Tuesday, Sep 5, 2023
The process of hiring a software development company to deliver your software works very similar to the process of hiring an individual. If you wish to make everything right from the start, after conducting initial research and analysis, you will need to conduct thorough interviews with the shortlisted company or companies.
While researching internal sources and reading unbiased online reviews from former clients can provide valuable information, there is still a lot of essential knowledge that you’ll need to gather.
Before taking the plunge and signing the contracts, it is essential to ask pertinent questions that will help you assess the capabilities, compatibility, and reliability of the company you are considering as your next partner. In this blog post, we will discuss ten important questions that need to be asked before starting a partnership with a software development company.
1. What technologies do you use? What is your level of experience with it?
Starting with the basics. Before entering into a partnership with a software development company, it is essential to understand the technologies they use and their level of expertise with them. This knowledge will give you insights into whether they are equipped to understand, handle and deliver your project requirements effectively.
It is important to inquire about the specific technologies, programming languages, frameworks, and tools that the company utilizes when developing a software project.
Ask for details regarding their proficiency and experience with these technologies. This means you will want to check case studies of their older projects, which will allow you to see how they utilize certain technologies in practice, and how they approach problem solving.
Understanding their familiarity with the tech stack is crucial for ensuring a smooth development process and the successful execution of your project.
2. Who will make up the team working on delivering my project?
Similar to conducting a regular interview with a candidate for a specific position, you need to gather information about the team that will be responsible for delivering your project.
Inquire about the composition of the team, including the roles and expertise of each member.
Ask about the qualifications, experience, and skill set of not only the developers, but also of the project manager, testers, designers, and any other key members involved in the project lifecycle. Of course, the experts involved depend on what phase your project is in and what precise services you require.
Understanding the background and expertise of the team will help you assess their capabilities, ensure a good fit with your project requirements, and gauge their ability to deliver high-quality results.
Knowing who constitutes the team for your project may also have an impact on the final price, as the compensation for juniors, mid-level professionals, and seniors may differ. It’s essential to have transparency around the team’s structure and ensure that the project budget aligns with the expertise and resources required.
Additionally, It’s important to consider the balance of the team’s experience.
While having juniors on the team presents no problem, it’s crucial to ensure they are supported and mentored by more senior colleagues who can guide them throughout the process.
3. What is your approach to project management?
For a project to run smoothly and be in line with the pre-set requirements, what you need is a project manager. In certain cases, it may be your project manager in charge of the team. However, most often, especially with end-to-end software development, the project manager is a part of the company you hire.
This is the first thing you need to inquire about, especially if you yourself do not have a PM:
- Does your company provide project management services?
- Do you have an experienced project manager on your team that can manage this project?
The project manager is responsible for the direct communication between you, the client, and the development team. They are making sure that everything is running smoothly, that the tasks are being completed within the given deadlines, and that your ideas are being transformed into working code and palpable solutions.
Next on your list is to inquire about the project management method the company and their team use when developing software solutions.
There are a number of project management methodologies in software development, like Agile, Waterfall, Scrum, etc. There is no correct answer to which one is the best, but you need to make sure that the company’s choice of a method works for you and your particular project.
Another important question to ask is with regards to technology, i.e. which project management software the company uses. Here are examples of some of the best and most popular project management software, but keep in mind that there are major differences between them and not all work for every project type and size:
4. How do you handle communication and cooperation during the project’s course?
There can be no obstructions in the communications channels between you and the software development company you partner up with, as communication, or rather, the lack of it, can have an extremely negative impact on the outcome of the project.
Communication needs to work seamlessly from the very beginning - all the way from the project requirements phase.
Clear and obstructed communication is one of the top project priorities, especially in a remote cooperation scenario.
This is why you need to question who will be your person of contact, as well as which communication platforms or services will be used to ensure smooth and working communication. These are some of the most common communications platforms used in software development:
5. What is your quality assurance and testing process?
The first question you should ask regarding the QA process is actually whether the company even provides these services, as not all do. In certain scenarios, it may also be an outside hire used only for the purpose of software testing.
However, ideally, the QA and testing processes should be directly included in the software development life cycle. With agile software development, the code and the software are regularly tested which has a number of benefits:
- Early bug detection. Continuous testing detects bugs and issues early in the software development lifecycle, ensuring higher software quality and customer satisfaction.
- Faster time to market. Continuous testing automates testing processes, enabling faster delivery of software products and reducing time to market.
- Improved software quality. Continuous testing validates functionality, performance, and reliability at every stage, leading to better software quality and meeting user expectations.
- Cost efficiency. Continuous testing reduces the cost of fixing defects by identifying and addressing issues early. It also saves time and resources through test automation, minimizing the risk of expensive production failures.
