ExpertiseMake sure any prospective company has the technical knowledge to execute a project. Experts stay up to date on industry news and advances so they can offer options depending on a client’s needs. They should prioritize custom solutions over set packages. When a company can’t customize, it’s a sign that they won’t be able to handle problems that pop up during development.
CommunicationThe best software development companies know that communication can make or break a project. They encourage dialogue at all stages of the development process. If they do come across a complex industry-specific business problem, they aren’t afraid to ask for clarification until they understand what the client needs. One of the strengths of a software development company over a solo developer is the team structure, so find a development team that plays to this strength by providing a designated point of contact for each client. Clients should feel welcome to ask questions and given clear answers, not technobabble or patronizing dismissals.
TransparencySoftware development companies need to be open about pricing structure, development methods, technology standards, and anything else that might affect the end product. Reputable agencies are confident their operating procedures will stand up to scrutiny. If something is being hidden from the client -whether it’s the technology being used or the number of programmers on the project- there’s cause for serious concern.
ExperienceThere are always unexpected hurdles in software development. An experienced company can anticipate some of these and handle others as they come. Don’t just look at how long the company has been in business- also take into account past projects and reviews from other clients. If there is a bad review, ask why the client wasn’t satisfied and what has changed in response. Having the right team can help you avoid IT project failures.
“Big Picture” ThinkersThe project is more important than its component parts. Development companies should never become mired in details at the expense of overall functionality. If something isn’t working, they find a way to fix it or move on. This ensures the focus remains on the big picture- a successful release- and not on trendy technology or pet projects.
ReliabilitySoftware development is a significant investment; dependability is key to protecting that investment. Reliable account managers and project managers send regular updates, return calls and emails in a timely manner, and provide deliverables on schedule. When an unexpected issue threatens that schedule, they take a proactive approach. Clients are made aware of problems before any deadlines have been missed, and the account manager or project manager has a plan in place for getting the project back on track.
Refined Process“How” is as meaningful as “what” when it comes to software development. A company with a team that functions like a well-oiled agile machine will create better software than one that’s still ironing out the kinks in their process. Indicators of good process include operating procedures that can flex without collapsing, a smooth handoff of components among team members, and a reciprocal flow of information among all levels of the company. If you want to learn more about agile processes and agile methodologies, read the post Avoid Organizational Failure by Programming a Path Through Technological Complexity.
Case StudiesBefore you contract with a development company, ask to see case studies of past projects. Case studies demonstrate the company’s ability to deliver what they promise. These should be detailed, outlining the problem presented and what steps the developer took to solve it along with a summary of the project’s business impact. When appropriate, check whether the project is still in use. This is a solid indicator of its long-term viability. One thing not found on this list is “budget friendly." There’s a reason for that: while cost is always a primary concern, it can’t be the only factor considered. Cut-rate developers often wind up costing more in the long run than choosing a reliable partner from the start. Narrow the field to companies that meet these standards before adding price into the equation, and you’ll be on the path to a rewarding development process. Want more tips? Read how to hire a great software development company.
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