Say you want to develop your project, but you still have not found a development team that you could trust. There's a lot of software, VR and AR agencies out there. Each has different skills, experience, work culture, and of course–a different location. The fact that they are somewhere on the other side of the Ural, next to the Chinese Sea or somewhere near the Crimea raises your fears. You think: "This guy works in an office in Ho Chi Minh. Will he be able to understand what my goal is and what are the nuances of running my venture?"
You need to answer yourself–who are you looking for? Do you have a complete technical specification and look for people to handle the implementation? Or do you need a partner–somebody who would join your efforts in coming up with a great and innovative product idea? In both cases pay attention to a few things that are easy to verify at the stage of preliminary talks.
How did the first conversation go? Did people you spoke with come out with the initiative? Did they show constructive and critical approach to what you say? Are you looking for a company that will support you not only executively but also conceptually? If so, make sure that you work with people who can inspire you. If at this stage you feel that you are the one who 'pulls' the subject forward–keep looking further.
The above remarks don't really apply If you have the project fully specified already. But even if you 'only' expect implementation–there is still room for a proactive approach to you as a customer. After the first conversations, do you have a general outline of how the work on the project will go? Were you informed about the company's standards, procedures et cetera? Because you should have.
Keep an eye out on any communication issues at this point. Remember that they will not resolve by themselves. Everything can be done in terms of communication, but it requires the involvement of both parties.
A good indicator of the team's approach to communication is an online presence. The lack of a website doesn't have to mean they're bad. It might as well mean that they are fully booked for the next 3 years. But let's assume they do have some kind of website or facebook profile. What to look for? Take a look at the projects they completed. Find out how much of them were made using the technology you are interested in. Try talking to their clients. Find out whether they were really satisfied - not only by the final outcome but also by day-to-day communication with the company.
Many software houses have their profiles on professionals' portals such as Clutch.co. This is a very good place to look for verified opinions, better than the website itself.
Looking at your potential partner's website, pay attention to its quality. Of course, you can assume one having a poor website because the company throws all the processing power to work on clients' projects. You can assume they will put more attention to your project than they did to theirs. However, I would not do it.
Active in social media? It's usually a good sign if team members are involved in industry forums. You will not verify their competence, but it is a sign that you will work with people who are interested in what they do.
"Let's meet. We will discuss this in half an hour instead of emailing for 3 days." How many times have you said or heard that? Now imagine you don't have this possibility.
What does this mean in practice? Small misunderstanding today might become a serious misunderstanding tomorrow. That is why you need a sort of "hygiene of communication". What does it mean?
First and obvious - both parties need to communicate precisely and comprehensively at all times.
You are going to talk a lot to each other. But it's not about quantity but about quality. Try to minimize short phone calls. You have just torn off the person on the other side from their current tasks. Do not expect that he will give you all his attention. Treat phone call as a meeting. Do you want to discuss something with your development team? Make an appointment. This way you know that your project manager will put aside all other activities, giving you full attention. "But this is my PM! He has to be at my disposal!"–you would say. Yes, but remember what he is working on–your project. Let him work efficiently!
You probably heard tons of stuff about non-verbal communication and how it's important. It's a fact you can easily observe–it's easier to chat when you see who you speak to. Therefore, it is a mistake to underestimate video conferencing. Make it your day to day tool. It might seem an obvious thing to do–but from my observation, it is often underappreciated.
Make sure that each stage of the work took place on the basis of a transparent thorough agreement. Make sure that there is documentation of what has been done and what is still to be done and when it was and will be done. Most often, this documentation would take the form of an online task tracking software–like JIRA for instance.
All the above conditions can be met only when both parties take care of them on daily basis. Expect consistency and order from your contractor, but also from yourself.
So let's ask again. Will your contractor understand your goal? Yes, if you know what to look for when choosing people to cooperate with. Yes, if you both take care of good communication practices and stick to them day after day. Success requires full commitment on both sides of the project.Back to article list