Businesses are thinking about innovative software, intuitive website designs, and revolutionary web applications to keep pace with market demands and increase productivity, but when it comes to getting those projects done, decision makers often face difficult choices. How to choose the right custom software development provider?
You have decided to put aside standard software and opt for software specific to your company. The process of developing custom software can be scary, especially when it comes to outsourcing. Indeed, in a saturated market, it can be difficult to find a real, solid software partner with whom to establish a long-term relationship of trust. To help you in this quest, here are some avenues to explore.
Answering the following questions before committing to a custom software developer will guarantee you a trusted partnership and make your service provider an ally in the development and growth of your business.
Let yourself be guided…
1 / Experience in custom software development
In the field of over- measurement, it is well known that each customer case is unique, because it has specific needs, which requires strong listening skills and adaptability. Avoid providers who do “everything” and focus on specialists. The job of integrator is not the same as that of developer, everyone has their own job!
Do not deprive yourself of customer references, even if each project is different, the good reflex is to ask the service provider to present you with a customer case related to your project. The service provider will thus be able to detail the project implemented, the technologies used, the methodology proposed and the results produced. It is important at this stage to measure the service provider’s ability to adapt his speech to your situation and to demonstrate his potential for actions in line with your needs (examples: functionalities, regulatory standards, knowledge of the conditions for exercising a profession , industrial issue, seasonal rhythm, specific production process….).
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Better than words, a demo: ask to see achievements is a start, but ask for a model and you will be able to measure the interest and the level of commitment of the service provider. The realization of a model demonstrates the intellectual capacity to collect and understand your needs then to imagine and design a solution. This step also makes it possible to rule out intermediary service providers without much added value who go through subcontracting (commercial intermediary). The objective is for you to have a better idea of what will be delivered to you and thus prepare your specifications .
In summary, don’t just rely on the “our references” slide in the PowerPoint or the web page!
2 / Controlled IT technology: the driving force behind the development project
Case studies are a good way to learn about the technologies mastered by the service provider. What programming languages and technologies are available: Microsoft .NET, SQL Server, C #, Linq, TSQL… How many years have they had this skill? What human resources profile will work on your project. What types of IT development are covered: Win, Web, Mobile iOS & Android development…?
The technology that will be used is at the heart of the project, so it is essential to ensure that the mechanics master the operation of the engine!
Good to know: Some companies hide behind a smokescreen and you cannot speak directly with the team assigned to your project, this can be an indication that the people responsible for your project do not have the necessary skills.
Make sure that the proposed technology is sustainable, efficient and mastered by the service provider because a good poorly mastered technology only gives bad results and vice versa. There are certifications or partnerships in most recognized technologies, so ask the provider and ask for proof.
3 / Project management and resources opposite
Ask what resources are included in the development price? Does the service provider take charge of the project management or does this mission come under your internal resources? Who will supervise my project? Low cost providers do not provide a project manager, the responsibility for supervising the project rests with the client. This situation can be very stressful and generate a significant induced cost in terms of internal resource mobilization.
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A good service provider is one who provides a project team for each client and who provides a privileged contact ensuring an interface role between the client and the teams mobilized to facilitate the exchanges.
Concerning the methodology, many are those who take advantage of a superb “Agile” methodology but when is it really? Ask for more explanations on the method and examples of tools put in place to deploy it and you will see from the answers whether it is a real concern or a simple communication argument.
Another key point, the action plan established by the service provider to illustrate the stages that will mark out the project, a good way to ensure that the client and the development team share the expectations. Each action plan includes a timeline , carefully outlining deadlines and setting benchmarks for measuring progress.
The same applies to the terms of collaboration . Does the service provider provide time for feedback to your internal project manager, trips to the site to collect needs, remote meetings for project monitoring, phone calls in case of emergency, etc.?
The fluidity of communication is a criterion for success in this type of project, eliminate obstacles by anticipating as much as possible. For this, it is best to define the guidelines in this area from the start of the project. Specify your expectations to energize the project team and make the service provider / client relationship a team working for the same objective.
4 / A scalable software solution for your needs
How many companies find themselves blocked because their IT tools have difficulty keeping up with the changes made necessary by the market, regulations, strategic development choices or changes in human resources …
Having tailor-made software developed does not mean that needs can no longer be developed, on the contrary! Ask the provider on ‘ scalability of the solution proposed, its ability to increase or reduce the human time devoted to the project based on the necessary developments and the need for the project . Success will depend on a scalable solution , covered technological needs and the reduction of your overall production cost.
5 / A development cost without a false path
Although budget concerns are one of the main facets of the decision-making process, choosing a development service provider based solely on the price criterion does not make it possible to obtain software that matches the investments that will actually be incurred by your business.
Choosing the right software solutions partner is a strategic decision as it represents a potentially significant cost for a business. Decision-makers therefore need their technical solution provider to be reasonable, cost-effective, and proactive in addressing potential problems. Many of them quickly advocate a contract with a predefined envelope to ensure a fixed cost for the project.
Do not fall into the trap of fixed prices. Fixed rate model does not address issues that arise when project expectations change, which often occurs during the software development process . This will result in a by-product that will inevitably require further development to correct the situation. Find a partner who will carefully check the feasibility of your project before estimating a development cost. Take the time to explain your problem to the service provider and see if he can provide you with a “pre-study” type document. A serious and involved service provider will be able to give you a fairly detailed commercial proposal with a breakdown of the tasks to be carried out. Avoid providers who are content to submit you a simple quote with X days at Y euros per day.
6 / Do you own your Software?
This is sometimes an unforeseen cost at the end of the development process which can make the difference in the choice of the provider. Carefully examine the clauses in the contract on the ownership of the software and the conditions of delivery and development of the software.
Who owns the intellectual property of the source code and the functional and technical specifications after the project is completed?
Some companies may charge the customer a license fee or user fee for software developed by their teams because they retain all rights to any product they create. Many customers are surprised because they expect fully customized software to come at no additional cost. Likewise in the event of a breach of contract with your service provider, if you do not have the (contractual) ownership and (physical) possession of said resources, you have just thrown your money out the window and you just have to do everything restart…