With the production time and prices involved in the world of custom software, your developer isn't a decision you want to get wrong.
There are plenty of competing software developers offering a variety of competencies and prices, and in a jargon-laden industry, it can often feel like you're bewildered by sales pitches and misinformation.
Although there are numerous factors to consider, fear not. Here we've addressed the seven key questions to prepare for your future software developer to make sure you get the product you want for a fair price. Let's get started, shall we?
1. Speak to multiple developers.
You shouldn't just speak to one software developer, but shop around. The best way to get a good deal is to make a list of the most appealing potential providers and approach them for information on their services and pricing.
Feel free to describe all of your desired features to potential developers to see how their approach to implementing them would work, and how committed they are to getting it right. Because there can be no set price lists or timeframes for bespoke services like custom software, it really pays to make contact to sound out your options.
2. Compare prices.
For a ballpark figure of how much custom software typically costs, SolTech estimated that the average project totals $40,000 to $250,000 – which is quite a gulf between values. This is because of the wealth of variables you can include in a custom package. If you're looking for a streamlined service, it could ultimately be much cheaper, while a more comprehensive solution would naturally weigh in much higher.
This is why it's imperative to hunt for quotes on costs from your developers. Effective price comparisons could save you thousands of dollars. Bear in mind that to get accurate price comparisons, you'll need to have a good idea of the kind of services that you want.
3. Get a timeframe.
Unlike with its off-the-shelf counterpart, timing can be hugely important when it comes to purchasing bespoke software, which may take many months to develop. The timing of a project differs wildly based on many factors, such as how many developers will be involved, what technology you want to integrate and how intricate you want the final build to be.
Many custom software developers operate differently, with varying levels of human resources and different approaches to building their tech. So it pays to ask them for timing estimates, especially if you're running to your own tight deadlines.
4. Look at past projects.
There's no better way of measuring how competent your prospective developers are than checking their pedigrees or portfolios. When contacting a business regarding its custom software packages, be sure to ask about previous projects and any information about or examples it has of the software it's built before. This will help you develop an understanding of the approaches and formats the developer favors and can illustrate what your future software's dashboards and functions may look like.
5. Research your support options.
It's everyone's intention to create a seamless product that can be used without problems, but what if something does go wrong? Can the issue be rectified swiftly, or will your business have to wait until the next day for a solution? If you have 10 employees working with a companywide piece of custom software, then it doesn't take a scholar to work out that for every six minutes the technology isn't functioning, that's one hour of productivity lost.
When contacting a potential developer, it's important that you inquire about the typical response time for troubleshooting problems. If figures are available for the developer's response rate, then great. But it might be more useful to research customer reviews, which may tell a more honest story than a company that could sugarcoat its answer to aid a sale.
6. Find out about further customization.
So your new custom software build goes on to work wonders for your company, and you're able to expand exponentially. It's a dream scenario. But what happens to the state of your technology? Can it be updated to incorporate the new functions and demand that your burgeoning business now needs? How about the problems that might arise after you've received your bespoke software and realize there are one or two essential features that you didn't consider when describing your requirements to developers?
A little bit of after-care goes a long way. Ask your prospective developers if your software will be constructed in a way that ensures it can be upgraded and customized with ease. Again, some software developers build their solutions in a way that's more open-ended and customizable than others, so it's worth shopping around to see who offers the best deals on future edits. This is particularly pertinent if your desired software package is more ambitious.
7. Gauge longevity.
The saying that nothing lasts forever is certainly true in the world of technology. At a time when smartphones and laptops exist for around a year as a pacesetter in the digital age before becoming obsolete and being replaced by their manufacturers, we have to be wise with our spending. The same could be said of software. What assurances do you have that the custom solution you're purchasing will still be relevant in two years?
Be sure to ask your potential developers about the longevity of their products, and how fresh the incorporated technology is. Custom software doesn't come cheap, so it's vital that you don't spend tens of thousands of dollars on a package that's soon to be outdated.