Although there’s no single cut-and-dry recipe for making a great IT partner, there are definitely some components which allow one software company to perform significantly better than others.
Speaking from our own experience, these components can be grouped into four main categories: people, knowledge, workflow and values.
See what factors create a competitive edge, allowing companies to get ahead and stay ahead.
People: high diversity and satisfaction
If every software company is centered around people and all the companies are bragging about how good their experts are, how can you tell one from another? Well, there are a few indicators which can be pretty revealing:
- Number of employees
Having several tens or even hundreds of IT specialists among their ranks usually means that their roles and fields of expertise are really diverse. This translates into many technologies to choose from and a wide range of possibilities, so your project will not be limited in any way.
- Years of experience
The length and quality of experience held by their specialists are very important, and so is the experience of the company as a whole. A long-standing presence on the market confirms its stability and reliability.
- Low attrition rate
A low attrition rate – let’s say below 10% – indicates high employee satisfaction, which bodes well for any project.
- Senior experts
This is strictly connected with the number of years of individual experience and the following section on knowledge. It’s crucial for a trustworthy software company to have senior experts on their teams, and not just rely on junior specialists.
Knowledge: the desire to learn and improve
Knowledge is power. Especially in IT. When you want to develop a powerful project – there’s no room for an ignorant approach. Having profound knowledge and the desire to improve and discover new technologies – or even to set new trends – are what distinguish a great software company from an average one. So, what kind of distinguishing characteristics should you be looking for, exactly?
- Technical expertise team
It’s important for a company to have a highly qualified technical expertise unit. Members of this unit will be responsible for acquiring and sharing their knowledge as technical experts with their project teams.
- Lead Software Engineers + Software Architects
The Lead Software Engineer is a senior developer who acts as a link between the team and the project manager and/or any other managers in the organisation; he/she is a technological leader and mentor to the other team members. The Software Architect is responsible for designing clear and logical software systems. Those roles are usually stapled parts of the most developed companies and are indicators of high quality, as well as strong overall awareness of the development processes.
- Free flow of knowledge
The best companies in the IT industry have training units that are responsible for organising internal training sessions. They also ensure that employees have access to valuable external workshops, conferences and courses so that they can further develop their qualifications.
- Technology Radar
The TechRadar is a list of tools, techniques, languages, platforms, libraries and frameworks that are important for the company right now or will be important in the future. It is divided into groups and it helps to define the technological standpoint of a company.
And last but not least – nominations and awards that the teams may have earned along the way really do matter. They show that their hard work and successes were not only noticed within the organisation, but also recognised by the industry as well.
Workflow: no place for chaos
Software development, no matter how prone it is to change, must be put into an overall framework of rules and principles. The following checklist allows the best IT companies to be better prepared for any changes that seem to appear out of the blue.
- Best practices in software development
Having a set of guidelines which define how to proceed during the software development process makes it possible for projects to always fulfil minimum quality requirements.
- Project documentation
Project documentation is as important for the developers as it is for the clients. It can be life-saving, e.g., in case a key person leaves the team or when the project has to be handed over to a different company. Knowledge about the project should never ever be stored in the mind of a developer, as it can easily disappear along with them.
- Lessons learnt
The greatest organisations are also humble enough to learn from their previous experiences and then put those lessons learnt into practice while working on new projects.
- Requirements engineering and product design competencies
Capturing the requirements engineering and detailed needs of the clients should go hand in hand with the product design phase. During this time, ideas are put into a frame, taking the form of a functional product that will attract users along with meeting the business goals and adding a unique value to your business.
Values: principles that guide the work
Nurturing certain values helps to set the strategic directions of software development and holds the company together. And it’s important to adhere to the same principles in cooperation with the clients, as well as with the employees.
- Predictability + agility + trustworthiness + strong work ethic
The best IT companies ensure the efficient, agile and predictable delivery of a project on the basis of a set of KPIs that, in turn, allows their clients to maintain reliability in front of their stakeholders. No less important is trustworthiness which is reflected in, e.g., the number of long-standing clients, or having their information security management comply with ISO standards. Top companies also have a strong work ethic, one that supports comfortable work conditions, a culture of feedback, employee happiness, and a positive and open-minded atmosphere.
- Focus on customer satisfaction
Being transparent, open and honest with clients translates into high customer satisfaction and loyalty, which can be measured, e.g., with NPS.
To sum it all up, it’s the combination of top-notch specialists and profound knowledge bound together by strong principles and values that make one software company better than others. Plus, there must be a fundamental desire to constantly learn and discover new areas to explore, as well as find promising technologies to adapt – and being able to notice their potential while still in the very early stages of development. This is the most general, and also the most difficult recipe for success – a challenge that can only be overcome by the best.