When you are looking to get a new piece of software developed, it is important to find the right developer. With an abundance of software development companies to choose from, it can be tricky to know where to start. Remember – you get what you pay for – and making the wrong choice at the start, could mean you risk paying a higher price later down the line.
To start with, you need to check that the company can meet your basic requirements:
- Can they work to your budget?
- Are they able to deliver it within your timeframe?
- Are the types of solutions they build what you’re looking for
- Can they host and maintain the application?
- Experience with requirements such as yours, i.e. a similar application
However, if you are looking to build a secure, quality built and robust piece of application that’s built for the future, you need to find a good software company. To do this, it is worth spending a bit of time finding out exactly how they work – as it is these processes and practices that make the difference between average and high-quality software.
1. Do they have their in-house team of developers?
Finding a software development company with their own in-house team of developers helps to reduce the risk of being left with an unfinished, unsupported software application as you are not relying on just one person to do it. Having a team of developers to support your project means that should the lead developer be away, there will be others who are already familiar with the project to carry it on in the meantime. Given timescales and expected quality, this consistency is important.
Using the same team year on year helps you establish a good relationship with your developer. They will be familiar with you, your system and goals, and can therefore develop the system for future requirements too.
2. What does their client list look like?
Finding out what other companies they have worked for and the types of projects they have done provides the opportunity to see exactly what they can do and if they have experience in your sector. Checking customer reviews, or even asking to speak to a few customers directly will give you a good understanding of what they are like to work with and if they would be a good fit for your business.
It may be key that they specialise in your sector, and therefore understand the nature of the work. Or you may want a software development company that has experience building a system with the same requirements, or same technologies. If they don’t have this information readily available, ask them!
3. Are they an established company?
Are they a stable, established company that is likely to still be around in the next few years? Creating a new software application is just the first step. To remain effective and secure, software needs to evolve and be regularly updated. You don’t want to be left stranded after a project has finished without any support to protect your investment. Find out if they can update, support and maintain the software once the project is complete.
A company with a long history of development are also likely to have tried & tested processes and tools in place which result in high quality, secure software applications.
4. What security processes do they have in place?
If you are creating a piece of software that includes sensitive data, how you protect and manage that data will be an important consideration, and one you will need to work with your developer on. Before selecting a software developer, find out what their security policy is and what practices they have in place to protect your data and build secure software applications.
A developer with security measures and processes in place are likely to consider this when building your software and include good practices in bespoke software that you can follow too.
5. How do they ensure the quality of the software they develop?
A good development company will have strict quality control processes in place to make sure you receive a secure, well-built piece of software. Check what processes they follow to make sure the code is of the highest quality. How do they test updates to catch any technical issues and make sure everything works correctly?
Having a development process in place is crucial to ensuring no stone is left unturned. Starting a project off right with a discovery phase and even stakeholder engagement will more likely lead to a quality system down the line. Find out what process the company follows to minimise changes down the line when it is more difficult, time-consuming and costly to change.
Equally, once the project is finished, who will be testing it? A project manager, developer, senior development or quality assurance team? Are you able to trial and test the system? And what happens if any bugs are found soon after the application is made live – it is a good idea to find out if the development company will fix these at no extra cost. Testing the system is an essential part of the process and needs to be done thoroughly.
There are different ways projects can be managed. If you are looking for quick results, an Agile project management strategy could help. Alternatively, a waterfall project might have the desired effects you’re looking for.
You may already have found a solution before looking for a company, if not, do your homework. There may be a system already out there which can fulfil your needs.
Of course, for the vast majority, these off the shelf systems aren’t lean. They have either too much unnecessary functionality which can confuse users, or not enough to efficiently carry out organisational needs. Find out everything you need to know when choosing between Bespoke and off the shelf software solutions to be able to make an informed decision.
Some software development companies may also have their own ready-made frameworks. This comes with benefits too, as they are tried and tested, likely offering quality solutions. Your system may also benefit from ready-made functionality, which has been used for others, saving on costs. All developers will be familiar with the backend (codebase) too, enabling them to step into the project or help support it once the project has been completed.
This increased stability and increased project time may be very beneficial to those looking to work within a tighter budget or timeframe, but still want a bespoke system for their business.
Hosting & support for the system
Your work with a bespoke software developer isn’t over once it has gone live. The chances are it will be a web-based application that will need quality hosting to ensure its security and uphold its speed and updates. This is particularly important for the bigger systems. This is another benefit of the actual developers of an application hosting it. They are not only familiar with it but will have built it in situ.
If they can also provide support for the system, not only will you have experts who know your system inside out, that you already have an established relationship with, supporting you. You will have only one point of contact to manage, develop, support and host your applications for years to come.