By Vadim Kondratiev, Head of Sales at Anadea Inc
When a project owner seeks for a software development company, they often mention in their inquiries that they want to deal with a very professional developer. They want their project to be cared of properly.
But what kind of service do they actually want their developers to provide? What is the difference between a professional and an amateur attitude? What does it actually mean to be a professional in any area?
In the past, I used to ponder over things that make someone a professional. There were many people – for example, in sport – who looked similar, had the same equipment and performed the same movements. But their results were pretty much different.
The audience thinks that the result depends on the talent, but it is not necessarily true. The highest professional level is not always about talent, not always about a special “secret” skill and it is definitely not about luck.
A few years ago I was looking to buy an electric guitar and tried to understand the difference between a cheap guitar and an expensive one. They looked about the same, but I assumed that there should be a special component that could raise up the price from $200 to $3,500. Eventually, I found the answer while watching some videos of Paul Reed Smith – one of the most famous luthiers in the world.
Whether he said that explicitly or I figured it out myself from his narration – but there was no special component that could do the magic. The desired result could be achieved by applying dozens of patterns and tricks during the manufacturing process. Those tricks could refer to really small things – selection of wood, glue and fretwire, sequence of procedures, etc. – and look minor when separated from other ones.
However, they could bring in real magic when applied altogether.
I did not buy a PRS guitar that time because they were too expensive, but I understood what formed the price of a good product and carried the analogy over to professionals in other areas.
Professional software developers.
When you deal with a software development company, here is a brief list of questions you can ask yourself to see if they are professional enough.
- Do they invite you to their calls and meetings? Do they communicate clearly?
- Can they get into your shoes and see things from the business perspective?
- Do they understand your problem? Do they actually aim at solving YOUR problem?
- Do they prepare a development plan? Do they follow it?
- Do they track their activities? Do they send reports about the work done?
- Do they take into consideration your budget or time limitations?
- Do they analyze your feedback? How do they change the plan after the feedback is processed?
- Are they flexible when you ask them to change the workflow in the project?
- Do they have enough courage to tell you about bottlenecks and weak spots in the project?
- Are their estimates predictable?
- Do they have an automated/manual testing procedure?
There are some other questions you can ask, but you got the idea, didn’t you? You may have noticed that I did not propose any technical questions. I do not think that these are necessary to determine the expertise of a development camp. But if you would like to put their technical skills to the test, you may ask them what they think about the most popular technologies and how they feel about switching among them. Their answer can explain a lot to someone who understands the technical stuff.
Professional project owner.
But do not let us limit ourselves to professionalism of software developers. I would like to encourage you to examine yourself and see how professional you are as a project owner. Here are some questions you can ask yourself.
- Do I take a call eagerly? Do I communicate closely?
- Do I discuss my business goals with the development camp?
- Do I care if my problem is understood properly? Do I check if the developers have all the answers?
- Do I review the development plan and tell the engineers my preferences in what I would like to see next?
- How quick am I when it comes to accepting the work done and providing feedback?
- Do I test the new features personally? How clearly do I explain my impression to the engineers?
- What do I do when a bottleneck or a weak spot is discovered? How do I respond to proposals to refine the workflow in the project?
- Am I flexible when it comes to making decisions and adjusting the application logic?
- Do I read reports of the development camp thoroughly?
As you can see, there are many aspects that depend on the project owner’s professionalism. The development camp and the project owner both contribute to the right result.
What if you have discovered a gap in the expertise of developers? Or probably in your experience?
The agile approach recommends that you determine the biggest problem and solve it. Then move to the second biggest problem and repeat the procedure. This way, you can gradually increase the quality level of your project to the highest one possible.
I hope, it will lead you to getting a high-profile project and winning in the market.
Vadim Kondratiev, Head of Sales at Anadea Inc. Vadim is an experienced IT sales and client relations executive with a profound knowledge in managing outsourced software development projects.