7 Steps to Start a Successful Software Development Partnership
Finding a software development partner might seem a little intimidating at first, in part due to the vast number of software development companies ready to deliver their services. However, the best tech talent is busy. That is why you need to be prepared to put effort into finding a good development partner and solid talent that is available at a reasonable timeframe.
App development partnership will have a huge impact on your entire project. Before you do anything else, it is important to ensure that you have got your game plan. You should have an idea of what you are striving to build. That’s why we include questions to answer before starting to look for a partner.
Your specific app development partnership needs will drive searching, interviewing, and choosing a development partner. Our goal is to ensure your long-term success with the right software development partner. Let’s get started!
Why are companies looking for a Software Partner?
Here are some of the key benefits of software development partnership:
- Gain access to domain knowledge. Of all the things software development companies can offer your business, one of the most valuable is domain knowledge, i.e., an in-depth understanding of business, process and industry. Domain knowledge can accelerate development and reduce project cost, especially for complex projects.
- High-quality software development team Having a proven team, software development partner will make the development process much more efficient.
- Flexible team capacity and scalability IT projects often require diversified talent that is hard to gather, especially for a relatively short-term project. With a trusted software development company you get a diverse software development team with all sorts of skill sets. Those niche experts that can help you to understand the market from both technical and domain perspective.
- Work with a managed team Building the outsourced development team starts with a high-performing leader — Project Manager, who brings in technical capabilities and chooses necessary technology talent to accomplish the work. The leader of the development team will be your main point of contact throughout the whole process. Sure, you might want to talk to individual software developers and QA engineers from time to time, too. But having one team member to talk to also means that there is a single team member who is the go-to person when you have any questions to ask or issues to raise. Project manager co-ordinates the team’s effort and reduces the risk of you having to micromanage individual team members yourself.
Key questions to answer before starting to look for a partner
What is your project scope, budget, and timeline?
The scope, budget, and timeline are under constant pressure from new discoveries from users’ and customers’ feedback in IT projects.
The key to project success is to get a development partner that can handle the dynamics of validated learning smoothly with a solid software development process, both on the software design and engineering side. Software development planning is an important part of commencing any new software project. A perfect project plan covers planning, ideation, development, documentation, deployment, launch, and often maintenance.
Benefits of software development planning:
- In a startup environment with phased funding. The startup will need to know that their runway of funding provides sufficient support to achieve the MVP or next phase of the delivery.
- In a complex project that is responding to external deadlines, i.e. regulatory governmental requirements that have a fixed date. Failure to deliver before these external deadlines could result in excessive fines for the organization.
The longer a project runs, the more likelihood there is for future estimates to be inaccurate. It can therefore be somewhat less valuable to write a detailed plan for things that are going to be happening more than 6 months in the future.
What software development services do you need?
Software development planning is an important part of beginning any new software project. In order to determine the size and scope of your outsourced team you will need to consider the following software projects factors:
- Scope of the software project and how the scope can be logically split into either module, journeys, user stories, features, or other splits
- Expected pace of software development and project delivery phases
- Required project team members (Designers/Front End/Back End/QA/Platform Engineers, Project Managers, etc)
- Critical path of delivery for project’s success
- Dependencies along the software development project progress
Software Development Partnership Steps-by-Step
Once you know what to look for, it won’t be so difficult to pinpoint the best candidates.
1. How to find software development partners
Assuming you have already determined your requirements, timeline, and skill set, the next step will be to find a team that will meet your requirements.
There are plenty of resources where you can find software companies:
- The easiest way to find companies is the Google Search results. Both paid and organic results can be helpful. From their web pages you can get information on software development services, various industries they worked with, their previous clients and how the software house collaborates with their clients.
- Browse software development companies listings. One of the most popular of them is Clutch. You can range the search results regarding location, minimal project size, average hourly rate, industry focus, and so on.
Surfing the websites to choose a software development partner may yield some results. However, there is a good chance you will not discover certain things while conducting such research. You should request a portfolio from developers if you want to learn more about their expertise. Brochures or information packs will be provided by custom software development companies.
