How to Choose a Software Development Company in 10 Steps
If you are in the market for a good software company, you might be daunted by the availability of choice. This makes a simple task turn into a sometimes trying ordeal. But pause, take a step back. Does it really have to be so difficult in selecting a software house to develop your app or solution?
The answer to this is “No”, it does not. But the wrong choice can lead to delays, waste of funds and even a badly built app. Then how to choose a software development company?
Here is where this guide comes in. We are going to walk you down the simple and effective steps it takes to avoid common pitfalls in selecting the perfect software development firm for your needs.
- 1. Define your goals, objectives and timeframe
- 2. Find software development companies
- 3. Check their portfolio and experience in your domain
- 4. How does software vendor approach business goals
- 5. Consider what technology will work best for your project
- 6. Learn about vendors communication practices
- 7. What is the company’s development methodology?
- 8. What are their security practices?
- 9. How are their company structure and software team dynamics
- 10. Testing, after deployment software maintenance
- Conclusion - Choosing right software development company
1. Define your goals, objectives and timeframe
Before we begin, you should have a clear idea of what you are trying to create. This means that before you even talk about engaging the services of a software firm, you should have an end goal. You do not need everything planned out right from the beginning, but having a decent plan laid out before you start your search.
If you are wondering why this is important, the reason is simple. It saves you time and money having to describe an abstract concept to the development team who will not understand your vision unless they see diagrams and workflows. The biggest mistake you can make is thinking you got your point across while you both have very different interpretations of the job. Make sure you and your software development partner are on the same page on the project scope.
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2. Find software development companies
Assume you’ve already determined your requirements, timeline, and skill set. The next step is to find a team that will meet your requirements.
There are plenty of resources where you can find software development companies:
- The easiest way to find software development companies is the Google Search results. Both paid and organic results can be helpful. From their web pages you can get information on software development services, various industries they worked with, their previous clients and how the software house works.
- Browse software development companies listings. One of the most popular of them is Clutch. You can range the search results regarding location, minimal project size, average hourly rate, industry focus, and more.
Surfing the websites to choose a software development partner may yield some results. However, there’s a good chance you won’t discover certain things while conducting such research. You should request a portfolio from developers if you want to learn more about their expertise. Brochures or information packs will be provided by custom software development companies.
Reviewing case studies will assist you in determining which companies are the most promising. Your decision could be based on how close your idea is to a project that the company has already produced, or something else entirely. In any case, you’ll need to compile a list of suppliers you like.
PRO TIP: Try to go to smaller firms with a good experience rather than large firms who have multiple layers of management, which leaves a lot of room for miscommunication and unnecessary overhead.
3. Check their portfolio and experience in your domain
Now that you’ve narrowed down your choice of companies, it’s time to compare them. The best way to do that is to research software company portfolio and customer reviews.
See who they have worked with previously and what type of jobs they have done. This serves a number of purposes.
- It allows you to see if they have done something similar to what you require.
- It gauges the level of experience the company has.
- It lets you understand the scale of jobs the company has done and if they are able to handle your task.
This is not to say that companies with a wide range of customers and a company’s portfolio are the best for your use case. The key point is that the outsourcing partner has experience in your business processes. If the software development company claims to have experience doing something similar to what you want, but can’t share any information, then this can be a red flag.
It’s true that outsourcing companies may not always be able to share their previous projects due to non-disclosure agreements. However, they should at least be able to give you a broad outline of their previous projects, how they were developed, and how they benefit the clients.
4. How does software vendor approach business goals
Expertise in specific technologies, tools, and programming languages is necessary to create a decent product, but it is never enough to create a great one.
Before deciding if you really want to work with a particular custom software development company, make sure that both you and the development partner are on the same page, and they understand your business needs. They should invite business analysts to assist in application requirements for ensuring a guaranteed outcome for the software product.
It is also important to clarify if they provide after-development support services, software customization, maintenance, and back up services. With these, it will be easier to work with them knowing what you are getting and what your expectations of services will be.
You and your potential partners should go through a discovery and software development lifecycle process. If your partner doesn’t take the time to really understand your needs during the sales process, choosing that software development partner is not a brilliant idea.
PRO TIP: the more questions they ask, the better. Pay attention if your partner wants to make sure that they’re on the same page as you on the business requirements.
5. Consider what technology will work best for your project
Oftentimes, a software development company will be used to using certain technologies and specialize in creating applications/solutions with them. This can be an advantage, but, be that as it may, there are certain things you need to watch out for.
- Choose software development company that keep up with the latest technological advancements. New ideas and innovations are a must. The perfect software development company you select should have a strong desire to be in front of any new updates and changes to their technology stack.
- Pay attention to their software developers expertise. If you need your solution built on Node.js, then review companies that focus on Node.js. Find a company that specializes in what you need. This also means avoiding companies that have a multitude of specializations because no one is an expert on everything.
PRO TIP: Start with a small project. See how the project is delivered, how technology and process works well for you. If things don’t go the way you envisioned, then move on.
6. Learn about vendors communication practices
Software development is a complex process and communication troubles will make it hard at every step of the way, from defining requirements to working out stakeholders and users feedback.
Good communication skills are key to a good working relationship and a satisfactory end software product. Ensure that the company you choose provides a systematic communication process in your software development project.
It is always helpful to be able to discuss, share, and clarify different ideas and the course of the development process. This way, you know that both you and the dev team are always on the same page.
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7. What is the company’s development methodology?
Having a good development structure put in place will make the entire process seamless and efficient while being able to tackle challenges that prop up along the way. Hence, it is required that the software development company uses proper methodologies. You should check if the development company project managers use Scrum or other Agile approaches.
Choose software development company that has the best development process, based on adaptive planning, early delivery, project updates, and communication tools. This means you are carried along on what's happening at any stage of project development. Every company understands agile methods a little differently, so you should have everything clarified beforehand.
8. What are their security practices?
Having a partnership with a right software development company means there will be a transfer of sensitive information. You will need to know how the company handles this and what measures are in place to make sure both your idea, product, solutions and confidential materials are not let into the wild.
Then, there is the other side of the security issue. How to secure the solution being developed and what security level should be adopted if needed.
9. How are their company structure and software team dynamics
One of the most important things to note about a software development company is its business structure and development team dynamics. Once you are interested in using any particular company or just vetting them, you need to know how they are structured and how the team members work together.
Some custom software development companies don’t have any such structure and this is a good indicator that you shouldn’t be doing business with them. The level of organization within a firm is a good means of understanding their dynamics. A team that is well managed and structured is very likely to handle your task accordingly.
10. Testing, after deployment software maintenance
Before you sign-off with any software development company, you should have a sit-down and understand what their policy is on testing (at various stages within the development). Also, what to expect in terms of backup services, support and maintenance of the solution or project once the final work has been delivered.
You do not want to be told down the line that there will be no support or left with a huge maintenance bill for your project when all is said and done. Better to have all these details worked out before you commit to using any one company.
Conclusion - Choosing right software development company
While your requirements and needs may vary from project to project, it is still advisable for you to run down these few checklists with any company that you plan to use as your outsourced software development team. It’s not that complicated but it does take some work to figure out the right match.
Regardless, the time and energy you put in to select the right candidate will show in the final result. So remember to compare and evaluate your options but if none of them is a fit, don’t be afraid to toss out the list and try others.