How to choose a good software development company to build your tech product
You’re a founder or an entrepreneur that needs to make a decision about building your own tech team versus working with a software development partner.
Your background may be in business development, marketing or sales but maybe you’ve never built a tech product before and you don’t feel qualified or confident to make this decision.
Let’s address some of the concerns that you may have and help you make the right decision.
1- Quality, process, time or cost
Before you choose the software development partner that will build your tech product, it’s important to consider the following four points:
Which two of these are the most important to you?
The answer to this question is going to inform which software development partner you’re going to choose since different priorities will require different solutions.
If you value time and cost there’s a certain type of partner that’s going to be a better fit for you.
Some partners may build tech products very quick and cheap but not necessarily of high quality and scalable.
Probably stuff you’ll use for a prototype and that you may throw away or rebuild afterwards.
If you’re looking to build a prototype or a proof of concept or if you’re early stage and you just want to validate what you’re building then time and costs are usually going to be your biggest factors.
As you progress in your journey, maybe you’ve raised funding and now want to build a fully fledged product that can scale then your considerations will probably change and you’ll care more about quality and process, about building a high-quality product for the long term.
You may value high quality and cost which is the ratio, we pride ourselves on at Alidasoft.
We deliver an extremely high-quality product and service while still keeping our costs moderate.
We focus on getting the quality to cost ratio right. Extremely high-quality tech products but not at extreme prices as some of our competitors.
Maybe you haven’t yet thought about these four factors but it’s important to be clear on this and this will drive your decision about the best software development partner for you.
2- The quality of the tech product
The second concern I want to address is the quality of the project.
There’s a big range when you work with a software development partner.
From cheap to very expensive, and with a million options in between.
Massive range and you generally get what you pay for but at the higher end which is where Alidasoft plays there are varying costs with low variances in quality.
How can you assess this?
Ask for a demo and try to have someone technical that you trust with you such as a software developer.
Ask and look at past projects, track records, testimonials and case studies.
Dive deeper into the team’s processes: how do they do things, how do they do testing, quality assurance, sprint planning and what is their process for getting work done.
Without a process, it’s very hard to create predictability, scale up and have a good working experience.
It’s also testing their capability so if you’re not a technical person or you don’t have experience running projects, get someone that does and you trust to sit in on that demo.
We often ask our clients to do this because our clients are often well established and successful founders and entrepreneurs but they don’t necessarily have the technical experience or background.
So we advise them to invite to the demo someone that they know who is technical and can analyse our project specifications and roadmap, and see the team’s tech and project management capabilities.
3- Upskilling and training the team
Software development is an industry where it’s very difficult to attract and retain great talent, and there’s a lot of work and energy that goes into this.
How much time, energy and money do you want to allocate to keeping the team on the cutting edge and up to date on the latest technologies, to talent acquisition and retention.
At Alidasoft we spend an enormous amount of our time and resources on this.
Following on from a similar vein is how much time and resources do you want to allocate to optimising processes and delivery?
Optimising the speed of your software development, how tests are done, the quality of the code, quality assurance, how bugs are caused and the communication cycles.
In our business, we spend a lot of time improving this and getting it better because the more it’s optimised the better the product, the user experience and the integrity of the code will be.
You’ve to factor a significant amount of time, energy and resources to fulfil these things.
These are doable things but it’s a question of whether you want to do them or not and what’s your inclination and do you want this to be a part and parcel of your business and day to day?
If the answer is yes, that’s great.
If it’s no then you’re looking to partner with a high-end software development company.
Hopefully, these points are informing what type of questions you’ll be asking your prospective partner.
How do they manage this?
How do they manage talent acquisition and retention?
If you have a group of software developers working on your project, how can you be sure that they’ll be working on your project in 3,6 or 9 months’ time?
How do you upskill your team and improve processes?
How do you optimise testing?
These are all questions that will inform your decision.
You want to make sure that you’re working with a partner that is continuously upskilling their team.
This is one of the reasons why you would consider a software development partner because you don’t necessarily want to spend all the time and resources but rather have your partner continuously stay on the cutting edge, upskilling, training, educating and making sure that the tech product is of excellent quality.
