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How do you deal with a developer who is not showing work?

My dilemma. Recently hired a backend developer to create a website for one of our channels, borrowing many elements from an existing and similar website for another channel that I operate. He has been asked repeatedly to set up a staging site so we could chart his progress. For one reason or another, this has not been done. As you can probably surmise, I am a content expert and tech matters are not my strong suit. Is there any way I can ascertain how much work has actually been done in about the 3 months I have engaged him. Can I ask for him to send me a copy of the codes he has written to date. Any feedback would be greatly appreciated.

35 Replies

Michael Barnathan
2
0
Michael Barnathan Entrepreneur • Advisor
Co-Founder of The Mountaintop Program, Google Alum
I'm not usually a big proponent of agile methods the way many people in the field are, but here they're appropriate. If you have someone you need to keep accountable and he doesn't seem to be delivering, ask him to demo something every couple of weeks. Negotiate milestones for work delivered, and tie work delivered to success of said demos.
Brian McConnell
11
2
Brian McConnell Entrepreneur
Head of Localization at Medium.com
You should require all code to be checked in daily to a source code repository such as github or bitbucket. Then it is easy to monitor progress, how often code is checked in, number of changes made, and so on. This also gives you a full revision history of your code base, so if you need to roll back to a previous version due to a bug, you can readily do so.
Tim Scott
5
0
Tim Scott Entrepreneur • Advisor
President, Lunaverse Software
Insist on a live demo ASAP. If you're in the same city, you should be sitting next to him. Otherwise screen share over Skype or whatever. If he won't make that happen within a couple of business days, you know you've got a bad situation, and it's time to disengage and cut your losses as best you can. In parallel, do your best to get custody of any source code ASAP.
Bonnie Lai
1
0
Bonnie Lai Entrepreneur • Advisor
Past Founder . #500Alum . Startups
What Michael B. said. Get a live demo over Skype, Join.me, or any desktop sharing program and have him walk you through every single feature he's completed / is working on. Set milestones. And also make sure your requirements are all set and ready for him so you're not the bottleneck.
John W. Griffin
1
0
John W. Griffin Entrepreneur
Co-Founder at Spiral Scout, Founder at Cutcaster, Co-Founder at Instigate Labs (Maker of Moment)
Hey Michael, Has he set up a code repository (on GitHub for example) that another one of your developer friends could research to see the progress? It might be worth asking (or paying) one of your developer friends who you trust to review the work he has done so far since you can not read code. How long has he been working and what was his estimate for how long it would take? Sometimes these things come together in the final stages and showing you code doesn't really do a whole lot (my two cents not wholly understanding your problems and situation). Not having a dev/staging site is a red flag in my book though. John
John W. Griffin
1
0
John W. Griffin Entrepreneur
Co-Founder at Spiral Scout, Founder at Cutcaster, Co-Founder at Instigate Labs (Maker of Moment)
Hey Michael, Has he set up a code repository (on GitHub for example) that another one of your developer friends could research to see the progress? It might be worth asking (or paying) one of your developer friends who you trust to review the work he has done so far since you can not read code. How long has he been working and what was his estimate for how long it would take? Sometimes these things come together in the final stages and showing you code doesn't really do a whole lot (my two cents not wholly understanding your problems and situation). Not having a dev/staging site is a red flag in my book though. John
Michael Greer
2
0
Michael Greer Advisor
CTO & Co-Founder at TAPP TV
Ask him to show you his code repository. Should be in github or similar, you should own the repo. This will show the history of his work. Getting the code repo is normal: since you own the code, you own the repo.
Ted Neward
2
0
Ted Neward Entrepreneur
Technologist, Leader, Coder, Author, Speaker
Ask him for access to the source code repository in which hes keeping the code. If he dodges that question or refuses to get it to you, you have a problem. If hes not using a source code repository system, you have a problem. If he doesnt know what a source code repository is, you have a problem. If he doesnt or wont give you access to the source code repository, then ask for a tarball or zip file of the current code. Stress that this is not a delivery but just a work-in-progress check and that you just want to look at the site as it currently stands. If he doesnt give you that, then tell him to stop all work immediately, stop all payments immediately, and get a lawyer. And chalk this up to experience, and next time find a developer who is familiar with agile principles, and/or a technical partner who can help you avoid this kind of mess. Ted Neward Author, Speaker, Mentor http://www.newardassociates.com t: @tedneward | m: (425) 647-4526
Stephen Cataldo
5
0
Stephen Cataldo Advisor
Drupal | Startups | Green Conferences | Carpooling | Strategic Planning During Conflict
It might be important to ask questions and figure out the reason. There's a really big difference between someone scamming you and charging for code they haven't done, and someone who thought they could handle the project and is a nervous mess when they can't deliver. I've seen the second happen especially with younger independent contractors over their head for the first time. If you're lucky they're just behind schedule and trying to catch up rather than be embarrassed, and you need calm & trust rather than fear. Otherwise cutting your losses might be the best option ... it's really rare that you can take a fouled-up badly written code base and hand it to the next developer and have them get something useful out of it, decide quickly.
Damien Filiatrault
1
0
Damien Filiatrault Entrepreneur
Software Architect and Strategy Consultant
Michael, the developer should be using source control (like Github). You could ask that he grant you access to the code repository and then have an independent developer review the code for you. Do you know what languages and technologies the coder used to build your site?
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