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Maybe It’s Time To Fire Your Developers

Have you been working on a product for what seems ages and still haven’t been able to launch? If this is you, read on because maybe it’s time to fire your developers.

On a typical week, I take about 3 or 4 calls from potential customers who have been working for many, many months (or years) on a product they have yet to ship.

Actually it may be more calls than that. Stepping up, owning and shipping a product that another team had in their hands has turned into Ideaware’s biggest source of clients & revenue.

The problem when a product doesn’t ship boils down to one of three scenarios: a bad design/prototype, lack of process or an inadequate development team.

Out of these 3 scenarios, an inadequate development team is the one I see the most. Consequently, it is the one I help most of my clients with.

I usually ask a few questions before hand:

Where did you find your developers?

You can find great (and terrible) developers in almost any country in the world. All you have yo do is jump on sites like upwork and toptal and you are good to go.

Did you hire freelancers or a team?

Developing a product is not an easy task an requires a lot of experience an project management. My recommendation is simple:

If you are building a small, quick prototype an experienced freelance developer will suffice.

If you want to ship a large product you need a full time team. There is no other way around it. Whether the team is in-house or remote, you will get better results from having a team working from a single location.

Someone needs to really own the product and be accountable.

Have you doubted your product’s launch or success?

Have you ever had a point where after months of development, money spend paying the developers you still have nothing to ship? Even worse, there is no clear launch date on the horizon.

And then you start thinking:

When will I be able to launch & make money?

Is software development really that hard?

Am I getting screwed over by the developers?

Why aren’t they building what we told them to?

By this point it should start to become clear whether you have the right team in place or not.

But I always like to dig in deeper and find the real pain points. Which leads me to a small list of things to watch out for. If you feel you are identified with any of these, time to fix or fire.

5 signs of a bad development team (or process)

  1. There is no established development process (scrum/agile, waterfal?) — it should be very transparent to all stakeholders what the process is.
  2. You are considered QA(Quality Assurance) — a bad development team will repeatedly send you buggy releases for you to review.
  3. Releases are always late — not a single sprint is delivered on time. While some delays are OK, consistency is key.
  4. No roadmap — playing it by ear or as you go will get you knowhere when developing software.
  5. No design-driven development — a great user experience is cornerstone for a succesful digital product. If your team handles design as an afterthought you are setting the product up for failure.

Fix or Fire

Every situation is different. Sometimes teams just need direction, sometimes the entire team is not efficient. My recommended approach is simple: give your current team direction, plan a sprint or two, if the product and process does not start shaping up, it’s time to fire.

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