I'm a non-technical solo founder, and I hired a US development company last year to work on my app. I just had to fire them for being unable to get the job done, and hired a new company in the Ukraine on the recommendation of a developer friend. They seem good so far. But I and other non-technical founders are handicapped by having no idea what to look for in a developer, so I thought it would be useful to have a list of questions that could provide at least an initial vetting of companies. Of course, ideally we would also have a technical advisor interview for technical skills, but this would provide a good starting point. Here are some examples of learnings I acquired from my recent experience, would love to hear other thoughts:
How many developers do you have available in each specialty [iOS, android, back-end, whatever your needs are]? If your contractor doesn't have depth of expertise, your project will get put on hold for vacations, family emergencies, etc.
Will I have direct access to communicate with the developers when I need to? If you have to communicate through the project manager without direct access to developers, communication will take longer (read, delays), and you may not get the full story on what issues are arising.
How often do you meet with your clients during a project? The answer should be weekly or bi-weekly at the very least, plus as needed.
I'd like to see a sample project plan. if it's not very detailed and organized, with individual features/tasks broken out by amount of time, then it may indicate they have no idea how to plan for a project, which will lead to delays.
Do all of the employees work full time at your company? Some smaller shops may use contractors themselves, or be a lose amalgamation of coders, which leads to you having even less control over the project, and most likely delays.
is there a dedicated project manager? Not necessarily dedicated to your project, but dedicated to the task of project managing. If it's the designers or coders themselves having to manage the project it won't be done properly, which will, you guessed it, lead to delays.