In the last few posts we’ve been discussing the benefits of custom applications and the value of outsourcing application development. Unlike packaged software and cloud-based Software-as-a-Service solutions, a custom application can be finely tuned to your workflows and integrated with other software in your environment. By outsourcing software development, you eliminate the headaches associated with hiring, retaining and managing technical talent. You gain a team of professionals and a well-defined project plan and budget.
Once you’ve made the decision to have a custom application developed by an outside firm, you’re faced with choosing the right firm for the job. Here are six things to consider when interviewing and evaluating potential software development partners:
- What sort of consulting and project management services do they offer? Before they write a line of code, the software developers need to understand your business processes and requirements. The development firm should have business analysts who can help you define the application requirements if needed.
- Have they completed similar projects in the past? A firm that has experience in your industry or with organizations similar to yours will have an advantage in understanding your workflows and needs. That said, a firm that has completed diverse projects can be more flexible, adaptable and innovative than one specializing in very specific technologies.
- Where are they located? Many software development firms are offshore or outsource to an offshore partner. A local firm will be available to meet with you and your end-users without language barriers or time zone issues.
- How many developers do they have? Large software development firms may advertise their team of developers but you won’t necessarily get the most experienced personnel for your project. Small shops with one or two developers may not be able to meet deadlines or accommodate additional requirements. Look for a well-rounded yet tight-knit team.
- What is their development methodology? Experienced firms have well-defined software development processes that help ensure projects are completed on time and within budget.
- How often do they let you test the app? Even with upfront consulting and planning, the application will need fine-tuning along the way. Frequent releases allow you to test the app so that user interfaces and data flows can be tweaked as needed.
- Do they offer ongoing support? You may need help learning how to use the software, changing configurations as hardware evolves, or integrating the app with new applications in your environment. Look for a firm that will be available to assist you long after development is complete.
Of course, all the basics apply here as well. Ask for a list of references and call them to find out what went well and what didn’t. Ask to see samples of the firm’s work. Contact the firm by phone and email to see how long it takes to get a response. Ask a lot of questions and make sure the answers are satisfactory.
SSD Technology Partners has a long history of designing and developing custom applications for organizations in a wide range of industries. We invite you to put us to the test, and let us show you how our experience and proven processes can benefit your software development project.