5 questions you should ask yourself when looking for a software development partner
This blog is for you if you
a) Work for a software company as a manager;
b) Have an internal development team; or
c) Have recently considered outsourcing a new software project or a part of one.
Of course, you have a list of questions you want to ask future partners to find the best match for your requirements. That’s well, but I think you might begin by asking yourself a few questions.
“Is their development process compatible with mine?”
This question has two faces. If you want to outsource the whole new project to the vendor, the development process is probably a secondary issue. Of course, it’s good to ask, for example, what would be your role in this process and how much time it will require from you. But, at the end of the day, it’s mostly a matter of assessing if their process sounds valid and leaving them the responsibility for coordinating the whole thing. It’s good to trust your selected vendor if their process proved successful in the past.
The scenario varies, though, if you need to hire a few developers from a vendor to compliment the current staff. Then it’s critical to talk about the procedure and make sure you’re all on the same side.
“Who do I want to work with?”
There are a lot of vendors out there, and it’s easy to get caught up in their portfolios, customer ratings, testimonials, business profiles, and so on while searching for an outsourcing partner. It’s all well and fine, but don’t forget that these businesses are founded around people first and foremost.
So, let’s start at the beginning: discover who owns the business that has attracted significant interest. It will be fantastic to visit the owners in person (or via Zoom) and talk to them about not just business but also some information. It will assist you in gaining a greater understanding of who they are as individuals. It’s frequently an updated version of the company’s culture.
Besides the owner, it’s good to ask about developers and — especially if you’re a CTO — to have a chat with some of them. Why do they want to work for this company in the first place? What is their favorite kind of software project to code? Do they have the possibility to sharpen their skills? How does the company take care of employees to keep them for longer?
After talking with the owners and the devs, you should get a pretty good answer for one of the most important questions — “are these the people that I’d like to work with?”
Especially if you’re looking for a long-term tech partner rather than just a remote contractor.
“Do I just need them to deliver me a product or do I want to work on the solution together with them?”
This question is really important and should be asked at the very beginning of your research. It’s possible that you need the remote vendor to just provide you with a finished software product and you don’t want to participate in the whole development process.
However, if you work as a consultant in a software company, the case is likely to be different. Then you understand that software is the infrastructure of the whole company, and you must ensure that any part of it — even those created by third-party suppliers — is precisely what you want.
What’s more, you know what’s the best. That such collaboration is advantageous to both parties. So, if you specify that you want a long-term partner from the start, the chosen provider would do whatever possible to satisfy your needs — because they value long-term relationships as well.
“How will we handle setbacks and problems?”
This is a difficult subject on our agenda. Let’s be frank and realistic: any software development project will face problems at some stage. It is unavoidable. And how your chosen provider handles any setbacks could be critical to your partnership. As a result, you should inquire into real-life experiences of how your future mate has dealt with similar issues in the past.
It’s a smart idea to talk about real-life situations that might arise through the partnership. What if two production teams — the in-house team and the remote team — had trouble collaborating? What is the only way to deal with this? What if the vendor’s project is built on legacy programming (which, as we all know, developers hate)? How can your future business partner handle this situation and keep their team motivated?
“Do I know what I’m about to pay for?”
What is the best way to approach the topic of construction costs? Normally, you’d get an Excel spreadsheet, make a list of a few potential partners, and compare the details — costs included (maybe even underlined). It is, without a doubt, a good starting point. However, reviewing raw statistics can not provide you with a comprehensive picture of potential collaboration — particularly if you’re looking for a long-term partner. Find the following two examples.
The first is more obvious: let’s assume you’re searching for a remote team to start from the beginning on your idea. One company claims to be able to produce the commodity you need for $100k, while the other claims to be able to do “the same” for $90k. I’m sure you all know that it’s not about simplistic math, and judging both deals purely based on figures would be very deceptive — both estimates are based on slightly different feature lists, team size, dev seniority, and most likely a clear understanding of what the product definition requires, among other things. It was the simpler case.
The second case is a little more obscure: you need to hire a few developers to supplement your in-house staff. So, what exactly do you do? You do, after all, compare hourly rates. Yeah, it may be deceptive as well. Don’t let the prospect of paying $40 per hour rather than $45 per hour persuade you to hire the first vendor you come across. What is the reason for this? And, once again, it’s worth investigating what’s under the lead and telling yourself (and your vendor), “What am I paying for?”
Of course, don’t automatically assume that higher prices imply higher pricing. Approach the provider and inquire about whether the extra money goes right to the company’s owners’ pockets or if it is invested in the training and growth of their workers. Do they provide their employees with both internal and external training? Perhaps any of their staff are allowed to appear at software development conferences as guest speakers? Do they have their R&D department where developers can focus on new modules and reaction rate (which they can then use to get started on the app’s development faster)?
Try to gather as much information about what you get for that price as possible. Especially if you’re looking for a long-term development partner.
These questions are based on some real-life experiences we had at The Software House. If you’re willing to hear more about how we solved these problems, we’d be more than happy to discuss them further with you.
At ScaleTech Solutions, we like to cooperate with tech managers and software companies. If any more questions appear after reading this article — feel free to contact us. and let us know what you expect your next big project to be. We’ll be more than happy to discuss your ideas and, who knows, maybe it will be an exciting start to a long and successful journey for us both?