What the Best Software Development Companies Have in Common

best software development companies

There are over 100,000 software development firms in the US alone, most of them with under 500 employees.

Choosing among them can be a daunting task.

It helps to narrow the search to those who have the right qualities to deliver a successful project.

As a guide, here are a few must-have characteristics that the best software development companies have in common.

Expertise

Make sure any prospective company has the technical knowledge to execute a project.

Experts stay up to date on industry news and advances so they can offer options depending on a client’s needs.

They should prioritize custom solutions over set packages.

When a company can’t customize, it’s a sign that they won’t be able to handle problems that pop up during development.

Communication

The best software development companies know that communication can make or break a project.

They encourage dialogue at all stages of the development process.

If they do come across a complex industry-specific business problem, they aren’t afraid to ask for clarification until they understand what the client needs.

One of the strengths of a software development company over a solo developer is the team structure, so find a development team that plays to this strength by providing a designated point of contact for each client.

Clients should feel welcome to ask questions and given clear answers, not technobabble or patronizing dismissals.

Transparency

Software development companies need to be open about pricing structure, development methods, technology standards, and anything else that might affect the end product.

Reputable agencies are confident their operating procedures will stand up to scrutiny.

If something is being hidden from the client -whether it’s the technology being used or the number of programmers on the project- there’s cause for serious concern.

Experience

There are always unexpected hurdles in software development.

An experienced company can anticipate some of these and handle others as they come.

Don’t just look at how long the company has been in business- also take into account past projects and reviews from other clients.

If there is a bad review, ask why the client wasn’t satisfied and what has changed in response.

Having the right team can help you avoid IT project failures.

“Big Picture” Thinkers

The project is more important than its component parts.

Development companies should never become mired in details at the expense of overall functionality.

If something isn’t working, they find a way to fix it or move on.

This ensures the focus remains on the big picture- a successful release- and not on trendy technology or pet projects.

Reliability

Software development is a significant investment; dependability is key to protecting that investment.

Reliable account managers and project managers send regular updates, return calls and emails in a timely manner, and provide deliverables on schedule.

When an unexpected issue threatens that schedule, they take a proactive approach.

Clients are made aware of problems before any deadlines have been missed, and the account manager or project manager has a plan in place for getting the project back on track.

Refined Process

“How” is as meaningful as “what” when it comes to software development.

A company with a team that functions like a well-oiled agile machine will create better software than one that’s still ironing out the kinks in their process.

Indicators of good process include operating procedures that can flex without collapsing, a smooth handoff of components among team members, and a reciprocal flow of information among all levels of the company.

If you want to learn more about agile processes and agile methodologies, read the post Avoid Organizational Failure by Programming a Path Through Technological Complexity.

Case Studies

Before you contract with a development company, ask to see case studies of past projects.

Case studies demonstrate the company’s ability to deliver what they promise.

These should be detailed, outlining the problem presented and what steps the developer took to solve it along with a summary of the project’s business impact.

When appropriate, check whether the project is still in use.

This is a solid indicator of its long-term viability.

One thing not found on this list is “budget friendly.”

There’s a reason for that: while cost is always a primary concern, it can’t be the only factor considered.

Cut-rate developers often wind up costing more in the long run than choosing a reliable partner from the start.

Narrow the field to companies that meet these standards before adding price into the equation, and you’ll be on the path to a rewarding development process.

Want more tips? Read how to hire a great software development company.

Are you in the market for an experienced software development partner? Check out our past and current satisfied clients, and let us know how we can make your next project a success!


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How to Hire A Great Software Development Company

hire a great software development company

The costs associated with shaky software development are staggering.

Every year, $312 billion is spent debugging projects after delivery- that is, after they had been delivered to the client as finished.

In fact, reworking dysfunctional software typically makes up 40% of final expenses. Last year fewer than a third of all projects were completed on time and on budget.

Choosing a software development team is the first step to being in that top third.

Good developers have the knowledge to shepherd your project from concept to final product- as long as you pick the right one.

