Working With Developers


By this point in time, if you have not already hired a developer, you are likely going to need one soon. You’ll need someone to help with your website and perhaps build your software application.

Developers are pretty easy to find these days, but they aren’t all the same. First of all, the skill set you need for say a mobile application is likely very different than the one someone else needs for their kids’ activities scheduling software. And user interface and design is a whole other skill set. This is why it is critical to have clearly defined goals or deliverables when you meet with prospective developers. You should interview several candidates, and ask for references before hiring anyone.

When you do hire someone, please get an agreement in writing. If your developer doesn’t have a form of a written agreement, that should be a flag, though don’t be too concerned as it is not uncommon for individuals to moonlight as a development shop, or to find a young developer who may not yet have a standard written template. If this is the case, then go to your lawyer and get a written agreement drawn up.

Failure to have a clear written agreement with developers is the most frequent problem I see with early-stage companies. And one that is completely avoidable. Here are a just a few of the most common issues:

  • Timing of deliverables.
  • What is actually being delivered. (See Design Is About Input)
  • How much is paid, and when.
  • Some web development companies have fine print that says they host your website/data for a monthly fee; you don’t actually own it. (This is bad – you want to own everything that you can.)
  • How much changes/enhancements will cost, and what constitutes a change or enhancement.
  • What happens if the work is delivered late.

The work product that the developer gives to you is likely going to be the foundation of your business. It’s critical that it is delivered on schedule and that you own it. A written agreement will ensure this.

About the Author
Kevin Vela

Kevin is the managing partner at Vela Wood. He focuses his practice in the areas of M&A, venture financing, fund representation, and gaming law.

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