How to choose the right software development company?

What is the right software development company for you?

Methodology

Are you an early bird? Work night shifts? Weekends? Do you prefer to finish work in the early afternoon, or long into the night? These questions may help ease any collaboration between you and your proposed development company. If you are only contactable at odd times then perhaps a company happy to accommodate this is best. The other thing to consider is, from a development process and budget perspective, are you more likely to favour Agile or Waterfall development? Most companies tend to prefer one style over another – so speak to them about this and see what they recommend. It could be an important factor in your eventual decision.

Identification

This one is partly related to the software company’s business acumen and communication, but do you like them? It sounds a slightly silly question to ask, but can be a surprisingly sticking point if you get it wrong. The truth is that if you don’t get on it’s going to make everything a little more difficult. You need a rapport with your software developers. Are they as enthusiastic about your project as you are? Are they motivated to deliver a really great product, or dragging their heels? Do they ‘get’ you?

Association

It’s another slightly left-field consideration. Whilst you’re the client (and therefore the boss), software development is as much a collaboration as a specification. Ask yourself if this is a relationship you are happy to broadcast? If they’re nice people, with a good reputation and track-record, it rubs off on you. And vice versa. It should be a mutually-enjoyable association. Have a look at their website again; is there any indication of altruistic/charitable activities, or are they particularly eco-minded or community-motivated? Do these values mirror, or complement your own? The final litmus test is; are they a software development company that you’re proud to say you’re working with?

How to find the right software development company?

Reputation

Of course having the best skills in the world is meaningless if the development company are not nice to work with, or have a history of suspect business practices or methods. The testimonials on their website are unlikely to list their faults, but could give you an idea of the size of their fanbase. An established company of several years’ existence should have a reasonable record of past projects. If they haven’t, you should be asking why?

Communication

They say the basis of every good relationship is good communication – and the client/developer relationship is no different. You need a very easy, clear, regular and relaxed exchange of important information – or how can you hope to build software that accurately meets your needs and expectations? The software developers should listen to what you have to say, whilst also providing expert guidance based on their experience. Ask yourself how you hope to communicate with them regularly. Will it be primarily face-to-face meetings? Phone/email? Does this fit with your own schedule?

Professionalism

It follows that a professional software application or programme needs to be created by professionals. Ask yourself if your proposed choice of software development company gives you this impression. Do they have a good-looking, effective website? Are they professional in any/all of their social media interactions, or dealing with the media or public? Depending on the content matter of your project, discretion and confidentiality may be particularly important, so it pays to take this into consideration.

Finally, are you able to visit their offices? Whilst not essential, it may give yet more indication as to the sort of company they are. Clean, organised, professional-looking offices may help put your mind at rest, whereas chaotic or unpredictable spaces may reveal much. If the company can’t keep their workspace clean, how can they hope to work efficiently?

Technical ability and business experience of the right software development company

Technical ability

Most developers have a website, and many of these feature examples of their work. They probably won’t reveal a huge amount about each project they’ve worked on, as obviously they will want to respect their clients’ privacy and confidentiality, but these glimpses may be an indicator of the sort of projects and size that they can handle. Alternatively, or in addition to this, try asking the software development company themselves. Most are happy to explain their past work, or even give some quick examples – after all, it is their business. Focus on the challenges the developer faced with the projects and the solutions they put into place. Bespoke software development often includes similar skills and techniques even if the resulting software appears to be somewhat different to your desired outcome. The development agency should be able to explain which parts of their examples are related to the challenges you face.

Business experience

The simple truth is that your bespoke software must work in a business setting. Not an academic, theoretical or abstract context. It must work in the real world, in a real business situation. This covers function as well as form, and it helps if the company in question has some form of business grounding or acumen they have developed through their time as developers. Have they handled bespoke projects in the same industry or sector as you before? Obviously public sector work is different in substance and style from, say, a start-up media company.

It might be even more useful if the development company has created bespoke applications for similar businesses to your own, or in the same geographical area, as this would give them a better grasp of some of the market issues your business may face.

Obviously writing software for similar companies is not strictly an indication of quality – you are after a bespoke solution after all – but could go some way to helping deliver a product geared for the reality of your business. Whether experienced or not the developer should be motivated to understand your business drivers in detail as well as the software challenges you face.

Avoiding cheap software development companies

What?! Don’t I look for the cheapest?” – you say. No, you don’t. You don’t want your project to be cheap, you want it cost – effective. There are too many factors to software development to only chase the lowest prices. Neither look for the most expensive. To make the right choice – spend some time talking with the representative – you’ll see right away wheher what they offer is worth the price they name.

