The number of software houses that have various achievements and tempts with their offers is constantly growing on the market. However, not all of them will be the right partner for us. When choosing the right company, do not act rashly! Firstly let’s determine our requirements and needs, conduct research and on its basis, check the credibility of the organization and how it fits our requirements. Only then can we decide to establish cooperation with the software house. This is a very important choice. Remember that the development and success of our digital project (eg the creation of a mobile or web application) will depend not only on the competence and experience of software house employees but also on the quality of cooperation.
Although it will bring a smile to the faces, it is the “chemistry” and mutual understanding between us (the originator) and the contractor of the digital project that is the most important. We should create a harmonious duo, be like a good old marriage. A bad choice can be serious! The project will be poorly made, but we will also lose time, nerves and money. So, what to look for? Where to start choosing the right company? We encourage you to read the short guide.
Let’s start with ourselves
Let’s start by looking at the nature of our project and, in particular, answer the following questions:
- Specificity of the project – what kind of competencies and specializations does the project require? What form of cooperation do we need: consultancy, or maybe the implementation of the whole project? Does our project require a special level of security, eg protection of data of application users?
- Budget – from what sources will our project be funded? Internal or external? Is the budget still subject to change or is it already closed? What is its maximum, absolute limit?
- Time – what is the deadline for implementation? Will the project be settled by stakeholders who may suspend cash flow?
It is worth considering in detail the answer to the above questions because it is them that will allow us to determine what competencies and skills should be sought for the software house.
Time for a software house
After determining our needs and preferences, the time has come for a deep research of software house market. A list of our needs and company offers will allow us to make an initial selection and creating a list of entities that we will continue to check. Thanks to this, we will eliminate companies that do not have the competence to implement the project, as well as those that do not meet our expectations, until we finally find “the only one”.
Looking at potential software houses that we can choose to cooperate is a very important stage of searching. Do not skip it or treat it neglectfully as a whim! AT this stage, carried out in detail, gives you the chance to establish fruitful cooperation! So what selection criteria should be used?
Experience and portfolio is the basis
First of all, pay attention to the experience, references and the portfolio of the software house. It’s all worth checking before you make any calls. Let’s start with the verification in which field the software house specializes, what projects have been finished, what technologies have been implemented most often, whether the projects were similar to ours and for which companies it works/ worked. It must be remembered that software houses, due to signed NDA agreements (confidentiality), cannot always boast of their best implementations or successes.
In addition, you must analyze the opinions of previous customers of the company. Prizes and certificates are also important. Let’s also check the successes of software house customers, because due to the aforementioned contracts, they are getting rewards for implementing a given project. Looking for opinions and recommendations, let’s also take a look at industry forums and social media.
Communication is an important matter
The second element to consider is the communication channels. The implementation of digital projects requires increased communication. It is good when it is done with the help of several channels. This is a practical solution allowing for quick information exchange, resolving doubts, clarifying requirements and working together to choose the best solutions. When conducting talks with software house it is necessary to determine the expectations regarding communication as accurately as possible. Let’s pay attention to the following aspects: are we looking for a consulting partner in choosing the best solutions or only service contractors? Do employees communicate with us in a comprehensible way? Are they able to explain the applied technological solutions, specialist phrases, explain doubts, guide us to a good solution in a simple for us way?
Typically, each house software uses project management tools, eg Basecamp, Kanban Board, Trello, Jira. It is they that allow for the effective exchange of opinions and information not only between programmers but what is important between programmers and us (clients). Successful cooperation requires communication on an ongoing basis, explanations and answering questions. Of course, the role of the client cannot be overestimated either, which should also not delay for a week to respond to an inquiry. If the form of communication adopted by the software house suits us, there is a very good chance that the cooperation will be satisfying.
First of all, it is worth drawing conclusions after the first telephone contact. Consider whether the conversation was good. Did the man we talked to answer our questions in a comprehensible way? Did he speak in a logical way? Was he involved in the conversation with us or just wanted to get rid of us? In the case of the first contact by e-mail, pay attention to the response time, as well as to answer all the questions we ask. If we do not get answers to the questions or delay will be long, it is better to resign from the cooperation with this entity because it does not bode well for our project.
Meeting – gives a lot to think about!
It is very important to meet the representative of the software house (even on Skype). First of all, we will be able to see how we are treated as customers. After such a meeting, we will know whether we have been treated individually or as another customer form the masses. Were the employees prepared to talk to us? For example, will be presented to us how the company produces the software. Or maybe they will present some solutions regarding our product. If employees will prepare materials developed especially for us, this is a good sign of commitment and serious treatment. Let’s also remember that small things should tell us a lot about future cooperation with a given entity. It is good for the company to provide a meeting agenda or e-mail summarizing the arrangements sent after the meeting. Let’s also pay attention to taking over the initiative by software house employees, for example by asking additional questions to understand our expectations.
