5 Questions to Ask Before You Hire a Custom Software Development Firm

Hiring right custom software development firm is a critical decision for most organizations. Choosing the wrong development partner will often cost a lot of time and money, and will result in a loss of significant opportunity.

Use the following five questions to help you vet potential software development companies and identify the best fit for your project.

Two Questions for Your Team

What is the core business problem you are trying to solve?

This question gets right to the heart of the problem – it’s important to dig deep to identify the root issue. Addressing symptoms may bring short-term relief.  However, other challenges and issues will continue to arise until the core business problem is solved. In our experience, solving the problem on the front site ultimately costs the business less money than patching things over an extended period.

What is the budget for this project?

If you have a problem costing your business one million dollars per year, would you be willing to pay $250,000 to solve the problem?

In planning your project, it is important to identify what the problem is actually costing your organization.  Using this number, it is easier to determine the amount that would be beneficial to spend in this situation.

The same principle applies for innovations. If the business analysts believe the product or service can generate $10 million in revenue over the next five years, how much are you willing to spend to develop the project?

Knowing your budget range is essential before you start evaluating potential vendors.

Three Questions for a Custom Software Development Firm

What is your process for understanding our business, our vision for this project, and transferring that knowledge to the development team building the software?

This question is critical. It will help you determine the organization’s ability to understand your business and capture your vision for the project. Taking it a step further, ask them how this information is transferred to the development team creating the software.

You don’t want a bunch of programmers mindlessly writing code for your project!

You want a team of developers who understand the core business problem they are trying to solve. In our experience, development teams who approach addressing a business problem with this information create better software, faster! Along the way, the informed team will not only uncover potential challenges but will also identify new possibilities to leverage the software.

What is your approach to developing and delivering a custom software project?

The goal of this question is to understand the methodology the company uses to develop software projects. Don’t overlook this important detail! Some software development methodologies are better than others.

Do your research and ask tough, detailed questions. Quality software development firms who have strong processes in place will welcome these types of questions.

Creating quality software is hard. It requires talented, gritty developers who are committed to helping you solve your business problem. Challenges and unforeseen problems will arise – it is the nature of custom software development. You need to partner with an experienced team that knows how to work through these issues and ultimately delivers you quality software that works.

Why should I trust your team with this project?

By the time you get to this question, you should have a good feel for the way the company operates, but can you trust them? If you can’t, nothing else matters.

Ask for references and check for independent reviews about the company.

Three Big Questions You Should Be Ready to Answer

Most development firms are going to ask you several questions during the discovery process, too. Below are three questions you should be prepared to answer in as much detail as possible. Your answers to these questions will help the software company understand the scope of the project and get to know the people for whom they will be creating the project.

  • What are the project requirements and deliverable date?
  • What does a successful project look like and what impact will it have on your business?
  • What is the budget for this project?

One Question Purposely Not Mentioned

What programming language do you use to build software?

In some cases, this question is important; in many others, it is irrelevant.

If your organization requires an application to be built with a specific programming language, this question is important to ask. In fact, it should probably be asked first in order to weed out software firms who don’t have the resources to build the application in the required language.

However, there are many robust programming languages and frameworks available to developers today. How the code is leveraged to solve a problem is usually more important than the language in which it is written. As more organizations are moving to microservices architecture, applications created with different languages can easily work together.

The Big Picture

The questions highlighted above are just the tip of the iceberg. They are meant to serve as icebreakers to open a dialogue with potential software development partners for an organization.

The only way to identify the right partner is to ask tough questions that illuminate the firm’s ability to understand your core business problem and create a quality software solution that solves your problem. Anything less will yield disappointing results and wasted resources.

Choose the custom software development firm for your next project carefully!

Written by Adam Robinson
Posted on: June 14, 2017 | Last Update: July 5, 2017
Chief Growth Officer at Level 12

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