How Your Business Can Pick A Software Developer

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How Your Business Can Pick A Software Developer

By: David Berube

Eventually, your business is going to need to have some software development. Your business is unique - you can't rely on a huge, faceless corporation to handle your unique needs with a shrinkwrapped, mass produced, production-line solution. You need custom software, and to get it, you'll need to pick an outside software developer. A hired gun.

It's hard - after all, most businesspeople aren't technical people. You want a Clint Eastwood - tall, confident, and ready to solve your problems with cold steel - but you usually get a technoloser - short, geeky, sniveling wimp with no backbone and no ability to get anything done.

Unfortunately, I've heard stories about selecting developers from all sorts of people. Bad stories. I can't even begin to count how many people have wound up with large bills and more problems then when they started. Fortunately, I've developed four dynamite questions you need to ask when you're choosing a developer.

1: Does your developer solve problems, or just write code?

A professional software developer isn't in the business of writing code; rather, he's in the business of solving problems, and code just happens to be one of the way that he (or she) does it. On the other hand, many developers will want you to spell out exactly what kind of program you want him to write. He doesn't solve problems; he just writes code the way he's told, and hopes it will fix the problem at hand. With a real software developer, you wind up with a solution that leaves everyone happy.

The market is full of contract programmers masquerading as software developers. Be careful.

2: Are they trying to give a solution before they know the problem?

Some developers will offer to send you a proposal after a ten or twenty minute phone conversation. It is impossible to accurately assess your situation that quickly; they are trying to provide you with a 'one-size-fits-all' package. Real software developers will not provide you with answers, proposals, or fees until they know enough about your business to have an informed opinion. Unless your developer is willing to spend enough time to really know what your problem is, you won't end up with the solution that you really need, because your developer is making random shots in the dark.

3: Are they in love with a particular technology?

Software developers can fall in love with their favorite technology; it's not uncommon to see developers who only develops with Microsoft or Sun technology, for example. A professional software developer, though, focuses on benefiting his client, using whatever technology is necessary. You want to hire someone that will use the technology that's best suited to your business, whatever it may be. You shouldn't have to pick a developer based on what technology he's familar with; he should be able to take care of almost any technological problem, either by doing the work himself or outsourcing to someone in his network of contacts.

4: Are they charging by project?

Amateur software developers tend to charge for their time, not by the value of the work they perform; so do contract programmers. Real software developers, though, charge based on value provided to you - by project - NOT based on time. This is because amateurs are afraid that they won't be able to complete the project in a reasonable amount of time, so they want reassurance that they'll be paid for their time in any situation. Experienced software developers, though, are confident in their ability to deliver code under their estimate, they are confident in their ability to provide value, and they that they can provide value that's worth MORE than their time is. You shouldn't be making an investment decision every time you consider calling your software developer.

That's it. Ask these questions studiously, and you'll get a programming dynamo. He'll be able to handle the tough questions and give you the tough answers, and you'll get bulletproof software.

About The Author

David Berube is a software developer and IT consultant solving business problems. He's also a prolific writer and speaker. If you'd like a powerful, innovative developer, check out, or email him at


Scott 09.10.2011. 23:26

What do I do when my programming skills are obsolete? I have been a software developer for over 10 years. The problem I'm now facing is that my skills are obsolete. I realize that I could go back to school or study additional languages but I need a more immediate solution. Should I search for business analyst jobs? Or something similar?


Admin 09.10.2011. 23:26

It's very easy to become obsolete in this business. I've seen it happen to co-workers over the years. I have to keep learning new skills to keep myself employable. (21 years programming for a living).

If you've been doing it for over 10 years, you should have many of the basic concepts down. You just need to learn how to apply those concepts to areas that are more in demand. What skills are your current employer looking for? What is the natural progression from what you are doing now to skills that are in demand? For me, I started programming in C. I switched to C++ when that became the better choice. Now I use C#, as well as SQL, HTML and JavaScript. Those are the skills my employer pays the most for. We don't have any C programmers left. We have a few C++ programmers working on an embedded system, but it's a small group that doesn't hire very often.

For each of those transitions, I was mostly self taught. Company did pay for a C# training series, but the rest I had to pick up on my own. It's challenging at times, but...once you've learn how to program, learning how to do it in a different language isn't as difficult.

Best of Luck.


