Freelance programmers like to do programming – most of them dislike project management. Someone needs to manage the project, so that’s gonna be your job.
Most people that make this mistake do it by default. They don’t seem to realize that there is a manager role in the deal.
No matter how uncomfortable managing a software project makes you, the reality is it has to be done, and it has to be done by you.
Some non-technical people are very scared by this. Remember, you don’t have to understand the technology, you just have to understand the problem you are trying to solve and know whether the problem is solved by the program delivered. It’s the programmer’s job to understand how to use technology to solve the problem.
That is why you hire freelance programmers, to get skills you need but don’t have.
“After I described the program I need and I hire a programmer, what else is there to do?”
- You need to make sure the programmer interpreted your description the way you intended.
- You need to make sure the programmer delivers what you asked for.
- You need to set expectations and inspect the programmer’s work to make sure it meets your needs and quality standards.
- If something turns out to be much harder than expected, or does not work out exactly as planned, you might need to decide which of several paths the project should take.
Here’s why freelance programmers should not manage projects:
- It is your project! You have the final say about what the project is. Giving that job to the programmer is like letting the fox guard the hen house (no, I’m not saying that programmers are sly like foxes, many just need to be properly managed).
- Programmers do not know the intimate details of your business, your users, etc. You have to provide direction, programmers create software from that direction.
- An old expression says you only have the right to expect what you inspect. You have to be involved in the project to make sure it delivers what you need.
Bottom line: You are the project manager, you must take on the responsibilities that come with the job.
That’s all for now, next time we’ll cover Mistake #7, the common mistake that causes project problems to go unnoticed.