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Recognizing Bad Dev Shops

A study on identifying the smell before you get too deep.

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Tags: drupal, industry, development, business

Introduction Post

This is a multi-part post intended to help you (and those you care about!) identify bad development shops before succumbing to their wily ways. Many examples within these posts may pertain to Drupal but most ideas can be abstracted out to general principles.

Learn how to identify the smell of a bad shop before sinking many thousands of dollars and hours into a product that you'll ultimately have to get fixed elsewhere - likely at more cost than the original would have been if done the correct way.

Avoiding the pitfalls of bad development starts before the hiring/consultation even takes place. In this series, we'll help you to look for and identify the bad business patterns these shops exhibit.

General Things to Look for AKA Topics we’ll cover in future posts:


  • General

    • Can you visit them? (Some companies are distributed but is there an HQ?)

    • Can they produce industry standard documentation or do they just talk about them or cast them aside as if it’s beneath them (because they don’t really know them)

    • Business Plan / Statement of Purpose

    • Too narrow niche? Conversely, too broad/vague?



  • Staff

    • Ask for Resumes (and follow up)


    • Experience

    • Education

    • Morale/Turnover

    • Past Performance



  • Open Source Repositories

    • Project Quality

    • Diversity in Languages/Tools

    • Diversity in Approaches

    • Commits/History



  • Professional References

    • Not just links or pictures on the page but real references


    • Case Studies (if Applicable)



  • Knowledge/Conversational Tone

    • Dodging

    • Double-speak

    • Deflection



  • Community Involvement

    • Beyond Cash

    • Projection vs. Reality
      • How does the community perceive them versus what they project?


    • Do their ideas only tend to follow their competitor’s announcements?

    • Do they tell a lot of stories about others?
      • Recognizing reality vs projection.




  • Integrity

    • Does the organization follow best-practices?

    • Do they steal stock art?

    • Do they scrub commit history?

    • Do they follow proper attribution techniques?



  • Content

    • Is their content stale?

    • Do they only retweet/share the works of others?



In future posts, we’ll visit a fictional company (we’ll have to come up with a name around being a not very moral LLC) and talk about each of these bullet point in greater detail with examples of each odorous offense.

We’ll try to pare this list down to general principles in the future. Until then, cheers and feel free to reach us @redskydev if you have any other ideas to add to the list.