6. What is your post-development and maintenance approach?
What happens after your project is finished? And, is the project ever really finished?
It’s important to understand what happens after the initial delivery and how the software development company approaches post-development and maintenance activities.
While you may have agreed upon deadlines and the desired final product at the project’s outset, the reality is that the project continues beyond its initial completion. To ensure the ongoing relevance and viability of your product for users, regular updates, bug fixes, and general maintenance are essential. It’s also crucial to keep pace with the latest trends and technological advancements, requiring continued cooperation with the software development company. Inquire about the software development company’s approach to post-development and maintenance. Clarify the following aspects:
- Updates and maintenance. Ask about their process for releasing updates and bug fixes. How frequently do they roll out updates? Do they have a system in place for addressing maintenance issues promptly?
- Scalability. Discuss how the software development company accommodates scalability and future enhancements. Can they handle increased user loads and evolving requirements? Are they prepared to adapt the software as your business grows or new features are required?
- Support and communication. Inquire about their support offerings and response time for addressing issues or questions that arise post-development. Clarify how they facilitate ongoing collaboration and communication during the post-development phase.* Do they have a dedicated support team? How quickly can they respond to critical issues?*
- Monitoring and analytics. Ask about their approach to monitoring the software’s performance and gathering user analytics. Understanding how they track and analyze data can help identify areas for improvement and optimize the user experience.
7. Can you provide a detailed cost breakdown and timeline for the project?
Understanding the cost and timeline of a software development project is crucial for effective planning and budgeting. Asking for a detailed cost breakdown and timeline from the software development company helps ensure transparency and align expectations.
Requesting a detailed cost breakdown allows you to understand how the project’s budget is allocated. Ask the software development company to provide a breakdown of the estimated costs for various components, such as:
- Project management
- Third-party tools or services
- Maintenance and support
By understanding the cost breakdown, you can assess the feasibility of the project within your budget and identify potential areas for optimization or adjustment.
Requesting a detailed timeline provides visibility into the project’s expected duration and key milestones. Here are some points to discuss regarding the timeline:
- Development phases
- Milestones and deliverables
- Iterative development
It’s important to note that timelines can be influenced by various factors, including the complexity of the project, the availability of resources, and potential unforeseen challenges. Therefore, while a detailed timeline provides an estimated roadmap, it’s also important to discuss how the software development company handles potential delays or changes to the timeline.
8. Do you have experience with similar projects in this industry?
While it may not be a definitive factor for success, inquiring about a software development company’s experience with similar projects in your industry can provide valuable insights and benefits for your final product.
Working with a company that has prior experience in your industry brings several advantages. They are likely familiar with the unique challenges, requirements, and user expectations within your industry. This familiarity allows them to leverage their knowledge and expertise to deliver a solution that aligns better with your specific needs.
Here are a few reasons why experience in your industry can be beneficial:
- Target audience. A software development company with prior industry experience is more likely to have a deep understanding of your target audience. They may have insights into user behavior, preferences, and pain points, which can contribute to an improved user experience.
- Industry-specific best practices. Different industries have specific standards, regulations, and best practices. A company with industry experience is more likely to be familiar with these nuances, ensuring that your software solution meets the necessary compliance requirements and follows industry-specific guidelines.
- Knowledge of competitors and market trends. Companies with experience in your industry often have insights into the competitive landscape and market trends. They can provide recommendations and guidance on how to differentiate your product from competitors and leverage current market trends effectively.
All of these allow the software development company to streamline the development process.
The eight questions discussed in this blog post are crucial starting points when considering a partnership with a software development company. However, it’s important to note that these questions are not an exhaustive list. The specific inquiries you make to your potential partner company will depend on the unique aspects of your project, its requirements, your budget, and your past experiences with similar partnerships.
Every software development project is different, and additional questions may arise based on your specific needs. For example, you may want to inquire about the company’s security practices, their approach to handling intellectual property rights, or their ability to integrate with existing systems.
Tailoring your questions to your project’s nuances will provide you with a deeper understanding of the company’s capabilities and ensure a better alignment between your expectations and their service offerings.
Remember, effective communication is key throughout the partnership-building process. Openly discuss your project goals, timelines, and budget constraints with the potential software development company. This transparency will help you gauge their responsiveness, flexibility, and willingness to work collaboratively.
Ultimately, by conducting thorough research, asking relevant questions, and maintaining open lines of communication, you can make an informed decision and establish a successful partnership that leads to the timely delivery of a high-quality software solution tailored to your unique needs.
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With more than twenty years of experience, we are positive we have the right answers to all your questions and can adapt to your specific project requirements in no time. Let’s talk and see how to bring your project to life together!