I recently heard two stories about bad development teams. They are both full of heartache and woe, but they both provide some valuable insight for the business owner about to embark on their first software venture.
The first story involves a person working full-time and launching a business after hours. Their product went through several versions and was well received. At some point, the owner decided to switch development teams and opted to go offshore. The business owner went from spending a few hours a week working with the first team to two or three hours per day on the phone clarifying issues and demanding fixes to botched implementations. It was hinted by a mutual friend that he was mere months from closing his doors because of this decision to go to a cheaper and unproven team.
The second story involves a person who already owns a small business in their local community. They have a passion for connecting young adults with great entertainment in their community and decide to build a simple site to connect the entertainers with their fans. After selecting a cheap offshore group, the business owner spent 12 months trying to get 12 screens developed. None of the screens worked properly. The owner decided to fire the offshore team and locate some local talent to help. Instead of throwing away the bad work, he tried to “make the best” of a bad situation and have the local talent fix the issues. It cost the owner more time and money to do this and in the process burned out several local developers that decided not to work with the owner again. From what I know, the owner never launched the product.
Neither of these stories may be you. You may never be faced with this kind of problem. But for those that are currently faced with it, there are some tips that may help you going forward:
- Accept where you are at – there is no sense holding a grudge against the current development team. It is time to let that go and move forward
- Document the breakdowns – by writing down the issues, you can work toward preventing them with your next team selection
- Assess your status – have an independent development firm review the state of the project. Determine if there is work that can be salvaged, or if a rewrite will be required
- Select your new development team – after learning about what didn’t work, locate a new development team to perform the work. Establish some ground rules on how the process will work ahead of time, allowing for adjustments along the way as you learn how to work together
- Don’t micromanage – most developers prefer to have some room to work. Design a process that prevents the need to micromanage or “look over their shoulder”
Using these tips, you’ll likely have a much better experience and you will see a successful product launch.