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09/03/2021

Custom Software Development Company - 11 Tips on How to Choose the Right One

Table of content:

    Outsourcing software development can bring your company significant business benefits, reduce costs and time-to-market of your application, as long as you choose the right custom software development partner. However, many companies are unaware of the impact this decision will have on their business and fail to acknowledge the risks and consequences of a wrong choice.

    The truth is: there’s a lot at stake when you opt to offshore or nearshore the development of your software product. In this article, we explain:

    • why it’s important to make an informed choice,
    • what are some of the risks you should acknowledge before selecting a custom software development partner,
    • how to minimize the software development risks and choose the best software development company,
    • why it's worth making an extra effort when it comes to selecting the right software development partner.

     

    Why worry about finding the right custom software development partner?

    Companies looking to outsource software development often do not realize that outsourcing the development of mobile apps or web solutions is marred with numerous challenges. These are very different for startups or scale-ups and large companies. Startups are essentially looking for software developers that will simply materialize their idea and, in doing so, they don’t choose individual programmers, but entire companies, with their culture, work ethic, and processes. An enterprise, on the other hand, may struggle to find a reliable strategic partner who will remain genuinely engaged in their project.

    A software developer will likely become a long-term business partner and as such, they will have an impact on your company and its daily operations. Effectively, they will become an integral part of your team, so it’s important to see whether they are prepared and capable to do that. Are you prepared for that too? Are you ready to grant them access to business-sensitive data and your intellectual property, communicate on a regular basis, set requirements, and clarify the scope of the project? Above all, are you ready to trust their expertise? Custom software development companies usually have better domain knowledge than their clients, and the latter often fail to acknowledge that fact.

    With stakes, this high, deciding on a custom software development partner solely on the basis of the price quote or RFP isn’t the best option. Building a custom application is a complex process, including analysis, planning, design, coding, testing, implementation, maintenance, etc. All these activities require appropriate tools and a team of specialists with skills and experience. There are too many risks that could incur grave damages. Let’s take a look at some of them.

     

    What are (some of) the risks in custom software development outsourcing?

    Custom software development outsourcing carries several risk factors that may affect your business and the quality of the software product, with potentially grave repercussions. Think about the following:

    custom software development company

    Setting unrealistic targets

    While working on the ideation of a new product, it's common to get somewhat overexcited and aim to create software solutions that would solve multiple problems and satisfy all the productivity needs. While it's good to be ambitious, such an approach may greatly extend the timeline and production costs of mobile apps and web development, especially if you work with a software development partner who will support your vision in full from the beginning, without calculating the risks. So - remember to set realistic goals. Start from the project idea audit, estimation of costs, or MVP development.

    Loss of control

    It's a natural risk that occurs whenever you assign software development work to a third party. It can have a tremendous impact on the workflow, timeline, the quality of the final product, and just about anything that comes as part of the process. This can happen if you plan to only delegate a representative to manage work between your company and the development team and you will not be taking part in any meetings. You have to stay up to date on how the project is developing. If not, you won’t have true control over the quality of your solution or product.

    Cost overruns

    You may end up with rising costs, especially when unexpected but inevitable modifications must be implemented as the project progresses. It may be the consequence of miscommunication between your company, the software development partner, and developers, or their inability to envision the execution of the project. It's generally hard to provide the exact cost estimation of a new software development project without a project audit done before the project kicks off.

    Weak communication process

    Poor communication within the software development team can have multiple repercussions, ranging from the lack of understanding of the purpose of a mobile app or web solution, through missed deadlines to costs rising sharply. If the software developers misread the task, they will not finish their work on time and within the budget. Perhaps the entire process will have to be redone, wasting time and resources. A responsible team should do everything to avoid such a situation and focus on good communication.

    Uneven performance

    While an effective communication process is critical for successful custom software development, it doesn't guarantee the right quality of the technology or solution design. Programmers may differ widely in their performance and you have to verify their skills at the beginning of cooperation. At the same time, some companies fail to follow the best programming practices, which could hinder the quality of your product or service. If the software development company is not committed to understanding your business in-depth and does not know the latest technology standards, your mobile app or web solution will suffer.

