Finding the right software development partner and establishing mindful terms for the engagement is one of the most fundamental step for success of your software product. This guide is developed for software product companies seeking technology and development partner and to build a global software team. As you evaluate and compare possible partners to strengthen your product engineering capabilities, this guide provides you perspectives & insights to choose right match for your software product engineering or modernization projects.
In general, there are three kind of roles an outsourcing vendor shall play for the engagement; Assistant, Advisor, or Partner. While a software company playing an Assistant’s role act on specific delivery levels, and that associated as an Advisor will additionally take care of management level, and a Software Development Partner will put efforts to catapult the business and make engagement a success.
Experienced to consult on technology strategy
Manages the entire project from resources, timelines to costs
Spearheads Quality Assurance and Quality Control
Carries out business analysis to suggest technical solutions
Conceptualizes & Implements process enhancement, best practices for the project
Provides the first/second line of support
Ensures success of the engagement
There are numerous IT & software development service providers and all have their unique value proposition and approach when it comes to product development. This guide helps to formulate your own priority checklist to select best software development partner among diverse and endless options available.
Mutual Synergies – An Esstenial Coherence
Being an integral part of successful outsourcing relationships, synergy brings the best out of both the parties involved in the business. It acts as a dynamic engine for efficient and productive actions. Here are a few areas where you should look for business synergies with a prospective software development outsourcing association.
1. Knowing You & Your Business
Every business is unique, and hence every software development company’s standard value proposition, business processes might not suit your requirements. In your evaluation process you need to record who is taking time to understand your business, your objectives and is not making self-assumptions or presenting standard solutions. Only if they understand your business, needs and end results you are envisioning, they can translate them into a robust and scalable software product.
Companies communicate differently, there are good communicators and bad ones, and it has to be a major part of your due diligence – finding out whether synergies will exist in communication. Make sure that all stakeholders involved – project managers, analysts, and tech experts can effectively communicate, both giving and receiving. You need to be extra cautious while judging the compatibility with the representatives and tech teams of the software development company. Put your soft skills to use here – trust your instincts and judge if their actions feel genuine.
3. Process Management
Your partner should have a well-defined process with metrics to decide the quality of the software module developed at each stage. You need to know what will follow if there’s a major rift in expectations and delivery, what happens if the quality of the software seems compromised, how are billing disputes handled, and how an important resource associated with the delivery of the project is retained if he/she wishes to leave. These are issues that arise generally and it is important that you know the answers to your expectations in advance.
4. Internal Work Culture
Not in all the countries of the world, employment is stable and enjoyable. Companies in some countries experience high attrition and may sometimes try to sneak inexperienced employees as senior-level experts. Hence proper screening of not just the companies but also of the employees is very important. You need to make sure the company treats their employees properly so they stay with you until the end, after all its the people that form the partnership.
Expertise – The Knowledge and Skill-Set
In the first place, companies look for software development and product engineering partners because they need expertise in the area. When looking for a technology partner qualified enough to perform actions with skills, knowledge, and proficiency, it is more than a technology checklist you need to select the right vendor from all the prospects.
1. Skill-set Diversity
You cannot simply finalize the vendor that specializes in just one technology (even if it is the only one you need at the time). End-user needs are constantly changing, and so changes the software development needs. You wish your software development partner to be your one-stop shop for all your development, maintenance, update, and technology needs. The business world demands a wider variety of skill sets – programming languages, frameworks, platforms, and other solutions, and you don’t want to go looking for new partners every time a requirement arises for all the cost and time-related reasons.
2. Quality Assurance and Software Testing
A high level of QA process and different types of testing during software development guarantee client satisfaction to some level. Feel free to ask development partners about the types of testing they carry out and the processes by which they ensure bug detection and updates. In this case, you yourself have to stay committed to the quality of your software and take extra measures to check it using your internal staff. Software companies with good repute offer a contractual guarantee with respect to the quality of code and its acceptance.