Reviewing case studies will assist you in determining which companies are the most promising. Your decision could be based on how close your idea is to projects that the development company has already produced, or something else entirely. In any case, you’ll need to compile a list of suppliers you like.
PRO TIP: Try to go to smaller firms with good software development experience rather than large firms who have multiple layers of management, which leaves a lot of room for miscommunication and unnecessary overhead.
2. Check the software development partner references
Now that you have narrowed down your choice of companies, it is time to compare them. The best way to do that is to research software company portfolios and customer reviews.
See who they have worked with previously and what type of jobs they have done. This serves a number of purposes.
- It allows you to see if they have done something similar to what you require.
- It gauges the level of experience the company has.
- It lets you understand the scale of jobs the company has done and if they are able to handle your task.
It is a good idea to consider not only written testimonials, which you can find on the software house’s website and in the company’s profiles featured in some such vendor catalogues as Clutch. It may be equally if not more insightful to request the company to provide you with references from their current or former clients, with whom you can discuss their experience of working with the company. If their impressions and track records with the company are positive you are more likely to get what you are after. If — upon request — the company cannot provide such references, it should raise doubts as to whether the clients are served to their satisfaction.
This is not to say that companies with a wide range of customers and a rich company’s portfolio are always the best for your use case. The key point is that the outsourcing partner has experience in your technology and business domain. If the software development company claims to have experience doing something similar to what you want, but cannot share any information, then this can be a red flag.
It is true that outsourcing companies may not always be able to share their previous projects due to non-disclosure agreements. However, they should at least be able to give you a broad outline of their previous projects, how they were developed, and how they benefit the clients.
PRO TIP: Find out if they have completed projects similar to your product idea. Gauge the level of experience of the development team members. Confirm maturity of project management and if they are able to handle your project scope.
Oftentimes, a software development company will prefer to use certain technologies and specialize in creating applications/solutions with them. This can be an advantage, but, be that as it may, there are certain things you need to watch out for.
- Choosing a software development firm that keep up with the latest technological advancements in the tech stack used. New ideas and innovations are a must. The perfect software development company you select should have a strong desire to be in front of any new updates and changes to their technology stack and technical expertise.
- Pay attention to their software developers expertise. If you need your solution built on Node.js, then review companies that focus on Node.js. Find a company that specializes in what you need. This also means avoiding companies that have a multitude of specializations because no one is an expert in everything.
Choose the right technology partner that has a solid and reliable development process, based on adaptive planning, early delivery, project updates, and informative communication tools. This means you are carried along on what is happening at any stage of project development. Every company understands agile methods a little differently, so you should have everything clarified beforehand.
PRO TIP: Start with a small project. See how the project is delivered, how the technology and the process works, provide feedback if you see ways to improve the latter. If things do not go the way you envisioned, then change the service provider.
4. Evaluate the company’s software development process
Now that you know a little more about potential software development partners, we can find out more about the software development process they use.
Having a right software development company structure in place will make the entire process seamless and efficient and it will also enable you to tackle challenges that prop up along the way. Your app developers should follow a project management methodology, like for example the agile Scrum methodology. And your software development partner should keep you up to date on how the project progresses.
Choosing a software development partner that has an Agile methodology, based on adaptive planning, early delivery, and project updates. This will ensure you are up to date with what is happening at any stage of project development.
PRO TIP: Custom software development often requires a lot of effort, time, and money. Before you invest in custom software, learn about common pitfalls you must avoid Custom Software Development Process and 7 Mistakes to Avoid
5. Schedule meeting and interview development partner
After you’ve seen the portfolio and are keen to hear more, it is time to have a more in-depth talk with potential partners. There is no harm in lining up a couple software companies to interview as you are not committing to anything at this stage.
Questions to ask reliable software development partner
Questions to ask software development companies can really vary depending on a number of factors. This being said, the 15 Software Vendor Interview Questions we are about to recommend should be good questions to ask a software developer in most cases. They are general enough to cover the most important aspects of software development projects, but also specific enough to encourage revealing answers from the individuals responding.
