Developer abandonment is a situation that haunts the nightmares of project managers and owners. In truth, this happens much more than we want to believe that a key developer on a project chooses to walk away, leaving the project owner in limbo as to the future of their website or app.
We want to take some time to discuss this idea because it comes up pretty frequently in our line of work. At least a few times a month, the intake team at SimplyPHP will receive messages from frantic would-be clients about a project that has suddenly stalled or stopped entirely after their only developer left.
These clients are eager for us to step in and finish the job. However, it's not always possible. Sometimes, the code just doesn't meet our standards, and our best recommendation is that the owner either walk away or start from scratch.
While we would love to help everyone who reaches out to us about developer abandonment, unfortunately, it's not always possible. That's why we decided to lay out some of our best ideas for how to avoid this scenario in the first place.
There are necessary safeguards that businesses and project owners can implement to prevent this situation from happening. In our experience, here are some of the most important factors that can help prevent this distressing event.
The most important thing you can do to prevent developer abandonment is to own your own credentials. If you take away nothing else from this article, please remember this.
When you own your credentials, it's much easier to seek help in finishing your project if your existing developer walks away or is unable to perform as expected. If you were a store owner, you'd never give the only master key to your shop to your newest hire. So, why are you letting an employee have this much control over your business?
Owning your own credentials doesn't have to mean excluding all others, which makes it impossible for your developers to work. All we mean is that the project owner should also be the owner of the GitHub repository or codebase. You can give permissions to whomever you want, but when you're the project owner, it's much harder for someone to hold you hostage since you're the one granting access.
If you aren't a technical person, it's easy to fall into the trap of letting your developer take on all the work, including important decisions about storing your code repository. Even if development isn't your specialty, you should still have a good sense of best practices that can protect your interests and the future of your product.
As you learn more, you'll be better placed to identify situations that look or feel troubling. This allows you to ultimately be a better advocate for your product and your business.
Before you develop your product, app, or website, make sure that you are legally recognized as the product owner. This includes complete legal documentation of all patents, copyrights, and any other details related to the project.
You can ensure developer compliance with your rights by providing a detailed contract that articulates the terms of your working relationship. The agreement should explicitly lay out who controls the intellectual property of the project and should be signed by both parties.
There are many details to be tracked during a development project, no matter how small. Some of the most important include the passwords and account names for all relevant services, including:
Keeping a secure list of all of these accounts and passwords will give you a good sense of how to regain control over your project if something goes awry.
Protecting your company from scenarios that can lead to dev abandonment starts when you first develop the idea for your app. Guaranteeing your own intellectual property rights, owning your credentials, and maintaining a list of relevant accounts and passwords will all help ensure that your project remains within your own control.
Want to learn more about how to vet your developer and avoid these situations in the first place? Check out our latest podcast: https://youtu.be/VRGswJGY8a8