Five Tips for Successfully Working with Developers

When working with developers on a project, it’s important to establish clear expectations, transparent communication, and specific roles. As the developer owns the land and master plans for their developments, they are always the key client on any development project. Establishing a harmonious relationship with the developer and their team from the start will not only result in projects that run more smoothly, are more cost efficient, and completed on schedule, but will also allow you to establish a solid relationship for future project opportunities.

Following are five key tips to successfully working with developers:

  1. Establish transparent communication
    Entering the relationship with a well-defined communication process can set the tone for the entire project. Establishing a system and/or single point of contact can help ease confusion when multiple opinions are expressed and/or multiple projects are occurring simultaneously. Setting expectations for a regular cadence for project updates can help alleviate roadblocks, mitigate risk, and reinforce a culture of teamwork. With any multi-party project, it’s also important to establish an environment where everyone will operate with transparency – being upfront and honest about timelines, budgets, and needs. Launching the project with this foundation of honest and transparent communication will aid everyone in being able to communicate their needs effectively and professionally.
  2. Create defined roles and stick to them
    Typically, the developer has a master plan and a high-level of concern for the overall makeup of their parcel of land. In some cases, the developer is also the contractor, which has the potential to blur the lines regarding roles and responsibilities. As such, defining roles and expectations associated with each role required for project completion is critical. Not only does this help ensure the developer knows what is expected of you, but you do as well. Sometimes, depending on the size and scope of the project, these clearly defined roles, expectations, and outputs need to be outlined in the contract. Establishing these roles prior to the start of the project aims to minimize any crossover of responsibilities and cost inefficiencies.
  3. Be flexible and agile
    With any construction project it’s imperative to be flexible and agile, as plans may change, and directives may be given to deviate from the master plan. Unless it directly contradicts your established contact, be prepared to adapt to a working environment where you may be asked to change course, bring on new partners, or adapt the scope of your work. New contracts may be needed to adequately reflect this new scope and any budget or staffing requirements. Being flexible under these conditions will result in a more fluid relationship with the developer, as they will come to rely on your ability to adapt to the needs of the project.
  4. Understand the environment
    When working with developers, the projects tend to be large scale with high budgets and concise timelines. Understanding the environment in which you are working, and the working style of the developer, can ensure a successful and smooth project. Knowing what information is critical to the developer, pertinent timelines, and budget considerations can help set you up for a successful relationship and show an awareness of the developer’s needs and critical deadlines.
  5. Build a strong network
    Having a strong network within the industry can help your relationship with the developer in multiple ways. First, your general understanding regarding how the business operates, general industry timelines, and development project budgets will be appreciated. Secondly, knowing and building strong relationships with key players and organizations within your local footprint will create more partnership opportunities for you and a symbiotic relationship with other organizations employed by the developer. Lastly, establishing a positive referral network will result in a solid reputation and an innate level of trust and respect within the industry.

Overall, working with a developer is comparable to working with any large entity. General best business practices are always encouraged, and it always serves you well to focus on building and maintaining strong relationships during the project and with future opportunities in mind.

For more insight on working with developers, budgeting for projects, and working with multi-party stakeholders, visit

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