Tips for Avoiding Pitfalls That Plague Startup Teams

1 - Tips for Avoiding Pitfalls That Plague Startup Teams
2 - Research for the Right Talent
3 - Search for the Right Team
4 - Express Clearly What Is Required
5 - Budget Timeline 'Plus 10 Percent'
6 - Organize With Openness
7 - Prioritize From Stakeholders' Perspective
8 - Let Experts Do Their Thing
9 - Keep Consistency in Communication
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Tips for Avoiding Pitfalls That Plague Startup Teams

by Chris Preimesberger

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Research for the Right Talent

Be able to speak enough "programmer" to know exactly what type of people or development team is needed. At the very least, know the differences between PHP, Ruby, Python, Java, HTML, CSS, iOS, and other programming languages as well as what a code repository is and what database options are available. Stackoverflow is a great place to start learning, and there are plenty of resources on which to search right here on eWEEK. BuiltWith is a technology look-up site that shows the IT on which some familiar Websites were built while Udemy and General Assembly offer great intro to programming classes. Attend tech meet-ups to gain exposure to the community and aim to speak with at least 10 different people. Log feedback in a Google Doc or an Excel sheet to track commonalities and help make the most informed decisions.

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Search for the Right Team

Start looking for a team that will fit the company's specific needs. It is important to consider factors such as whether a development shop or an individual is best, how many people need to be working on the project, whether they can be based locally or internationally, and if they will be paid or working for equity in the company. Posting the job on Stackoverflow, LinkedIn, and college alumni job sites can be helpful in finding the right individuals. For most jobs, it is necessary to hire both a programmer and designer; it is unlikely to find a programmer/designer hybrid.

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Express Clearly What Is Required

Make sure to have a clear understanding of what this project will be for developers. Create a document that includes the "elevator pitch" as well as all the key bullet points that will help get them organized and give them a pulse of what to build. After everything is written out and distributed, build a wireframe of an ideal site using PowerPoint or Google Docs to create a cursory look and feel for the platform. The depth of logic and functionality of this information will help the programmer get a sense of how much work the site will be and, in turn, how much money and time they believe the project will cost.

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Budget Timeline 'Plus 10 Percent'

Programmers and designers are notorious for not generating accurate project estimates, so the rule of thumb is to take whatever they present and add 10 percent (maybe even 20 percent). Be sure that the company has enough time and money budgeted to cover the buffer and guarantee that the project finishes without a hitch.

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Organize With Openness

In working with a programmer and designer, the organization of the different components is key. Make sure that everything is clear, concise, assigned and universally shared. Organizational openness and consistency are vital to a healthy experience when building a complicated Web platform. Some good collaboration tools can be found with Dropbox, Google Drive, Assembla and InVision.

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Prioritize From Stakeholders' Perspective

When developing a Web platform, organization goes hand-in-hand with prioritization. Once all the to-do items are in place, the team can talk and review each item by setting up a rating system to indicate what is most important; everything needs to be looked at from the lens of all the major stakeholders. After prioritizing, teams can start two-week sprint planning, whittling away at the priorities from the top down to help get a snapshot of what to expect in the near future.

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Let Experts Do Their Thing

For truly technical questions, let the tech team take the lead and give their recommendations. They were hired for their expertise, so give them a chance to prove that they are an asset to the company and take their recommendations.

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Keep Consistency in Communication

Do not allow days or weeks to go by without speaking to the development team. Daily contact is imperative in making sure that the site is built to the company's specifications; a call or Skype chat helps facilitate a feeling of openness in communication and foster a better working environment. Enforce a policy where the team can reach out any time they must. Nobody should ever feel like they are imposing.

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