Excellent custom software can make your business. But hiring the wrong development company to write your software can break it.
If your only strategy is to Google “custom software development companies” and pick one off the list, you’re in for a long day of sorting through your options—all 252,000,000 of them. And how will you really know if you’ve made a wise choice?
As someone who hired a number of dev shops before working with Tech9, I developed the following criteria to evaluate different development companies. These come from the School of Hard Knocks and have proven valuable to me and others.
5 Criteria for Choosing an Outsourced Software Development Firm
1. Experts Only
There are developers in the software industry who would refer to themselves as “Swiss Army Knife” engineers. They have a little experience in front- & back-end development, architecture, QA, UX, … but they aren’t experts in any one area.
When you’re reviewing potential companies to develop your custom software, the “Swiss Army Knife” type should not be an option – especially if your project is a complex one. If you want the job done right from day one, you’re better off going with a company who will dedicate a small army of experts in their fields to your project.
Similarly, trying to save a few bucks by hiring junior-level developers to cut their teeth on your project may cost you more in the long run by pushing back release dates & introducing bugs into your software. The only way to ensure timely delivery of quality software is to hire senior-level, specialized engineers.
2. CTO-Level Expertise & Guidance
Unless you’re a CTO yourself, you’re probably unfamiliar with all of the potential hurdles your project will face from a dev perspective. If that’s you, you need someone to guide you through the process, listening carefully to your goals and providing a fresh perspective on the best ways to accomplish those goals using technology.
What you don’t want is a developer who drops everything you say into a spec sheet, gets your signature, and delivers the “finished” product six weeks later. With this approach, you may get “what you asked for” but it won’t be what you wanted.
You need CTO-level expertise to guide your software requirements, shepherd it through development, and invest in the long-term success of your software.
3. Technology Agnostic
Too many software engineers are near-religious zealots toward certain technologies. There’s nothing wrong with being dedicated to your tools, but sometimes a developer’s preferred technology conflicts with the end goals of the software being built.
Contracting a technology-agnostic dev partner who is more committed to providing top-quality solutions than they are to force-fitting their favorite tech to your project mitigates risk and tends to build longer-lasting solutions.
4. Been there, done that
There’s a good chance that at least a piece of your idea has never been done before. That means finding a team with direct experience building exactly what you need is impossible.
Instead of wasting time looking for a direct comparison to another project, look for a firm with experience attacking difficult software challenges head-on and emerging victorious with elegant solutions.
5. Partnerships, not projects
Every dev shop out there will show you an impressive array of customer logos, aesthetic pitch decks, and a nice portfolio of past projects. The trick is to find a shop that will treat you like a partner, not a project. Finding a company that will invest mentally and emotionally into your business is difficult but worth every ounce of effort.
The problem with project-based shops is that to them, success is simply completing all the requirements by the deadline. It’s just executing a task list that starts with a signature and ends with a cordial “All the best!” when they deliver the results. If your software is critical and you aren’t confident that you’ll be able to give them every last detail in the onboarding call, you’re going to need a partner-based firm.
My experience with custom software development teams (including Tech9) has taught me that a good partner is someone who:
- Listens to understand your business model, your customers, and the problem to be solved
- Explores your ideas for solving the problem AND presents creative solutions of their own
- Educates you on the development process and the technologies being employed
- Speaks ‘business’ as well as they speak ‘tech’
- Works through any bumps in the road with transparency and a strong bias towards win/win solutions
When you choose a software development company, you’re putting your trust in their capabilities to deliver custom solutions to the problems your business faces. Basing your decision on the above criteria rather than taking a shot in the dark will give you more confidence that the software your company needs is the software your company gets.
Tech9 understands how important custom software is, which is why we work so hard to establish partnerships based on trust, transparency, and integrity. Our motto, #TechHappily, means that when you partner with Tech9, you’ll be happy with the development experience, happy with the outcome, and happy with the positive impact on your business.