A plethora of development companies are out there to control the genie of rampant software development demand. According to QAT Global, there are 100,000 software companies in the United States, but you need only one to develop customized software for your company. An important question arises here, how would you choose one out of one lac companies? Hiring a development company per se can cause pain in the neck if done naively. But don’t worry! this article will act as an emollient to that neck filled with pain.
The Guide Is For: The guide is to enlighten the brains of business owners who are looking for software development companies to get a customized, well-tailored website or mobile application to automate the operations of their business and bring a boom in revenues of their business.
Pros of Having An Enterprise Solution: We must appreciate for a while this smart move in the age of globalization as software support in an enterprise brings a plenitude of benefits like cost reduction, and increased audience of the business, enhanced customer service, and maximized efficiency.
The goal of Hiring A Company: In the vicinity full of incompetent development skilled companies, the hiring of a software company ultimately has gained the prestigious status equal to that of matchmaking in a primitive society as a software development company just like a good partner should go through thick and thin together with the vendor. Hence the ultimate goal of hiring a software company is to find a company that matches best with the aptitude of the company, can meet the project scope, and should never malign the enterprise solutions. Each project may have a different ideal. Darwin’s theory of ‘Best fit’ should be given preference over ‘One fits All’.
Steps in Selecting A Software Company
Scoping A Project
They say you get what you communicate. You need to get clear yourself first about the requirements of your project before explaining them to any software development company. The modern software development life cycle (Agile) has truncated the period of software development in the traditional software development life cycle (Waterfall). The transparent, and effective communication lies at the foundation of agile development. To put in simpler words, no transparent communication means no software. The following are the steps you can follow in scoping and framing the project.
- Understanding the Project Needs
A myriad of options come under the umbrella of software development. The software can be both web-based and mobile application based. Further, it has different coding languages and architecture types involved based on the complexity of the project. Some software runs on a single app while some need to integrate multiple apps for their proper working. Finding out answers to these questions is paramount in hiring the best software development company.
For example, if you want a data analytic app, python would be a lucrative coding language whereas if you want a large e-commerce store, PHP is an unprecedentedly best option at the hands. Furthermore, Having a clear final purpose of web development in conducting business operations would do the wonders in hiring the best software development company. The purposes behind the web development vary with the type of business for which it is being built. NGOs and public sector departments’ websites are built to bring brand awareness, whereas e-commerce and e-stores focus on generating the leads.
- Documenting the Project Requirements
Having a clear understanding of the project in mind alone would not make it to suffice rather you would need to pen them down so that it may serve as a road map for the developers of the software company you’ve hired for yourself. The project requirements document would set the pace of the project. You would need to state the project milestones, project specifications, project timeline, and project goals on it. It will set the picture of the time and resources needed to complete the project crystal clear.
- Prepare the Prototypes
Don’t get afraid with the jargon “prototype”, it really doesn’t mean extensive use of Invision, Balsamiq, Mockplus, and Wireframe, etc. The simpler trick like drawing the picture of the front screen on paper will also cater to the purpose of giving a direction to the UI/UX designer of the software development company.
- Annotated designs with technical Requirements
The requirements jotted down in the document are modified from low fidelity to high fidelity i.e. ‘comps’ by the mutual work of visual designer and technical liaison. The high fidelity designs contain technical specifications for developers hence are much complex than low fidelity designs.
- Backing the Project with Information Architect
This step includes the planning and designing of information delivery on the website for better user experience. This is done by putting alluring information on the site. The flow process is the directing from one page of the web application to another page. It has greater scope in website application than in mobile development.
- Compose A Sprint Plan
To build a sprint plan, you need to estimate the total hours needed for project development, break them into sprints. Each feature from the prioritized feature list is completed in the form of a sprint in time_span of one or two weeks. It would help the software development company in assembling their engineering and timeline. The higher the fidelity of designs is, the better will be the transformation from designs to screens.
- Choose the Right Web Development Technology Stack
The software companies do not choose the development technology stack based on the efficiency or ease it provides rather they have obnoxious criteria of market time, the complexity of the project, and web development cost. The technology stack that provides a greater profit margin would be the favorite option of the development companies. Suggest the technology stack that provides maximum security and scalability to the software. LAMP Stack is an acronym for Linux operating system, Apache HTTP Server, MySQL database and PHP programming language, Python or Perl.
Five popular tools that are built following LAMP are Facebook, Tumblr, WordPress, Wikipedia, and Slack. MEAN Stack is an acronym of MongoDB, Express.js Angular JS, and Node.js. It is a 3-tier stack pattern and provides successful solutions. Ruby on Rails Stack focuses on excelling in the best solution without code redundancy.
The extravagant websites built using this stack are Airbnb, Shopify, Quora, Instagram, ProductHunt, Codecademy, Pinterest, Quora, and coursera. Python/ Django framework is used by developers to do rapid server-side development, without the need of reinventing the wheel, and is used by experienced developers. .Net Stack provides the c# language with .Net framework and is owned by Microsoft.
Ponder Over the Software Development Company Landscape
There are different kinds of software development companies, each with her own distinct pros and cons.
