Guidelines When Choosing a Software Development Partner

date: 30 April 2020
reading time: 8 min

Organisations today rely heavily on software for their operations, as well as for running their business processes that are vital for the company. However, managing the development of this software in-house can become a challenging task, as businesses need to focus on sales, operations and marketing.

For such scenarios, their best option is to choose a software development partner.

Outsourcing has consistently proven to be an efficient and effective business model that, while helping to reduce operating costs, also significantly boosts profit margins and helps counter the increasing IT talent shortage. Outsourcing, while being highly scalable, enables businesses in any domain to adjust resource allocation as the business itself changes. 

When it comes to outsourcing companies, there is no shortage whatsoever. This can be both a blessing and a curse for those looking for a competent software development partner. The big question that usually comes to mind is whether to go with a large IT company or a smaller software development company. However, the right partner cannot be decided using an exact recipe. The entire decision process depends on the requirements each situation calls for.

A thorough assessment of potential outsourcing suppliers is crucial while choosing a development partner. Failure of a partnership is entirely possible if you fail to choose the right software development partner for you. The following are a few guidelines to help you select an IT partner:


Define why you need a software development partner

You as a business owner are aware of your goals and needs. You need to define your own goals and state what you expect from the software development partnership.

Maybe you require an end-to-end team covering everything from frontend developers, backend developers to business analysts, project managers, designers, testers, and DevOps. Some outsourcing companies only cover development, leaving the business side to the client.

Define your requirements precisely and then shortlist companies meeting your requirements. It will
make things a lot easier moving forward.    


Do the required research

Thorough research is necessary when considering an organization for a software development partnership. It can be tedious work but, if you have an already defined set of goals and expectations, the process becomes much easier.

The traditional way would be searching for the company’s work online, but other alternatives work well too. Third-party sites like Clutch have detailed reviews of organisations in the form of interviews. They provide a detailed overview of a company, including aspects such as quality of work, productivity, project management, scheduling, cost, and potential areas of improvement.

You can additionally also choose to contact your potential partner’s previous clients. They may be able to help you by providing a detailed summary of their experience in collaborating with the aforementioned company.


Shortlist companies you find to be promising

Narrow down companies you find fit for your requirements. This will make it a lot easier when carrying out a further decision-making process. Creating a funnel to shortlist your choices will allow you to evaluate a lot of businesses and shortlist the ones you find fit for your requirements. A shortlist should be succinct and in the range of 5 to 10 companies.

Additionally, you can use a spreadsheet model to quantify factors like price, time zone differences, methodologies, etc. This can help save a lot of time in the subsequent decision-making period. 


Asses the company’s experience in your industry

You need to assess what kind of experience the company has in your industry and domain. You can assess this based upon previously completed projects, how many clients they worked with, etc. Additionally, you should also check the experience and expertise in regards to the technologies you wish to work with. Certifications can be a good indicator of the level of competency the developers possess in a particular technology.

A company should have the right business mindset, as well as passionate business analysts and product managers to help you shape the product you wish. To assess this, you can evaluate the ongoing business relationships the company has with other clients.  


Scalability

Scalability is a major factor to consider when choosing a software development partner. It is imperative to check how much scalability and customization support a company is committed to providing for any software product built by them. This is important because, as the business expands, the software will need to be scaled to that level. The growing needs of a company should be of utmost importance and the software developed during the partnership should be scalable in the long run. 


Consider cultural compatibility and communication skills

Communication is a very crucial part of a successful partnership. The goal of a partnership should be to ensure open communication and transparent development process. A communications protocol is imperative in such cooperation. Your partner should be able to communicate their inputs well and in a precise manner.

The workflow and the entire development life cycle hugely depend on the people involved and, thus, both the background and culture have a huge impact on a project.   


Consider time zone differences

You can search for a partner in your own country but, most of the time, a partner may be in another nation overseas. This brings in the factor of time zone difference. Issues with this may affect communication and productivity. If a company is doing the project independently, the issue is not very glaring. However, if you have two teams in different parts of the globe working together, it can be a hassle. A 4-hour overlapping time in work hours is a good thing to have.

Most companies also have a very flexible schedule. This makes meetings and calls possible, even with large time differences. 


Choose the right price tag

Cost and availability are some of the most decisive factors when considering a partnership. Choosing a cheap option may be an attractive choice if you are not an IT company yourself. The least expensive choice may be attractive, however, experiences have compelled companies to adopt the idea of doing things well, rather than doing things cheaply.

Following this notion, Eastern Europe is an excellent option, even though they may be costlier than Asian countries. Countries like Poland have excellent developers and a high quality of work. Good software development outsourcing never comes cheap. 


Consider and evaluate the future of your relationship

To build a long-term relationship, you need to consider factors like the economic, financial, and cultural stability of the region you wish to have your software development partner from. Take into consideration the age of the company and their future prospects in regards to the current economic climate of their location.

Additionally, you also need to consider whether you will be able to work with a remote partner for years with just a few hours in overlapping time.


Interview the employees that will be working with you

Having a software development partner is much more than just working together. The team employed by the partner would be essentially working for you. This makes it imperative for you to know the team members well and check if there is compatibility between yourselves.

You can consider having multiple interviews and coding challenges to assess the skill level of your team members, as well as get to know the people you are working with beyond their technical acumen. You can alternatively choose to visit their HQ in person and get to know the company and its management on a first-hand basis.


Start small

You may plan to make a team of 30 to 40 members that covers everything from development to testing, maintenance and support. It is, however, very advisable to start small and assess how things work out for you before getting into full-blown production. It is not unusual to have obstacles in a collaborating relationship. These obstacles are easier to counter when the team is small.

Additionally, you can start out with a pilot project before the main project, especially if you do not have any prior experience in such partnering relationships.  


Look to build a long-term relationship

A software project may take anywhere between a few months to a couple of years. Building any such software is a long term investment. What is important is maintaining the relationship you have with your partner during the development process after the product is done and deployed. It will come in useful when you require additional support or some enhancement in the product. This is the reason why it is essential to have a long-term relationship with your software development partner.   


Conclusion

A software solution is not just a one-time cost, but also continuous improvement and transformative process that makes the solution viable and scalable for you. Finding the right software development partner to accompany you in this process is a daunting task and requires both thorough research and a dedicated decision-making process. It is one of the most critical factors that affect the success of your project. The aforementioned steps can act as a guideline in helping you pin down the right partner for you by putting the important things in the forefront.

Apart from these guidelines, there are other important factors to consider like selecting a contract type, writing a request for proposal (RPF), etc.  

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