Paige 25.09.2012. 21:51

What route should I go down with an IT Apprenticeship? Ok, so I've got an apprenticeship in IT and I'm really willing to take it, however I need to pick which route I want to specify in, for example, Software developer, Technician, Web designer etc, I need to know which is the most rewarding, which is needed the most, which is the job that pays the most and what would be best overall, thanks


Admin 25.09.2012. 21:51

Go with what you enjoy and what you are good at
I've got 2 sons who work in I.T. but they went to University,
They both work in hardware- youngest is 21 works as an I T support officer for a national company
the other owns his own I T business- repairs, upgrades, networking, virus removal,screen replacement
and also does repairs to games machines
Just make sure you get a relevant and decent qualfication, whatever route you take


Oliver B 23.11.2012. 11:47

How can computer science be used to solve real life problems? I want to study computer science so I can solve real life problems but I'm not sure what these problems are. Any help? For exmaple designing computer programs for goverments or for businesses?

Would be great toget some advice from CS graduates :)

Remeber people will only start to care when they realise how good you are :)

Oliver B

Admin 23.11.2012. 11:47

Here is a real life example. A combat pilot is returning to the aircraft carrier after attacking an enemy position. His plane is still flying and but he has been hit and is almost unconscious. You obviously want to save the pilot, save the plane and prevent any damage to the aircraft carrier. Your job as part of the programmer team is to write a program that can land the plane safely on the carrier deck even if the pilot is unconscious. You will have to calculate the position and attitude of the plane, manage the control surfaces and throttle of the plane and monitor the ship's speed and position. All these will have to be integrated into a program that brings the pilot back home safely. This is a real world example that already exists.

Here is a commercial example.
You own sever local auto parts stores. You sell oil, filters, brakes, batteries and parts for hundreds of car models. You notice that if you run out of a part that your customers will just go elsewhere and buy the part anmd may never come back to your store so you have a software developer create an inventory control program that tracks all your parts and projects how many of the parts you need to have on hand so there is minimal risk you will ever be caught out of stock. Each night the program orders what is needed to bring the stock levels back up to the right number. Also, you make the program connect to the other stores so if somehow you are out of stock you can find the item at another branch and have the customer pick it up there or you can get it brought over to your location so no sales are lost.

Best wishes!


Aaron 25.01.2012. 15:27

What major would be to manage gaming companies? I'm looking to enter college in a major that involves managing gaming companies, by managing I mean having developers under me, supervising, giving ideas, etc. Would it be IT : System engineering or what? Thanks in advance.
I apologize Casey Y, but for some reason I can't reply.

"Upper management is going to be filled with business people with a background in software design "

That's exactly what I want.


Admin 25.01.2012. 15:27

Do you want to be upper management or just a supervisor? Upper management is going to be filled with business people with a background in software design (maybe gaming, but not necessary). Supervisors are going to programmers with maybe a little business training.

If you can double major in business (pick a discipline, almost all will work for you) and computer science with a focus on gaming, you'll have the best chance.


Gulzar 18.01.2013. 06:46

How to get job in Google,Yahoo,Apple like companies? I've done Software engineering.How can i get a job in companies like these.I've heard that they cherry-pick candidates and that its very difficult to get a job there. Can u pls give me some idea which can make my CV stand out.


Admin 18.01.2013. 06:46

Well, these companies are entirely different in what they demand and what they do. Here is a brief to make you understand the culture in these companies:

1) APPLE: Believe it or not, Apple is the toughest job in the world. It has very few perks to offer compared to Google & Yahoo and working hours are long and extensive. But hey, you get to work with the most amazing individuals in the whole world. And yes, if you are not an "A Performer", get ready with your resume for interviews at other companies.
Key Requirements: Strong knowledge of C, Objective-C and Cocoa Framework.

2) GOOGLE: Google job is the most perky job in whole silicon valley. You work with real smart people on very innovative projects but most to all of them are web based. Google does not allow you to master any one trait and puts you on several projects at a time on small team sizes. Overall, working conditions are awesome and once you are in, Google loves to take care of you...!!
Key Requirements: Strong knowledge of C, C++ and/or Java. Doctorate candidates are a huge Plus for them.

