Many moons ago (8 months) we hired an offshore dev to build a small MVP peer to peer marketplace website.
Just last week they finally hit beta. A relief, but we are ready to be done, and they are ready for their final payment.
Are there any creative ways to motivate them to get this done in the next 2-3 weeks?
I just did the simple one a few minutes ago - double their final milestone payment if they had the site complete finished, installed, functional in 21 days.
Building tech products is a steep mountain. Products being delayed taking what is deemed "too long" could be a result of many issues. The first and easy one is a slow dev team. But, developing a product, and a good one does not start and end with a dev team.
Having a clear outline of the product can rapidly speed up the team, wire-frames, that they must follow make life much easier. On the other hand giving them an unclear brief or making changes improvements as more of the product is designed can slow the development. And lets face it when we see something it's a lot easier to "see" a better way of doing it.
A development team can easily loose energy for a product when each update to the customer is followed by a change of concept, design or fiddly fixes, finishing products is embarrassingly difficult, especially tech ones.
If you want to get the product ready in 21 days. Make it easy for them. Look at the beta and define exactly what needs to be done as a "minimum" to get it to release stage. Try to refrain from adding extra work no matter how small it may seem, try to cut work. Every color change, additional input, moving of elements add's time and wastes energy. Whilst you may have a draft that they are contracted to build, you stand more chance getting it released if you cut the pre-release work load, rather than pay more money.
Remember the most important part of a website, or app is that it is "never" finished. It's a living evolving product that will change constantly. Attempting to build a "finished" product is a recipe for an endless road of changes.
Money is the best motivator so unless the final payment outway's the sheer amount of work left to be done, they should pull-out all the stops to make that bonus. If at this stage you don't see that happening you need to look at making it easier for them in terms of "what" is the acceptable deliverable. Followed by a plan to continue development after you release, to get the product to where you and your users need it to be.
Good luck and congrats!
Unless you specified a timeline to reach the milestones outlined in the statement of work and that document was a component part of your contract then the carrot is of little consequence. Try the stick instead.
You should have access to your code. If you don't then demand access to it and its stack. Find a local developer to then copy it, pit it in a repository ( a cloud) and then give you a professional opinion on what's there, what isn't and what it might take to finish it. Expect gaps, expect some code rewrite. Expect that testing and quality assurance might not have been up to snuff.
Spend your hard earned coins on that instead of throwing good money after bad. Take aways: Statement of work should always include:
-time to reach a milestone; negotiate a reasonable time frame but specify any extensions must go through an approval process and penalties apply if they fail
- access to a shared repository is mandatory, daily updates required. It doesn't matter if you understand the code, it only matters that they can see you accessed the system
-control- never do offshore development without having a near shore/onshore 3rd party to monitor development, test and quality assure.
Lastly you can find low cost/ no cost resources close to home to house your code, and provide some help. AWS/Google......free tiers for the infrastructure you might need. Paying for support is reasonable and most providers will be quite helpful in getting you to where you want to go.
I remember the feeling of almost having your Beta marketplace available. It is awesome! Enjoy it and celebrate it. But keep in mind that after this moment your real challenges are only starting. As Martin and Joanne said: you will need your money to better/change your beta version. Instead of managing time , get access to the code, use the money after the first use by a controlled test group.
- Make sure you get a description of your code (it can also be done by others cheaply. Contact me if you need help
- Make sure you have someone to manage the code on your side (CTO)
- Watch your burnrate and focus on lowering it (do controlled nearshoring as Joanne mentioned. check out www.world-coders.com.)
Good luck there and enjoy the ride!
Kudos that you are getting ready to launch. I am not sure how you would be able to motivate because the dev would like to have money in the bank before pulling the cord.
I would like to know about your experience though, since I run my consultancy in a very different way.
Developers love learning and progressing in their craft.
One creative technique you can use (works well with offshore devs) is to hire a top tier US developer for minimal amount of hours to review their code and guide them on how to improve.