- Could you present a project similar to mine in terms of technology, functionality and/or business domain?
- Can you provide good references from previous projects?
- What kinds of companies do you typically work with? / Who is your ideal client?
- Who will manage my project?
- What does your typical process look like?
- How do you ensure quality on your software development projects?
- What reporting practices and collaboration tools do you use?
- Can you present the people who will deliver services to me? What is their experience level?
- Tell me about your hiring process. Where do you find your candidates and what do you look for when hiring new developers?
- How many developers do you have working with the same technology?
- Will the developers assigned to my project work on any other project at the same time?
- How often do you people change projects?
- Why should I choose you rather than your competitors?
- What are your rates and payment terms?
- Can you estimate the length of my project?
6. Evaluate an outsourced development team
Deciding to work with a software development partner will prove to be an investment, so it is important not to be too conservative with your budget. It is especially true if a software development partner gives you a low estimate to tempt you in then either raise the bill or drop the quality later on.
Ask software development partners to provide you with team members CVs.
What sets alarm bells ringing?
- Trading up skills — IT specialists need to hit the ground running. Make sure the team has a proven track record with technology. It takes time to learn it and you should not be the one to pay for them to acquire the skills..
- Non-achievements — look for achievements that demonstrate tangible contributions to projects business goals. ‘I built something’ and ‘I learned X, Y and Z’ are not really achievements you are looking after. It’s better to hire people who focus on your needs rather than their own.
- Frequent, short contracts — developers that are often moved between projects should spark your attention. Their lack of staying power tells you how they were valued by their previous client.
7. Pick the right partner: balance quality and price
Without doubt, outsourcing software development to a partner can reduce costs. The challenge is that lower rates do not always translate to a better deal. Project delays, higher than expected costs, lack of transparency — the list goes on.
Fortunately, most it companies considering software development partnership are aware of the risks of prioritizing cost. They try to maximize the value of every dollar invested by incorporating value into the equation.
But how do you balance this equation and find the best business opportunities? Was “value for money” in software development?
- Treat estimates with a grain of salt. The longer a project runs, the more likelihood there is for future estimates to be inaccurate. Due to the human nature of optimistic biases, projects are rarely overestimated or under budget, so building in between 10–25% (or even more) of contingency is always a wise approach. Move to a primarily agile delivery approach, where more emphasis is put on discovery, experimentation, and iteration than on deadlines, you might wonder if project plans still matter.
- Look for a mature software development process and technical leadership. Little things matter a lot. When you combine all of these factors, you get a project that works well with the least amount of time and effort. Very good coding and management practices ensure smooth software solution development.
- Look for the right size of vendor. A good rule of thumb is to development partner with software companies where your contribution to their revenue is between 15–25%. This is why you will be important for them and you will be able to gravitate towards your project with the top talent they have. At the same time you need to balance the risk of a software partner losing a key resource — they need to be big enough to provide replacement on time.
Warren Buffett, who is one of the most successful businessmen in the world today, once said, “ Price is what you pay. Value is what you get.” More often than not, you need to look beyond the price and learn more about the development partner to understand its true value for you.
As you can see, there are many steps involved in hiring a trustworthy software development partner. It is important to go through a rigorous process when hiring the right software development partner, like the steps we have just detailed. Compare your options over and over. If it turns out that no one you initially selected is right for the task, go back to the drawing board and start again searching for the best software development companies.
Software development partners are an excellent way to make up for internal resource shortages. As a matter of fact, the bare minimum you can do here is simply come up with an idea and a loose plan of what you want the overall product to look like.
A software development partner should be able to guide you through the whole planning experience, see Full-cycle Software Product Development. This includes wireframing, cost estimation, sketches of the UX and UI design, and the software development itself.
If you’re in the process of finding a potential software development partner in Eastern Europe, reach out to SoftKraft to see what we can do for you. We are happy to share our portfolio and find out whether we can get you to where you need to be on your next software development project.
Originally published at 7 Steps to Start a Successful Software Development Partnership