3) YAHOO: Unlike Apple & Google, Yahoo is more service oriented enterprise. They don't make many products and are mostly linked in upgrading their portals. A job in Yahoo! is not much fruitful if you want to excel yourself in software product development but is a paradise for any aspiring Web Developer. It gives you more perks than Apple but Yahoo is all more split into portals business and thus, doesn't give you much space for R&D which Apple and Google are popular for.
Key Requirements: Python is a plus, along with strong background in Web Application Frameworks.

Personally, its upto your ability. Getting a job at Apple is toughest, then Google and easy at Yahoo compared to the previous two. Go with your interests. All the Best !!!


Sharif K 06.09.2009. 16:49

what should i study in my GCSEs if i want to be a games designer? i have just started year 9 and i need to pick my GCSEs near the end of the academic year. As you probably know i have to take english,maths and science. what else should i take if i want to become a games designer or a 3D animator. Also, is the any 3d animation software that you can recommend(preferably free). btw i have Absolutely no experience with 3d animation lol so if there are any guides please tell.

Sharif K

Admin 06.09.2009. 16:49

Take ICT.

In GCSE's it doesn't matter much, what you take. It depends what you take in your A levels or College Degrees really. (I am studying software engineering - which is programming which basically what you do when you are game developing).

In College take something like "BTEC Nat Dip in IT Practitioners (Software Development) this is what I took, and had an element of game design and development in it.

If you are planning to take A levels, you must take Maths, and a course in IT, and look into programming courses.

In University, you need to look for courses such as Games development, Computer Science, Software development or software engineering.

If you want to be a games developer you have to learn programming languages. The most common programming language is C++

If I was you, I wouldn't limit my options. Games designer is a very hard business to be in. Even if you a great, to get work is very difficult. I would recommend taking a programming course in both college and university, then if you don't get a job in the game industry then you can always program for companies and still have jobs that take your fancy.

If you are looking for the graphic sort of career, it gets even harder still. You still have to take Maths (A lot of maths is needed, and you have to be very good at it), you have to take IT, and also science and maybe even art. I know that you still have to have some programming knowledge, and also I would recommend taking a multi-media course, when in college or university.

To get in the industry, you have to go to University. However if you haven't got alot of money please do not be put off by achieveing your goals. University is basically paid off by your student loans and free grants. So you don't basically pay anything until you start work. Plus your loans are swiped after 25 years anyway. So don't worry about University. You have a long way to go till you have to worry about that.

Good Luck!


Amazing7 22.02.2010. 03:36

What are some factors as to why the Silicon Valley is in decline? Financially, internationally, technological, etc. Anything related to what's happening in the Silicon Valley today. Thanks for your response!


Admin 22.02.2010. 03:36

A global recession hit Silicon Valley hard in the latter part of 2008, after months in which many thought big tech companies might be immune to a business slowdown. And experts say the aftershocks will be felt for years to come.

The numbers tell the story, as Hewlett-Packard CEO Mark Hurd has been known to say: The combined revenue for Silicon Valley's 150 biggest public companies grew 5 percent in 2008, the smallest annual increase since the Internet bubble burst in 2001. Profits fell 52 percent for the year ? not as steeply as in 2001, but the worst decline since then.

Total market capitalization for the SV150, or the combined value that investors have assigned to those companies' shares, dropped 32 percent for the 12 months ending March 31, falling to $849.9 billion, the worst decline since 2002.

"When market capitalization goes down, it's a barometer of the business climate," said Kevin Walsh, a Santa Clara University business professor with years of experience as a tech executive and venture capitalist. "When companies' market cap is riding high, those companies tend to be more aggressive, more proactive in their outlook."

But in a downturn like this one, he added, "innovation gets squeezed, new projects get squeezed," as companies hunker down.

Already, the sharp decline in stock values has forced some companies, including Symantec and Sun Microsystems, to take significant write-downs on the goodwill value of past acquisitions. While the write-downs are not cash outlays, under accounting rules they still affect a company's bottom line.

Meanwhile, dozens of tech companies ? from software developer Adobe Systems to digital-chip maker Zoran ? have been cutting jobs and other expenses in recent months.

The size of the SV150 work force actually grew 20 percent, as companies added more than 187,000 workers in 2008, but much of that was due to HP's acquisition of Texas-based Electronic Data Systems and its 140,000 employees. HP is already trimming thousands of those jobs.

While some companies are still hiring, many tech executives and industry experts say they don't expect an economic recovery before late 2009 or 2010, and employment won't pick up significantly before then.