Follow these simple tips to hire a great software development company for your unique needs.

Brainstorm requirements

Outline the business problem the software needs to solve.

This can be as simple as a direction statement (“We need a way for our non-technical marketers to access our business intelligence data”) or as detailed as a full page memo with bullet points.

A rough sketch of your project’s scope will be a convenient reference throughout the hiring process.

Once you know what you want, decide what you need from a developer.

Include factors like technology preferences, skill sets, training, project management staff, and a preliminary budget.

The chosen development agency will help flesh this out during the requirements gathering phase, but you should have a clear enough idea in the beginning to determine whether a particular company can handle your project.

Make a short list

Look for developers that do the type of work you need.

Local business bureaus and networking groups are good places to start, but there’s nothing wrong with an internet search either.

A smart development company will list their services on their website; you shouldn’t have to go digging for it.

Stay within your comfort radius; if you prefer a local company with the option for physical meetings, make that a priority up front.

Once you have a pile of candidates, narrow the field to those most likely to be good options.

Read online reviews, scroll through their portfolios, identify awards/press mentions, and when possible examine case studies.

Find out if they’re keeping abreast with the latest trends and developments by checking out their blog and social media accounts.

Rule out any company that doesn’t list past clients on their page or offer references; there’s probably a reason past clients aren’t willing to be associated with them.

Check out tomorrow’s article on “What the Best Software Development Companies Have in Common.” It is a useful guide to what to look for in a development partner.

Set up consultations

Personal meetings provide a better opportunity to assess how the company will fit with your corporate culture, though when dealing with an overseas developer a Skype meeting or call may work as well.

The initial consultation should be free and focused on what the development company can offer in regards to your project.

Discuss the company’s standards. Do they have compatible views on what “good enough” means? What are their usual procedures and what can you expect from working with them? Touch on considerations like security, testing, and IP protection.

Be sure to ask about more than price range. For example:

  • What does the price include?
  • Is there a limit to bug fixes later?
  • Are there any included guarantees?
  • What is the complaints process like?

Schedule enough time to get a feel for the company representatives.

Take notes both on the company’s capabilities and your impression of them; you may forget things after multiple consultations.

When the meeting is over, ask for references from satisfied customers.

Don’t feel pressured to make a decision right away; even if the meeting goes very well, check the references before signing a contract.

Follow through

Read up on your finalists.

Scroll through their social media pages, and check for online complaints on sites like the Better Business Bureau.

Talk to past customers and industry peers who have worked with them.

If you can, look up user reviews on software they’ve finished.

When you’ve ruled out the companies you don’t want, rank the ones that made the overall best impression.

Consider expertise, team composition, and body of work before considering budget.

Get opinions from everyone who sat in on consults.

Seriously consider any substantial criticism, especially from non-technical staff who will be using the software.

Finally, weigh the candidates in relation to your specific project and make a decision.

Check your choice

The planning stages of your project are an indicator of whether you made a good choice.

Your newly hired developers should maintain open lines of communication.

The best firms will appoint you a dedicated point of contact, or at least provide one when you ask.

Be wary if the company suddenly starts to back off communication after a “soft contract” (the verbal agreement before signing a paper contract).

Requirements gathering should be done before your final estimate- don’t trust a number given before the company knows what you need.

Expect candid, professional, thorough discussions aimed at defining the structure of your program. If you feel rushed through this stage to get to the contract, address the matter with your point-of-contact, whether it be the sales agent, account manager, or project manager.

Unanswered concerns could be a sign you need to pull back from partnering with that company.

Be willing to walk away

It’s better to walk away than to try to push forward with an unsuitable development agency.

Too many companies have overlooked major red flags and lost millions because they were afraid to lose a non-refundable deposit.

Trust your own judgement. There are hundreds of thousands of software developers; don’t risk your company’s future by investing in the wrong one.

For more information on software development and how Concepta’s services fit into your digital strategy, contact us for a consultation.

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