Software development partners are a vital part of any organization that runs on technology. They provide the technical expertise to help keep everything running smoothly and efficiently while also advising management.
The software you are developing is a critical part of your business. For this reason, selecting the best possible company to undertake this task for you is crucial.
Choosing a business partner can be challenging, especially when it comes to software development. Choosing a company means you need to find someone knowledgeable about the subject and who understands your needs and wants for your business and the market.
This article will cover some common mistakes to avoid when hiring a company for your software development. You need to be able to choose wisely to maximize the potential and minimize the risk.
We give you a guide to choose wisely.
Key points worth paying attention to when choosing a software development partner
There are several factors to consider when choosing a software development partner, including reputation and customer satisfaction. You want someone you can trust with your most important data and the experience to hit deadlines without compromising quality. There’s no magic formula for selecting partners – it largely depends on what skill sets they have that complement yours.
Key points to look for best software development companies:
1. Define your goals and needs
How does this product fit into your overall plan? If you have a clearly defined business goal, it is easier for the software development company to understand what you achieve. If your team isn't clear on what it wants, chances are the results will be equally cloudy. When setting out your goals, consider both short-term and long-term needs. The short-term need might be launching it as fast as possible, while long-term outlooks can involve expanding beyond mobile apps and desktop applications into cloud services.
2. Software development company expertise and experience
If you want to launch a mobile app for both Android and iOS, look for companies that offer expertise in mobile development on both platforms. You'll also want your developer to have ample experience – ideally with projects that are similar to yours. Look at their portfolio or request references from other clients before hiring them. A good development company will be able to demonstrate their expertise and capabilities and those of their staff.
Your project might not fit into any pre-made box, so you should expect a professional software development company to provide a flexible solution that can meet all your needs and requirements. They may be using off-the-shelf products but consider how much input you have on these modules.
Always check if they are a one-stop shop or specific expertise and understand their competitive edge.
3. The practically of the software development process
A partnership between a business owner and a development company is not easy to forge or maintain. The affinity must be mutual; with both parties geared toward the same goals, one cannot get ahead of the other without making compromises that may fail in the end. There must be clarity on each party's expectations early on to ensure success.
Ask them about the specifics of proposing and working with you as a partner. Where do they start? What are the benefits to your business? How do they generate proposals and quotes, and what are the benefits of their proposal to partner as customers? From initial steps in the project agreement until its completion, essential questions need to be asked upfront so you can gain a sense of their expertise early on.
For instance, if they offer workshops that participants from your organization can take part in, this is also an opportunity for you to get on the same page and better understand how they cooperate while adding more clarity to the process in general.
The process of software development is never a one-size-fits-all.
Customers often have misconceptions about what they want because it's not always clear to them how the code will be created, who owns the intellectual property rights etc. A client may come in with an idea and then expect that we'll produce something out of nothing. It can result in disappointment if their expectations are too high or unrealistic. Both parties need to agree on requirements before starting any work, so there are no surprises later.
You can check articles about our workshops and software development life cycle.
4. Communication and chemistry
Communication with the other company is critical, so make sure you understand what they can do for your business and that there will be open communication.
Trust is an essential part of business partnership. It can be challenging to trust a company without working with them before and something that takes time. To avoid any mistrust, it's important to lay out the expectations for your cooperation upfront, so there are fewer surprises when the other needs more attention than usual.
Honesty is essential when choosing a company as a partner. It is important to be honest about the commitment that will be made on both sides and what our partnerships can entail in the future.
When looking for a development partner, it pays to get to know the individuals on the team. Have them outline milestones by each phase of your project so you can stay on track and make sure that everyone remains engaged throughout every stage.
By establishing partnerships with your outsourcing partners, you will work together to develop a mutually positive working relationship.
This type of relationship will encourage the other team to perform at their best and help your business succeed.
To have a mutually beneficial relationship with your provider, give them the space to work without excessive supervision. Trust that they will bring solutions to the table; you would not be able to come up with yourself and enjoy the trust in turn from both parties.
Partner agreements are contracts including fixed-priced, dedicated team, outsourcing, time, and material.