Contact the agencies you shortlisted, asking them for a quote. Make sure you give maximum information required, so that thay can better serve you and give you a precise estimate. Pay attention to how soon and who contacts you back. Ideally, that should be a dedicated manager, who gets back to you within hours (if you contacted via contact form/email). Good agencies assign a manager to every client… because they care and strive to best experience possible. Check the offer they send you. Is it viable? Is it branded and well – designed? Has thought really been put into it?

Now you have a shortlist of the most suitable development agencies for your app or web project, and a list of quotes for your app idea or project. If you’re still undecided, try getting it all on paper in a single comparison table. Sift through the offers you get and contact the ones that really get you wanting working with them. Spend some time communciating and learning more about the team, processes, and values – that time investment will return tenfold. If the budget/timeframes are suitable and you’re comfortable with the people – you’ve found your best software development company.

What’s important by choosing the right software development company

Ask for recommendations

Word of mouth is one of the most underrated methods of seeking for great service providers. If you have a professional network make some due diligence, you’ll surely find someone who has done business with app or web development companies before. You’ll get good and bad reviews – try to make a reasonable choice, not an emotional one. You’re going to spend some money with these people, choose wisely.

Look through catalogs

This is another great way of finding real proven experts in the industry. Catalogs are usually very careful about who they rank, and agencies that care about their reputation (and customers, of course) have great visible profiles. Moreover, some catalogs like Appfutura, TheyMakeApps, CrunchBase offer services for contacting, pitching and even paying for your projects. You can leave your review for those you’ve worked with to help others choose. All safe and secure, easily managed.

Find companies that include UI/UX design into cost

Working out project requirements and going through user experience design all by yourself is very time – consuming. Which is why is recommended working with someone who offers a workflow through wireframing, prorotyping and mockups. UI/UX is key for mobile apps. That’s the basis of how your user interacts with your software. No room for bad decisions here.

Your future development partner sould ideally have exertise with both UI/UX design AND development. However, you’re free to turn to a number of different providers for those two services.

Check product portfolios

They are often explicitly presented at the websites, at least the public projects (many other may well be under non–disclosure agreements). Check Etalinq portfolio to have a look at what your future partner has done in terms of design. As soon as you get more comfortable and get more info on what’s next – move on.

At this point you should have a shortlist of 5 – 7 app development companies. If it’s more – try narrowing down to save you time and effort. It it’s less – do more research, you will definitely find more great compamies to do business with.

Bonus tip

A good idea would be to do a social media research. That will give you the understanding of WHO the people you’re going to work with are. That really gives some insights. You want real people, don’t you, not faceless bots. Read blogs, get to know more about what you’re going to do.

First priority by choosing the right software development company

Choose the geography. That’s the first priority. There are a number of locations where world’s major app and web development companies are traditionally based. They vary by hourly rates, collaboration models and approaches. Do a Google search with different keywords, keep it specific, since many app development agencies are very vague about their services, which may not be to your favor. The location of your future development company has a dramatic influence on app development cost and the approach. Fair enough, the more client – oriented a company is, the higher are its costs. Usually, the prices are based on hourly rates.

Here’s how much mobile development companies charge per hour: (UPDATED FALL 2015)

  • India and Pakistan charge $10–20/hour,

  • Eastern Europe $25–45/hour,

  • Western Europe $40–60/hour,

  • $100 to $200/hour and up for onshore US companies.

Bear in mind the timezone differences, as they will largely affect both you, and the development team. Syncronize the timing so that the work is effective. Many companies shift their working hours to have a more comfortable overlap with you.

If you’re tech – savvy enough and have a detailed spec, India/Pakistan/Phillipines may be your viable option. However, do not expect them to be extra – creative with your project, and mind the language barrier. More often than not developers are not fluent in English, causing miscommunication.

At any rate a local development service provider would be an ideal choice. Same language, same timezone, common cultural values, but at a cost of higher prices, especially if you live in the US, UK or Australia. The prices may vary by an order of magnitude. If budget is not the principal decision factor – local comanies may be the one – top decision for you.

Eastern Europe and Latin America are worth your attention as optimal locations cost – and quality – wise. Great talent pool, skilled engineers, apt management, all boosted by high market competiton. English fluency may vary from a company to another, but in most cases you’ll be given the opportunity to communicate with the development team before you move forward with the project.