- Take the time to document what you want the process to do: identify the key deliverables, the must haves and the nice to haves. If it is an existing process take the time to document how it works today and how you think it might be improved. Even if it is just bullet points get them down in a word document or a spreadsheet. This generally is not complete specifications, but it gives the developer a good idea of what you are after.
- You do not want just a developer; that is a person who takes your specifications and simply codes them. You want an experienced businessperson that offers suggestions to maximize the utility of the code.
- Depending on the nature of the project you may want to avoid the allure of inexpensive international outside help. Particularly if you think you will need immediate response to queries time differences might prove problematic. Cultural differences are real and can impede progress, I have seen that firsthand.
- Make sure you speak with the developer, communication and rapport are everything- coding complex tasks can be very iterative with lots of back and forth. If you are not on the same page or cannot effectively communicate with your developer, it will not end well.
- In the best of all worlds give the developer a sub project to test his skills and the fit. This may not always be possible.
- Get a quote on delivering a turnkey project.
- Make sure the code is properly annotated. It will make it easier for the next developer and save you time and money
- Test it thoroughly before you pay for it, make sure you have access to all code.
- Set deliverable dates. If possible, segment the project with intermediate delivery dates so you can gauge progress.
- Make sure the error handling identifies what went wrong.
- Have screen level edits to make certain all inputs meet their relative specifications to help application users succeed.
I have been a VBA freelance developer for some time. I always operate under the “No Surprises” mandate, that means I deliver what I promise at the price I quoted. I learned by working hard for my clients to succeed I succeed as well. Stick to my steps and hiring an excel expert is can be done.
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