Looking for a custom, data-driven business application to save money or increase the speed and accuracy of business processes? Or, perhaps you already have such an application, but now want to modify it to tie-in your customer contacts, accounting program, or some other back-office system?

If you aren’t a coder or have never hired programmers before, you may feel as though you’re about to travel to a different country. Indeed, if you’re opening the search to overseas MS Access developers, that’s precisely what you’ll be doing.

Even if you plan to hire in the U.S., your prospective hires will still, literally, be working in a foreign language to you—Visual Basic (VBA) in the case of Microsoft Access, C++, SQL, or another language for other database applications. Here are our suggestions:

Three Things to avoid when hiring an Application Programmer
Before you start considering requirements, let’s go over three important things you do not want to do when hiring an application programmer.

Rule 1: Don’t create a permanent, full-time developer position.
Unless you are going into the software development business, you should not be looking for a full-time employee. Even the most complex applications, if designed and coded well, don’t require constant oversight.

For a typical database-driven business application, it is simply unnecessary for your company to take on the considerable salary and benefits cost of a full-time programmer.

Rule 2: Don’t look overseas for application development talent.
Unless you have a great deal of experience managing software developers and software development projects, do not have your application developed overseas.

It’s bad enough that your programmer will be working in a computer language that you don’t understand. When you compound that with drastic time differences (when it’s noon in New York City, it will be 10 p.m. in New Delhi), and possible language or accent barriers, your project can quickly turn nightmarish.

Yes, you can save lots of money by going overseas for application development talent. However, in my experience, the money you save will be offset not only by language and time-zone difficulties, but by project commitment and loyalty.

As you might imagine, application developers who work cheaply tend to get a lot of work. It can be easy for them to be distracted by other projects, especially late arriving projects that are more lucrative than yours. I’ve found that, while it is easy to engage overseas workers, it can be maddeningly difficult to keep them engaged.

Rule 3: Do not hire freelance application programmers.
Unless you know and absolutely trust the person, you do not want to put the entire responsibility for your application into the hands of one person. I know, there are some wonderful freelance programmers out there. The point is, if you don’t know them, you are opening up your project (and data) to serious vulnerabilities.

The best freelance Access programmers have excellent references, an extensive work portfolio, and a solid, standards-based approach to work. That last requirement is especially important. It means that, should anything happen to your freelance programmer, another developer will be able to easily step in and continue the development project or provide maintenance support for it. If your freelance programmer is a bit of a renegade (there are lots of those out there), you will have to hope that they stick around to not only finish the project, but provide support for it down the road.

If they don’t stick around, your Microsoft Access application may appear to be a rat’s nest tucked inside a haystack to the developer called in to complete or repair it. Believe it or not, it may become cheaper to start again from scratch, rather than pay a developer to unravel and make sense of a project that an unorthodox developer left unfinished.

If you are really tempted to hire a freelance Microsoft Access application developer, you should require the very same credentials that you would look for in a good application development firm.


About Help4Access

Help4Access is a provider of highly affordable, data-driven business applications and services. Since 1998, the company has built more than 800 custom applications for a wide variety of businesses, educational institutions and nonprofit organizations.

Founded by Sasha Froyland, Help4Access has successfully completed over 800 custom database application solutions for companies ranging in size from large Fortune 500 to small start-up companies in every industry. Help4Access is a Microsoft Certified Partner and focuses on delivering Microsoft Access solutions.

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