The skills they learn through that type of mentoring can drastically change the trajectory of their career (and at the same time help your project).
Another solution is BitMob (www.bitmob.ai). Its an AI-powered marketplace for crowd development services. Designed to cost effectively accelerate development projects. Full disclosure - I'm the founder at BitMob =)
At my agency, we set the expectations in the beginning with tentative timeline and we meet the timelines almost 100%, unless of course the sow changes during the project.
If the work that you want them to complete is add on work, clarify to pay additionally for it and they should agree.
Good luck for the Beta launch.
Where did you find these developers? Also my guess would be no. Developers (especially freelancers) will wait for the final payment before taking the final steps typically.
Don't settle for a copy of final code. Insist that you get a copy of the repository with full commit history before they get the final payment. This will let you see how much work, and when, they have actually done and is very important to analysing code quality - it shows if there are areas where they have yo-yo'd back and forth and if they have just dropped in copies of other code and then tweaked it (often a source of bugs).
Be prepared for the nuclear option of having to walk away with nothing.
Be prepared to get less than you expected, unmaintainable and having to start over but having something which kinda works for a while.
Important general advice
You should have access to a code repository from day one so you see the code coming in.
this is a very important question! I worked with remote developers a lot and know that though money are important but, for a startup project, the motivation is much more important. It is very important to be on the very same page and know what we really need to do and what we don't need to care about right now until we work on MVP.
But how to add a motivation and understanding of the final purpose? The solution is to write a story (or better few stories) about users of your startup. Ideally, you should tell this story via video call and make sure you inspire developers but if it is not possible then you should have it in writing.
Here is the one of few stories I wrote and shared with the team when we were working on the first version of PDF.co. All characters and the case are fictional and it also included typical photos of both characters:
CASE: Remote Website Designer
John Adams runs a company that sells wood tables. He runs the website called www.GreatWoodTables.com. He needs to find a design new page about new wood tables. He asked a fellow programmer but she said she is very busy now but will be in touch next month. But John needs this page as soon as possible!
John heard of Upwork and goes to it, posts the job "design new page".
He quickly finds good Mykola, Ukrainian developer on Upwork with great 5 stars feedback. Mykola promises to create design for new page along with illustrations he will draw. Mykola asks for $50 USD.
$50 is a bargain and John starts the Job with Mykola and Mykola quickly makes the great job with new design and 3 original illustrations. Just a few minutes and new page is on the website! Awesome!
John knows from a fellow lawyer that he needs to have an license agreement for every picture. He also has a template agreement he used with local programmer.
Just realizes that sending printed agreement may really take a week or so and will cost as much as the new design.
John understands that there should be some online servies for agreements. He googles for "photo licensing agreement template" and finds `PDF.co/sign-pdf/` in Google. This service is just $0.99 per month so he decides to give it a try!
He signs up, and uploads the template
Then he types his name, company name into the template and adds signature field for Mykola
John clicks `Invite To Sign` and understands that he may invite Mykola to fill information about photos and sign the document.
John clicks on this button and PDF.co shows that invitation is sent. Great!
Mykola receives the link via email and opens it. It opens pdf signer online with that document where Mykola fills information about images in blank lines. Mykola also draws his signature and clicks `Save`
John receives email with the notification from PDF.co with the subject `You document complete` and with the text:
Hi John, Your document was signed by Mykola on 4:30 PM on June 12, 2017 from IP: 123.232.334.34
Your pdf is attached, you may also view it at: https://pdf.co/sign-pdf/docs/somerandomhash
John clicks the link and it opens the final PDF that contains his information (that he filled before), information and signature from Mykola and the digital certificate with all the information where and when it was signed by parties.
John also saw this PDF in mailbox so it saves time
John thinks `what a great and cheap e-signature service! will use it with other offshore guys!`
P.S. John got 3 calls from potential buyers about new wood tables just a few hours later.
Also, as you work on the marketplace - you should know that there is a pretty good open source engine called Sharetribe. They have both open source and hosted versions.