Article written for non-tech founders who need to hire and manage developers. Looking for quotes from non-tech and tech founders. Publishing next 2 weeks. Contact Emma House (co-author) and Christie Whitehill (founder Tech Ready Program).

Comments

Josh
16 days ago

UX Strategy, Co-founder of UX Moshpit (uxmoshpit.com)

Many people have great ideas, execution is everything. Before you even think about development, immerse yourself in the subject, understand the problem you’re trying to solve (WHAT) and WHY you’re solving it. Then WHO are you solving it for, understanding your user is key. Find them, talk to them, get to know their needs (User Research).

Then get some users into a room with your team and run a workshop, “co-design” a draft version, which means get everyone to sketch how they see the solution. Wireframe it and create a paper prototype in front of more users and incorporate their feedback. UX Design is not about design If you’re thinking of having in-house developers, get them into the room too. it gives them ownership over the product and saves time in the long-run. Also, UX Design is not about design.

Andrei Anisimov, Founder of TechStarted (http://techstarted.com/)

I'm an experienced software developer and have been a CTO of a startup. There are the following items that are important to have a successful development project:

  1. Somebody on your side with strong technical skills - a technical mentor. From my experience, going into a dev project with zero technical knowledge and nobody to advise you is akin to playing a lottery. The person doesn't have to be a full-time member of your team, a couple hours a week should suffice to select the right technology stack, review the code, potentially interview candidates.

  2. If you hire consultants or go offshore - do your homework before hiring. Many founders are eager to dive right into the development. However, the development is actually the last stage in the Idea -> Strategy -> UX -> Design -> Development pipeline. In my view, bundling all these into a single service to be executed by a single provider is a bad idea and is an example of "management by abdication". Instead, you want to own each step of the pipeline and work with corresponding professionals to complete each step. Move to development only when you actually know what to build.

  3. It is important to break your application into smaller milestones/modules/iterations of up to 1 month long. Treat each as a separate project in terms of deliverables, payments and testing. This allows to reduce risks significantly and discover problems early. Require daily code commits and at least weekly staging server/TestFlight updates to review the progress.

  4. Fire fast if things don't work out. Unlike SEO or marketing, where results can take several months, if software projects doesn't go well within the first month it is unlikely that it will magically improve later. This is another reason why it is important to break the project into milestones and have the first deliverable within 1 month from start.

Hope this helps.

Thanks Andrei, this is excellent. Firing fast is a good strategy, otherwise what they do could take a long time to fix.

Paul Towers Founder & CEO Task Pigeon (http://www.taskpigeon.co)

I am a 3 x Entrepreneur and non-technical founder of a task management startup called Task Pigeon. Here's what I learnt through the process:

There are three critical things that I recommend all non-technical founders do when looking to hire and manage developers. First of all you need to learn "their language". I'm not suggesting you need to become a fully fledged developer, but at the very least completing some entry level courses on HTML, CSS and Javascript will help you understand the process that goes into coding/developing an application or website.

Secondly, you have to admit that this is outside your area of expertise. You don't know who the best person for the job is, or what the best technologies/coding languages are to use. In my instance, I reached out to my network in the Sydney startup scene and was put in touch with a Senior Developer from a coding academy. He helped guide me on what to look for, and even reviewed the proposals/resumes of developers I was speaking to.

Finally, I firmly believe that practice trumps theory. I have met some Computer Science grads who are expert coders, and others who aren't. Regardless of the persons background or academic success getting them to start with small test projects (if outsourcing) is best. If it's an internal hire then there are a number of online applications that allow you to put together coding tests. This will give you some valuable insight into just how good they are at what they say they can do.

Thank You Paul, this is an excellent submission. We will link to your platform, publishing this month on Tech Ready Program authored by Emma House.