10 Important Questions to Ask a Custom Software Development Company
Choosing a custom software development company is a big decision. Since it directly affects the outcome of your finished product, your team shouldn’t treat it lightly. However, it can be hard to know what to ask a potential company to see if they’re the right fit. To make the process easier, we’ve detailed 10 questions that will help you find the perfect partnership.
1. How do you estimate project timelines?
It’s important to be clear on timelines from the start. The way the company calculates software development time should be completely transparent – as well as if there’s potential for this changing as the project develops. While discussing this, make sure to ask how they calculate cost in relation to the proposed timeline.
2. What’s the first step you take in a project?
The answer to this question should be to discover more about the client. For a custom software development company to create a product that addresses your needs, they first need to understand your current circumstances. Essentially, you might be surprised to hear that a good software company will focus first on your business requirements, rather than the technology.
3. What’s your project management style?
All custom software development companies have different project management styles. Whether it’s agile or waterfall, it’s important this matches your company’s working style. Project managers tend to prefer agile, since it allows the client to give feedback throughout the project – and keeps the costs down.
4. Are contractors used for any of the work?
While contractors provide scheduling flexibility for custom software development companies, they can introduce knowledge transfer issues. In turn, this may affect the long-term maintenance of your project. Since it’s important to consider the long-term lifespan of your software project when selecting a partner company, this should be a key consideration. As such, a team that favours direct employees over contractors usually provides much more stability in the long-term knowledge and maintenance of your software system.
5. How many developers do you have?
Understanding the size of a custom software development company allows you to assess their capability for handling your project. While only a select team should work on your software development services, it’s important to ensure the company won’t be overstretched. If they don’t have an ample workforce to handle their demands, cut corners and delays are far more likely.
6. What is the potential for updates?
Is there the potential to develop the software further? As your business grows, the software solution should be able to grow with you. It’s far more cost effective to look at the longer-term picture from the beginning of a project, as it prevents you from having to create entirely new software later.
7. Will there be a specific contact person?
Good communication is key to custom software development. Without open discussion projects can’t progress as needed – but too much communication from too many people confuses the entire process. The best practice is to have a specific contact person assigned. They can then answer all your questions, and keep you up to date on the project’s progress.
8. How are the intellectual rights handled?
When using software development services, make sure to have a discussion detailing who owns the intellectual property (IP), and whether ownership is exclusive. Note that it’s quite common for custom software development companies to maintain a license to use the software they build. This model of IP ownership and licensing allows your project to be accelerated using components and elements from previous systems for previous customers. Essentially, it can be thought of as a “pay it forward” approach that helps all customers.
9. What’s the success of previous projects?
Any successful software product development company should have a portfolio full of success stories. To see if they’re the right fit for your company, ask to see the results they’ve provided before. Also, don’t hesitate to ask for reference contacts from other customers of the company. Combined, this should give an indication if they can give you the results you need.
10. What happens if things change?
No matter how much thought you put into scoping and defining your project up front, it’s highly likely that over the development timeframe of a number of months (or even years), your requirements will evolve or even change drastically. With some custom software development companies, any change to the original specification will result in a significant cost to even scope out the change. However, a much more flexible engagement model is enabled by companies that use the agile methodology. This enables significant project changes to be discussed and agreed in a matter of hours.
Want to find out more about custom software development?
To discuss how your business can benefit contact ActionPoint today. Our team of business analysts are on hand to discuss the ins and outs of the process – and answer all your questions.