PHPRO.ORG

With the growth of PHP there has been an equal boom in PHP developers. Not all of these are able to compete at an Enterprise level. Some small companies have excellent programmers whilst offering little support while others offer large corporate faculties but little expertise. Who do you turn to find the right developer for your Enterprise? What are the pitfalls you should look for.

Buzzwords

Beware of buzzwords. These may include words like Web2, AJAX (Asynchronous JavaScript and XML)

Certification.

With the maturation of PHP in the Enterprise field it is important to see that a developer has matured with it. Industry standards in most programming languages demand a level of expertise by which developers can demonstrate their proficiency. To this end, there has been an uprising of certification companies who tout thier certification model as being of an industry standard. To quote an oft used adage, "The good thing about standards is, there are so many of them". This could not be more true when it comes to programming. Many of these certifications are worth less than 2 bits in byte and cannot be regarded as a sane benchmark for choosing a developer. However, some certifications may show that a developer has at least a fundemental knowledge of the language. This does not assure you of the purposes he is able to put it to. The ability to construct an on-line guestbook is a far cry from being able to produce secure e-commerce applications. Many of these certifications cost good dollars with little return other than being listed in a vague list of certification holders. Certifaction rarely stands the test of time. How many of those with a driving license can recall all the road rules they learned when learning? The analogy holds true for developers also. A developer may be certified yet but not have any recent practical experience. With regard to PHP, the language is very dynamic and new and improved methods are available regularly.

The best thing you can look for on a resume is working examples of past projects.

Membership

Many developers belong to organisations that support and help to further thier understanding of their craft. They may also have a code of ethics and standard contracts that developers must abide by to retain their membership. But, does this make them more proficient than others? They may certainly have exposure to the language, but do they have expertise?

Management

Avoid over delegation. If you choose to deal with multiple levels of management to attain your goal be aware that management can, in times of stress, pass on projects to IT departmentss in a bid to validate their own existence. The worst case of this can be the establishment of a new management level. The new manager quickly needs to establish credibility and often will want to change things to give the illusion of progress. Try to deal as closely with the choice of developer if you cannot do it yourself.

Ask sensible questions. Do not send a monkey to talk to the developer. Have somebody who has a working knowledge of the existing systems and the requirements for additions to it.

  • What kind of functionality will the site have?
  • Will the site need database support?
  • Will the site need frequent maintenance and updating?
  • Will the site be used to process e-commerce transactions?

Buzzwords

Do they explain things to you? Do they speak in buzzwords and jargon, or in words most people understand? Do you feel that you understand what they say and why it's being said? Look out for buzzwords or phrases like Web2, AJAX (Asynchronous JavaScript and XML) and Enterpise Ready.
Can they give you a list of references that you can talk to? Do they have testimonials to their work?
Do they have established forms such as contracts and plan details which spell out promises, rights of ownership, litigation procedures, your rights, and so forth?

Price

Whilst price is often negotiable for a project a good developer needs to be able to work within budgetary constraints. Should blow outs occur you need to be sure the communication channels are intact to enable this. Negotiations with developer must be clear and the developer should have in place contracts to deal with most situations. Should your Enterprise need more than a standard contract can deal with, be sure you have good communications with legal representatives from both sides. Are they flexible? Will they adjust themselves to your needs? Can they adapt to changes you need as you go along, or are they 'locked in'? Do they follow a code of ethics?

Shop around. Get a second opinion. Remember that pricing is not the only, or even the most important, concern, but it can be important because it may tell you something about the developer. More importantly, do you feel you can trust your developer?

We hope this guide gives you a starting point on your path to a successful online enterprise.