"We're going to see companies cutting back on investments and projects, and that will lead to further reductions in head count as we go through the remainder of the year," Walsh said.

"I think some people were looking for a V-shaped bounce back," meaning a steep decline followed quickly by a sharp ascent, "and that's not going to happen."

But if some companies are cutting back on spending this year, the smarter ones are pursuing growth and innovation through new acquisitions, said Jon Fisher, a University of San Francisco business professor.

Smaller market capitalization means some companies with valuable assets, including new technology and talented workers, can be had for a lower price, noted Fisher, a former Oracle vice president who's also been a serial entrepreneur.

He noted that Oracle CEO Larry Ellison has relentlessly increased revenue by acquiring a steady stream of startups and big companies too.

"I think you'll see a lot more M&A activity this year," added Fisher, who pointed to recent talks between IBM and Sun Microsystems as the first of more mergers and acquisitions to come.

Many Silicon Valley executives have noted that last year's downturn, unlike the Internet bust at the start of this decade, didn't start here. It's a broader recession, extending across many sectors and national boundaries, that is causing IT managers in other industries to delay orders for new enterprise software and computer systems, while consumers are slowing their spending on PCs and other gadgets.

But some recent tech trends may not have helped.

Many enterprise customers already had extra server capacity, and new virtualization products helped them squeeze more efficiency out of the hardware they already had, said tech analyst Rob Enderle, a veteran trend-watcher at the Enderle Group.

Meanwhile, he said, there were few "must-have" new products last year, although companies offered updated versions of popular lines. Apple's newest iPhone 3G was a hit, but AMD grappled with early bugs in its new Barcelona chip. Microsoft's new Windows Vista landed with a thud.

"The reality is we didn't have anything to really drive the market in 2008," Enderle said. "We need more things that eat capacity, that create the demand, to move more product."

But in looking ahead, Enderle cited other trends that began to hit big last year and will continue to shape the industry. The move toward cloud computing is influencing new hardware designs, software innovations and business models like "software as a service." The consumer version of that trend can be seen in the growing popularity of smart-phones and the downsized laptop computers known as netbooks, which are designed for Web-surfing and Web-based applicatio


yes1guy1no 25.08.2006. 00:06

What kind of jobs can I get with a Computer Science degree? Bachelor of Science in Computer Science? Some examples, please.


Admin 25.08.2006. 00:06

Business Analyst
Systems Analyst
Developer (Software Engineer) - pick your field of focus
Information Architect (?)

These seem like the most closely related. You could also work your way into management positions, managing technical projects, etc.

Of course, you could also go and flip burgers.


Juke Box Hero 31.01.2010. 16:26

What is up with this fake Virus message I get on random web pages? I've gotten it while searching on random sites like facebook and Yahoo answers.

A message pops up and says your computer may be at risk and needs to scan for viruses. (something along those lines)

I push cancel - it then takes me to a page that looks like "My computer" and starts a fake scan.

I push the back button and here I am.....back on Yahoo answers.

does anyone else get this? is it bad? Is it just an advertisment?

Juke Box Hero

Admin 31.01.2010. 16:26

It's not windows that is giving you these warnings,it 's what is known as a smitfraud infection.Although Avast is a very good anti-virus,it doesn't pick up this kink of infection.As a matter of fact,no anti-virus or security suite,paid or free will. A smitfraud is a false/rogue security program that gives you false infections in order for you to pay for that program and supposedly "remove it" after you pay for the program. This is an article from about this issue you have:

Big Profits in the Rogue Anti-Spyware Business

On December 11th, 2009 the FBI released a press release titled Pop-Up Security Warnings Pose Threats. In this press release they state:

"The FBI warned consumers today about an ongoing threat involving pop-up security messages that appear while they are on the Internet. The messages may contain a virus that could harm your computer, cause costly repairs or, even worse, lead to identity theft. The messages contain scareware, fake or rogue anti-virus software that looks authentic."

As new rogues are released almost daily, and we stay on top with them with the guides, this is not news to us. Rogues have become an epidemic in the malware scene and they do not seem to be slowing down. In fact the Wini family of rogues releases a new one almost every other day. This is further illustrated in a Kaspersky an article by Vyacheslav Zakorzhevsky called Rogue antivirus: a growing problem that states "Such programs are extremely widespread and are increasingly used by cybercriminals. Whereas Kaspersky Lab detected about 3,000 rogue antivirus programs in the first half of 2008, more than 20,000 samples were identified in the first half of 2009.". Unfortunately, the developers of Rogue software are typically located in countries that do not have a strong policy on cyber crime and thus there is little that can be done about it.

