Programmers Peculiarities And How To Understand Them

Programmers Peculiarities And How To Understand Them

Lack of assignment

This is the most frequently used excuse. Unfortunately, when you try to develop a website without explicitly writing down where, what, and how you want something to happen, you risk for the project to not be realized the way you want it and to delay the realization with months. The reason is clear and it is you – you have not provided a detailed technical assignment to the programmer.

This is a common excuse even if everyone is well-aware how the project in question should be realized. You should be careful because a clear technical assignment with mistakes may be realized on one-to-one basis together with the mistakes. Why? Because this is how you have described it, and even if it is logical that when pressing the ENTER button you enter the website, but you have written that pressing this button means leaving it, the website will be programmed into leaving the website before even entering it. It sounds illogical but it is right on paper.

Asking thousands of useless questions

After you have handed in a detailed technical assignment, which explains what should happen when clicking on a concrete button – how, when, where, by whom, why, and how much… and, if possible, gives examples with other similar, already realized functions, there comes the second round of the game. Many programmers and even web agency owners will deluge you with pointless questions. This is done for several purposes – to gain time, to throw the ball into your court, and possibly, if they can, to hike the price of the product.

For instance, you may want something relatively simple – an online store with products, divided into categories, a basket, and an opportunity for purchase and payment. The questions that will follow may be of the following type: how many payment methods will you use? – and if you have an answer, you will be immediately offered another one, which you have never heard of but it is very popular in Thailand; do you want a consumer behavior analysis; do you want artificial intelligence that follows the wishes of the consumers and dynamically crates products for this concrete consumer; do you want a connection with all your distributors and their own distributors to check whether it is possible to be faced with an issue during the order; do you want an option for the website to automatically change its design and turn into a banner, a running monkey or an oven, depending on the time zone, gender, and astrological sign of consumers – information obtained through a secret channel from NASA…

Sometimes the questions sound absolutely adequate but in most cases, they are offering you completely useless extras and problem solutions for something that has almost zero chance of happening. However, adding new functionalities is not so dangerous as the asking of really useless questions, which aim at confusing the client. Of course, it is supposed that you are not a programmer and respectively you are asked technical questions about some imaginary problem which the programmers suppose they have encountered when reading the assignment. To avoid a months-long delay and additional expenses on modules you do not need, you should nip this in the bud. The web studio or the programmer are rarely interested in the real success of your project. Their engagement is restricted to whether the website code fits your requirements.

What is more – the website makers know how to program them but they lack the knowledge in how to develop them, what consumers need, what their behavior and psychology are, what your marketing campaign will be. In short, they know how to make websites but not how to create a successful online project. So, leave the technical issues to them and restrain from entering into polemics on things you have no idea about. You should know that after you have seen something working well somewhere on the net, it is possible. Whether the level of the developers is high enough to achieve the set task is another question. The real developers will find a way to do it, the amateurs will use phrases like “this is impossible”, “it can’t happen”, “tell me how to do this and you will get it done”.

Unfortunately, sometimes these excuses are used not out of lack of competence but rather because of laziness, and often something that was declared impossible before noon, not only becomes possible but also achievable in about 30 minutes after the lunch break. This is the “I’ll try my luck” principle. If you know what you want and show them your idea in practice realized somewhere else, they cannot convince you that what you want requires superpowers.

Deadlines are never met

Some time ago, together with another entrepreneur, I worked on the establishment of a working process. The major problem that concerned everyone was that not a single project was finalized on time. The solution my partner offered, based on his education and practice at Stanford University, was to multiply each deadline set by a programmer by 315%. At first sight, the formula seemed terrific but it can give you a real notion of when you can get your project done. Many people plan expensive advertising campaigns in a week after the start of the project without realizing that things may not go according to schedule. In such cases the loss is huge, while the responsibility is rarely assumed by the web studio you are using because, as you already know, you have not set a concrete assignment, which is required under the contract, you have not negotiated short deadlines for the critical technical issues and, last but not least, you have accepted some of the proposals of the developers, which have not been taken into account initially and thus the whole process has been delayed.

As a matter of fact, we should acknowledge that there are programmers and web studios that meet the set deadlines. Unfortunately, they are found as often as the chemical element Thorium in pure form.

How can we avoid this? No matter what measures you take, there is no guarantee that the programmer or the web studio you hired will do their job on time. However, you can do your best to stop this from happening. Before you choose the web studio you should hire a consultant, who knows what they are doing. And I do not mean the son of your neighbor, who made the website of his father’s car repair shop, but a person, who can really consult you during the entire process of your website’s establishment – starting with the idea, going through the programming, and ending up with the development of the product online.

