Many companies use freelance programmers to solve IT tasks. In this blog, you will learn a number of things: challenges you should be aware of with freelance programmers and a few great tips on data backup and hosting.
Disclaimer: I generalize a lot in this blog. I know there are lots of exceptions to what I write, but I also know that there are some truths. Read this blog with an open mind and take whichever lessons apply to your case.
The law of “my freelance programmer can do it all” dictates that you are the luckiest person in the world.
Peter’s answer: IT development today is so complicated that there is no one person who knows everything. Good programmers specialize in being good at one or maybe two disciplines such as:
- web development
- backend development
- mobile development
- server setup
- database programming
- speed optimization
- … or something completely different.
In addition, a really good PHP (programming language) developer is typically not as good at C# (development language). Last but not least, there is a sea of frameworks and platforms a skilled WordPress developer (CMS) is not as good at — for instance, Magento and Drupal.
And no, good programmers cannot design.
The law of supply and demand dictates that freelance programmers can get all the work they want. There is bigger demand than supply for programmers, hence, almost any programmer can get a job. Now, with the impending digitization of everything, it will continue to be a huge problem.
Peter’s answer: Consider outsourcing abroad. There is a sea of both skilled and diligent developers all over the world.
In Germany, there are approx. 87 million and in Australia there are approx. 25 million people. In India there are approx. 1.4 billion people. It goes without saying that there are 15 times more skilled programmers in India than in Germany and 52 times more than in Australia.
The law of “startup projects leads to financial independence” dictates that many freelance programmers do special development for clients to get “rice on the table”. All focus and love are spent on one or more startup projects (to achieve financial independence).
Peter’s answer: 80 out of 100 freelance programmers have one or more “startup projects” running on the sidelines. The risk of you being ignored if their own “baby” has a need is great.
Bonus question: What happens if your freelancer gets a permanent job, travels on a diving holiday to Thailand for 3 months or becomes long-term sick?
The law of “you did not ask for it” dictates that a freelance programmer is not responsible for errors and omissions unless the customer has made them known. The law is strengthened exponentially if the freelancer takes over a project from another developer.
Peter’s answer: Freelancers work alone and often do not have the necessary time to review projects for errors and omissions. You, the customer, become the test department.
The law of insane prices dictates that freelance programmers have to take a high hourly rate so that they can settle for working 20 hours a week for their clients. (There must be time for all startup projects, see the law on “startup projects lead to financial independence”).
Peter’s answer: We needed a Navision developer for an integration task. The customer wanted to use a Danish company. Hourly rate: DKK 1800.
We ended up solving the task here in Manila at DKK 350 per hour, and we finished 3 weeks before what was promised from the Danish Navision agency.
The holiday law dictates that problems never arise during the holiday. It follows that it is not necessary to inform others about an impending holiday.
Peter’s answer: Wrong. Problems always arise during the holidays, when the freelancer stands on an alpine peak without mobile coverage.
The law of “radio silence or I’m done tomorrow, tomorrow, tomorrow” dictates that your freelance programmer has too much work. Many freelance programmers say yes to more jobs than they can handle, or jobs that are beyond their capabilities when they do not have enough to do. As a result, they suddenly get too busy or have bigger technical problems than they can handle. Many – not all – respond by not answering e-mails, phone calls, Skype messages, text messages.
Peter’s answer: Find a new developer.
The law of “we host on our own cloud server” dictates that the freelancer wants to make money on hosting.
Peter’s answer: Beware… Examples of what can happen:
- No backup. You forgot to make a backup. “Oops, the server crashed, and we have no backup, sorry Sir…”
- As a customer, you do not have access to the files and therefore cannot easily use another developer (you are locked in).
- The customer cannot make changes to the server without it being a battle, because there are 15 other shops / sites / systems running which then need to be updated.
- It’s hard to scale up. It should be so easy, but it’s never easy. Consider using Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure or similar. Read bonus info below.
- Create your hosting account in the name of your company so that you decide who has access to your system.
- Download and check backups on a regular basis and automate the process over time.
- Pay attention to which hosting center you use. If you are a European company and processes personal data, you may not be allowed to host outside Europe. Check with a lawyer.
Backup to Amazon Glacier https://aws.amazon.com/glacier/