Michigan Creative, a unit of the Office of the Vice President for Communications, offers fee-based custom web development services to University departments. Their services in this area include site architecture, content development, web design and production, database development, flash production, and streaming media.
Many U-M departments have in-house development staff that can take on programming and maintenance tasks at varying levels of complexity. Most projects done by Information and Technology Services' former custom web application development unit were written in the Perl or PHP programming languages, both of which are widely used on campus. In-house support may make the most sense when projects are in a maintenance mode, that is, after most of the original development effort is complete.
University units can also communicate their web development needs to the firstname.lastname@example.org e-mail group. SIG members may know of existing mechanisms and staff that could meet the needs expressed. This group has broad experience with both vendors and individuals that have worked with departments. Sometimes SIG group members can suggest the names of talented developers available to be hired as temporary employees or contractors.
It is essential to work with U-M Procurement whenever hiring a vendor who is external to the University. The U-M Procurement Technology Procurement Team works with departments to select a contractor or vendor to provide web development support. Procurement Services has a number of software development vendors with pre-approved rates; this allows units to acquire hourly development contractors without going through an RFP process. Procurement Services also knows the track records of vendors on campus and can help in the selection of the most appropriate vendor given the work that needs to be accomplished. Using a vendor for custom application maintenance may not always be feasible when the work involved is irregular or minimal as it offers little revenue to an outside vendor. At the other extreme, it is likely that employing an outside vendor will be more expensive than hiring in-house staff when the unit has ongoing and significant programmer requirements, including the need for on-call support coverage.