Choosing My Million Dollar Development Team

This past week was spent collecting proposals for the grouvia.com project, in response to the RFP I sent out last week. I had about a dozen early candidates and two dropped because they didn’t feel they could respond within the very short timeframe I required.

I suppose if I had to do it again (you’d have to put a gun to my head) I’d change my RFP to request that each company put their proposal in a specific format. One of the biggest challenges I found was having to “re-frame” each proposal into a common format so I could put them into kind of a mental comparison matrix. I don’t know if I succeeded that well, and I think when it came down to it I went with my gut feeling about which proposals would ultimately rise to the top of the list. But I believe strongly that gut feelings are generally based in some fact. So after reading each proposal carefully, I had a good sense of what kind of company this was, and whether I felt strongly about them one way or the other.

The three that have made it to the short list are quite different from each other. They each suggested different technologies, they have different approaches, and different personalities. The longest proposal (of the three) is 40 pages long and came with 10 supplemental documents. Another one was seven pages long and I had to go back and ask for some missing information. How am I supposed to interpret that?

BTW I didn’t hold it against any of them for missing information. My turnaround time was very short and they did their best I’m sure. I merely asked for it and they gave it to me.

So here I am with a decision due tomorrow and feeling a little paralyzed by indecisiveness about three major factors:

  1. Drupal vs. Symfony (I know, I know, they’re not the same type of thing!)
  2. Eastern Europe vs. India
  3. Hourly vs. fixed price – there’s more to this but it’s too much to go into here.

Did I mention that none of the US companies I asked to participate responded? The overwhelming majority of the firms are from India. One was from Sweden (they dropped) and one from Ukraine. All their english skills are good, they all offer US based phone numbers, they all work late hours to compensate for the time zone issue. None of the offshore issues are really issues, to me at least. And the prices are all very close, and all within my budgeted range.

So I guess I’ll have to keep you in suspense until next week. If you have any thoughts or commments I’d love to hear them!

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2 Responses to “Choosing My Million Dollar Development Team”

  1. David Kutcher Says:

    Well, since I was late with the RFP information, can I provide some help here?

    "How to select the right web design and web development firm"

    "How not to destroy a project during the contract phase"

    I hope they're useful for you!

    Best,

    -David

    P.S. how/where did you announce the RFP? I'm a bit surprised that no US company submitted a bid… unless it was on elance or similar.

  2. Lisa Pecunia Says:

    Hi David. Thanks for your comments and your links – I agree with (mostly) everything you said in your "how to select…" post.

    I did exhaustive searches on the skills I wanted on the two sites I like to work in (odesk and guru) and used that to hand-select about a dozen companies to invite, based on their reviews and portfolio. I also sent the invitation out through my personal network and my LinkedIn discussion boards. Since I didn't want to divulge any details about the site's features yet, I required each participant to sign an NDA prior to sending out my RFP to them. Doing it that way also helped to minimize the "riff raff" and focus my efforts on the companies who I felt had a good shot.

    P.S. I was also surprised that no US-based company chose to participate. There were three on the invitation list.

    – Lisa


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