Trying to find the right person or development firm for your project, can be an exhausting task at times. You know how to run your own business but you are not the expert in building a website or wrapping a marketing campaign around it. You just know you need it. You know nothing about SEO or branding or how it even helps. You may have heard the industry buzz words but when investing your money into a new venture, you need more than that. You need a firm that you can trust. You need to find the right person.
There are a lot of free lance websites out there where you can find someone to build your website, your marketing campaign or create a design...Elance.com and Rent-A-Coder are but two of the top ones. However, how do you know that you can trust anyone? With sites likes these you can only enter your request, its requirements and wait for the bids to come in. But that's not the problem. The problem is that you really do not know who you are dealing with it. You cannot attest to their professionalism, skill level or honesty. I have seen many discontented people rant in forums and express their feeling of being taken by some offshore development house who never had any intention of "pleasing their customer". So what can you do to protect yourself? Short of hiring an assessment firm....like a consumer reports...you can ask a few probing questions and try to find out a few things.
- Do they offer support - Any honest firm with care about their customer. They will be there when needed and they will stand by their work.
- How fast do they respond - Professional firms will have policies in place to make sure that questions from their customers get answered as quickly as possible.
- Will they refer you to previous clients - If they do good work they will be proud of it and should be willing to refer you to previous customers to get a reference or they should even have an online portfolio that they can refer you to.
- Good communication skills – With this I don’t mean excellent native speaking and writing skills that can be compared to classical writers and poets. I’m talking about being able to explain to you their proposal, updating you with progress reports, and explaining to you why this can’t be done or why they think something would make a great feature to the project. Communication is vital to the success of a freelancer and truth be told, a lot of clients do appreciate being updated and informed.
- Is there documentation professional - From proposals, to specifications, statements of work, to software documentation and even use cases and invoices, make sure they all exists as part of the firms process and is professional.
- Are they honest - There should be no hidden charges or fees or any functionality developed without your written authorization.
These are just a few things that you should look into. My point is to do you due diligence and find out everything that you can about any potential developers who are about to do work for you.
I have heard through the grapevine that there are a group of organizations in the industry who are thinking about collaborating to build a consumer reports like entity that will serve as a central hub for people to be able to run a background check on a firm and get as much info on that firm as possible. They will be an expert, independent, technical organization whose mission would be to work for a fair, just, and safe marketplace for all consumers and to empower consumers to protect themselves when making hiring decisions. We will see what happens as the weeks go by as it relates to this I guess