3. Certifications and Accreditations
One of the simplest ways to determine expertise of teams, companies, or experts in any field of tech solutions is by asking for certifications. Microsoft, Salesforce, Adobe, Oracle, and so on, offer certifications to their businesses partners. These certifications imply that the prospects are experts at the mentioned technology and maintain a certain standard to continue to keep their certificates valid.
4. Test Projects/POCs
This is a very good option to judge your software outsourcing partner before you actually get into a contract. The process is very simple; you provide a small software requirement to the client (it can be a dummy project or something that is a small part of the real project). It is supposed to require a very limited time for development, say 1 week to 4 weeks. The delivery of this small project will help you determine a lot of things pertaining to your partner – synergies, expertise, turn-times and to some degree, commitment.
Experience – The deciding factor
No amount of theoretical knowledge or understanding can match the effectiveness of practical experience in real-world scenarios. Software development doesn’t occur in vacuum, it has its own challenges, and only a player that has faced similar conditions before can understand what it takes to ultimately deliver. Experience is the conduit through which the knowledge is able to be directly applied, shaped and brought into meaningful perspective.
1. Corporate Experience
In today’s highly competitive business world, a software development firm faces many challenges. Making ways through these challenges and still be able to deliver high-quality software educates a company and makes it stronger, practically ready to deliver excellence to clients from most verticals. Software development is a mission-critical area where it is highly recommended to go with partners who are stable and seasoned. Such companies have established a history of hundreds of real-world project successes and real experiences to draw from.
2. Technical Experience
Software Development is not a trait that works like other traits, it is vast and usually doesn’t have generalists performing all the functions. Just because someone is a software developer, doesn’t mean he or she must be roficient will all the languages, tech stack or be able to execute any project. Training someone on a new framework or a new language will take a lot of time and still not be able to deliver favourable results. This is why software development companies pick areas of focus and build teams or units around that technology. Having developed similar products for other clients can give them the technical niche you are expecting from a software vendor.
3. Relevant Project Experience
Just because a software development prospect lists all the technologies you need doesn’t make it a good development partner. Don’t believe everything at face value, ask the vendor to submit proofs of relevant reference projects showcasing the success of the project using similar tech solutions for clients from the similar background as yours. A software vendor with an impressive track record of repeated business from happy clients is the one you are looking for.
Terms & Rates
With so many different options for software development, it is understandable that companies get off track when deciding what is important in terms of rates and pricing. Here we will highlight the options you have in hand, and help you decide what suits you best.
1. Inhouse or Outhouse
You must have established the reasons why you want to outsource your software development. If lower costs are the only reason for going outhouse, think again. Though there’s no arguing the point that outsourcing software development will result in cost savings vs. hiring, this largely depends on the fact that you choose the right partner. With wrong partners, you will lose more than just money – time, clients, credibility, etc. Though there are well established benefits of taking your software development outhouse, you want to be sure of what to expect before signing the contract.
The business world today changes dynamically and so do the end user requirements. You need to find vendors that will work with you to reach a common goal. The flexibility of vendors should be such that contractual commitments don’t get in the way for innovation and corporate maneuverability. To not feel trapped after spending some time in the relationship, you must see to it that vendor is not very rigid in their approach.
3. Looking Beyond Rates
It is good to have a cost effective software development partner but it is prudent to evaluate beyond rates also. Yes, you definitely can save money going to seemingly less costly companies, but do not fall for ridiculously low prices. Technology isn’t very cheap as some vendors might claim. Price should be a criterion, among many others. It is important to look beyond pricing, and towards real issues like software quality, track-record of the company, trustworthiness, experience, client satisfaction level, process and technology expertise.
Once you get into the contract with your software development partner, closely monitor the behaviour of the vendor and its technology teams. If you see slightest of deviation from what was promised and if the behaviour has changed after signing the contract, then scrutinize every aspect of the relationship. Feel free to ask questions.
Are things going according to plan?
Are initial deliverables and products matching the quality expectations?
Are you able to communicate with team effectively?
Are there deviations from the delivery commitments?
Are they flexible, agile and welcome change?
Being vigilant after getting into a new engagement will help problems to be identified and corrected at early stages. You’ll get to see how efficient is your new vendor in taking corrective measures against things that go wrong.