Outsourcing your custom software needs to an external software development company gives you strategic advantages you won’t get with an in-house team. It frees up more time, you get to work with an experienced team, and you don’t have to manage development as much, among others.
But choosing the right software provider isn’t an easy task.
Letting an outside firm handle a crucial piece of software for your firm has its risks. Finding the right partner lets you minimize, or even eliminate, those risks.
So how do you go about finding the right partner?
By asking the right questions – and getting the right answers to those questions to make sure they’re the right fit for you.
We’ve put together some of the most important questions that you need to ask potential software providers to find the right one.
How much experience do you have handling similar projects?
When looking for potential partners for your custom software development project, it’s important to learn more about the team that you’ll be working with. First of all, you need to determine whether they’ve handled projects similar to yours in terms of scale, features, or niche.
Experience in handling similar projects demonstrates the team’s capacity and expertise, which gives you a general idea of whether they can handle the solutions you require. Ask for more details about how they’ve handled those projects and how they were able to overcome hurdles.
Having an experienced team helps make the development process easier for both parties.
It gives you peace of mind knowing your project is being handled by a team that understands what you are looking for. In the same way, your software provider can look to past projects so they can deploy similar solutions to your software.
How many team members do you have?
Is your project time-sensitive? Do you need the solution to be deployed as quickly as possible?
Depending on the solution the complexity and scale of your project, the number of developers handling your software can make or break your project. While expertise will always be a factor, the right team composition and number of specialists allocated on your project can certainly speed things up.
Think about it this way. If you need to make an additional request, a well-structured team with enough resources will have the ability to accommodate that request without affecting the project timeline.
What does your software development process look like? What is your technology stack?
A good software development company with extensive experience in the industry often has its own consistent and reliable process that they rely on. This process includes how they operate, the approach they take when gathering requirements, and how they plan to avoid/tackle possible hitches during development.
Discussing the process during the initial meeting helps get both parties on the same page. Things like task delegation, frequency of discussions, time spent on each phase of development, troubleshooting, etc., should be fully covered to give you an idea about how they plan to go about the development of your software and ensure timely delivery.
For some clients, the technologies used by the vendor don’t matter as long as they deliver. However, a technology stack is a crucial part of the custom software development process. They determine the direction of development and can affect certain requirements of the software.
Choose a partner that demonstrates their expertise during your conversation to encounter fewer problems during development. Those who simply nod and agree with whatever you say won’t be much help to you at all.
How involved do I have to be during the entire project? How do we communicate?
Many clients like to be involved in the development process to oversee the project at various phases. This gives them more control over progress. Meanwhile, many others like to give the software development company full discretion and just to receive timely updates.
Whether you’re one or the other, it would be better to discuss what type of involvement that would be before the project kick-off:
- If you’re the former, talk about the scope of your involvement and your role. Define what decisions must be approved by you and what can be managed by the team.
- If you’re the latter, discuss how much you will be needed during the entire process. How frequently will updates be given? Anyway, always provide timely feedback.
Find common ground. Discuss all communication options and reporting schedule so you know you’re both on the same page.
Do you offer long-term support?
One of the most common sources of conflict occurs after software delivery. Some companies feel that their part of the deal has been fulfilled once development is completed and the software solution is released.
This is an important topic of discussion – but one with only a single acceptable answer.
Software development companies should always provide post-launch support. Aside from the many problems that may occur even after delivery, you may also want to make some improvements or want to install new features. Their expertise will always be needed when that happens.
What you want in the right software development partner is someone who will support you in the long-term. Look for a partner that has your best interests in mind and not just their own. Otherwise, you will need to look for someone else who will support your business.
What should I expect from your software development company?
This is a very common question. It’s so common, in fact, that most companies may have already created a pitch that can answer this question with ease.
The answer that you should be looking for isn’t the one that they think you want to hear, which is often what elevator pitches aim for. Instead, look for answers that are sincere and measurable. When you account for all the answers they gave to the questions above, this can be a very powerful question that may give you the deciding vote when looking for the right software development partner.