Once you are finished asking questions or other follow-ups and you are ready to make a decision, then select the provider. For freelance sites it will default to the terms expressed by the provider in the proposal, but you will have the opportunity to change them if, through discussions, you and provider have reached a different agreement. Do not hire a provider and alter their terms without consulting with them. In fact, if you and a developer discuss the project and reach an agreement, the best way to proceed is to ask the provider to update the proposal to reflect the new terms, for both direct search and freelance site developers.
You can edit terms when selecting a provider
After selecting the provider the project is active. Complete your part of the non-disclosure agreement and forward to the provider, if desired. When they return the completed document, then you can give the provider the complete app specification created during the concept design phase including the final revision of the flowchart and the screen sketches. Most document sharing is done electronically by direct email or through the freelance site message system. The best format to share documents is .PDF, but Word files will work as well.
For freelance sites, the common method of payment is a major credit card. You pay the hosting site business, and they pay the developer – after subtracting a fee of course. The fee comes out of the provider payment, and does not affect the project price to the client. The service is free for those posting the job.
For app programmers found and contacted directly, the method of payment you prefer should be listed in the Request for Proposal and addressed in the Proposal response. Developers in the U.S. might be willing to invoice the project or project milestones and receive a check. Some might take credit cards through their website. If you are working directly with an international developer then Paypal might be the best method of payment.
As you select and hire the contractor, it is also time to layout the job- including project milestones. This is a project plan. Milestones are where some component of the project is complete and demonstrated, and typically the contractor gets a partial payment for the work.
For anything but the simplest of apps, you want to see how the project is progressing and provide corrections and feedback as necessary. Waiting to the end of the project to see the results is a big mistake. You want to have regular communication with the programmer and see the how the app is taking shape. (This is discussed further in the next chapter on Managing the Project.) For most projects, there will natural phases or segments of the app development project that will make good milestones. Returning to the Fishing Wichita app, the first milestone might be completing the start screen and the set-up functions.
Plus, if the project runs over the course of several weeks or even months, the outsourced developers deserve to be paid for the hours invested. Milestones allow them to be compensated for work completed. Plus, the smaller intermediate payments give contractors better motivation to make continual progress as opposed to getting paid a lump sum in the end. While milestone payments are fair and a good motivator, most of the payment, at least 50%, should be withheld until the project is fully complete.
You can also contact the final list of prospective providers and ask for a basic project plan with milestones, and review their recommendations for the project. The project plan can be another evaluation tool to make a selection. Review and finalize the project with the contractor selected, then set up the project accordingly when hiring the developer through Elance or other freelance site. For directly hired contractors, the project plan should be part of the app specification document you provide to the contractor.
With an app programmer selected and hired, it is time to work with the programmer and manage the project in order to ensure the resulting app aligns with your idea and concept. That takes us to our next chapter -Managing the App Project.
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