     

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    Human capital risks

    The project or product manager has the difficult task of managing a dedicated team while they work on a new web and mobile software solution. What if key developers leave before the project is finished? Will your custom software development partner be able to find top software developers as replacement quickly? If they're not equipped to do it, the launch of your digital products and services may be significantly delayed.

    It's also worth asking how skilled the employees who will be working on your next project are. Employees who have just joined the team and have relatively little experience may require more time to adjust to the pace of work of experienced programmers.

    Geolocation and timezone differences

    This may not be your biggest problem, but it's worth acknowledging the potential downsides of working with an offshore software developer or a company that works across distributed teams. If your potential software development partner is located on the other side of the globe, it may challenge the flow of your communication and cooperation. However, it will not be a problem if the company has experience in the international remote work model and it is not a new situation for them.

    Project management risks

    Good analysis, planning, and communication are necessary to build the application you care about in the shortest possible time. Lack of strong management processes may lead to miscommunication, delays, rising costs, and overall disorganization, which will have an impact on the quality of the software product. Imagine the impact of e.g. an invalid project timeline or poorly defined goals of the software tool.

    Failure to launch software properly

    Every new software product, mobile app, or web solution requires deployment and promotion to build a user base, so software projects don't end simply after the solution is built. Your employees need to be educated on the new tool so they could support it and provide their feedback for further development. You also have to build customer awareness and give users a good reason to use your product or solution and know-how to put it to good use. Imagine this doesn't happen - how much time and money would it cost you? The conclusion is that your software development partner should support you in the launch of the product.

    Loss of intellectual property (software ownership)

    Unfortunately, this mistake is quite common among companies looking to outsource the development of new mobile apps or digital solutions. This usually happens when they neglect to thoroughly verify the regulatory requirements and the service contract before signing it. The ownership of the product, as well as the code, should be clearly assigned to the client in the agreement. If you'd like to know more about IP protection in software development outsourcing, we have already exhausted it in the article "Intellectual Property Rights When Outsourcing Software Development + Free Checklist".

     

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    Data security risks

    Even though data is protected by law in most countries, cybercrime continues to be a palpable problem. If a custom software development partner doesn’t implement effective security measures to protect their infrastructure, your data and intellectual property will be put at an enormous risk that could cost you a lot of money in the long run. Ask your potential partner about the company data security policy.

     

    As you can see, the risks in custom web and mobile development services are multiple and multifaceted. Nonetheless, the benefits of outsourcing custom software development outweigh the risks, so it’s worth thinking about actions that can significantly minimize those risks. Below, we've compiled a list that shall help you reduce the stress of choosing the right custom software development partner.

     

    11 tips for reducing the risks of outsourcing software development

    First and foremost, NEVER choose a custom software development partner at random. An ad hoc choice will not do your business any good - you must indeed think of the software development provider as a partner. Define your expectations from this partnership in terms of the staff, the company, and what matters most in terms of cooperating with them. To be more precise, consider the following:

     

    1. Do your research

    A good way to find out if a software development company offers high-quality services is to study their software products portfolio carefully. Every reputable company offering software solutions has a portfolio on its website, so make good use of it. Take a look at the brands in the portfolio. Big brands may be indicative of the type of experience a company has, as well its timeliness, pricing, size of the team, and the way they communicate. Did they work with a large enterprise software project, UX design of a digital product, web and mobile app development, or simply outsourced a remote custom software development team? Was it a one-off or long-term cooperation?

    custom software development company - quote 1

    When studying the portfolio, look for software or digital solutions from your industry. If the custom software development firm has experience working with similar companies, you will save time explaining the specificities of your business. If you operate in a financial institution, select the company that offers custom software development services to banks and financial institutions. However, bear in mind that experience in a specific business area is not a prerequisite for the successful delivery of a custom software development project or product design. 

    In addition, you can ask for references from a previous customer. Perhaps you know someone who can recommend a good custom software development company? An excellent idea to ask! However, it is important that it’s not the only thing you rely on. Your mobile app development may have different requirements than your friend’s mobile app - context also matters.