4- Control and visibility into the project
The next concern I want to address is that you’re worried that you won’t have control over your project and visibility into it if you outsource it to a software development partner instead of having your in-house tech team in your office working on it.
In our case at Alidasoft, we use both Jira and Trello for project management and we’ll actually open up our Jira and Trello boards to our clients if they want in order for them to have a more transparent overview of the progress of the project and see what tickets are moving through the system and what the speed of execution is.
Visibility is vital and it’s an important point to take into consideration.
Being able to keep track and be on top of updates without having to rely on people’s reports and transparency will bring you a lot of peace of mind.
5- The agreed product roadmap
You need to have a good agreement on the product roadmap and how the product is going to be developed.
This needs to be a shared and dynamic document that needs to be constantly at the forefront of how you’re working through the project.
At Alidasoft we work with agile billing and agile methodology so the roadmap is really important because it keeps a single source of truth of the project’s progress and it keeps alignment throughout the project’s duration.
6- How will the communication and meetings be handled
You want to have a look at how frequently the project managers will talk to you about the project and what’s the nature of the conversations.
The communication cycle is really important to manage what is going to be done during the project development.
So pay attention to how communications are handled and this isn’t just for your external partner but also for your own internal team, especially with project managers reporting on a very important timeline.
Enquiry about the frequency of the meetings and how frequently are you going to be having calls or meetings with your software development partner.
7- Time zones
We work with partners all over the world and you really want to see how your team is set up to be able to have an overlap for at least x amount of hours every day so that there are constant and predictable feedback rhythms.
8- Cultural fit
Assess the culture fit. Is this a team that you can communicate with and get along with?
You’ll be investing a lot of your money, time and resources into this project and you want to make sure that you can relate and work with the team because you’re going to be talking with them frequently about a lot of important matters.
9- Billing: agile billing vs fixed cost
How is the billing done?
How much is it and does it suit your budget for the project?
Ask your software development partner to explain to you why they’ve chosen a specific billing structure and why it makes sense to both parties.
Building software is unpredictable and you’ve to be clear on the commercial structure that you’re going to engage with your partner.
10- I don’t want to be locked into a partner
There are instances in which a founder or an entrepreneur contracts a software development company and find themselves locked into them and just cannot remove themselves from them for a number of reasons.
In order to avoid this scenario make sure you understand the reasons for the suggested tech stack.
Whenever your software development partner suggests a tech stack, framework or library to use, understand what is the reason for that.
Not necessarily from a technical perspective but understand it from a strategic perspective why this is being suggested.
What I mean by this is that if it’s some not well known and popular technology, it doesn’t make sense from a strategic perspective because you’re not going easily to find developers to work on it, to get second opinions and you may also not be able to change software developer partners easily and quickly.
So always ask your internal and external team to explain from a strategic perspective why they’ve chosen a specific tech stack.
Compare your tech partner’s business capability with their tech capabilities.
There are many good tech partners around but it’s harder to find good ones with good business sense.
Something we’re very proud of at Alidasoft is that a lot of our clients comment on how quickly we understand and add value to their business model and we’re constantly optimising the work that we do in order to advance our partner’s business goals.
Business and tech capabilities have to co-exist and you should be assessing your team or your partner on that balance because that’s very important.
11- How will the separation be handled
There will come a time in which outsourcing your product development won’t make sense anymore.
How will the separation be handled?
Imagine you’ve built your product, added features, raised investment, the product is out there in the world, with lots of users and it just gets to a point where it’s not reasonable to be paying a software development partner to be fixing bugs and adding features.
You need to think about how you’ll transition from that when you start the relationship with your external partner.
Ask them about the process of moving away and how the separation will be handled.
Understand that upfront. In some cases, it’s just a question of you walking away.
In our case, we can help you build an internal tech team in your business by helping you recruit, interview and vet software developers.
Help you build processes and methodologies.
The handover will take time but we’ll be around as long as you want to make sure that the transition is as smooth as possible.
Understand from the outset how that’s going to be dealt with so that when the time comes the transition is conducted in a cost and time efficient manner.
That’s it. I hope you found this valuable and happy building.
Your Reliable Technology Partner
Everything interesting in business lies in fourth order effects and beyond.