With today’s world becoming more and more technologically advanced, digitalization has become one of the primary ways for businesses to continue rapidly growing, improving their processes, increasing revenue and staying ahead of the curve. And one of the main ways to achieve that is by utilizing software solutions that are specifically tailored for your business.
As the need for custom software continues to increase, so does the amount of development companies that offer businesses the service of building such software… so if you’re currently looking for a company to develop a piece of custom software for your business, here are 8 key aspects you should watch for.
#1 Do they have a comprehensive list of services?
One of the first things you should do when choosing a software development company is to ensure that they can cover all of your needs. Start by inquiring about the team structure that is usual for your type of project — when it comes to building custom software, a team provided by the development company should have project managers, designers, developers and quality assurance specialists.
Even if you have your own design or development team, and are just looking to extend it, the external company should add a project manager who will serve as the main coordinator between the teams in both companies.
#2 Are they flexible and transparent when it comes to working on projects?
When it comes to software development, flexibility of the team and transparency regarding all situations that might occur during the project are extremely important. To see how a company you’re looking to hire stands in regards to those aspects, ask them how they handle changes in priorities — it’s something that is known to happen during software development, so it’s good to have all of the information in advance, as that will show you when and how to request changes during the project.
Also, ask about how you can track the time and budget that is spent during the project — it’s important that you have this information available at any point of the project. Additionally, ask if you can directly communicate with the team members who are going to work on your project — a transparent an organized software development company won’t hide who’s working on your project.
#3 How are their processes and approach structured?
During your first contacts with a potential software development company, pay attention to their approach — do they just say OK to everything you say, or do they ask questions and make suggestions. Getting an OK is always a great thing to hear, but the ones who ask questions and suggest new ideas are the ones with whom you can expect to create an optimal solution for your business as they will constantly be looking for a better, more efficient and streamlined way for the software to meet your needs.
Also, make sure to ask about the process they’re using while building software. One of the best options is to follow agile methodologies and the MVP approach, which means building software in smaller, more manageable chunks — a process that provides more flexibility when it comes to changing priorities during the process and incrementally improving the solution that is being built.
#4 How many employees do they have?
This can be a helpful indicator of the success and the stability of the company. A company that has a few dozen or a hundred developers and designers usually has much more experience and a much wider range of capabilities when it comes to working on projects for clients — and that can ultimately result in receiving a final product that is of a much higher quality than a one that would be built by a company with only a handful of employees.
This also means more stability for the entire project, as a company with more people can guarantee efficient additions or replacements if needed.
#5 Do they have a lot of experience in software development?
By browsing through the past projects of a company you’re looking to hire, you can easily get information about how much software development experience do they have, as well as what types of projects they worked on and for which industries.
For example, going through available case studies and project lists will enable you to notice if a company is strongly focused on one industry, or if they only work with a certain types of clients, like startups or only companies from a certain market.
Finding types of projects that are similar to yours in the company’s portfolio can only be beneficial to you as a client.
#6 Is their company comprised of a variety of different specialists?
For a development company to be a true expert when it comes to building software, it’s important that they have a wide variety of software specialists. And that is especially true if you’re looking to hire a company that should be able to handle your software development as a whole.
To ensure that the company you choose has the capabilities to handle all of the aspects of software production and would be able to meet all of your needs, their team needs to have at least these 5 types of specialists:
- back-end developers
- front-end developers
- quality assurance specialists
- project managers
#7 What kind of references do they have?
In addition to browsing through a company’s case studies and previous projects before hiring them, a good practice is to also do a bit of research and explore their previous clients and their testimonials — they can give you a lot of insights into the strengths and weaknesses of a specific software development company.
One of the best resources for finding client reviews and testimonials is clutch.co.
#8 Do they provide good value for money?
Before you go all-in with your project, make sure that the price is not the only benefit a company you’re looking to hire has to offer. If’ll be comparing prices between different software development companies, in addition to looking at the bottom line, you also need to make sure to compare what you get for a certain price.
Oftentimes, a reliable and experienced team ends up being cheaper in the long run because their work will be more efficient and of better quality — even if their price per hour is comparatively higher.
What about SaaS companies and their products?
Although SaaS companies are by definition software development companies, they build their own software which they sell to others — as opposed to agency-like software development companies that build software specifically for their client’s businesses. When it comes to choosing between one or the other, what it boils down to is choosing between off-the-shelf software solutions that are built to satisfy an average customer, or one that is specifically tailored according to your business needs.
If you’d like to know more about the differences between custom software and off-the-shelf solutions, take a look at my previous blog which talks about the key advantages of custom software.