The digital world demands efficiency, quality, and transparency. But many businesses still rely on outdated software that limits the speed and simplicity of their business processes. To gain some edge in their industry, business managers need to innovate (or at least modernize) and catch up with the speeding world around them.
In case you’re one of these managers you might be doing your own research and planning what you need to do in order to get the most of modern tech. The good news is that if you’re not in software, then all you need to know is… well – what is your pain in terms of exact necessity, something to be changed, optimized, transformed, or innovated. The implementation of your idea could be someone else’s job.
Sounds easy, right? Could be! In case you manage to find the “right” someone(s). On top of that, if you plan a long-running engagement, it is even more crucial to do your due diligence properly and get to the best team possible.
But how do you pick? Is there a more structured approach than relying on your gut feeling? In this article, we will summarize some of the key aspects and gotchas you need to take into account when choosing the right software services provider.
In case you find the below information useful, we’ve also prepared a summarized checklist that can help you find the right custom software development provider.
Stability and reputation of the software service provider
One of the first things you should dig into is the stability and reputation of the vendor you want to contract to implement your solution.
For instance, you need to know how many people work there, what kind of roles they have, how long ago was the company founded, is it in a stable financial state. All these questions are easy to get the answers to and matter a great deal.
The size of the team is important so that you know the project management, communication and coordination, the development and the quality assurance are covered. It also ensures that each role in the team has a possible substitute (i.e. if someone gets sick, leaves the team, etc.).
At the same time it is a good thing to know that the company helping you has gained at least a few years of experience in doing what it does. In that case, they have not only the experienced people but also the streamlined processes for the whole project to run smoothly.
As for the financial aspect – if the software provider is not stable, you’re running the risk it either ceases to exist or gets bought by some larger player in the industry. In both cases, there is a risk for you being left hanging with a project half-way done.
Another extremely important aspect you should explore is the references from other customers. Definitely ask who they are and find a way to get in touch with at least a few.
What expertise and guarantees does the software development services company provide?
You’ve now validated that there is nothing worrying about the company profile of a software provider you’re considering. The next area you should explore is the expertise and guarantees they have and are committing to provide for you. Can they show you a demo of something they’ve done? How applicable to your case are the technologies they have experience with?
Once you feel confident you won’t waste your time going into details and discussing your business requirements, you should constantly be aware if they are getting “it”! In other words, do they understand the business they are supposed to model with software solutions. How well do they articulate “their” version of what needs to be done? Can they summarize it in both written and visual form?
Now, after you’ve laid the common ground, then what comes next is more technical. And with it you need to make sure, the team you’re contracting:
- Shows you the architectural design of your system. As in the real world, one should not start building and hacking, before planning what components there will be and how do they relate to each other;
- Has an implementation plan (or a roadmap) so you know what comes when and that it is in the right order;
- Has the security and scalability aspects covered. These two could easily get overlooked when discussing the specific requirements of a project. Nevertheless, making sure a system is secure in terms of communication channels and data management is crucial. Same goes for planning ahead of time for increased system load.
Decoding and comparing custom software development services offers
In case you’re satisfied with what you’ve seen so far, you might be starting to ask yourself how much it will cost you. Well, prices and rates can be compared, but one can argue that what is included is even more important. Things to be careful with:
- Make sure you get a 360 degree budget forecast (all direct services, possible infrastructure, and 3rd party costs, future support costs should be outlined);
- There are no hidden/additional fees which were not communicated in the offer;
- You should be able to rely on guaranteed free of charge support for some limited time;
- There is a mutual (and legally binding) agreement who owns the intellectual property. In 9 out of 10 cases it should be you, the customer, unless there is some specific (and well argumented) reason why.
One of the last things you should look for is for your software provider to commit to transparency (frequent customer demos, proactive problem resolution, regular feedback reflection, etc.). This way you’re lowering the risk of something going totally wrong and you learning about it after a few months.
The Human Factor is just as important
The last area you need to focus on is the Human Factor. It is definitely not the least important! It’s time to consult your gut feeling or human radar regarding the trustworthiness of the people you meet with.
They often say that custom software development is a business to business type of service, but at the same time, it is the PEOPLE who work in those businesses and make commitments, take decisions, rely on each other to get things done for the benefit of all. So be careful here!
Make sure the people you are going to contract are invested in your success. Try to see if they are proactive and think for you, giving you ideas. Overall, they should behave as if they are here to stay, not just to “seduce” you, make the transaction, and hop on to the next customer.
See if they are easy to communicate with, they respond quickly to any of your questions. And above all – that they strike you as being honest!
Choosing a software development services company is a matter of focus
There’s this idea that seems to permeate the business sphere that to choose the right software services provider, you need to “speak tech”. Although that can help, it’s far from mandatory. What you need instead is a structured approach that is designed to focus on the key qualities a great software partner should have.
Hopefully, we gave you some ideas on how to organize this structured approach. And if it was helpful, download our checklist that gives you the step-by-step at each stage of your journey. From researching which companies to contact for an RFP to evaluating them after the initial call – we’ve got you covered!