    Finally, find out as much as you can about your potential partner before you discuss the details of cooperation. Verify their growth rate, domains of expertise, industries they worked with, and whether they received any awards (and what were the awarding institutions). Reviews on Clutch and similar websites may reveal a lot.

    2. Understand how they manage software development risks

    It's always a warning sign if the custom software development partner agrees to materialize your vision without voicing any concerns. Likely, they have agreed to work with you because they need business and assume that potential problems will somehow be solved at a later stage (which is also indicative of their lack of experience), or worse, that they have no clue how to solve the issues and plan to figure out later.

    A great way to eliminate this problem is to work with a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) under the supervision of your custom software development partner. In this way, when working on the MVP development, you will be able to precisely define the problems that the custom software is supposed to solve, clearly state the value and unique selling point, and describe the vision and business plan of the product development for the future.

     

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    3. Clarify their methods and means of communication

    Honesty and openness are essential for the successful delivery of any project. Your potential custom software development partner should value transparency and be direct about the feasibility and potential pitfalls in any project they are assigned, while you must be prepared to listen. A company that agrees to all requirements without questioning them or voicing concerns and later looks for solutions to problems they had previously ignored is never a good option. Ongoing and clear communication that goes two ways will lead to a better understanding of timelines, requirements, and constraints.

    It's hard to be successful in the mobile app development process without good communication. If you want to know and influence the software development process, choose a partner that places great emphasis on communication with the client and within their team. Find out which communication tools the software development company uses. Does the company have developed procedures in this area? Has it involved all the stakeholders in specifying the system requirements? The UX/UI design strategy in the software development process also plays an important role in designing user-friendly, functional, and easy-to-use applications from the user experience perspective. Without their involvement in the design, the app will never fully realize its potential.

    4. Understand their project management process

    Any custom software development process will typically involve modifications and new specifications while it evolves. A capable project manager is vital to ensure the requirements are clearly defined and communicated to the development team. In turn, developers should be available to provide updates and subsequent software iterations for testing. A solid company will have strong processes in place in case things go wrong, it must scale or implement modifications. Experts will also have the means and methods to help the client specify their expectations, define the scope of work and assess risks.

    A vast majority of apps and web solutions are developed on Agile and Scrum management processes. Check the level of expertise with these methodologies before you opt for a specific custom software development partner.

    custom software development company - quote 2

    5. Pay attention to the skills and technologies required to create the product

    Look for the latest technologies the software development company has in its portfolio. In this industry, following the news is not a whim - it is necessary to deliver software products of the highest quality that will stand the test of time. You may have heard an opinion that you should work with a custom software development company that hires top software developers specializing in one specific technology. That may be true if you consider small-scale software projects, but if the potential contractor employs not only developers but additionally testers, project managers, or team leaders, then such a company will be a better choice for big web and mobile projects.

    Delivering a cutting-edge mobile application or web solution requires the latest tools, skills, experienced employees, and an approach oriented at maximizing performance. Even a moderately complex mobile application development often requires more than one specialization. Opt for a company that boasts extensive experience in providing complex solutions to difficult problems. Find out how many specialists are on board within a given technology and what’s their level of seniority. Inquire if the company has immediate access to programmers with skills that are hard to find.

    6. Understand their pricing model

    One way to avoid a sudden increase in costs of the software development project is to set a safe budget upfront. A reliable business partner will be able to assess whether your budget will reasonably allow you to achieve your goals. A fix-price or target-price model will help avoid a sudden increase in costs if the project must be modified. It doesn’t mean that alternative billing methods will bring unwelcome surprises, but study the terms thoroughly to avoid them. Whichever model is offered, a trustworthy company will be able to justify the amount of the commission. Also, if you're operating on a limited budget, a reliable custom software development partner will help you prioritize features to be developed in the first phase, allowing you to get results on what's critical to your business.

    custom software development company - quote 3

    7. Understand how they build relations with their clients

    Likely, you will be working long term with your custom software development partner and they will have a great influence on your daily business. It’s better to opt for a company that is oriented at creating one strong project team with you, rather than merely delegating a representative to liaise between all stakeholders. At CSHARK, we definitely prefer to work closely with our clients, share our knowledge with them, and communicate openly what is and what isn’t possible. We cannot speak for all companies in the industry, but understanding our clients is our top priority. Not only at the beginning, but always - it's critical for safety, efficient cooperation, and successful delivery.

