Contractors and Clients

Except in instances where a Web site is an integral part of a business (or the core medium), it is common that web development projects are intermittent and do not require full-time permanent staff, so companies rely on external factors: contractors (full-time temporary employees) and vendors who provide solutions as a product. There is generally a blend of in-house and outside individuals working on a given site project.

When deciding whether to obtain internal resources or leverage external ones, the author suggests six key factors:

EN: The author misses a number of things, such as the sensitivity of the project, the need to maintain institutional knowledge, the need to generate competitive advantage. Since the book was written in 2001, more lessons have been learned the hard way in the meantime.

The author lists a handful of pitfalls for working with external resources:

Tips for selecting vendors:

Regarding project estimates, it is important to ensure that a vendor understands the full scope and nature of a project. Inasmuch as possible, see if you can tell what resources an outside firm is devoting to the work - if they are using an insufficient number of people and are not addressing necessary roles, chances are development will be late and the product will not meet your expectations.

Regarding contracts, make sure that everything is spelled out in sufficient detail: the work to be performed, payments to be made, deliverables, responsibilities, rights of ownership, warranties, scope of services provided, conditions of termination, etc.

It is also important to set a contract that defines milestones, and that those milestones can be objectively assessed and confirmed. This will enable you to monitor the work of vendors and ensure it is moving along as it should. When possible, tie compensation to the achievement of milestones rather than arbitrary calendar dates.

Last of all, make sure that the relationship with a vendor is win-win: each side is providing something of value to the other. The ideal relationship with a vendor is collaborative rather than confrontational.