There was once upon a time when I was not a developer and was in fact on the client side as I was then working on roles that were more marketing and sales geared roles. During these times I interacted with quite a few developers in order to get certain projects done and started picking up on certain traits that would almost ensure that the developer I started working with is one that I would have a good business partnership with. I use the word partnership here as the developers who produced the best results were those that considered me a partner, understood the business and the importance of the product he/she was building to the business. Having now switched to a front-end development, and having worked with several clients, I tried to emulate the traits that I liked in those developers in the work that I do with my clients in order to create a good business relationship that will ensure the success of the product I am hired to create.
In doing so, I have noticed a good front-end development partnership does not depend only on the developer but also on the client. I cannot highlight the importance of this enough as it is the client's duty to work with the developers and not fall into the mindset of considering the developers they hire to be working for them. This shift in mindset from the client perspective is very important when working with developers as they are in fact partners and will produce their best work if they are treated as such.
With this in mind, I have noted down 5 traits that both developers and clients should actively strive to adopt if they are to have a successful business partnership.
1. Open communication
This to me is one of the most important characteristics of a good partnership as both the client and the developer should be able to communicate openly and freely. Doing so means the client taking the developer into his/her trust and sharing the reason and the expected output of the project they are looking to build. If you are worried about the confidentiality of the project, you can opt for a non-disclosure agreement (NDA).
The developer must also be open with the client and keep them abreast of the work that is being done on the project and not leave them in the dark or confound them with technical jargon when asked for a progress update. It is the developers job to ask all the questions that need asking before a project begins and point out areas where the client needs improvements as they are the technical experts.
2. Shared vision
Having a shared vision stems from open communication between clients and developers and is very important before writing a single line of code. The developer and client must agree on the business requirements so that the developer can suggest a way forward. This step towards creating a product must then be broken down into multiple parts so that it is easier for the developer to work in short sprints, allowing the client to measure progress on a frequent basis.
I have been fortunate to have worked with clients that have considered me as a partner from the onset of any project, but I know that is not always so based on conversations I have had with other developers. If you are hiring a developer for your project, it is important to adopt a mindset in which you are working with them and not them working for you. The developer should in turn adopt a consulting mindset and treat the client honestly, giving them regular updates on progress and any bottlenecks they might see in the product's development.
4. Timely payments
Money does not have to be a sore subject if the terms of payment is agreed upon before starting work on a project. This has a lot to do with respect from the clients end as the developer is billing them for the work they agreed upon. Timely payments are very important in the success of a business partnership as it is only right that the developer be paid for the work they agreed to and delivered on time. The developer must also pay a role here and ensure that any work they do is given the green light by the client. You cannot go wild and develop new features or spend more time on a task that the client did not approve and expect them to pay!
When working on a project both developers and clients will have plenty of questions for each other and it's important that these questions and answers be communicated fast. In order to do this, it's better to agree on certain communication mediums and standards before starting work on the project. I personally prefer Slack to communicate with my clients as its fast and makes me feel that the client is only a personal message away.
Remember, nobody likes waiting ages to receive the answer to a burning question!
Trust is key to any partnership and it is no different when working on developing a front-end development project. I encourage both clients and developers alike to put the who-is-working-for-whom mindset aside and work together as partners using trust and transparency in order to achieve their shared vision- the success of the product. Failure to do so can create bad blood, frustrations, a waste of funds and the worst outcome- the failure of the product.
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