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4 tips to choose a development partner

Given the work that we do at Bonanza, offering design and branding services, we have to rely on external partners for the implementation.

At the inception, we refused to take responsibility for the implementation because we didn’t have the technological capacity in-house. We would hand over the designs to the client and the client would either develop it internally or hire another development agency.

However, we soon came to the realization that we have to bridge this gap for the following reasons:

First: the quality of result and the Lost-in-Translation phenomenon

We often received the final link to the product, and we would see the implementation was deviating from the design. Lost-in-Translation phenomenon often occurs when the creator does not oversee the implementation, and the developers have no choice but to guess what the creators meant. This way of development often ends up in producing subquality work that satisfies no party.

We even tried to oversee the development of the external agency brought in by the company. However, this was not a successful attempt either because ultimately the development agency doesn’t have a contract with you, and consequently, you’d have less control in managing the final quality of the outputs.

Second: Client’s convenience and the dilemma of one does it all

An irrefutable fact: you’re in a service industry, customer satisfaction/convenience is all that matters. Period.

Clients often prefer to work with one agency that does everything than with few agencies that each does a particular thing. It makes sense!

Lost opportunity!

An agency which fails to adapt to meet the needs of the client end-to-end will fail to close the client. They have to stick to the portion of clients which precisely seeks specialized services.

At Bonanza, we didn’t want to compromise our focus on design and branding services, but simultaneously we could sympathize with our clients’ need. Our solution was to find external development partners who excel at delivering quality work while meeting the agreed timeframe.

Makes sense. Not easy though!
Our first guess was we could find such a partner quickly. We were wrong! Here is the list of our learnings in our attempt to find the right external partner.

1. Don’t work with individuals

a) You can work with individuals if your project is NOT time-sensitive.

b) An individual often lacks rigid and defined processes. They’re not an organization after all.

Here’s the point of conflict: An organization with defined processes meeting an entity with imprecise workflows – Order meets chaos. This encounter would put pressure on each party, and each has to adapt to the procedures of the other which is highly unlikely.

c) An individual lacks scalable capacity both regarding time and technology.

Time wise, it’s not feasible to negotiate the deadline. After all, you are dealing with a person (8hrs/day). Had you rushed to launch, what would you do then?

Technology-wise, what if the project requires mastering different languages?

2. Make sure a team is assigned to your project

A team must include a project manager(s) and developers. The role of a project manager is often underestimated. They’re crucial to the success of any enterprise. They act as the proxy between client and developers and they manage the expectations in a way that developers can put their energy and time into the development.

For large scale projects, besides developers, your external team must include a project lead, a dev lead, and an operation manager.

3. Fixed price over hourly

The hourly agreement is tricky and not reliable. If an organization is skilled at delivering a service, they must know their price. A function contains a set of milestones, and it must be clear to any service agency to know how much work is needed to accomplish each milestone.

Don’t trust an agency that cannot offer you a fixed price unless your project is one of a kind such as developing a new language which can replace Javascript. For this kind of projects, it makes sense to go with an hourly rate because the nature of the project requires hours of venturing out into the unknown.

4. Be exact at macro-specification

You probably don’t know so much about the technicality of the development. However, you should know what you need. For example, if you want to launch your marketing website, you need to know the answer to these questions:

– Does your enterprise need a blog?
– Are you going to provide exclusive offers?
– Are you going to have email newsletters?
– Are you selling a product? Is it a one-time purchase or is it subscription based?
– Do you offer events as part of your knowledge-based programs?
– Do you operate in several languages?
– Do you have several terms of agreement for each country that you are operating in?
– Is the kind of service/product you are offering requires a live chat with customers?

All in all, there’s no guarantee to find the right partner in short notice. Dare to explore, test few agencies and make sure the one you sign up will precisely meet the needs and values of your enterprise.

About Bonanza Design

We’re a creative studio based in Berlin and our clients span from industry leaders to promising startups. Engaging in a business relationship with a development partner implies thinking globally from the get-go but also requires channelling. From experience, we observed that clients abound with creative energy about their ventures but often lack the appropriate guidance to carry them over. Learning how to develop this kind of critical thinking is a continuous and essential process. Feel free to discuss with us if this article resonates with you to some extent.