At this stage, the consultant can help you choose the web studio and let you make the best choice not only in terms of selecting a concrete company but also in terms of the adequacy of the prices and deadlines offered. The consultant can work out the technical assignment and thus cut the questions and risks of delays to the minimum. The expenses on the consultant are insignificant compared with the sum you are definitely going to lose if you do not choose the right company. If you still want to go through the entire process on your own, you should know certain things:

It is very likely that the most expensive offer is not the best one.

There are companies that set really high prices only because of their reputation. The last time I asked several companies to make me an offer, one of them said it would do the job for $3,000, while another – for $15,000. The difference is too big and often it makes the client think that one of the companies has not assessed the task properly and probably it will fail to handle it. In such cases, big companies choose the more expensive offer. An interesting fact is that few weeks after we started the project, I received few more offers from companies that were too busy to respond on time.

If a company does not give feedback to your inquiry on time (2 or 3 days), it probably has a serious problem with time management and this is a signal for an alert. If the company needs a couple of weeks to work out the offer, can you imagine how long project’s realization may be protracted?

A company servicing tens of popular brands is not always the safest choice.

A company that services tens or even hundreds of big clients is not always the best choice either. The reason is that the high workload of the studio hikes the prices and extends the deadlines. If you have a brilliant idea about an online business, when would you want to start it – now or in two years?

The contract with the web studio or the programmer should be worked out by a lawyer (compulsorily) and each document you exchange (functional specification, assignment, offer, indicative design, approval of the design, beta version of the website, and so on) should go along with a handing-over record with a concrete date and description. This way you can avoid a delay that can be blamed on you, if there is any, and estimate to what extent and how long the project has been delayed.

Don’t be weak-willed

If the studio misses the set deadline, you should ask for compensation. Again, the reason for this is psychological. My personal experience shows that when a project is delayed, it is delayed for an indefinite time. In other words, if the start has been planned for Monday, instead of receiving the final product on Tuesday or Wednesday, it is most likely to get it in 2-3 weeks or in a few months. This is a stage you should never enter into. The web studio has other clients, too. The programmers working on your website have other projects to work on. If one project is delayed, the delay will affect the others, too.

Sometimes there is prioritization according to the price of the project or the reputation of the client – if you have paid less or if you are a smaller and unknown company, the chances of your project being delayed at the expense of the rich and famous, become much higher. Sad but true. Thus, the moment you ascertain a delay, you should remind about the contract you have and make sure that your lawyer is available.

Most people are not used to commanding the services of a lawyer. Thay consider this an unnecessary expense, money down the drain. This motto is valid until someone ruins your business. Some time ago we assigned one of our projects to another company. The price was high, we expected the project to be finalized in about six months, while the company we hired said it would be ready in two. On the fourth month, we received a beta version full of errors, while everything was ready on the sixth month. The funny thing was that we were prepared that the task would require half a year and we used the services of a lawyer. We received a decent website at half the price thanks to the compensation we got.

Recently, a colleague of mine told me that his website cost nothing because of the serious delay on behalf of the developers and the perfect contract signed.

Unfortunately, such delays are not always beneficial for you. Some time ago I accidentally came across a project planned to be realized in six months. The programming required serious knowledge and experience, while the deadline for the information system was short. Over these six months, the clients went through all the above-mentioned steps of the psychological manipulation on behalf of the executors.

They went so deep into the details that on the sixth month the project was not even started yet. Of course, the client got his money back but over that time several rivals had set foot at the market and starting the project from scratch with a new team of programmers again would have delayed it with another half a year.  This rendered the whole existence of an entire company pointless and caused serious loss to the investors although they were paid back the entire sum invested so far. The loss of earnings, however, cost millions.

In brief:

  • Avoid unnecessary complication of your project’s model during the communication with the web studio or directly with the programmers.
  • Plan the website for standard scenarios and for a while forget about the exceptions that are hardly likely to happen but need months to be solved, while they may never occur.
  • Ask for a clear deadline for project’s finalization and clear date for when the work on it will start.
  • Do your homework – check on whether someone has already done what you want somewhere and if yes – be prepared with ready-to-use solutions at hand, if needed.
  • Arm yourself with patience and legal assistance so as to be prepared, if necessary.
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