What kind of software developer to better search for SMEs

By choice I’m co-founder / shareholder of few non-IT companies (20 employees and 50 employees respectively), former founder of IT-company and in the same time I’ve been a software developer since 2006.

As I have a little bit unusual experience of being both on (non-IT) business side and on software vendor side, I’ve experienced different situations including:
- Developing software for someone else.
- Developing software for myself (own products).
- Ordering software development for my companies from someone else.
- Managing own custom software development company: projects, employees, marketing, sales, BA and so forth.

So I’ve been on all sides of software development world. That said, I will try to express my thoughts in short on what criteria to apply when you search software developer(s) for your next software project.

Generalist, not specialist

In my experience, if you are looking for individual developer (opposite to software development company) it’s more beneficial to hire a developer who knows their main area of expertise well AND knows a little from every other area. For instance, if you are looking for backend engineer, it’s best if he knows a little frontend, server maintainance, Linux, CI/CD tooling, main cloud infrastructure providers and how to configure stuff in there etc. Even if such an engineer costs twice more than a specialist (which normally is not the case), you’ll need to hire individually for each area mentioned and will lose money and time on communication between all members, and you’ll also need to explain requirements to different people and coordinate them which you probably don’t want (especially if you are not technical enough).

Software development company

If budget allows it, you can hire a software development company, then you normally don’t need to care about generalist vs specialist (the company will probably have needed expertise in all areas), and you’ll just communicate with PM and/or BA which then translates requirements to design & development.

Area of expertise

Of course a good software engineer (or company) can develop almost anything. However, it’s best when their main area of expertise matches your product needs. It’s bad idea to hire backend engineer to develop frontend; neither it’s good idea to hire frontend engineer to develop a Linux kernel module. A good idea is to hire a native mobile developer who is passionate about UX to develop a mobile app that’s primary focus is to provide the best UX for consumers.

They should know the domain

If you are to develop a game, search for a developer / company who does game development. If you are finance organization, look for a developer or company which has experience in finance products development.
When someone knows the domain, it’s much more likely they will improve your product by suggesting better solutions and decisions by using previous experience and intuition.

Work with someone in your timezone +/-3 hours

Communication is one of keys to a product success. If you have 12 hours difference with someone, it’s almost killing any real-time communication and hence increasing a chance for delays and decreasing a chance that your product succeeds.

I know, it’s not a rocket science and maybe sound banal, but sometimes I’m still finding myself in frustrating situations even with all my experience. Hopefully this is helpful for you.


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