How Companies Can Tell They’ve Outgrown Their Single Developer
In the beginning, many companies and entrepreneurs start their journey by hiring a freelance developer to help them bring their vision to life. Whether you were dreaming of an app or just needed to create a dynamic and exciting website, your first developer was the person who helped you bring your vision to life.
Dec 2020 - 4 minutes read
However, as your company grows and begins to expand, you may soon be faced with a choice: stay with your single freelance developer and work within the confines of their abilities or start looking for a larger development company that can handle your growth.
How will you know when that time has come?
5 Signs You’ve Outgrown Your Freelance Developer
Sometimes, the choice is obvious, but other times it can be difficult to know when it’s time to expand. If you’ve only ever known one system, inefficiencies and potential problems can be difficult to spot. However, just because you don’t see them doesn’t mean they aren’t making you vulnerable and putting your company at risk.
Today, we’ll talk about how companies can tell when they’ve outgrown their single developer, and what they should do when they’ve realized it’s time to move on.
Growth is slow
Has your company’s growth stalled or stopped completely because your app or website can’t keep up with demand? If there are bugs in your app, or your website is creaky and showing its age, it can hamstring a growing company.
Freelance developers who are just getting called in to do periodic maintenance, or are grinding on your project alone day after day are likely not doing their best work. Working alone or jumping into this work periodically are both terrible situations for any developer. It’s hard to maintain any kind of momentum, and often even the most dedicated developers give in to the temptation to do the absolute bare minimum before moving on.
Communication and project management have become your job
Unless you’ve found a unicorn, the average freelance developer isn’t a great project manager. Nor should they be. Chances are they pursued a freelance career because they valued their independence, and aren’t going to be thrilled to be treated as an employee.
For best results, a freelance developer should be giving your development work their sole focus. After all, that’s the expertise you hired them for.
However, as your project gets larger, it will need some management support. If you’re working with a freelancer, chances are you will end up being the person doing all this project management work.
If you’re not willing or able to take on this work, you may need to think about hiring an agency that can provide project management services in-house.
You don’t have a back-up plan if your developer gets hit by a car
Do you lie awake at night wondering what would happen to your company if your single developer got hit by a car? You’re not alone. Any company that relies on a single person for their development is taking on a huge amount of risk. Accidents can happen at any time, and if you don’t have anyone else who knows how to do what they do, it puts the survival and success of your company in jeopardy.
Good development agencies have contingency plans in place for situations like these, and will have a roster of team members who can step in and take control if something happens to one of their colleagues. If your company is too big to rely on one single person, you may want to start thinking about enlisting the help of an agency.
Problem-solving and innovating is time-consuming
Any developer will tell you that their profession is both an art and a science. It can be incredibly challenging for even the most talented developer to work alone. Solving problems and innovating new ideas is a lot easier when you have someone to talk over ideas with, who can challenge your assumptions and push you to do better.
A solo developer working alone doesn’t have any of these supports, and as a result may take longer to solve problems and roll out new innovations. If you’ve noticed that it’s taking longer and longer for your developer to solve problems and implement new solutions, they’re either stagnating or have reached the limit of their skills. Either way, it’s time for your company to move on.
You’re making compromises
One of the best aspects of development is how it can rise to meet any challenge. Coming up with a solution might take a long time, but eventually, you can get there.
If your freelance developer is continually advising you to make compromises, take shortcuts, or cut back on your requests, it’s probably because they don’t know what to do, or can’t handle the workload. Before you compromise on your vision, get in touch with an agency and get a second opinion.
Moving Forward from Your Single Developer
The best way to move on from your single developer is to do so respectfully and honestly. Don’t undercut them by bringing in a company behind their back and without their knowledge. Instead, have a direct and straightforward conversation (preferably in person), where you lay out your growing needs, and explain why you think it’s time for the company to move on from their services.
If they’re a professional, they’ll see that they aren’t able to handle your needs anymore. To help maintain a cordial relationship, you can offer to write them a letter of recommendation, or put a post on their LinkedIn wall vouching for their skills.
To keep things running smoothly, try to ensure that there’s enough time for your freelancer to sit down with the incoming agency, so they can turn over any company assets that they’ve been safeguarding, like the GitHub account and all the administrator passwords.
Moving on from your freelance or solo developer might seem stressful, but remember: it’s a sign of positive change and growth. Don’t be apologetic for your success.