By now you must have eliminated the companies that were not worth a second glance.
Now, it is time to take a close microscopic look at the ones that made it to this stage.
Ideally, you should have shortlisted three companies. However, having up to five software developers on the list is fine too.
Start by visiting the website of each of the custom software vendors.
Request multiple quotes.
And schedule initial consultations.
And while you do that consider the following factors:
A software development project requires between one to seven heads. Depending on the scale and complexity of your project, find a company that is appropriately staffed to complete the task at hand.
A software development team with only 10 members and serving multiple clients at once might not be able to allocate 5 developers to your project. In such a situation, either you will have to compromise or wait.
Both ways, you won’t get what you are paying for - a quality-assured, timely delivery of your custom software.
It might sound illogical, but do look at the company size. Don’t forget to check how many of the available software developers are qualified to perform the task that you have for them.
Communication is the key. To literally everything.
Want your project to conclude without hiccups?
Clear communication is important for that.
It is your software. And you have all the right to know the details about its development and timeline. Don’t be afraid to ask questions.
But be afraid of a software development firm that fails to keep you in the loop.
Before getting started, ask them the following questions:
Who can I contact to check about the updates regarding my software development?
Will I be informed when a Minimum Viable Product is developed?
Who do I need to contact if I need some changes in the software?
Will I be assigned a dedicated project manager who’d keep me up-to-date?
Do you have a project management system or collaboration tool that I can use to stay abreast about the development process?
We live in a hyper-connected world. Those who don’t have communicative efficiency are obviously not keeping up with the times.
While analyzing the communicative efficiency of prospective partners ask two more questions to yourself:
Is there free, comfortable communication between you and them?
What efforts are they taking to make information about the development of your software available to you?
If you get satisfactory answers to these two questions, only then move ahead.
Pricing And Payments
Okay, the company that has reached this stage of scrutiny is obviously in your budget. Their hourly rates fit your budget.
But hourly rates are just the preview. The entire picture will be clear when you’ll have their quotes.
Are you getting something extra for bundled services?
Will you get post-development support?
Will you get training in case you are getting the software developed for your employees?
What if you need updates later?
Is software maintenance included in the package price?
What modes of payment are accepted?
Do you have to make lump sum payments?
Is there a target-based payment model?
Find answers to these questions before you finalize a software development partner.
What if you skip this?
Well, then get ready for foot-long bills that will probably leave a gaping hole in your wallet.
Don’t want that, right?
Be open, frank, and upfront about the pricing package and payment schedule then.
Every software is different. And developing each software requires a different set of skills and expertise.
Does the B2B software developer in question have experts adept in skills essential for your software’s development?
Do they have the required tools?
Are they comfortable working with the methods and platforms that are essential for achieving your goals?
Ask these questions. In your first meeting itself.
Okay, we talked about it before. So why again?
Because earlier we considered just one aspect of the experience - the year of establishment. Now let’s consider more details.
In the preliminary screening, we talked about the experience of the company. Now, you need to know about the experience of individuals who’d be working on your project.
If you are selecting a company because it has been in the business for over two decades, you don’t want only a bunch of fresh graduates working on your custom software development.
Check with the firm as to who would be handling your project.
Do they have the required experience?
How long have they been in the firm?
What industry experience do they have?
Do they have experience with the technology stack that is needed for your software development needs?
Ask these questions before it is too late to look for someone else.
Former Client’s Experience With the Company
You have already checked the ratings and reviews of the software developer or company. Now ask them for references.
And talk to their former clients.
Delivering the software solution is not enough. You want the experience to be comfortable too.
Getting custom software development services is not like buying a product off the shelf. You will have to have several discussions with your software development partners. This is necessary to make sure they understand your requirements. And you understand what is possible and what isn’t.
Former clients will be able to tell you not just about the efficiency of the final product but also about the journey.
Are the project managers supportive?
Are the developers open to questions?
Do they allow you to change certain elements during the development process?
These are just some of the questions that a company’s former clients will be able to answer for you.
For the non-techies, here’ what agility in software development means.
It means the ability to make multiple rounds of changes during the development process.
And why is it important?
Without scope for changes, here’s how your software’s development process would look:
Planning and listing a bunch of features to be included.
Making a cocktail of all those features.
Presenting them to you in the form of a finished product irrespective of whether the features sit in sync with each other or not.
Without agile software development, the developers will not have the opportunity to improvise something after it has been done.
That’s definitely not something that yields great results.
Software developers who follow the agile methodology are able to sit together, among themselves and with their clients to brainstorm scope for improvement.
When that happens, better, more refined ideas are found. And the software so developed is better than how it was initially planned.
Your business relationships can stand strong only when you are tied to your partners with the same corporate culture threads.
Do you believe in ethical and fair treatment of employees?
Partnering with a software development firm that believes in the exploitation of their employees won’t be a good deal then.
It is not just about whether they’d be able to fulfill your needs or not.
It is also about if they’d understand your business objectives or not.
Will the software developers be a cultural fit for your firm?
Ask clear questions about their work culture. Compare the answers you receive with your own work culture. And then see if things fit right or not.
Even if you hire the best software developers, your project will fail if they are a cultural misfit for you.
Available Tech Infrastructure
The software development process is broken down into the following steps -
Developing → Testing → Delivering → Monitoring → Controlling → Supporting.
At each stage of software development, developers use a bunch of hardware, software, and communication technology solutions. All this combined is what is called the tech infrastructure requires for software development.
Do your prospective partners have all that is needed?
Do they have the licenses and permissions to use software development technology products?
Do they have proper connectivity?
Do they have a suitable management information system?
Do they have up-to-date hardware to carry out the development process?
Too many questions, right?
But you need to be 100% sure.
Also, those who have the required tech infrastructure won’t shy away from telling you these details.
Your software needs to be safe and secure.
Your software should keep user data safe from leaks and hacks.
Your software should be able to keep your company’s data safe from getting into untrustworthy hands.
Your software should meet data security norms.
And it should also be safe from crashes and abrupt shutdowns.
Most B2B tech buyers don’t consider security as a priority. And that’s where they go wrong.
Without appropriate security solutions, your software can leak your company’s and the software’s users ’ sensitive data.
This would not just cause a public backlash, but also land you into a legal mess.
Another security aspect that you need to discuss with B2B software vendors is a Non-Disclosure Agreement.
You don’t what your idea being leaked to your competitors, do you? Make sure you sign the papers before you go ahead.
It is my software, of course, I own it.
But do you?
There have been several cases where companies have faced a hard time in establishing ownership over their software.
Because their software development partner didn’t play fair.
Who will own the software?
When will we get the source code of the developed software?
Will we be able to get the software modified or updated by someone else? Will we need your permission for that?
The answers to these questions will tell you if you’d be the actual owner of the software you get developed or not.
Getting software developed is not a one-time task. The software will eventually need changes in the long run. There might be updates that you’d want. Or you could also require new features or functionalities.
When such a situation arises, what do you think would be better?
Hiring the original developers?
Or looking for a new company/developer from scratch?
The former, right?
So ask the software developers you are considering today, whether they are interested in long-term associations or not?
A develop-and-dash kind of solution provider is not very trustworthy.
Also, you will need someone to maintain the software. Check if your software provider would offer long-term maintenance or not.