All these nuances can show us whether a given entity is responsible, organized and takes its work seriously. The way of conducting conversations, the degree of understanding can tell us a lot about potential cooperation.
The team matters
Another important element is the company’s employees. They create it. You can read about the team on the company’s website, but also follow social media. After all, a better chance of success has a project made by experienced specialists, working in a relaxed atmosphere and simply fond of their work. Let’s get to know the project manager and find out who could run our project. Let’s see if we have a common language with him. After all, he will be responsible for the success of our project. Let’s also ask who will be in the design team. Let’s get to know the experience of these employees, find out how long they work together, for which each of them is responsible, ask for an example of their joint implementation. Look for information about these people in the network, for example on business forums. It can not be an accidental person. Remember that the team’s approach to our project is crucial. Of course, this is not about promising the pie in the sky and constant nodding, but about understanding our purpose and requirements and demonstrating the knowledge of the subject.
Another important element in choosing of software house is transparency regarding the cost estimate and work is done in its scope. What to look for? First of all, the accuracy presented. It is also necessary to analyze whether the information on the costs of introducing functional changes is mentioned in the estimate. In addition, the currency should also be determined.
Scanning the software house
It is also worth looking at the potential risk of cooperation with the software house. Let’s trace their clients, let’s talk to them, check their references. It is often the case that by choosing a software house, we will be able to call the previous customer and ask him how was the cooperation. By giving our digital project for implementation, we need to be sure that the company has a stable situation and will not disappear suddenly from the market, as well as its internal problems will not affect our project.
Errors, errors, and errors
Unfortunately, when searching for the right software house, we make a lot of errors that increase the probability of failure of our project. It’s worth taking a look and eliminate them.
Many of us, while searching, are unnecessarily guided by the location, which narrows the circle of potential companies. Currently, the distance is no longer a problem, and good software houses have foreign customers in their portfolios. In addition, it is improper to focus only on price. Creating software is not an easy task, therefore its cost is quite high. Our vigilance should be aroused by the low rate, as well as the cost estimate provided after providing a small amount of information. Another mistake is the expectation of a very fast delivery of the application. We must realize that the implementation of a digital project requires analysis and planning of activities. Typically, these implemented quickly, require corrections.
Moving to cooperation
We have already pre-selected a company with which we will establish cooperation and would like to get a valuation for our project. What information should we provide to a software house? It must be remembered that the accuracy of the valuation depends on the quantity and quality of the provided information. In addition, they are the basis for developing a functional specification of the application that presents its features and functionality.
What information should we provide to the company in order to obtain a valuation if we do not have a specification yet? They depend mainly on whether we want to improve existing applications or create a new one. Below we present a small cheat sheet of information that we should include in the offer inquiry. Let the mobile application be our example product. In this situation, we should provide answers to the following questions:
- What is the primary purpose of the application? Who is its target?
- Is there a specification or functional brief for this application?
- Which platform/platforms should the finished product be implemented on?
- Which devices should the application be adjusted for? A smartphone or maybe a tablet?
- What is the scope of our digital project? Is it only a mobile or web part? Should the graphic design preparation be included in the cost estimate, or maybe we already have screen sketches? Do we want to have a CMS panel for content management?
- Do we have a specific budget for implementing this application?
- What is the preferred date of implementation?
Such information is the basis for the preparation of the valuation. Of course, the project manager or new business developer can ask us a number of additional questions.
Functional specification – black magic?
The functional specification is a very important document that is worth looking at. It determines the scope of activity, and its precise preparation facilitates subsequent cooperation. What, should you be in it? First of all, a description of the project, and in it the purpose, scope and clearly defined who is responsible for what. Another important element is the technical requirements, and precisely defining the platforms and systems for which it is intended, the integration that it uses, as well as forms of communication between the frontend and the backend. It must also present the functions of the application, as well as what they are going to be used to and what information they will contain.
We can also provide the software house with a ready-made document. Remember that the specification and contract are the basis of cooperation.
I hope that this short guide will familiarize you with the criteria for choosing a software house. There are many entities offering digital services on the market, but often cooperation with them turns out to be unsatisfactory for us. For this reason, let’s conduct an in-depth selection of companies and make sure that we have chosen the entity best suited to our needs. The software house must match the whole puzzle. Good luck!