10 Apr 3 deep questions to ask
Appointing a web and software development partner
Whether you’re looking for web developers or software engineers to help you to improve existing processes or provide the platform for a promising start-up, the development of your system is always going to be a big investment in time and money. Selecting the right web and software development partner to work with is a critical success factor.
Experienced dataX founder Louie Storm says that having the prerequisite program skills is obviously a qualifier but suggests that clients should go a little further by probing 3 key areas before appointing a development partner.
1. STAYING POWER
Most people underestimate the complexity of web and software development projects. Things can get quite tense with scope changes and you need to get a sense of how the developers might manage these situations. Will they throw their toys out the cot and walk away or are they mature enough to work through this with you? Or, if a bigger and more exciting project lands on their lap (tops), will your project play second fiddle? Ask them – put the scenario to them and look for a convincing and spontaneous answer.
2. TRACK RECORD
How experienced is the team? What projects have they completed, for whom? Ask for testimonials and make contact with their clients. Apart from asking whether the project was delivered to their satisfaction, ask the clients how difficult or easy it was to work with them. You don’t have to hug your developer (they’ll hate you if you do) but, given that you’re spending a lot of money on them, it would be nice to like them!
Many software development companies will claim that they can do virtually anything you ask. This may well be but tackling something new to them is made a lot easier if they have years of diverse experience behind them, providing a solid base and terms of reference. Ask about those projects and look for a thread to what your job entails.
Software development is a competitive field and engineers are highly sought-after and pretty mobile. Ask who will be working on your project. Then, ask the question: “If Joe leaves you mid-project, how will you make sure that my project doesn’t miss a beat? Who will take over? How quickly? How long will it take the new developer to settle?” Time is money. Again, an organised development team will give you a spontaneous answer because continuity is a planned business process.
It is probable that your software development partner will not have an immediate replacement for Joe. In your view, does your development partner have the processes in place and market credibility to attract talent?
A good answer would indicate that the company has close or even in-house HR support. HR is a key element in an organised web and software development outfit. The HR jockey is generally immersed in the market, works with responsive IT recruitment companies and will often have a solid network of tried and tested developers to call on.
“Buyers should always delve deep before appointing suppliers or partners. The software and web development sector is no different. The critical success factors are often not the intrinsic product or service features. In our sector, key areas such as staying power, track record and continuity will often determine the success of your project,” says Louie.