Skills are not enough for freelance developers; culture is the key to career success according to a panel of business experts.
Understanding what makes a business tick is the most important factor to enable a freelancer to complete a brief and encourage repeat business, explains UKFast CEO Lawrence Jones.
Jones said: “So much of successfully completing a creative brief lies in understanding the business and its vibe. If a freelancer doesn’t understand where the business is coming from, the work they complete is never going to meet the business’s needs.
“UKFast is all about people and we have a very unique culture. How can I expect a freelancer to adequately fulfil a brief if they don’t understand the culture?”
Adam Fleming, CTO of app developers Apadmi agreed. He said: “When you build a business over a number of years, you get a set way of doing things. Although someone can come in and be a perfectly competent coder, that doesn’t necessarily mean they are going to slot perfectly into the team.
“There are rough edges that get smoothed off in the first three months with any new member of the team but if you bring a person in for a 12-week project, you are only going to get rough edges and you have to deal with that.”
Having freelancers who do not fit with the company culture poses a risk to the reputation of the company if they are client facing like those at digital development agency Zucchi.
Matt Cockayne, Zucchi’s managing director said: “The criteria when I am hiring a freelancer or a permanent member of staff is that I have to be able to see that I can teach them the business and the soft skills that they need, because all of my developers are client-facing, freelance included.
“They have to be able to talk to a client. Soft skills are vitally important and they are not taught in a classroom. I won’t take people on if I can’t communicate with them. At the end of the day, if I can’t communicate with them, neither can my clients.”
The panel of business leaders gathered at an event held by UKFast to discuss best practice for both businesses hiring freelancers and freelancers themselves.
Rob Blake, founder of web design and development agency Losource concluded the debate advising businesses that once they’ve found a great freelancer, keep hold of them.
Blake said: “I have found that there is a cultural cohesion around certain open source projects. If you find a good freelancer you need to look after them and talk to them. Ask if they have any friends and get good people through the door via word of mouth.
“For me, one of the greatest things about working with the web is the variety of people with whom you can work. You can collaborate with all kinds of different people across the globe.”