However, let's talk about partnering arrangements where one company provides something to another, such as software development services. There's an additional set of terms that should be agreed on ahead before signing any contract.
Although these terms may not seem very important at first sight, they can have huge implications when it comes time to enforce them later down the road with the help of a lawyer.
One needs to take into account that contractual terms can affect issues such as whether an agreement is valid or binding; what type of contract it may be (i.e., oral vs. written); whether one party has breached any term(s) within the agreement; how damages are calculated when someone breaches their side of the bargain; how conflicts are resolved, etc.
For example, with respect to software services agreements, there's usually a provision about ownership rights that lays down who owns code produced during work on behalf of another company – this could have significant implications if we were talking about intellectual property rights.
What type of legal agreement would be best suited for your project? In other words, how much control do you want over intellectual property rights (e.g., code, designs)?
If you want to retain full ownership rights of the intellectual property created during the project, then a work-for-hire agreement may be appropriate. If you want to share those rights with your development partner - or if you're not sure what type of agreement would suit your needs best – it's worth seeking advice from an experienced lawyer before signing on any dotted lines.
Such decisions can have far-reaching implications that could cost time and money in the long term when they come back to bite us down the line.
Custom software development company - principles of starting cooperation
After the initial stage in which you are looking for top software development companies through portals (for example, Clutch), among friends' recommendations. You do the initial screening by selecting services tailored to you and having the process described on the website, case studies. The shortlist that you have left will allow you to contact a potential business partner. Right now, you need to meet and talk with them about key points (see at the top) and:
Ask about their process
What type of software development process do they use? Is it Agile based on scrum methodology? These are questions you should ask before signing any contracts.
You want to work with a company that does not just think about writing code but also about the user, making interface design and usability an essential part of their process.
When choosing wisely software development company as a partner business, we first need to understand their workflow process.
Is it agile based on scrum methodology? Does the project have strict deadlines, or can it take time indefinitely?
Finally, we want to ensure that this company has good communication skills and works in partnership for joint success. It is really important because it will give us a clear idea of how they would behave if problems arise during the development process and what type of person-to-person relationship they aim for.
Define the goal of your software development
Analyze your company's needs and make a list in what sequence you want to achieve them. You want to have the right software development for sure! If you are not sure about that, you can ask if your software development partner has a service for that.
We'll start with training sessions to outline the company's aims and requirements. I like workshops since they help us establish objectives and a deeper understanding of what we need from this project. It will also be easier to deal with any difficulties that may arise because discussing workshops is easy for us to do (https://mdevelopers.com/blog/post/what-is-a-feasibility-study-and-why-is-it-important-to-describe-the-product-to-build-) Before hiring development teams or a team, think about how much time it will take to complete the project. It will help you determine if this company is the right choice for your particular vision and timeline for the software solution you want to build.
Talk to others who have dealt with similar problems before, including friends or colleagues and experts from related fields such as IT consultancy companies. Don't forget about online communities where people share their experiences.
Define the scope of the project
To ensure that your digital product, website, etc., can be successfully developed and launched on time, it is crucial to learn about the process and meet requirements before finding the right vendor.
Step One of evaluating a development partner company would consist of establishing a scope or measurements for your project. It will guide development teams in their pursuit of matching their proposal with what you’re looking to achieve. The next step is evaluating ROI: Return On Investment. To maximize the possibility that you will obtain a good return on investment, ask an industry expert for help with breaking down this data point by doing some research in advance of speaking with potential vendors.
Scalability - if they think about that?
Scalability - is this an important point? From my experience, scalability will matter more as time goes on because we can't anticipate what might happen next. For example, how well does their infrastructure support future expansion? Do you know which programming languages are used by top competitors in our industry (or ones that have been trending)?
When it comes to scalability, a company's past work and their business goals should be considered when assessing the possibility of growth—and if they are in line with yours.
Talk with team
This point is an extension of the topic of company culture. It is essential
to know what company values they promote and any behaviors or work practices that are not accepted to reduce the risk of disappointment when partnering with a company.