    8. Understand how they acquire talent

    Staff rotation rates can provide valuable insights into the internal condition of the company. A strong employee recruitment process that involves thorough screening in terms of competencies and fit for the team is essential for hiring the right talent that builds productive teams. A company that invests in their employees’ professional development helps elevate the quality of projects as well as communication within the team and with the client - look for a software development company that understands the benefits of such a holistic approach to employee development.

    9. Understand their culture

    Just because you operate according to a set of values and principles, doesn't mean that everyone follows suit. How would your potential partner approach failure? Do they communicate openly about issues or rather try to cover them and look for solutions independently? Do they value transparency? Do they state openly if they are unable to do something, or agree to your requirements without stating the pros&cons or suggesting a better option? Do they advise on the best possible solution? These are some of the questions you can ask the potential partner to see if they would be a good fit for your team and whether your values are aligned.

    10. Consider the company’s size and structure

    If you’re a startup, opt for small to medium-scale custom software development companies. If you’re looking to develop a new enterprise software tool, smaller organizations may not be able to handle your request. Understand your requirements and choose accordingly. When it comes to the structure, a flat company organization will facilitate communication and speed up decision-making. At the internal level, it speeds up the resolution of staff issues as well as decision making, which allows focusing on business matters, fosters cooperation within and across teams, and helps create a friendly atmosphere.

    11. Check their post-launch services offering

    Before you decide to cooperate with a custom software development provider, find out what additional support you can count on after your mobile app or web service is launched. Remember that the software development life cycle does not end once the application is handed over to users - customization and upgrades are an important part of the process. It's thus advisable to work with a custom software development partner who offers maintenance, backup, and quality assurance services post-launch, as well as other consulting services. CSHARK provides a full range of services at every stage of the software development life cycle.

     

    Value-for-money custom software development 

    Choosing the cheapest custom software development company may, paradoxically, be the most expensive option. You may end up wasting a lot of time, or with a software application or web solution that does not meet your criteria or expectations and the entire process will have to be repeated. We advise you to choose the best value-for-money option. 

    Likely, the cooperation with a potential custom software development provider will span over a longer period of time. Indeed, you need to find a partner who will be capable of gaining a thorough understanding of your business, rather than a company that agrees to all of your requirements and bills for them accordingly.

    Effective communication and strong cooperation, both among team members and between the client and the software development company are crucial for a successful software development project. It requires appropriate procedures, tools, and interpersonal skills of all stakeholders. Without those elements, it will not be possible to create a fully functional, error-free, and easy-to-use app or web solution within the specified timeline and budget. 

    Programming is about using software code to solve problems, not generating them. That's why we work with seasoned programmers who are able to solve problems quickly. Their experience allows for faster discovery and removal of errors. It also helps to reduce the size of the application and improve its performance with clean code.

    We are serious about adopting cutting-edge development processes. Investing in the latest technologies and staff training are the second largest expenditure on our budget (after wages). Our company gathers specialists proficient in various fields, including .Net, .Net Core, C#, Go (also known as Golang), UX / UI Design, Front End, or software testing.

    As an international company, we serve clients on various continents. We have branches in Poland, Germany, and Canada. We are proud that our employees represent different nations and cultures. 

    We hope that this article provided you with useful insights as you search for the right custom software development partner. If you’d like to find out more about working with us, reach out to us through the form below this article.


     

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    cshark-slash-sygnet
    CSHARK
    A custom software development and product design company that has the desire to help its clients accomplish more. We work with global banks, FinTech, and RegTech companies, as well as industrial, biotechnology and logistics sector companies, including startups.
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