Dumping Your Developer – An App Owner’s Exit Plan

Breaking up with someone is never easy. You’ve spent so much time with them, you really got to know them, opened up about your hopes and dreams for the future. They’ve even tried to make them happen! But as much as you’ve tried to persevere through the hard times, it was never going to work.

All good things must come to an end. Or in some cases, all bad things. You’ve finally seen the signs that you need a new app developer and it’s time to cut the cord and say goodbye. The only problem is, you don’t know how to break it to them.

Why Are You Breaking Up With Them?

Drop off the keys, Lee

Unsurprisingly, you’ll need a legitimate reason to dump your developer. It might be that they’re constantly making major mistakes, missing milestones without a good reason (lots of IT projects will ‘slip’, but if the reasons sound dubious it could be because there's something nefarious going on) or just continually refusing to reply to that one email you marked as high importance. Whatever the issue, have strong evidence to back up your reasoning in case things get messy.

Before the Break Up

Have a plan, Stan

You and your developer should have some sort of contract signed agreeing details like the project scope, timeliness, hours, etc. More importantly, though, it’ll have all the technical legalities regarding your app. This should help you find the key for your escape.

Firstly, do you actually own your app? It sounds like a stupid thing to check but if the app has your developer’s name on it and is being submitted under their account, it’s ALL theirs. This will massively complicate the transition to a new developer and the time spent arguing back and forth about ownership of this might be more than it’s actually worth.

Secondly, have they completed the features they were working on? You don’t want to do the deed when your app developer is in the middle of something so fiddly and specific that your new one might not be able to figure out. With that in mind, take note of what features still need to be completed, so your new developer can take over with ease.

Thirdly, protect yourself. Save everything. Back up everything. Make sure you’ve got logins for databases, accounts, etc. After all you’ve been through in this journey, not being able to cross the finish line for your app because of one tiny missing puzzle piece is going to drive you crazy.

And lastly, the source code. It’s essential that you own it. Unfortunately, the fight for this is often a messy’un; you need it so you can move on and start again with your new app developer, which you should have dealt with in your contract. But typically developers will want to hold onto the source code until the bills are paid - they want to keep the code so they can call the shots and force you into continuing this relationship that you’re oh so unhappy in. It’s harsh but it happens.

With this plan in place, the switch should be pain-free. If not, try and enforce this as early on as you can in order to protect yourself later down the line.

How to Break Up With Your App Developer

You don’t need to be coy, Roy

Ultimately, you’re paying good money for a service and if you don’t feel like you’re getting bang for your buck then they need to know. Don’t be afraid to simply talk it out with them. It’ll (hopefully) be hassle-free and the cheapest way out. They might even realise the error of their ways and come crawling back to you, begging for forgiveness, telling you how sorry they are and that they’ll change for you.

Settle the bill, Phil

First off, depending on how far you are in the project, you will almost certainly have to pay something (unless the developer has filled the app with cheese instead of code, in this instance you have a pretty strong case for not paying a penny).

If money isn’t necessarily an issue for you and you’d rather just speed up the inevitable, then let them go and pay the remainder. It’s definitely no loss to them and they’ll probably happily handover all your rightful belongings back to you.

Now, obviously money doesn’t grow on trees for us all. Instead, try and find cases in your app journey where the developer may have broken the contract (such as overuse of cheese). It could be a strong enough argument that the minimum or even no payment needs to be made for this to end.

Post-Break Up

Hop on the bus, Gus

Before you jump right back into the next phase of your app’s journey, make sure you’ve chosen the right developer this time.

Explain the situation to them and give them as much detail and information about you and your app as you can; the source code, logins, a to-do list, budgets, timelines etc.

It’ll be an adjustment and will take some getting used to for both of you, but conquering the speed bumps and the potholes on the journey will make it worthwhile.

If your app still isn’t driving those downloads, you might’ve missed something in the post launch mobile app process. Check out our free guide in getting your app the success it deserves!

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