Working with a Developer, a Balancing Act

The most successful client-customer relationships are built on trust, and it takes finding the right balance of input from both sides to establish that trust. The same is true for successful business-developer relationships.

Typically, before a business begins working with a development partner on a new website or mobile application, the leadership team has a general idea of what it should look like and what functions it should be able to perform. And with little knowledge of the development process, they have probably even already outlined all of the various specs that their users require.

Since most developers have experience in a number of successful and not-so-successful launches, they often know which ideas are realistic and which may be unattainable. This makes it necessary for business leaders and their development partners to find the right creative balance, so that clients get their most important features, and developers are given the freedom to work in the most effective manner.

Here are a few tips to help find that balance:

Become an Expert
No matter the project, it's always necessary for the primary developer contacts to know the ins and outs of the client's business model. Getting the developer acquainted with the business should be the main focus of the initial meetings. With that said, it's the responsibility of the client to clearly present its overarching business objectives, as well as specific goals for the project. This allows the developer to work effectively with the business, while ensuring that the new mobile application or website meets its requirements. This can be a difficult process, but it will keep the project on-track and on-time.

Establish a Two-Way Conversation
Too often, clients go into a project with little understanding of the development process, leading them to believe that their design will be a success, as long as programmers stick to the guidelines they give them; that is not always the case. In order to have a strong business-developer relationship, and a successful launch, businesses need to find a developer (or developers) who views their role to be just as much an adviser as a code writer. This encourages a two-way conversation where the business can feel comfortable asking the developer questions, and the developer feels comfortable using his/her creative freedom to accomplish the project's goals.

Eliminate Unused Employee Creativity
In order for a partnership to be successful, a "lean philosophy" must be taken. Lean focuses on identifying and removing waste. One of the most important and often overlooked ways to eliminate waste is through "Unused Employee Creativity." Unused Employee Creativity is when the project leaders don't ask for feedback from the people doing the actual work. In order to ensure quality, it's necessary to receive input from the programmers and coders working first-hand with the new website or app. This not only benefits the finished product, but it also helps inspire the programmers by giving them a greater sense of ownership over the project. It's also important for business leaders and other stakeholders to elicit feedback from every developer working on the project. This allows leaders to always be up-to-date on the status of the new site or app.

In the end, the basis of a good long-term business-developer relationship is proper communication. Once an end goal has been established, communication streamlines the process and eliminates any misunderstandings that might happen along the way, resulting in a more successful product. Those who are able to find the perfect balance of ideas are guaranteed to find the development process enjoyable and mutually beneficial.

About the Author: Patrick Emmons is co-founder of Adage Technologies, and an accomplished technical architect with more than 15 years of programming and Web development experience. Prior to Adage, Patrick was a principle for another Web development firm and also worked as a developer and consultant for Ameritech, Motorola and Baker Robbins.