Inspiration

Why you shouldn’t contract Freelance Developers

Post by
Nick Humphries

Over 10 years ago I started off doing freelance work. Building websites for local clubs and businesses, I quickly got to the point where I was able to turn the side hustle into a full-time job. Throughout my time freelancing, I learnt what different businesses required from freelancers, and eventually concluded that a single person could not provide the level of service required for most enterprises who do not specialize in development.

Good things do come from freelancers. If you find the right one, with the right project, they can be worth their weight in gold. They’re often the cheapest, can move quickly and often aren’t affected by other client’s work. If they’re clever, they even get it done - on time and on budget.

The decision to use a freelancer comes down to one main question:

Is the system they are building business critical?

If the answer to that question is no, then you’ve found yourself the perfect job to outsource to a freelancer. If the answer is yes, then you’ll need to consider either to use a freelancer or engage a professional development company like LuminateOne.  

Is the system they are building business critical?

Every piece of software requires maintenance. Whether it’s Microsoft Excel or Adobe Photoshop, you always must update it. When you have had work completed by a freelancer, the bespoke software they write is no different – it too needs updating.

Most freelancers are quite good at doing this maintenance. The problems start to arise when the freelancer is ready for a change; either they want to move into another industry, or they get a full-time job and no longer are making a career out of freelance work.

Finding a replacement for any software developer is hard, but it gets even harder when the technology isn’t industry standard or has little to no documentation. This, unfortunately, is all too common among freelancers as a lot don’t see the need or have the systems in place to properly document the code they write. This is often why they are can be significantly cheaper, in the short term. Occasionally, if it is bad enough, you won’t even be able to find anyone that will pick up support for your legacy application, at which point you’ll be forced to rebuild the whole application.

Freelance-built business critical systems are a single point of failure for your business.

If your business has the systems and structure in place to ensure that, even without the freelancer, you have someone else able to jump in and maintain the code, then you don’t need to worry. Additionally, if your business can continue to operate as normal without the software, you’re good to go.

How to have success with freelancers

One great aspect about freelancers is that when you contract them, you don’t have the same level of pain with all the hiring, leave and other employment legal obligations. Here are a couple of my top tips to keep in mind when contracting a freelance developer:

  • Ensure the developer delivers a copy of the code with each payment
  • Ensure that the code is well documented; there should be enough information to allow replacement of the freelancer
  • Agree on a maintenance retainer at the start. If they don’t want to provide support, then you should find a new freelancer

At LuminateOne, we ensure your business is never left in a tight spot by developing on widely used platforms and following industry-standard software architecture. With our excellent support, we ensure that the software we build continues to help your business grow and succeed. 

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