So, you’ve reached a decision to develop your very own bespoke software – good for you! – Now the challenge is to find help building it.
Selecting the best software development provider can provide you with great benefits. Working with the right people during an often complex and challenging project will lead to a good working relationship, deliver great software and might even exceed your expectations.
This article provides some advice if you are looking for a software development company regardless of your budget and address three fundamental questions.
So what steps can you take to improve your chances of finding the ideal software development partner?
Have you already short-listed suppliers and looked at their skills, testimonials and case studies? That is a great place to start, but what should you look for beyond the glossy website?
Perhaps you’ve even had some interaction with a development company already. During the early stages of the software development process, help is often needed to tease out the requirements or to create a rapid prototype. This experience can serve you well, but it is worth considering your options before committing to the same development partner over a longer-term project.
There are a number of questions you may have as you embark on a software development journey. Getting clarification on these will set your mind at ease. Let’s answer three big questions that are at the top of most lists when selecting a software development company.
Will my custom software be developed to time and on budget?
As you have no doubt found out, developing custom software can be an expensive business, you may have seen eye-watering quotes. However, there are software development companies of all sizes which can work with different budgets and different payment models so it is worth shopping around.
Remember, estimating the cost of software development is just that – an estimate, so be prepared for changes. Some will be unexpected, but very often requirements change as the business demands a change in scope. Remember that there could be infrastructure and support costs to consider and not just development costs.
Getting your custom software in production on time is important for many reasons, the profitability of your business is likely linked to using new software, for example, if it is to reach customers in a new way or to speed up internal processes. Delays typically incur additional costs and project spend creeps up. You need to consider if delays are a bigger issue than an increase in project cost, and you might need to pay more to get the resources to push the project over the line on time.
Most software development companies follow an incremental development process and one of the benefits is that early versions of software can be delivered and used without waiting for the final version to be completed weeks or months down the line. This is great if you are looking to gain a foothold in a new market or an advantage over your competitors where time is of the essence.
Suppliers with good management skills will keep a close eye on tracking the development, so finding out how they estimate, track progress and manage risk is essential. Also, check if they have the resources to speed up delivery if meeting a deadline is important to you.
Will my bespoke software achieve its objective?
This is a fundamental question and you need to ensure that you have a way to ensure that the delivered solution will work the way you need it to.
The key is through regular good two-way communication and invoking a team culture from the outset. Just as important is to work incrementally and expect demonstrations of new functionality and being able to feedback any minor adjustments.
It is essential that the requirements are clear so that the development team can build and test the correct functionality. Also, make sure that you run your own tests to accept the software.
Working in small increments and validating the software against your goals will help ensure that you’ll end up with what you need.
Select a supplier following an incremental delivery process that has a track-record of good communication.
What happens after the software project is delivered?
All software requires maintenance after release. You will need support to fix bugs and make enhancements as your business evolves. Do you have an in-house team who can take over once the initial product has been developed? If not, make sure your development partner can support you or find one who can at the start and make sure there's a smooth handover of responsibility. Find out the cost of software support and maintenance so that you can see the larger financial picture upfront.
The chosen development company will have the best knowledge for support and maintenance of your software, so choose one who will be there for you beyond the initial delivery.
So, to sum up…
Bespoke software can be developed to time and budget, but it is more realistic to expect changes to scope and therefore changes to budget and delivery dates. Software development is a fluid process and there are a range of suppliers to meet any budget.
By engaging with a software development company who has good communication and an incremental development strategy, you should have confidence that the software meets your needs. This way you can take action to get the development back on tracker sooner rather than later if needed.
Finally, ensure your supplier can provide the ongoing support and maintenance if you do not have the capability in your organisation.
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.