How to choose a technical partner when you don’t have any technical skills

Marius Vetrici PhD
CEO wpriders
May 4, 2020

Don’t Let This Be a School Project

I hate school projects. Don’t you?

Teachers always told us in school that doing a group project is supposed to teach you team-work and responsibility, but that’s not really the case, is it? Especially when you are paired with somebody you don’t really know.

Now I’m not really sure how group projects went for you, but for me, they kinda went like this:

  1. We got assigned the topic.
  2. We split the responsibilities equally.
  3. Everything goes well and it seems like everybody is doing their share.
  4. But then somebody drops out of the project… one day before the presentation.
  5. The rest of us have to pull an all-nighter to get the work done.
  6. We all get an A. Yay.

Now you must be thinking: ‘Oh come on, it can’t be that bad!’ Well, what would you think if your partner walked out on your project during the actual presentation? No kidding, this actually happened. I had a guy in my group walk out of the classroom while I was presenting my part. Time just stopped for a moment as we all watched him leave.

At this point you might be asking yourself; ‘Okay that seems horrible, but what does this have to do with picking a technical partner for your business?’ Well, if your developer walks out in the middle of the project you’d probably feel just like if your teammate walks out during the school project presentation. Obviously, we want to avoid that, so let’s look into how you can make sure you choose the right partner.

Finding the Needle in the Haystack

Okay, so unlike school projects, you can actually pick the people that you are going to work with. Which is great, but who are you going to pick, and based on what criteria are you making your selection?

Now, if you are a non-technical founder, then, you’re probably having a hard time finding a technical person that you could rely on. And we don’t blame you! Finding a technical partner when you don’t have any knowledge of technical aspects is like being sent to buy clothing for somebody you don’t even know. You don’t know what you’re looking for, you don’t know what features the item you’re purchasing needs to have. But still, you need to make that purchase.

So what’s the first thing you do? You turn to google. You start your search on listing websites like Clutch or GoodFirms and maybe you throw an eye on social media forums to see what you can find there as well. You think you finally found something on budget freelancing platforms, only to discover that the freelancer can’t deliver an MVP for $300.

But Google has to offer other options. In fact, it’s giving you too many options! It’s confusing and overwhelming when there are so many developers and agencies out there, but I have some tricks in our sleeve that will teach you how to make the right choice.

Why Your Friends Are Not A Good Option

Okay, let’s go back to the group projects for a second. Maybe you were one of the lucky ones in school and you could actually choose your partners for the group project. And who did you go with? I can probably tell you right now that you chose your friends. Now I’m not saying this is necessarily wrong… but it isn’t right either.

Now before you get all riled up, let me tell you why. When you work with somebody close to you, it might be harder to be objective and critical. You’d rather just let things slide than get in an argument or in a debate, and while that’s understandable, it’s not okay.

So you have to pick somebody you don’t know, but who’s trustworthy!

Wait what? How can she/he be worthy of my trust if I don’t know them?

Remember when I told you about the guy who walked out on me during our presentation? Trust me, you never want to be in that position. So what can you do to avoid it? You do your research and find somebody reliable. And because I want to make things easier for you, here’s a checklist that can help you out when making a decision.

The Ultimate Checklist for Choosing a Technical Partner for Your Online Project

Here’s our 7-point checklist for choosing a technical partner for your future website

  1. Freelancers vs. Agencies. Agencies will usually have backup developers in case of need, while a freelancer might get hired full-time, get sick, or simply disappear.
  2. Look at their past similar work.
  3. Check the number of completed projects. Having a large and successful project history is a sign of a reliable agency or freelancer.
  4. Check the reviews they got from past clients.
  5. Interview their clients. Here a few of you might frown and say: ‘What do you mean, interview their clients?’ Seems like a hassle, but you can get direct information regarding how they perform business, and more importantly, the quality of their service.
  6. This might be the most important point yet. Ready for it? Trust your gut feeling. Try scheduling a short 15-minute meeting and see what your impressions are after the meeting. Here are some things that you can look out for.
    • Can you understand each other?
    • Are the language skills good enough?
    • Are they reflecting back on what you’ve told them to ensure that there are no misunderstandings?
    • Are they involved in the conversation?
    • Do they come on time for the meeting?
    • Is there an agenda for the meeting?
    • How many people are in the agency?
    • Are they full-time?
    • Are the contractors paid per project or paid fixed salaries?
  7. Run a small trial project.
    • Ask for a quote first. Does the quote contain a detailed itemized list of features or just a grand total?
    • Does the quote contain a written Scope of Work that would reflect back what you’ve asked? Or it’s a vague thing.
    • Look at the big picture – was the project delivered on time and on a budget?
    • Did you get the big picture? Good, now take a look at the small details, like the alignment of the buttons, of the images, etc.
    • Are you inside or outside of the loop? Do you get regular updates or meetings?
    • Hire a third party to review their code. What? Spend even more money? Seeing that this is the very first project, it’s best practice to have another expert take a look at the work and see if everything is working how it should.

If you are building a website or an online platform, you definitely need a reliable technical partner by your side. But what if you’ve already found the partner, you started working with them, and then things went south. If this ever happens to you, then you should check out our ‘How to overcome 2 of the hardest moments in working with a WordPress agency and get better results’ article.

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