If you’ve decided that outsourcing software development services is right for your company, you’re ready for the next step: choosing a vendor whose offerings, skills, and style align with your needs. This phase is critical because a service provider that has no experience with your type of project, that lacks specific knowledge, or that doesn’t communicate well can do more harm than good and cost you a lot of money in the process.
Yet, choosing the right partner may be easier said than done, given how many developers there are to choose from. But don’t let the enormity of the mission overwhelm you. Instead, break it down into the manageable tasks described here.
Think About Your Needs
Before you start contacting potential software development services, take the time to consider your needs and expected outcomes. Here are a few good questions to consider in conjunction with other stakeholders within your company:
- Cost. What is your budget for these services?
- Project details. What specific projects do you have in mind? What problems do you want them to solve? What are your criteria for successful project completion?
- Longevity. Are you hiring for just one project or for ongoing development work? Maybe you want to hire a firm for a small project before working with them on your main tasks?
- Staff. Who within your company will interact with the outsourced team?
- Location. Do you have a need for the developers to be onsite or could they work remotely? Do you want a provider in your same time zone or does that factor not matter so much?
- Language. What language(s) do you need your provider to speak? What level of proficiency do you require?
- Deadlines. When do you need the project(s) completed?
Do Your Research
Start creating an “information funnel” by collecting the names of many possible service providers. They can come from colleagues, ads, online communities, or straight internet searches. At this point, you just want to find potential agencies that might fit your criteria as determined above.
Narrow It Down
Dive more deeply into each possible vendor. Visit their websites to answer the following questions and others according to your company’s preferences:
- Do they have experience with the types of software you want to develop? If they have a portfolio, scan it to see how well you like their previous designs.
- Have they served companies like yours in terms of size, location, and industry? Check out any testimonials from previous clients.
- Do they understand business considerations in addition to technical ones?
- Where are they located and what languages do they speak?
- If listed, what is their pricing? If not listed, what does it take to get a quote?
- What is their level of proficiency in the area in which you need development services (e.g. mobile, e-commerce, web applications)?
- What kind of team can you expect to work with? Do they provide a single point of contact to optimize efficiency?
- What communication tools do they use to keep clients informed? How often can you expect to receive updates?
- What kind of after-project care do they offer?
Don’t immediately write off any providers that don’t meet one criterion, as others might offset it. Notice that many software outsourcing websites feature chat interfaces. Take advantage of this function if you have a question while you’re browsing. Just be aware that any responses will likely be followed up by an effort to get you to further engage.
Start to rule out companies that don’t look like a good match and continue to research those that do. As you get closer to a decision, bring in vendor representatives to get a good feel for what it might be like to work with their company.
As mentioned above, hiring the wrong agency can bring negative results like time taken away from critical tasks, software that doesn’t meet your needs, and, in extreme cases, money spent on having to hire another company. That’s why it’s important to take the time to find the right firm rather than try and get one on board quickly.
If your internal team will be working closely with the outsourced one, get them together prior to hiring to ensure a compatible match in terms of language, culture, and approach. In fact, get your internal team’s hiring criteria ahead of time and their opinion about candidates after they’ve met.
Custom software can help your business in innumerable ways, including making your team more productive, keeping your customers happier, and saving you money in the long run. But the development of such software can be time-consuming and expensive up-front. If you have an internal IT team that can handle this task, great. But, if you need to outsource, you should hire the best service provider you can for the price you can afford. It takes a bit of time and effort to find that perfect match. But, once you do, you’ll have a partner that can make your life easier from then on.