By Adam Temple, Founder/CEO of Bixly
If you are new to the programming scene, it’s best I give you the wakeup call now: It’s expensive. It’s not like standardized professional work (like installing a garage door or building a house). Those are tasks of repetition, not pure knowledge work. Programming is the opposite. The only reason you want to engage a programmer is to build your web application or desktop application in a way that no one else has, right?
FUN AT FIRST, BUT NOT FOR LONG
At the outset, people normally look for the cheapest programmers/developers possible. They scour the Web for companies in India or Pakistan and pay a ridiculously low price to start their project via O-desk or the like. This is fun. I have done it before. However, something slowly starts to happen. After the initial excitement of learning that your programmer knows more than you and after seeing your very own lines of code (I own them!), the excitement slows down. Deadlines are missed for reasons that the programmer will deny. You don’t want to make him mad (he has the code also) so you try to work with him. You’re still having fun because you are patient and you think it can be turned around.
Then, the second developer you bring on says it needs to be rewritten.
CHEAP CODE = YOUR PAIN
If that’s happened to you, you also ended up learning a very important lesson the hard way: working with messy code is like unraveling a tub of tangled fishing line. No one wants to do it. We won’t do it. Your new developers won’t do it. It’s best not to write it in the first place. In other words, cheap code is worse than no code at all: it doesn’t work, and it cost you a ton of cash.
It’s very easy to go on actually. You might graduate up the line with a more expensive developer, thinking the amount you pay is in direct correlation to the value they will provide for you. But in the end you give up because the money you once had has ran out, and your spouse, boss, or partners don’t trust you with their cash anymore.
WORDS TO THE WISE
After my own bout of trial and error with the above process, I did happen to run into a small group of programmers that were great, which is really unlikely. Their cost was low, but their talent and professionalism was high. So, I worked with them for over a year to get my first major tech project off the ground. Well, second. The first project I hacked together mostly myself, but that was a dark time. It didn’t end well, though. I was a newbie product manager, and the team couldn’t scale to meet the development needs. Also, they didn’t council me towards actually delivering my project, which is something we always do. Then, after the project was slowing down, the company I was working with collapsed. They didn’t have the business structure to deal with ups and downs.
UNLIKELY START OF A GOOD THING
Once that experience was over I left the company. I was now in to start….. a programming company! It wasn’t something I saw myself doing really, but it just happened, and then it kept happening. I took some of those same developers I had worked with originally to start Bixly. I knew I could give them the structure and scalability they couldn’t achieve on their own. Plus, the industry needed a company like ours: low prices, out of the way business structure, and great developers. We call it Prolancing, a mix between freelancing and large consulting firms. By adding accountability, structure, and training, we grew like a wildfire.
Please, let us reason together. I am not pitching you right now. I am drinking a cold one with you at the local bar and want to dispense good advice. If you choose to use my company or not, I will still be happy, and we both will move on. At the very least we will have a good drink.
So my advice is first of all to do it. Do your project, read up and do your homework about development. Please, learn about Agile methodologies. Then, find yourself a good company that has programmers that are tested and trained to provide quality development. That’s what we endeavor to do in each line of code. Ultimately, whether you use Bixly or not, doing your homework and knowing what to expect can mean the success or failure of your project.
To Your Success,
Adam Temple, CEO of Bixly