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Let’s face it, in today’s digital world, your investment in your “digital storefront” is likely to be your biggest expense and your most important marketing portal for capturing new leads and customers.  But many of us are not developers -- and even with a technical background, tools and resources change so frequently, it is difficult to truly be knowledgeable.

So how do you get the best developer or technology firm for your company?  Here are 7 steps to help you increase your chances for success:

1. Be very clear in your business goals. 

Rather than assuming a specific programming language or application, state the goals of the technology project and of your business.  Talk in terms of inputs (visitors, customers, data) and outputs (reports, sales, leads).  This will help all of you stay focused on the real objective rather than tech tools for the sake of tech tools.

2. State budget in terms of expected ROI. 

You are investing in this technology as a way to save expenses for you and your staff, attract more leads, convert more leads or retain more customers.  Think through your expectations and their impact on your business and then put a number to that.  This will help you in weighing what it is “worth” to you and serve as a record so you get smarter on the returns you obtain over time.

3. Solicit candidates through trusted referral networks. 

Although there are many great websites and recruitment firms that help give you candidates, it is best to start with your referral networks such as entrepreneurial groups, Twitter, LinkedIn Connections, etc.  Make sure that all referrals are from people who have had a direct experience with the developer resource. 

4. Start with 30-minute interviews of the candidate pool: 

Credentials and expertise are only part of the equation.  Often you most need to know that your selection has good communication skills, gets your business and can deliver on time.  Send each candidate your goals doc above and ask for a general conversation to discuss.  See how they handle your problem and their process.  Also ask for any examples or referrals on similar projects they have worked on.

5. Check out references:

Call references and ask them for specific feedback on the pros and cons of their time with the individual or firm.  Also ask for the results they expected and those they received.

6. Start with a small project or “try-out” with the final 3-5 candidates: 

Agree to pay a reasonable amount for a small, related project.  This will give you the best feel for the questions asked, the speed of return and the quality of the work.

7. Design a contract based on the goals and ROI of your business: 

In order to make sure you are all focused on mutual success, have a contract based on key milestones and expected outcomes.  Also ensure there are escape clauses so you can get out if things do not go well and pay only a portion of the fee.

Where have things gone very well (or not) in your technical resource selection process?  Share in the Comments section below.

About the Author(s)

Jeanne Rossomme headshot

Jeanne uses her 20 years of marketing know-how to help small business owners reach their goals. Before becoming an entrepreneur, she held a variety of marketing positions with DuPont and General Electric. Jeanne regularly hosts online webinars and workshops in both English and Spanish.

President, RoadMap Marketing