In many ways working with a good software development partner will leave you feeling that order is restored and a complex problem has been solved, just like completing Rubik’s cube! Without stretching the analogy too far, a good software development company will have all aspects of the development process covered in a well-organised manner.
So what are some characteristics of a good software development company? This article covers six of them which will help you if you are selecting a supplier or are actively working with one.
Here are six good characteristics of a software company to look for:
Good communication, honesty, solution-minded, good processes, quality control and security.
Let’s look at each one in turn.
Although this list isn’t in any particular order, good communication is of foremost importance. This goes beyond the ability to communicate complex concepts in a simple, jargon-free manner. In the case of a software development company, regular communication is required throughout the entire software development process otherwise you risk paying for software which isn’t up to the job.
During the initial stage of software development your business domain needs to be understood by the supplier. Their ability to communicate effectively with you will become obvious by how well they start to “speak your language” and use the terms common to your business. Miscommunication at an early stage can lead to costly changes down the line.
Other areas where good communication is vital include capturing requirements and how to test them, demonstrating and explaining how the developed software works, and capturing discussions and feedback.
Good suppliers never make assumptions, but always seek clarity before commencing development. They use a range of methods for sharing information so that you can understand various aspects of the software you are creating.
Honesty is always the best policy. A good supplier should have no issue with telling it as they see it.
From the outset, a good software development company will be honest about their expectation of the client in terms of availability, decision-making and other obligations. This is important to get any software development project off to a good start.
Software development is a complicated process and although the aim is always to deliver on time, there may br delays due to unforeseen issues. Suppliers should be upfront and highlight these as early as possible.
The purpose of engaging with a software developer is to get a solution to your technical challenge and not a list of problems. Companies who are solution-minded will stand out and show off their can-do approach and find a way to meet your needs and not tell you that it cannot be done.
Good processes and organisational skills really do help make software development run smoothly. There are many areas where both manual and automated processes should be followed.
The supplier should follow a software development lifecycle which is the overarching and most important process. This process moves your custom software from concept to delivery and typically allows software to be developed and released in small chunks at a time.
Automated processes are used to speed up technical aspects of software development, so expect good suppliers to rely heavily on automated processes for source code management, testing, release and documentation.
All processes need to be underpinned by good tools covering things such as project management and traceability. If you get the chance, ask software development companies to run you through the tools they use for work tracking and project management.
Finally, the best suppliers will be flexible too and make adjustments to their processes to specifically suit your needs.
In a way you are buying a complex set of instructions which will be used to run part of your business. With this in mind you need to trust that these instructions are working correctly and that they are easy to maintain with no corners cut.
Testing software is critical to ensuring the code works correctly. However, testing at different stages and in different ways is crucial to success. Suppliers should be writing various repeatable tests that can be run automatically to find issues early on and every time the code is changed and not just to rely on manual user testing once the software is handed over. It is worth emphasising that errors found early on are far cheaper to put right than later down the line.
Software development companies should use a set of standards to control how code is written. By following a set of rules, it becomes much easier for teams to maintain the structure and style of the codebase and reduces errors. This is especially true if the code is to be maintained by a different company at some point in the future as they will quickly pick up how things hang together.
Security plays an ever-increasing part in software development and should not be just a final consideration. The software development process should include various security steps all the way through from risk assessments to automated testing.
Typically, the design phase is where the security is defined so that the software will be secure for the environment where it is to be used. The security of your data is vital and suppliers should design systems to ensure the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of your data.
Does your supplier follow a secure software development process? If you are not sure, it is worth finding out.
You have to be comfortable with your supplier as the relationship will hopefully last many years. Knowing which characteristics are worth looking for in a software development company will help you select the ideal supplier and give you peace of mind. If you are already working with a company, do they come up to the mark in all these areas?
Innovensa provide custom software development and custom software maintenance and support to businesses in the UK. We are a passionate and experienced software development team with experts ready to help you.
Get in touch about your next software development project or idea for a no obligation chat.