You've got a great idea sketched out and you're ready to take the big step into development.
You've probably heard that Ruby on Rails has consistently ranked as one of the most popular programming languages among web developers. You've probably also heard that Ruby is easy to use and enables developers to deliver high-quality apps in a relatively short amount of time. If it's so easy to use, any developer should do for your project right? The short answer is NOOOOOOOO!
When you go out into the developer world, you will be delighted like a kid in a candy store to see all of the choices you have for Ruby developers. In fact, as of September 2016, more than 890,000 active websites are built on Ruby. There are hundreds of Ruby on Rails agencies in the USA and tens of thousands more around the globe.
However, while it's always nice to have choices, it also makes finding and hiring the right Ruby on Rails agency that much more difficult. Hire the right agency, and your project will be completed on time and under budget. Hire the wrong agency and you'll likely end up with a sub-par application, delivered late and over budget, after experiencing months (or years) of unneeded stress. We don't want that for you.
But as a business, how can you make sure you hire the right agency? The truth is, it's not easy. Because we care about you and want you to have the best experience possible, we've taken everything we've learned from our years of experience in the Ruby development community and the tech business, and put together the following guide to help you hire best developer for your project.
When looking for a mechanic, would you choose someone who has spent years merely reading about cars? Or would you choose someone who has spent years building and rebuilding cars from the ground up? You'd choose the person with grease under their fingernails, right?
Well, the same goes for Ruby developers. You want someone with a little code under his or her fingernails. So, for the love of your project, start your screening process by asking for examples of previous Ruby applications the agency has built. Not sure how to get started? Here are our dos and don'ts when asking for and reviewing portfolios of previous work:
When thinking about trying a new restaurant, what's the first thing you do? You head to the internet to see what others are saying, right? You understand that driving across town to try something new, only to have your culinary senses disappointed is not on your list of things to do. Likewise, you don't want to fork over a significant amount of your hard-earned cash to a developer, only to find your entire project languishing in the pool of ineptitude that is your Ruby developer.
Luckily, there are quite a few sites that can provide you with equally effective screening tools for vetting Ruby development agencies. And we recommend checking them all.
One of the advantages of choosing Ruby on Rails for your development project is the robust community of Ruby developers around the world. The best Ruby agencies tend to be active, recognized members of the community. What does that mean exactly?
But how do you know if the agency you're evaluating is good citizen of the Ruby community? The best place to start is by checking out your local Ruby meetup. Nearly every city in the USA has a Ruby meetup group that meets once or twice per month. You can check www.meetup.com to find the meetup near you.
Meetup leaders are typically the best Ruby developers in your city, and generally run or work for the best Ruby agencies. Take some time to attend a Ruby meetup and get to know the leaders of the group, or simply reach out through meetup to start a discussion.
At least once a month we receive a call from a prospective client looking for help on a project that's gone sideways. Unfortunately, the story is often the same. The client found an agency that offered them a really low price for their project, and promised wonderful results. The low price was so attractive that they didn't really vet the agency, and instead rushed into the project, hoping for the best. Months later, after multiple missed deadlines and budget overruns, the client starts asking the tough questions, only to find that the agency they hired outsourced the project to a low cost development shop in India, in an effort to maximize profits.
Don't let this happen to you. The agency you hire needs to guarantee in writing that all work will be performed in house, by their own employees, and that no parts of the project will be outsourced overseas. If an agency is quoting you pricing that's well below other quotes you've received, it's most likely because they intend to outsource the work. As is usually the case in life and in business... if something sounds too good to be true, it usually is.
After you've confirmed that the agency you're evaluating doesn't outsource work, you'll want to learn about the individual developers that will be working on your project. Some things to consider:
If they can't answer these questions, or if the answers aren't what you expect, it's probably best to find another agency.
Building software is an intricate process with a lot of moving parts. A dedicated project manager is critical to oversee the project and keep it on track. The project manager will likely be your primary point of contact during the project, so compatibility is key. Having an understanding of them and their process is critical in selecting your Ruby agency. You'll want to have a solid understanding about things like:
Asking these questions upfront can prevent problems down the road.
Few people like hearing the word "no." It tends to trigger our inner 2-year-old and makes us a bit cranky. But honestly, sometimes "no" is the right answer. No might keep you from burning your finger on a non-user-friendly idea, or a shortcut designed to save a few bucks. The best parents tell their children "no" for a good reason... so do the best Ruby developers.
The best Ruby development shops have years of experience building web applications. They have a clear understanding of what types of apps and development projects are likely to succeed and which ones aren't. The best agencies will have opinions on your project, and will offer suggestions on what needs to be changed. Your project will also be a showcase for their talent, so they will have a vested interest in making the app the best it can be.
Most importantly, when they know you're making a mistake, a professional Ruby developer must be willing to say no to you.
If the agency you're evaluating only says yes to everything you propose, and never offers alternative suggestions or opinions, they are likely desperate for your business, or lack real experience, and should be avoided.
You and your developer will be working countless hours together creating the baby that is your project. Building web applications requires a great deal of communication and collaboration over an extended period of time, which often can lead to interpersonal conflicts, hurt feelings, and stress, if not handled properly. The last thing you want to do is spend all that time working with someone you're not compatible with. It's critical that the two of you actually enjoy working together.
By talking directly with the agency, reviewing online reviews and talking with agency references, you can get a solid feel for things like:
Choosing the right Ruby on Rails agency is critical to the success of your project. Hire the wrong agency and you'll face:
You don't want to come out of the process feeling like a piñata at a 10–year-old's party. Choosing the right agency will result in high quality software, delivered on time and under budget, without taking you for a ride on an emotional rollercoaster.
Do yourself and your project a solid - invest the time vetting prospective agencies using the guide above. There can be true love in the Ruby development world. We want you to find it!
We’d love to learn more about your project.
Engagements start at $50,000.