Onshore: The company which has the same time zone as yours or the same geographical area as yours is said to be an onshore company. Onshore companies have multifarious pros and variegated benefits with only one con i.e. high price. Its benefits entail a better understanding of UX design, diminished cultural differences, same time zone, in-person meetings, and enhanced software quality. Another major con of onshore development companies is that the customer does not have access to choose the best talent for his/ her project. The client is really vulnerable as the company can handover the project to literally anyone from top talent to fresh graduate hires.
Offshore: An offshore company is one that is far away from your company’s geographical location or has a difference in may time zones. At the core, offshore means hunting of the best talent. If one fails to hunt the talented offshore company, the project life cycle would become grave as it would mean detailed project requirements and management with no fruit in return as offshore companies are pretty notorious for being providers of the low-quality codes. Cultural differences vicariously arise in the form of different user design experiences and expectations. One of the benefits is less stress on pocket. Websites like Truelancers, Freelancers, and Fiverr help in the hunt of offshore companies and provide some extent of guarantee too in exchange for funds. Startups often build minimum viable projects with offshore companies to get an estimate of the cost and features of the project. The availability of maximum resources like the labor force makes the early delivery of the project a viable option.
Nearshore: Companies located in near vicinity tend to provide the best alternative to the offshore companies. Mexico, Chile, and North America have nearshore companies for American companies. It has maximum feasibility when you manage the project by yourself and integrate assisting developers from the offshore company. Having the same time zone, daily meetups, sprint planning, periodic progress report, and testing becomes easier. Cost-wise, it lies somewhere between the onshore and offshore company rates and much lesser than hiring the local talent in America. The benefits entail much control on the UI/ UX design, project documentation, and management.
Hybrid: Mixing the genes of onshore, offshore and nearshore makes the hybrid model in which the project lead is in America and the development company is in a different time zone. It reduces the cost and no compromise on communication and quality are being made. Its cons entail time difference which may lead to delayed working or prolonged working hours of the project manager.
Selecting A Software Development Company
If a company is good at eating their own dog food, the company can deliver you good software too. But how would you know it? By reading between the lines on their website, and scanning their own website. Know how much water they hold by reading the case studies, knowing who their clients are, and how they manage the content, etc.
- Search for Previous Related Experience
You do not live before the second world war time and asked the company to prepare the nuclear bomb secretly. Does not make sense? See if the company has delivered any delivered similar project to that of yours. If so is the case, then it means no need of walking an extra mile in explaining the project requirements to the company, and sometimes it gives you an upper hand in bargaining the price of the project as the company might already have the needed resources and labor for the project needed, they do not need to invest in the project from zero.
- Cost-Value Evaluation
The software development companies work on a wide range of prices. The piece of software depends upon the technology used, the skill required, and the prior work experience of the company. Usually, the price is higher for new technologies, complex and integrated coding, and vast experience of software companies. Evaluate the quoted price by the company against these three factors and decide if the quoted price provides the software that would add more value to the business than the software itself cost.
- Research About the Company’s Customer Service
See in your network if anyone has already worked with the software company you’ve set your eyes on. Then move to the company’s recent work, blog, and vision sections. These are the indicators of the company’s success. The research extensively on the company’s customer service and read the reviews, complaints, and compliments of the clients. Also, see how often a client has returned to them for more project accomplishments. It will give you an idea of the credibility of the company.
- Analyze the Red Flags
The comment section can be the best site to see the red flags. It will show you what potential issues can arise while working with this company and how the company would tackle it. If there are more bad reviews than good reviews, then dropping off the company would equate to nipping the bud before its too late.
Contacting With the Software Development Company
The ritual of contacting with the software development company is accompanied by steps like emailing the company stating project summary, features, and price, commencing an online meeting with the company, asking the company to put the bid forward, and lastly asking the company to put the formal proposal in front of you so that both parties can ask their ambiguities out.
Tips for Better Performance during RFP Process: Know the ins and outs of the company, develop a sound relationship with them, break the project into vivid sprints, never compromise the quality over price.
Contracting With the Software Development Company
The muscle-cramping homework you did in previous steps was aimed at getting an accurate bid. By this time, you might have 3-5 companies shortlisted that seem capable of delivering the software you need, now is the time to ask them to entice their price. Send the scoping document and ask out companies what they would be able to deliver out of the scoping document. Some companies may deliver a few features, others may claim to not only provide the listed features but also the additional features.
Evaluate each company using the cost-value model and enter in a contract with the company with the highest points on this model. If confidentiality holds primary importance in the project, then enter in non-disclosure agreement NDA with the company. If several clauses in the contract like payment, non-compete, non-solicitation, intellectual property, and portfolio use have been used to define the overall relationship then prefer entering into Master Services Agreement MSA. The third type of agreement, Statement of Work (SOW), uses either a fixed bid for billing the certain deliverable in a specific price range or a vague deliverable billed by using time and material criteria.
Summing it Up
Choosing a software development company is an arduous task especially when a number of software companies use swindling practices. This article will surely upset the apple-cart of such fraudulent software development companies as we have poured out all the information, vendors need to save themselves from falling prey to such unscrupulous software companies.