How to Prepare For Your Next Development Project
If you’re making an investment in a new website or development project, you’ll need to choose your development partner wisely.
May 2019 - 4 minutes read
For many small business owners or managers, this process intimidates them because they feel that they don’t have enough technical knowledge to ask for what they need. This guide for preparing for your next development project should help you feel more confident, and give you the tools that you’ll need to pick a qualified development company that can execute your vision.
Determine Your Goals
The first step in the process of preparing for a new development project is determining your goals. Building a website or an ecommerce platform can take your business to the next level, so it’s worth starting slowly and defining your needs clearly. You should also be thinking about where you want to take your business in the next few years- a good website or eCommerce platform will grow with your business, but only if you make those decisions now. Cutting corners at the beginning can lead to larger problems down the road if your website only takes your short-term goals into account.
You should also make an effort to calculate a budget for this critical project. A good partner company offers both value and expertise, but you should be aware that the technical knowledge needed to build a project that’s functional and well-designed will require an investment. Setting a budget down before you begin will allow you to pick the right company and will tell you how many extra features you should expect.
What Level of Support Do You Need?
Once you’ve determined what your development needs are, the next step is figuring out what type of long-term support will benefit your company the most. Some businesses have in-house technical support, and only outsource the initial creation of their website. Other people choose to focus their expertise in areas of their business where they’re more comfortable, and partner with a company that can provide technical support even after their website is complete. Regardless of which choice you make, it’s important to work this out in advance, so you can pick a company that offers support if you need it.
Research Web Development Companies
When you’re starting to research web development companies, you can start to get a sense of their work through their own websites, and their portfolios, if they have one publicly available. A good development company will show off their skills in a website that’s well designed and easy to use. Picking a development company that has experience in your industry is helpful, as they’ll be more familiar with your needs, and will be able to help recommend solutions using their past experience as a guide.
Set Up Interviews and Ask About Their Team
After you’ve found a few web development companies with work that interests you, set up screening interviews. Ideally, you’ll be able to meet the staff that will be working on your project face-to-face, or via video chat. If you’re working with a company that’s eager to talk to you, either of these options will work. There are some companies that are composed of a local salesperson, with the actual developers located overseas. Regardless of which type of company you choose, it will only help your partnership if you know about their structure in advance. Choosing a company with in-house developers will typically provide better communication, and offer a wider spectrum of expertise.
The interview process is a great time to talk about their company structure, and ask questions about their process. A good partner company will be able to share their wisdom while still using terms that any layman can understand. They should be excited about their work, and eager for the challenge of working on your project. During the interview, if they’re not asking lots of questions, it’s a sign that they may not have the expertise necessary to take on this project.
If you haven’t yet determined which programming language and content management system (CMS) you’d like to use for your web development project, now is the time to discuss that. Most companies will specialize in one or two languages, and during the interview they should be able to discuss why they feel like that language offers the most advantages to your project.
A good sign is when a company representative is able to discuss the merits of your project with you, and doesn’t just tell you exactly what you want to hear. The end goal should be executing your vision, but doing that will require that they use their technical expertise. Consequently, you should listen when they give feedback, and prepare to take their advice since it’s based on their years of experience and expertise.
After the interview process, you should feel confident that you’ve found the right partner. Don’t just pick the company that’s telling you exactly what you want to hear. This unwillingness to give you essential feedback will only lead to communication issues that will delay or even derail your development project.
Once you’ve selected a company, this is the time to hammer out all the final details before the contracts are put into place. A great development company will ask tons of questions about the project before they even give you a quote. At this time, work out a tentative project schedule, including set times for deliverables and feedback. The scope of the project should be clear, and both sides should be satisfied with the agreement. Even if you don’t plan on using extra hours, make sure you know what their hourly rates are should you require any work that isn’t covered by the scope of the original agreement.
Communication is the key to any successful web development project. At SimplyPHP, each of our dedicated developer teams is headed up by a project coordinator, who is the primary point of contact for each client. They’re responsible for maintaining clear communication between the client and their team throughout the project. Many companies rely on technology tools like Slack, Zoom, or WhatsApp, which allow for easy communication and near-instant feedback. However, it does help to have a designated point person responsible for communication, who can monitor ongoing issues and serve as an easy point of contact for the client.
If you’re not a technically-minded person, preparing for a development project can be extremely intimidating. One thing to keep in mind is that you’re outsourcing this development project for a reason. The goal is to get skilled developers on your team so that they can use their knowledge to build the project exactly the way your business requires.
You don’t need to walk in knowing exactly what to do- a company that’s focused on shaping and executing your vision will help you get there.