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When to fire your web developer (18 reasons)

by Randall Craig on December 18, 2015

Filed in: Associations, Blog, Make It Happen Tipsheet, Web, Web development

Tagged as: ,

Every organization has its group of trusted partners: accountant, lawyer, banker… and web developer. They know your history, strategy, and people, and are available to help when their special skills are needed. But how do you know when it is time to move on from the relationship? While we can’t precisely help with the other advisors, for your external web developer, here are some clues:


  • When their designs are uncreative, or begin to all have “their” look – not yours
  • When they are not using cloud-based collaborative tools for wireframes, design, development, etc.
  • When their technical abilities have reached their limit (or don’t match your internal architecture)
  • When they have not invested in the latest technologies, design capabilities, or social media
  • When they have not invested in certifications on related technologies (CRM, Marketing Automation, etc.)
  • When they are not “up” on the latest legal compliance requirements (CASL, AODA, etc)
  • When they are not demonstrating thought leadership in the public sphere
  • When they shy away from helping you build internal knowledge and capability

Service level

  • When they are not resolving issues in a timely manner (if at all)
  • When they don’t keep their promises on deadlines or budgets
  • When they are not responsive to your requests
  • When they stop pro-actively suggesting new ideas
  • When they don’t work collaboratively with your other partners – or your staff

Account management

  • When the relationship is more transactional than strategic
  • When they have a significant staffing change and you are not notified
  • When their invoices are often incorrect
  • When they show signs of being unethical or dishonest
  • When they take you for granted

One of the more important aspects to review when considering a change is the nature of the relationship itself. Is your interest in having a vendor, or having a partner? A partner is an extended part of the team: an outsider that you make to feel to be an insider, who reciprocates by also investing in the relationship. A vendor is an outsider who is “procured”, then delivers a service for a fee – no different than a barber or a plumber. Both arrangements can work, but often will not when there is a disconnect between the expectations between the two parties.

This week’s action plan: Changing an external advisor is not costless, so any decision needs to balance the learning curve costs with the expected benefits of the new arrangement. This week, using these ideas as evaluation criteria, do a reality check on your external web people: How did they do?

Service insight #1: It is too easy to forget that your service providers are also evaluating you, using their own checklist. What responsibilities do you have to add positivity and value into the relationship? (Hint: without this, your provider will become demotivated, and eventually will move on from you – no matter what the fee level.)

Service insight #2: With a few changes, these criteria can also be used for internal web resources as well. The only difference is that if the answer to some of the criteria are negative, your requirements might be satisfied by investing in training – or supplementing with external resources.

Note: The Make It Happen Tipsheet is also available by email. Go to to register.

Randall Craig

@RandallCraig (follow me)
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Randall has been advising on Digital Strategy since 1994 when he put the Toronto Star online, the Globe and Mail's GlobeInvestor/Globefund, several financial institutions, and about 100+ other major organizations. He is the author of eight books, including Digital Transformation for Associations, the Everything Guide to Starting an Online Business, and Social Media for Business. He speaks and advises on Digital Transformation, Digital Trust, and Social Media. More at

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