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11 Factors to Consider When Choosing a Software Development Company

Business.com / Software / Last Modified: June 13, 2018
Image credit: PIYAWAT WONGOPASS/Shutterstock

Hiring the right software developer for your company can be the difference between your business flourishing or struggling.

Suppose you're considering launching a startup or small business. You’re an aspiring thinker with an amazing concept in the back of your mind. The app, software, or website you’ve imagined has the potential to break norms in the industry. Everything seems perfect, except for one minor problem. 

You lack the resources to execute your idea.

Maybe you don’t possess the skillset or enough human resources to implement the plan, so you start hunting for an agency capable of accomplishing that task for you. As you search for the perfect developer, you encounter several questions that need satisfactory answers before you're willing to select someone to help with your task. 

Choosing the right software development company is a little like baking a cake. You need the right ingredients in a perfect proportion to go with the correct equipment. The process of selecting a software development company is one that shouldn't be rushed. It takes patience and a committment to detail. By ensuring you find the right fit, your business idea will have a better chance of succeeding.  

Today, we look at 11 factors to consider when choosing the right software development company for your needs. We’ll explore not only what your expectations of the agency you hire should be, but also the agency's expectations from you. 

1. Know what you want

You are the basic key to your project’s success. Knowing what you want is an essential factor in not only selecting the right software developer, but also helping your business succeed. Identify your business needs, prepare an outline, discuss it with your team members, evaluate the issues and form solutions. This crucial aspect plays a major role in your software development lifecycle. If you want the best, know what you need. 

2. Partner with the company that understands you

The client-vendor relationship is crucial in any project. While you may want to outsource the software development project to a "yes-man," avoid doing that at all costs. An ideal development partner is the one who knows when to say no.

Also, it is important that the development partner understands the challenges that come as a project progresses. They should help you prioritize requirements, make you understand the issues from a technical perspective and connect with you as time passes by. Transparent communication helps both sides work in sync. 

3. Understand where the development partner possesses expertise 

Every agency today has a skillset they’ve honed in. Your development partner needs to be focused. If you come across an agency selling services in tons of languages, be sure to avoid them. Most software development companies aren't proficient in every language, with large, global firms providing the rare exceptions to this rule. You'd rather work with a company that owns their shortcomings and focuses on their expertise than one that's bending the truth in hopes of gaining a few extra customers. 

Identify the technology that can be used to develop your software, and seek developers with a proven knowledge base in that area. 

4. Are they really that good?

Before jumping into anything, know who you’re going to work with. Find the development agency you’re considering on social media. Interact with them on forums and ask for recommendations and testimonials from the agency’s previous employees. Who better knows the workspace than the people who’ve worked there?

Some software developers may appear great, but further digging reveals you've struck fool's gold. It is highly critical for you to know the ins and outs of your development partners. It's better to thoroughly research who you’re working with than be surprised later! 

5. How have they performed previously?

Our past experiences shape who we are today. Similarly, every development agency’s prior work defines their portfolio and credibility.

Review your development partner to find their past project references. It gives you an insight into the agency’s design and development in the field. The portfolio also reveals the complexity of the past projects they’ve worked on.

Next, look for an agency that allows you to connect directly with the developers. An agency who’s worked on stringent deadlines is a good choice to work with. 

6. How much can the developer handle? 

Not every agency undertake projects of all sizes. Most agencies aim for long-term, large-scale projects, as they periodically go under innovation.

Aim for an agency suitable to your needs. Look for small-sized to medium-scaled agencies if your project isn’t at a huge scale. Use caution (see point No. 4) when sorting between these smaller agencies. These agencies have a steady growth chart and a hidden potential that you can unlock. 

7. How much can you spend on the developer?

This is yet another aspect that allows you to trim your list of suitable software development agencies. It is important that the expected ROI of the project is at par or higher than the investment you’re willing to make. Inspect client proposals and discard the cheapest ones. With a cheap price might come a cheap product. This allows you to make a short list of the most competitive ones.

Examining proposals for hidden costs is also highly critical. Some agencies charge extra for maintenance, document management and so on. It is important to understand that you’re just analyzing the cost of your project, not the quality. Breaking the bank because you believe in your idea isn't necessarily the best way to go, especially as a startup. 

8. Is the software developer financially stable?

Imagine this situation. 

You’ve signed a contract with a vendor. The project seems to be going well as far as you can tell, but right in the middle of the ongoing project the vendor goes bankrupt. You're back to square one, looking for a developer with the ability to turn your project into a reality. 

The consequences of the situation described above can be massive. It will not only cause a huge hit to your business's finances but also the growth of your organization. Hence, it is always advisable to check the financial stability of the agency you’re going to work with. Consider the agency’s previous financial performance, the stability of investors, ownership structure and acquisitions. Everything involving money matters! 

9. Understand their software development model

Search for an agency that strives for retrospective meetings. Sitting down and discussing how the software developer has previosuly worked on projects leads to positive results. Nothing beats a sense of clarity between the developer and client over what is expected on both ends.

Roughly 80 percent of the IT industry works in SCRUM. This agile method ensures daily stand-ups and sprints over project development. Agile development models are highly collaborative and provide quicker results. Agencies with the agile model are flexible enough to adapt to rapid changes in the project. Depending on your business, this style could be the best fit. 

10. Ask for a free consultation or sample

If you’re still confused on which vendor to choose, ask for a free consultation or sample. Most agencies provide this option. These go a long way toward clearing your doubts and concerns. 

11. Learn about the vendor's after-sale service and maintenance policies 

The maintenance of your software is as important as developing it. Even the smallest software programs require regular maintenance and patches to keep it updated. You will need assistance in the long run.

Ensure that your vendor provides after-sales support and helps you maintain your software.

By following these 11 tips, you'll have a place to start when hiring the right software developer for your business. 

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