It can be challenging to know what a team is like from just looking at their website, so talking with them is crucial. It is important to talk with team members and find out if they fit your business.
Do not forget that partnerships are two-way relationships, and you should speak up for yourself too! If there is something, in particular, that does or doesn't work for you as an individual, make sure you discuss this before signing any contracts.
We want to work with you in a way that will be good for both of us. We need to understand your motivations, what styles you like, and what needs you have. If you have any specific needs, tell them.
Cost and models
You have specific models when you are working on an IT project. Low cost cannot be the only factor to choose wisely your development partner. That will be a trap. If you want a long-term partnership and build a successful solution, you must keep in mind that you have to include technical expertise, support, tech skills, budget, and time zone.
It is the most popular model. It's not always applied in all cases. Still, it might be your best option when you need software with no significant changes and for small projects or an app that needs to work on several platforms without substantial modifications.
It appears as if you will have more certainty about what will happen because this kind of contract includes set deadlines and prices due at the end of each phase. The downside is that there is no flexibility for changing requirements during the development process, making this type of agreement less flexible than time-and-materials models (T&M).
Time and material model
This model is more flexible and often preferred by customers.It's not common to find the fixed price in this agreement, but working with a trusted partner who understands your needs well could be possible.
The time-and-materials contract promises that all of the hours needed for developing software will be provided as part of the project cost. That means you may need an estimate upfront on how much money should have been spent at any given point in development, which can make this type of agreement less attractive than others for some people; furthermore, sometimes, there is no limit set on what changes might occur during production meaning you're paying extra when they arise (this doesn't happen always). Such agreements also require better and more accurate estimates on the initial proposal and a good understanding of what you will pay for.
This contract is often used by startups who don't know how much they want their product to cost before starting production.
It's important to find a company with a compatible culture. It should be friendly and open-minded, as well as professional.
It is essential to know what company values they promote and any behaviors or work practices that are not accepted to reduce the risk of disappointment when partnering with a company.
Search social media profiles of the company that will get you insight into how this day-to-day life looks.
Finally - do not forget about your personal preferences regarding location of office/employees, type of software development process, etc.
Some other things worth considering when choosing a software development partner
The size of the development team (how many people on average work on one project)
Depending on how much time each person needs to complete tasks before handing off projects, it can be necessary.
Number of seniors, middle, and junior developers
Does the company have senior developers who are responsible for an area of development? What about junior/mid-level developers, project managers? You want to work with a company where employees can be assigned responsibility, and you know who to contact when there is an issue.
What to Ask the Potential Partner for Software Development?
- What kind of project management tools do they use?
- Choosing the right communication method is critical to your success.
- What is the current complexity level of your projects?
- How do you estimate the cost of the software development process?
- Why are you different from all the other development partners?
- How will I get updates about my project?
- What if your team member quits between the projects?
- Do you sign an NDA?
How to conduct a smooth transition of your IT project?
Not every software development partner has a clear process for that kind of situation. This is a red flag for you! After the first talks with the company, where you talk about the situation on the project, what is it about, and what is your challenge. You should then provide additional materials that will help the partner quickly enter the details of the project, get familiar with the code and architecture. With this, the following meeting will be based on specific activities and a plan that will be supplied by the business. You and your team establish new priorities and a precise strategy together.
If you are looking for a reliable software development company, please keep in mind the points that we have mentioned above. It is important to choose wisely your partner's business so it will be successful and fruitful.
You should work with a company that specializes in the type of project you are seeking (mobile app development, web development, UI/UX services etc.). The right partner nowadays is not only about the quality of work but also about communication and teamwork.
If you are considering changing a software development partner to a top software development partner (like mDevelopers CLUTCH), you can download our "Checklist - What should I have to switch from one SDC to another? How to change SDC?". If you are looking for your first software development partner you can check our articles about PoC, MVP, Feasibility Study.
About the author
Milo Miszewski - Chief Executive Officer
Milo founded mDevelopers in 2010, bringing his over 10 years of sales management, B2B solutions, and business relations. Milo acts as the general director, as well as a mentor and advisor. In everyday work besides managing the company, he supports the sales department in networking and building relationships.