My Mobile App Developer Went Out of Business … Now What? Musings from a Tech Leader
You’ve been working hard to get an app to market. You hired a mobile development team to create it for you. Things were progressing along – or at least you thought they were – until, all of a sudden, your development team informs you they’re going out of business.Your app is nowhere near completed. And at this point, it doesn’t look like it’s going to be. What do you do?
And it’s not just bankruptcies, either. Other situations can put you in the same boat. A lone developer flakes out on you. A software development team discovers too late that there’s no way they’re going to deliver the features you want – or in the timeframe you want it – and dumps the project.
Today’s business climate is challenging, to say the least.
Maybe you hired a development team based solely on cost. If so, I can understand. Times are tough. Choosing the lowest priced developer might look better to your bottom-line. But it also opens you up to some rather severe risks. In my experience, those risks are seldom worth it.
Of course, it’s not just low prices that can put a software developer under. Overextending themselves, failing to meet production goals, losing critical clients, mismanaging cash flow, overpromising to land a sale … all of these can lead to the sudden demise of any company.
So if you find yourself in this unfortunate situation – whatever stage your mobile app is in – here are some actions you can take to help mitigate your losses.
1. Get the Code
As soon as you find out your developer is going out of business, make sure you get all the completed code and any project notes you can. Chances are, you’ve paid for it already, so this shouldn’t become a legal issue. If they won’t hand it over – if your contract stipulates that the developer owns all the code until the project is completed and the final payment is made – then you’ll have to determine whether it’s worth going through legal channels to get it. Sometimes you’ll be better off starting over – see my next tip to learn why.
2. Assess the Current State of Your App
Where does the app currently stand? You may not have a good idea at this point, even if you’ve received regular updates. A struggling company might be sugarcoating their progress, hoping to make up ground on the back-end. Hiring a consultant from their ranks could give you a clearer picture (see tip #3), or you could engage a third-party assessment team to provide that info. Ultimately, you need to know how much development work remains before you’ll have a product ready for launch. This will help determine your next steps – such as whether to bring the development in-house or seek a new development team. If the app is still a long way from production, it indicates poor planning and methodology. You’ll probably be better off scrapping it and starting over with a new development team – one that understands the concept of a minimum viable product. It’s highly likely that this new team won’t want to use code created by the defunct team, anyway, although that’s not necessarily the case.
3. Hire a Team Member as a Consultant
Just because that software company is going out of business doesn’t mean the people working on your project are incapable. If possible, identify one or more team members who understand all the coding decisions that were made and how they related to your business requirements. You may want to hire them as consultants to help foster a smooth transition to a new development team. These people will know first-hand all the challenges and obstacles the project faced. That knowledge should be useful in helping your new team navigate through them.
4. Research Your New Developer Choices Thoroughly
Once you’ve been bitten by the risk of an unreliable developer, you probably won’t be too eager to put yourself in that position again. You’ll definitely want to choose your next development team more carefully. I recommend looking for a team using Scrum as an integral part of their mobile development methodology, as well as a cross-platform tool that can compile native apps, like Xamarin.
Ascendle is one such option I hope you’ll consider. For more guidance on how to find, evaluate, and select a good development team, here are a few articles covering that exact topic:
- 7 Interview Questions to Hire a Great Mobile App Developer
- 9 Top Qualities of a Mobile App Development Team
- 11 Questions You Should Always Ask App Development Companies
Choosing Future Software Success
The most important thing to learn from a failed development experience is that it’s all about the choices you make up front.
It’s all about partnering with the right company – with the right processes, tools, skills, and mindsets.
And once you’ve been through the headache of finding a new development team mid-project, you’ll never question the importance of selecting a “more reliable” team again. So complete your due diligence, ask all the right questions, and protect yourself from risks like this.
Because when you choose the right software company – whether it’s Ascendle or another highly-regarded software developer – you can avoid worrying about their business problems becoming your business problems.