Entrepreneur - - By Andrew Neitlich

How Three Web Developers Lost a Six-Figure Project

I’m involved in a funded technology venture as one of the lead partners. Our most recent milestone was to identify a web development firm to help us design, architect, and build our application. We interviewed a bunch of web development firms, showing them our specifications, and going through an intensive set of questions/dialogue. The firms we chose to interview during this process had good track records and came highly recommended.

Guess what? No one made the final cut! Here’s why:

– None of them offered a “full solution.” In all cases, none provided all of the expertise we needed to get the job done, including QA, usability, and the full range of applications we needed. Nor did any of them take the trouble to include those functions in their estimate as sub-contractors. So we had a difficult time understanding what they would, and wouldn’t provide, and estimating the complete cost of a final product.

– None instilled the trust we needed to be confident that they would be around for revisions and improvements later on, and that if we had to switch vendors, the code would be well documented.

– None took the point of view of a strategic partner, able to brainstorm with us about strategic issues. All of them approached the project with what felt like a mercenary, task (vs. results) orientation.

– Almost none of the firms had a flexible, iterative, agile approach, the kind of approach required in a new (albeit well-funded) venture.

– The attitude of many of these firms was a bit pompous, as if they were doing us a favor by proposing for the job.

– Many of the firms were unprofessional in how they handled meetings — late, missing team members, etc.

So none of them got the work. Instead, we will manage the project ourselves, hiring individual sub-contractors to do the work. It will take us more time and effort, but save us hassle and money down the road.

Essentially, because these firms acted like vendors instead of strategic advisors that we could trust, we opted to cut them out alltogether and hire a team of independent contractors that we manage on our own.

There a lesson here somewhere for some of you….

(NOTE: PLEASE do not email me asking to bid on the project. This blog is for illustrative purposes only and not a solicitation for bids from readers who are sure they can do it better.)