Software is ubiquitous in business. Whether it's to streamline processes, improve customer experience, or to gain a competitive edge, software is a critical investment for companies looking to grow and succeed. However, building software can be a daunting task, especially for those who have not been part of a development project before. And more than daunting for those who have been part of a bad development project in the past.
The easiest part of creating software is the act of coding. The most difficult part of creating software is formulating and following through on goals. This step - goal digging and following through - requires a deep understanding of business processes, user needs, and technical requirements. Only then will you be able to fully achieve the goals that are driving your software project. Therefore, software development is a highly collaborative process, which requires a team of experts that are committed to guiding clients through every step of the way.
The Software Development Guide
When hiring a group to build software, you should expect to get more than just a piece of software. You need a guide to navigate the complexities of software development, from ideation to deployment and beyond. A team of experienced developers is an obvious right of passage. Not so obvious is the need for great designers, and even better project managers. Alongside these professionals, you should expect a committed management team that knows the industry, the pain points, and the process of taking an idea to market. The software development shop should have an About Us page that gives you the insight you need.
You'll likely not interact with the full team, but will have a single point of contact. This contact may first be within the Sales team, but eventually your guide will be within the Program Management team. We've referenced the term "guide" several times by now because we feel this is a very important title. A software development guide is an expert, who has researched and knows the lay of the land. Think of a fishing guide (or another type of guide if fishing isn't your jam). Are you paying them to do exactly as you tell them? NO! You are paying them to give you insights, critical (and at time painful) feedback and best practice on how best to achieve your goals. In the case of a fishing guide, you want to catch fish. With developing software, you are wanting to achieve your goals, which we'll discuss in the next section.
Understanding Your Business Goals
So, you want to be the next unicorn? And you need software. Obvious sarcasm in those statements, but neither are goals. You have several metrics you want to meet and software is the tool by which you will accomplish these goals.
A few questions to ponder as you stew on your goals. What is the purpose of your custom built software? What is your Go To Market Strategy (GTM)? (we've heard of clients pushing hard to meet their launch date, only to not have a strategy for how to get folks on the app!). How many users are you shooting for on day 1? Day 365? What are your must-haves? What are your roadmap items? When do you need to launch? These are a few of the many, many questions that need attention before even designing your software.
When developing your goals with a software development group, you should expect to spend at minimum of two weeks on discovery. If you aren't spending a healthy amount of time developing your goals, you're likely going to find out, over and over, what you didn't want from your software project.
Process Driven Approach
Process is at the heart of every business (how well it's documented is a whole other story...). It's highly recommended that you ensure your software development shop has the right amount of process. You want just enough process to ensure your software gets done properly but not so much that they're inflexible. There are a few indicators to look for that are markers of the right amount of process.
This is not meant to be all inclusive. Nor is this definitive, and any group that strays from it does not possess the right amount of process. Neither is the list in order, except for the first one - that one is most important. But without further ado, below is our list:
- The willingness to, and ease with which they, explain their process
- Requirements documentation
- Daily standups
- Weekly syncs
- Weekly reports (budget and progress)
- Bi-weekly demonstrations
- Open communication channels (email, text, Slack, the likes)
- Prompt responses
- The willingness to, and ease with which they, explain their process (they repeat themselves - yes, thats a good thing!)
- Shared Sprint boards (or some other form of task tracking)
Top Tier Quality
This seems obvious, we know. Who doesn't want the best? But when working with a software development shop, you can't really know their quality without working with them first, right? False. We believe you can walk into a project completely confident in a shop quality by doing a little due diligence.
Due diligence can end up saving a lot of time and heartbreak - here are some ideas on what to look for when researching a software development shop. First and foremost, does the shops website look clean and polished? If they make quality software, they should be able to have a quality website (We say this as our site is mid build - you'll have to forgive us). Does their website have a healthy "Case Studies" or "Work" section? Do these sections convey quality? Check review sites such as Clutch.co, Goodfirms.co and Google Maps. And finally ask for referrals, although this may be more difficult to furnish.
While We Have Your Attention
We hope you've enjoyed tips on what to look for when selecting a software development shop. If you're considering investing in a custom software project, put us to the test. Let us be your software guide and use our article against us!
You can reach us at email@example.com or message us here on LinkedIn. We look forward to hearing from you!