The success of your software development project is banked on your ability to choose a competent and reliable development partner. Software is often the lifeblood of a business, both for effectiveness and revenue. The stakes are high.
The trouble is, it’s not always easy finding a development shop with a team that’s easy to work with and delivers solutions that perform the way you expect.
To help you navigate, we’ve come up with seven questions that will separate the pack and identify the development companies that wouldn’t be a good fit before you hire them.
1. What Are Some of Your Most Interesting Recent Projects?
2. How Does Your Team Typically Work With Clients Throughout the Life of a Development Project?
A successful software development project is one where developers are hyper-tuned into a client’s needs. Ideally, clients will meet with their development team regularly, at least bi-weekly. Agile software development is collaborative and flexible upon the project’s evolution, so consider it a red flag if the answer to this question doesn’t lead to confidence in communication and collaboration. Watch out for the agencies that delegate their side of communication to an account executive rather than the people doing the work.
3. Which Industries Do You Support?
There are a few industries, mainly those highly regulated, where industry experience helps with requirements such as adhering to compliance standards. Otherwise, or even so, expect your software development team to be technical experts rather than subject matter experts who focus their efforts on domain knowledge rather than on their technical craft. It’s great to hear all about the agency’s industry experience. Still, the point of asking this question is to hear if they can interpret industry-specific requirements and be resourceful in obtaining domain knowledge to solve problems. In most cases, it’s far more critical for developers to be sharp-sighted and have technical expertise than to be teeming with industry knowledge.
4. What Technologies or Languages Do You Use?
If the agency says, “we specialize in [language/tech],” they may not be willing or able to use the most appropriate tool for the job if it takes them away from their comfort zone. Would you recommend a doctor who prescribes the same meds regardless of the patient or ailment? In the same way, please don’t accept that your development team will use only the technologies or languages they’ve used for decades, regardless of your requirements.
5. 5. Where Is Your Team Located?
Read up on onshore vs. offshore development and decide where your risk tolerance lies. Even agencies in the US may offshore their development work, which can lead to fuzzy standards and discrepancies between what is said and what is heard (and a host of other problems). Additionally, offshoring agencies tend to have higher turnover rates, which means inconsistent software engineers working on your project, and the same team may not be available as you scale and need to make upgrades.
6. How Do You Support Clients After Deployment or Implementation?
Nearly every agency will respond appropriately with assurances of maintenance and support services. We included it in our list because your follow-on question should dig deeper. Who will take care of you if there’s a bug? Will it be the same developers who poured their blood, sweat, and tears into your software, or will it be tiered support from customer service reps? Don’t enter an agreement if you’re not sure you’ll be supported past release.
7. How Do You Measure the Success of Your Development Projects?
There are countless ways to measure success. Sticking to a timeline estimate? Great. Metrics up and to the right? Fantastic. But what if you’re left wondering why that last feature got cut or why no one is returning your call? Be sure that success, at least in part, is measured by client satisfaction.
Finding the right software development partner can be overwhelming, and the impact of working with an ill-fitting team is costly at best. While there’s no universal checklist, asking the right questions can help you find the right competent and reliable development partner.