thumbnail

10 Top Factors to Consider When Choosing Your Software Development Partner

Businesses need to grow digitally so that they keep themselves relevant. When IT talent and know-how is not available within an organization, a software development partner can help you turn ideas and needs into results and targets. 

Software done right – How can you spot it?

Software done right should not be difficult to spot. 

  • It solves your business problems or needs: speed, performance, agility, portability, business ubiquity, remote work, enhanced security and many more.   
  • It is scalable. 
  • It has embedded security. 
  • It is based on a solid and consistent technology stack that is also future-proof. 
  • It is easy to use. 
  • It delivers on its promises and it helps you achieve your goals effortlessly and in a predictable manner. 
  • It protects and stores your assets. 

Software development partners – How can you spot them?

Choosing the right software development partner (supplier) should be the result of careful analysis and assessment. This article presents the top 10 criteria to take into account when drafting your decision checklist. 

1. Proven Track Record 

poster
E.g. Social proof - AlightEE's website and a list of customers

Check the software supplier’s market presence (blogs, company website, successful projects, portfolio, and use cases) and their customers’ reviews. This criterion is meant to help you choose the level of expertise you want your supplier to have.

Suppliers which have been present on the market for a longer time are more mature and have more realistic expectations as well as more tried-and-tested ways of working. 

2. Domain Experience and Strategy 

poster
Photo by JESHOOTS.COM on Unsplash 

Unless you check how well-versed the supplier is in the domain your organization is activating, you may end up with offers that are true good to be true. Some suppliers may go to great lengths in having you as a customer by promising too much.

In other words, you should be aware of offers that are true good to be true. Instead, look into how the supplier assesses your needs and demands. True professionals do not ask for requirements and implement them blindly, but rather perform business analysis, try to understand your goals, and even give you advice and guidance you may not have thought of. Lend an open ear even to suppliers which disagree with your views, as their solution may supersede yours.

The best software development partner you can ask for is the one that outlines alternative solutions, that highlights potential issues and means to solve them, and that advises you technically. 

3. Communication Skills 

poster

Successful projects cannot be achieved outside good communication between the customer and the supplier. You should aim for a team which can translate technicalities into common language and back, therefore a team which can assist you with answers and clarifications every step of the way.

Moreover, the supplier should also show how they handle the issues that may appear, how they report them to you, and how they generally keep you in the loop, so that you can provide feedback on both the expected and the unexpected results. 

4. Technology Stack 

poster

Familiarize yourself with the languages, tools, and methodologies development teams adhere to. 

  • Is there a clearly-articulated, incremental development process? 
  • Is the team adhering to Agile?   
  • Does the team use project management tools? 
  • Are the teams working with supported languages?
  • Is the team addressing backwards compatibility? 
  • Are the teams writing clean code and avoid spaghetti code? 

5. Testing 

poster
Photo by Clément Hélardot on Unsplash 

Testing is meant to capture defects, but also to ensure that the behavior described in specifications is the actually implemented behavior. 

  • Can your supplier demonstrate how development – testing – validation can be traced back and accounted for? 
  • Will you be part of the incremental demo sessions?   
  • How much leverage for change is there if testing reveals unanticipated scenarios? 

6. Delivery Method 

poster
Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash 

Solutions should be delivered after you are involved in development, testing, and after you validate that the application behaves as expected. If the solution you order is modular or the context allows it, discuss whether there can be a staggered release with negotiation as a possibility. Needless to say, that you supplier should deliver according to agreed-on timelines and hold themselves responsible for any delays resulting from lack of due diligence.

7. User Experience 

poster

User Interface design and User Experience done right can make or break your application. Find a software development partner which understands the target audience of that application. Commands, controls, and interaction with the application must be straightforward, helpful, and backed up by logs for fast and easy troubleshooting.

Make sure your development partner considers Users Experience as important as the supporting code. 

8. Security and Safety 

poster
Photo by Matthew Waring on Unsplash 

Security is not a cosmetic layer development teams can simply add after they finish developing a solution. Security must be addressed each step of the way, from the way code is written to the way the software solution protects data and users against harm. Moreover, look for a development partner that is accredited and that observes international security standards. 

Check with your suppliers: 

  • How sensitive data is handled 
  • How external threats are prevented and dealt with if they occur  
  • How authentication works 
  • What consequences are there should the software malfunction 

9. Support and Training 

poster
Photo by Glenn Carstens-Peters on Unsplash 

Discuss how much training and support your software partner can offer after the solution you ordered is finished. This is a long-term service which also requires a budget. Make sure you do not dismiss it from the start, as it can come in handy in corner-case scenarios.

10. Quotes 

poster

While this criterion is the last one on the list, the quote dictates how far you can stretch. It is always good to remember that you need to assess what good value means and what the consequences of choosing something suboptimal has for the future of your business. In many cases, the cheapest option should be avoided. Assess cost effectiveness based on medium and long-term goals. 

Decisions, Decisions

poster

A clear and sensible balance needs to be struck between needs and budget. After this decision has been made, choose a software development partner that delivers on their promises in terms of reliability and results. Check their reviews, their portfolio, their tech blog and media presence, and try out prototypes similar to what you want implemented. Then, schedule a meeting with them and go into more depth technology-wise.