In any tech startup, the developer plays a key role in how a product moves forward. As a founder, you’ve spent a great deal of time finding the right developer, ensuring they had the skills required, that they were a good fit, and that they shared your vision to help turn your dream into something real. What is also real, however, is that even after all of that, your developer may not stay with you for the long term.

Satisfy the developer’s passion

One of the things that can drive a developer to find new work is being stuck in a job they are unhappy with or that does not satisfy their passion. When you interviewed your developer, you probably asked what they were interested in, what excited them. The key now is to ensure they continue to have access to that, and that any new passions are satisfied. For some developers, this may be client interaction; for others, it may be the chance to work with new technologies or perhaps to grow their responsibilities within a company; for some, it is simply recognition of a job well done.

By knowing what drives your developer, what they seek as their next step, or what they need to keep the work interesting, you have a better chance of supporting that developer so they will stay.

Keep dialogue open

While there is nothing you can do to hold back a developer who has dreams of their own, there are some things you can do to ensure your business is not impacted as significantly, should your developer decide to move on. Among these is keeping an open dialogue. If you are communicating, checking with them along the way, you will either see signs, or they may tell you outright that they are ready to seek new opportunities.

Either way, knowing ahead of time gives you the opportunity to negotiate the terms of how and when they will leave. Perhaps their dream is a startup of their own. Depending on the knowledge they possess, there may be things you can teach them, insights and skills you can help them develop to make that dream possible. Offering to mentor and guide them in exchange for keeping them engaged in your project longer benefits you both short-term and over the long-term because networks can be key to a startup’s success.

Knowing in advance is also beneficial because there may be an opportunity to bring in a junior person now to learn and become part of the process, understanding that when it is time to replace your senior developer, this person can help with the transition.

Ask and know

If your developer is leaving, or if you have not kept an open dialogue but are seeing signs that their passion and interest in the project are waning, there are some key bits of information you might want to know or ask about to ensure a smooth transition.

Where is the source code? In which repository? What logins and passwords do I need to access them?

What is the development roadmap? Where is the backlog of what should be developed next? In which tool are these ideas stored? Are there specifications for future features?

Where is the data stored? Where is the server? What framework and language does it use? Are there any special details that should be explained?

What is required on a daily or weekly basis to manage the servers? How do I access them? Where are the application logs? Is there a record of bugs that have been fixed or are currently being fixed? How do I connect for support requests?

How do we ensure our service is always up and running? How are we notified about problems? Who does the monitoring? Is there proactive tracking such as looking at usage, RAM, bandwidth and disk space, and who does this tracking?

Where are the backups? Is there a backup person?

What are all the logins and passwords to various provider accounts, to certificate files or other service areas?

What external services do we use – API, mail, etc.?

What are the tools used – applications, source files, previous versions, scripts and so on?

What is our disaster recovery plan?

While part of the contract with your developer should be a period of notice to help keep your business moving forward and to ensure a smooth transition, keep in mind that even three months may not be enough to get a new developer completely up to speed. The best way to secure your business is to know, along the way, your developer’s plans.