Top 10 tips for choosing a software application developer
Would you like some help in finding the right software partner?
Ultimately the software technology partner you choose to build and support your core business systems is an important decision. Therefore you’ll want to ensure they:
- Understand your vision
- Add value based on their expertise
- Help to accelerate your growth
A poor choice of a software support partner could negatively effect you in the following ways:
- Cause you to fall behind your competition
- Affect your staff morale, and their ability to do their job
- Damage your reputation
After discussing this topic with senior company executives and business owners alike, we have established a list of the top 10 tips and critical factors that should be taken into account when performing your due diligence in deciding who to partner with:
Business analysis capability
You’ll need a consultant you can sit down with in person and explain your vision, bottlenecks, issues, brainstorm ideas and possible solutions. A consultant with some runs on the board, who takes the time to understand your business model and your future business plans. A good consultant will be able to come up with a range of comprehensive and feasible solutions – it is highly important that they can explain them to you in non-technical terms.
To ensure on-time and on-budget delivery of your project, go with a team that has the methodology, systems and processes to support a smooth systems implementation, end to end. You need to be kept in the loop every step of the way to avoid unexpected surprises on delivery. Evidence and details of their methodologies and processes should be made available to you or included in the proposed solution.
In order to save you precious time, frustration and be as efficient as possible, you want a team with the ability to deliver a fully tested, quality software solution (the first time). Freeing you up to concentrate on testing only the more obscure business scenarios, rather than the obvious bugs. Test environments along with deployment procedures should also be explained to ensure your expectations are met and set in line with the project requirements.
Systems integration skills
Integration with outside organisations (the government or other businesses, ‘B2G’ or ‘B2B’) is becoming increasingly important. Opt towards a partner who knows all about Web Services, Restful APIs and SOAP. Developers that can hook up disparate systems so they can talk to one another, avoiding double entry of data and eliminating staff frustration. A software partner with these skills will suit a longer term relationship and be in a position to scale your solution as more needs arise in the future.
The ability to make objective decisions based on customer need is important. Avoid a company who is motivated solely based pushing a particular base product, in order to achieve a recurring commission. Utilising pre-existing third-party components or sub-systems is certainly appropriate (and will save a lot of development time) in certain circumstances, but not always the answer.
Go with a team that’s big enough to have the capacity to get the job done (and ramp up in times of demand), yet small enough to offer a highly personalised service (where you are more than just a number). Several dozen employees is probably a good rule of thumb.
Breadth and depth of experience
For future flexibility and give to empower your solution with the best possible outcome, engage with a team that has front end, middleware and back end experience. All full time employees (not outsourced) gives the project a stable team and reduces the risk to service timelines and quality. The system has to look good and wow your customers and staff, but it has to actually work and be functional, robust and secure too!
In the current economic climate, with tightening margins and a push for efficiency gains, you’ll want to do more with less (without sacrificing quality). So if a company publically advertises online they will not touch a project for under $X, you are fair to question their motives. Transparency of pricing and any license costs is also recommended as if these are not shared can elude to grey areas within the project that can affect timelines and ultimately the long term stability of the solution.
Look at case studies and testimonials, and don’t be afraid to ask for customer references. The proof is in the pudding, as they say. Also look at industry certifications and partnerships.
As a business owner, you work hard and want to impress your customers, and not leave them hanging. It follows then, that you will expect those same standards from your technology providers (whether it’s Monday 9am, Friday 5pm – or Sunday 2am if you’re in a bind). You want to be in partnership with a team who picks up the phone, responds quickly to emails, and can provide quotes and schedule their resources within days not weeks. Formalising a support agreement with SLA’s backed by an issue tracking system with client login is a must.
Given it can be costly and disruptive to change service providers down the track, ideally you will find a company you can establish a long term business relationship with, a partner you feel comfortable with and trust. Don’t settle for mediocrity, don’t be tempted to go for the cheapest option (or most expensive, for that matter). Find a company that ticks all the boxes, and can get the job done without compromise, and keep pace with your growth.
At Intergy, we pride ourselves on having established a top quality team that really delivers and cares about your business. We would love to be considered for your next project. Check out our testimonials, and feel free to come in for a coffee and a chat (with no obligations). Call 1300 739 117.
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