The reason these rogues are created in the first place is because they generate huge amounts of revenue. These rogues are promoted through through affiliate programs where affiliates get paid a certain amount of dollars, some as high as $30, every time the rogue is installed on a computer. As most of these rogue companies do not care how the affiliates get the program installed, many of the affiliates will use any means at their disposal to get these programs installed on a computer. This includes using malware to silently install them or fake online anti-malware scanners to trick a user into thinking they are infected.

These huge profits are shown in the FBI press release where it states "The FBI estimates scareware has cost victims more than $150 million.". This is further corroborated in an article written by Brian Krebs titled Massive Profits Fueling Rogue Antivirus Market where we learn that some of the top rogue affiliate earners have made over 200 thousand dollars in 15 days. With profits such as this, it make perfect sense why these types of malware are so prolific and why they are here to stay.

Now to deal with this infection:
1. Go to CNET at and download the free version of Malwarebytes' Anti-Malware and update the program's signatures.
2. then shut your PC off
3.hold down key F8 (not F and 8,but F8) and restart your PC
4 after it restarts,choose the option for Safe Mode
5 once you're in safe mode,open Malwarebytes' and run a full scan.Quarantine what it finds.Then delete them only from quarantine
6.restart your PC normally.

For further information in dealing with this infection,go to
Go to the Uninstall List and find this program that is telling you you're infected
Follow their removal advice.


hakunamatata 21.01.2013. 00:31

Is it realistic to move from Canada to Europe? It obviously depends on where, but tell me what you think and people who know please answer me and share your experience:)


Admin 21.01.2013. 00:31

It's difficult and depends on what skills and experience you have to offer (including being able to speak the local language), but it isn't totally impossible. We have a Canadian software developer at the company where I work in addition to me (from the US). I've been here for 13 years now and he's been here for about 7. A good place to start is the websites of the consulates of the countries you're interested in and the expat websites which have information and advice from people who have already made the move. It's difficult if you intend to work to support yourself, but not completely impossible.

You can't just pick up, move to another country, including here in Italy, and look for a job. For example, it would be illegal for you to either live in or work in the countries in Europe (or elsewhere) without obtaining a visa that allows you to live and work here before you come. Right now, the economy is not good in many places and there are not many jobs available; here in Italy unemploymewnt is over 11% and over 36% for people 25 and younger. The best opportunity is probably in the healthcare field. EU citizens have the right to live and work freely within the EU, others cannot automatically live and work here. Healthcare is one field where there is some demand though.

My direct experience is with Italy where I've been living for the past 13+ years; other countries here in Europe will have similar rules. The site for visas here in Italy is: . The site has links to the application, the additional information you need to supply in order to get the visa and where to apply. It also includes education visas which are somewhat easier to get than work visas. You can find similar information for other countries on their consulate websites. You can find other consulate websites with a fairly simple search. Note that you'll need to apply to the consulate that has jurisdiction over the state where you live, but you can find the necessary information on any of the consulate websites.

A work permit is separate - you cannot apply for that yourself. The company has to apply and they have to be able to demonstrate that there is not a viable EU candidate for the job. As a result, jobs for foreigners including Canadian or US citizens are pretty much restricted to people with special education, knowledge, or experience ... and you would have to be able to speak the local language. Right now, as noted above, the best bet would probably be something in the healthcare field. When I moved here, it was through a transfer of the job I was already doing in the US to the Italian office. Even so, it took 8 months to put all the paperwork in place to apply for a visa. If you already have a job offer, the company will provide you the information you need for your visa application and take care of things like work permits. It would be easier if you were to open a business here that would employ local citizens.

It's useful to check the expat sites for information about living and working in the places you might be interested in:

You can find other sites by searching for "expat" and the name of your target country. These sites will tell you how to register your address, provide information about healthcare, banks, and so forth to ease you into daily life.

One other thing to consider is that if you are a US expat, you will have to file tax returns both here and in the US which can be quite expensive. The cost of living is higher here than in the US to begin with in general; it depends on where you are now.


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