There's an old adage in software development that I refer to all the time:
The first 90% of development takes 90% of the time. The remaining 10%, takes the other 90% of the time.
I used this when I taught software engineering. And I use it all the time now when I get the kind of message that I received:
I'm looking for a web developer to continue work on my website. It's currently in beta. I used a company in India to develop the site, and it's mostly done. But they weren't quite able to get it finished. Then I found a local developer but it was a truly awful experience. At this point, I have very little money left, which makes finding someone even more of a struggle.
My experience is that most often you will find that the project has gone through many of the Symptoms of a Weak Development Team in these situations. And I say that the most common symptom is:
The team seemed to get a lot done early on, but now it just seems like it is taking forever to get it “done.”
So when you get a note about a project that's "mostly done" - you immediately get worried. Usually, once you begin to look at what's really going on, the code is a bit of a mess and the system has a lot of work left to get to an actual "done" state. You may even have as much time left to get it "done" as it took to get it "mostly done".
Normally, when I get this call, it's pretty far downstream (as in this situation). The funds have been used up on the existing development. And the person is trying to get it from mostly done to done with little additional cost.
The problem is that doesn't match with reality and likely they need to find more dollars. Recovery from this situation is hard. I wish I had a better answer.
But I thought I at least needed to do a post that made a few suggestions on how to avoid this situation:
- Keep your Eyes Open for the Symptoms of a Weak Development Team
- Hire a Part-Time CTO, Technology Advisor, or Acting CTO to help you keep an eye on what's going and increase your chances.
- Pull the Plug Early - poor developers who exhibit symptoms of weak development will not become good.
This actually reminds me of another adage:
No one ever tells you they fired someone too early. They often tell you they fired someone too late.