A big, and common, mistake appreneurs tend to make is hiring the wrong developers. This honestly happens to both experienced and novice appreneurs. It’s part of owning your own business. But what happens when you can’t find a good hire? When every one you work with is failing and you continue to miss “red flags.”
Well, my friend, sometimes you’re the problem. Poor management and communication can cause a horrible experience even with a great developer or designer.
The good news? You don’t have to fire yourself – you can fix yourself!
Appreneur Management Guide
Before you hire someone, other than taking the necessary hiring precautions detailed in App Empire, there are certain systems you’ll need to set in place. These people are now your team, and you need to think of them as such – not just a one time gig. Finding a programmer and designer that you can continually work with will save time, effort, and headaches.
However, you have to understand that you are now the team leader. You are the CEO, the founder, the Supreme Czar – whatever you want to call yourself, you must take responsibility as the head of this operation. Without you setting up clear expectations, deadlines, milestones, and responsibilities, even the best hires will cause setbacks or worse – cost you lots of money!
Make sure these areas are established in order to properly manage your team:
What is your system?
Are you an early riser? A 2am worker? Does not checking in with your team every day eat away at your soul? Does talking every day waste your time?
Whatever is your forte, figure it out. Sit down and write out your ideal time management and communication system. Do you prefer Skype? Telephone? Daily email updates? Texts? Assess when you prefer to be working on your apps and how you like to touch base with your team – then send this outline to your team or potential hire so they know that’s how you work. Laying out a clear plan will make everyone feel good.
For beginners, I strongly suggest checking in with your team daily as you learn the ropes of this business. If you are not a coder, you need ways that you can physically assess progress since seeing new code won’t mean anything to you. This is why tools like TestFlight come in handy.
What’s their system?
Now that you know which system you prefer, what does your team prefer? This is a two-way street and in order to create the best relationship, directly ask them what their ideal system is. Try to meet them in the middle, but don’t compromise on what’s most important to you. If they hate doing daily reports, that’s something that shouldn’t be compromised, it could also mean they’re hiding something or not doing all the work they say. But if they prefer to work the hours from 5pm – 2am, that is more easily managed. Once you both feel comfortable about your preferences, and respect each other’s system, it will create a smoother, more cohesive dynamic between you and your team.
What are your milestones?
Each app should have a couple milestones in place. These milestones not only act as payment markers, they’re a representation of productivity and achievement. With each milestone, you should be one step closer to publishing your app to the store. If these milestones aren’t clear before you start the project, how do you expect deadlines to be met? Know your milestones and agree on them with your team prior to starting the project.
Granted, things hardly ever go as planned, but if your team does not meet a milestone and you don’t feel good about it, do not pay them. Milestones are there for a reason and you need to stick to your systems. Work with them on getting through the delay, but great hires know that if they don’t meet deadlines, they should also expect delay in payments.
We’ve heard many stories of teams conning their way into the next payment with excuses, only to leave an appreneur without a finished app in the end. Granted that’s an issue of character and hiring the right people to begin with, but it’s also a tell-tale sign that you shouldn’t be moving forward because you’re not on the same page or following the agreed upon system. Milestones and deadlines should be upheld – on both ends.
With each milestone, you should also be receiving the latest binary of your app so that even if the project goes awry, you have the most recent code to hand over to a new team. Be clear from the very beginning that this is your expectation with each milestone.
What are your goals? What are their goals?
What are your goals with each app? With your business? In 6 months? Share this with your team. Not only does it signify that you want them for the long-term, which many developers appreciate, it ensures your team and you are on the same page. Many developers and designers want to know that they are thought of as an asset, and not going to be left after the initial project. You must lay out your expectations from day 1. Including them in this process will build stronger relationships and provide insight into your team’s own aspirations. Not to mention, teams who know they have a future with your company will often work harder to prove their worth.
If your new team doesn’t seem excited about the idea of long-term relationships, you probably should look elsewhere. If you’re looking for long-term, but you’re just another project under their belt, it will cause a problem down the road. However, if you too are just jumping from project to project, then you may want to hire those people. It’s all about being on the same page, whatever page that may be.
How are you communicating?
It’s extremely important to be transparent and clear from the very beginning. Do you give clear directions? And I mean, crystal clear. This is especially important if you’re working with a team where English (or whatever your native language) is not their first language. What may seem painfully obvious to you, could be difficult to decipher for them. There’s no harm in giving too much detail, so don’t hold back. Cover everything in the beginning (expectations with each milestone, expected deliverables, services setup within the app like Revmob or Chartboost, final iterations) and have it recorded or in writing so there’s no “he said she said” if something wasn’t delivered.
And don’t be afraid to ask questions. You may feel embarrassed for asking stupid questions, but the age old saying really holds true in this situation – there are no stupid questions. This is a learning process and clarifying anything and everything that you don’t understand will only make you a better appreneur.
Also, USE GOOGLE. I’m not kidding. It’s amazing what you can find online now-a-days, and it’s also amazing how many questions I get that can be answered quickly and simply through a Google search – don’t be your own bottleneck.
Tip: A ninja way to improve your communication skills is to take a communications class. You may not even realize that you’re communicating poorly! I was looking into this myself and found some great classes, even some that specifically focused on managing outsourced teams. I’ve heard great things about Dale Carnegie classes.
Have you ever been the bottleneck? How did you fix the situation?