A software development partner can offer key strategic advantages.
When you're talking to software development companies that you're considering hiring for building your product, you need to get the right information to help you make the choice that’s right for your project.
Even if you heard amazing things about a potential partner or read great reviews, you need to ensure they’re a great fit for you.
Before you start, there’s a couple of questions you should ask yourself first, because a great development team would want to understand your business. Any qualified outsourcing team will dig into your business strategy to help you achieve great results, so you should be prepared beforehand.
Does This Project Fit My Business Strategy?
You should be able to answer what are your goals for the project, and how it will help your business. With this information, your development partner will be able to make decisions in the future, whether on the software architecture or design. Moreover, team members might have done a similar project before and can share some insights with you.
What Timelines Do I Need to Hit?
Your development partner has to understand your deadlines to make your workflow smooth. If you’re planning to make announcements or releasing a demo, then you need to let them know to let them stay organized, estimate resource capabilities, workloads, and deadlines in advance.
Who Needs to be Involved and How Will They Participate?
To speed up everyday iterations and the overall process of development, it’s best if only one or two people within the in-house team are involved in the project. That way, decision-making and approval time will be quicker.
Finally, while considering a partnership with an outsourced development team, think about your long-term plans. Whether you realize it or not, the team you work with will be involved in decisions that will impact your company in the future.
Once you found a possible partner, you’ll of course ask questions about things like rates, billing practices, and contracts. Those questions are important, but they shouldn’t be your only criteria.
We’ve prepared 10 questions you should ask a potential development partner.
1. How do you plan projects?
Software development can be handled in various ways, the best one is a matter of the nature of your project, as well as your team's opinion and thoughts going into the workflow.
Before starting a software project, it is essential to determine the tasks to be performed and properly manage the allocation of tasks among individuals involved in the software development.
Hence, planning is important as it results in effective software development because taking the time to think through the project in a detailed way, will serve the project management process.
A good development partner will use a reliable, repeatable process, and that includes doing what’s best for the project and not whatever you ask, regardless of whether it’s genuinely good for your project.
2. What is the team structure?
This question should be made to know how potential dev teams manage the overall project from big goals to small details.
There are a lot of different team structures and no one "right" team structure.
What you’ll need to know is if there are clear leadership and accountability in the team’s structure. It’s critical to know if aside from developers, the team has UX/UI designers and project managers that will be available for your project.
The importance of a project manager is to make sure that the development team understands your business model and your target audience so they can build the product that your customers love.
That’s why you should choose an IT company that not just provides development services, but one that cares to understand what do you and your customers really need.
Proper user experience and user interface make applications more successful, and better received by users. UX and UI design also reduce costs and save time, among other benefits
3. How will we communicate?
For this question, the goal is to ensure that open communication and transparency will be a constant throughout the design and development process.
Technology is awesome and it allows us to communicate in a million different ways, as diverse aspects of the project might need to be communicated differently.
Quick questions might go through informal channels while formal requests surely need different communication tools.
For example, at Sophilabs we work in sprints, so we communicate with our clients constantly. Some of the communication tools we use are Slack, Google Meet, and of course email for formal communication and requests.
4. What Is Your Development Process?
A good development partner will use a reliable and repeatable process that supports organization and consistency based on practical experience, and industry-leading practices.
You should ask this question to get some insight into the daily work process of the dev team. You want a team that’s transparent in their work process.
Your development team should provide regular status updates and meet with you on regular basis.
At Sophilabs we work with an Agile approach that helps us jump right in, no matter where you are in the product life cycle and we use XP practices such as code reviews, unit testing, and continuous delivery.
5. What is your development stack?
This question refers to the type of coding languages and libraries your product will be built with. The development stack can have a big impact on the future health of your product.
A vital aspect that should be considered is if software developers with the skills in the chosen language are easy to find.
There are many great technologies available from which to choose, and while a lot of different technologies can get the job done, there’s a good way to narrow down your choice of the technology stack.
6. What’s your internal strategy
This question should be focused on coding, testing, and delivery. You should know how your team will work.
Among other things, you should be informed about how often the team communicates with each other, who is the team leader, how tasks are planned and assigned and how often are deliveries targeted.
Testing is a vital and crucial element of the development process, so make sure your development team has a very solid testing strategy in place.
7. What if we need to pivot mid-project?
Projects don’t always go perfectly and pivots might happen.
For example, we like to work in 2-week sprint cycles here at Sophilabs. This allows us flexibility with goals and long-term deliverables.
While pivoting in the startup world means to shift to a new strategy, it doesn’t need to be a drastic change. Some examples of pivoting, are:
Turning one feature of a product into the product itself, resulting in a simpler offering.
Focusing on a different set of customers by positioning a company into a new market or vertical.
Changing a platform, say, from an app to software or vice versa.
Employing a new revenue model to increase monetization.
Using a different technology to build a product
Making decisions without thought is a recipe for disaster, still, you need to know if your partner is flexible enough to change when you need it.
8. How often can we meet for status updates?
Your development team should be meeting with you regularly. How often depends on where you are in your project lifecycle and what level of detail you need.
The point is that meetings should be held at intervals that make you, as the client and owner of the project, comfortable ensuring that you have all the details you need.
The main purpose of having regular meetings is to make sure that your outsourced team understands your objectives and that they validate that understanding with you.
You also need to understand why they’re proposing specific solutions to your business problems and goals.
9. Can I see your portfolio, references, or client testimonials?
The moment you ask this question, the only acceptable answer is YES. If a company is not willing to show you a portfolio or share their past clients’ experience, it’s a bad sign, a reliable development team should be proud of their work.
References and testimonials will tell you about how the team you want to hire has performed in the past.
10. Do you have experience with similar projects?
When choosing your partner, is best to choose a company that has a successful track record on projects at least somewhat similar to what you’re proposing.
The more your development team understands your business, the better they can create and implement your project. Of course, is unlikely to have expertise in every aspect of the business, but still, it’s a good idea to ask a development team about their previous experience.
Nevertheless, a team of true professionals can adapt to your business model and create a successful project without previous experience in a particular niche.
While these ten questions are a good start, you will probably have some of your own questions. A good prospect partner should answer all of them, provide you with world-class service, and treat you like a valued partner.
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