

Almost all freelance code wranglers that I know have a preferred framework that they use, and they generally stick to what they know. Sometimes, what they know isn’t what is best for your company. For instance, at NerdyMind, we are well-versed in WordPress, Laravel, ExpressionEngine, Craft CMS, and more. We will listen to a client’s project requirements and then pair them up with a framework that will match their needs properly. If your friend is hacking away at a codebase to make it work for your project when there is something better out there that would work out of the box, you’re losing money. Worst yet? You’re going to get yourself an unstable and hard to maintain end product.

#5. Your developer friend is working alone.

The greatest developers in the world are the ones who want to collaborate and learn from other developers. Many independent developers stay in their own little world - getting used to what they know and not traveling outside of that special comfort zone. When you have more than one developer on staff, it’s amazing how much more they can learn and advance with collaboration. Having an in-house development TEAM is a truly powerful force, especially when they are encouraged to research new technologies and stay up-to-date on all of the latest methods, philosophies, and tools out there.

There you have it folks! Web development and app development are nuanced and complex service offerings that go beyond just finding someone with the programming skills to get it done. Finding the right team to execute upon your idea is incredibly imperative to the success of your end product, so we hope you learned something if you made it this far!

On the other side of things, by sharing the complaints that we have heard from our clients we are hoping to help independent developers as well. We want this to be the best industry in the world, and perhaps this article will guide some independent developers to build more process, get educated on professional project management methodologies, and start moving on some monthly traffic management.