10 Tips to Find a Reliable Software Vendor

March 31, 2020
#Outsourcing #Tips

A search for a good software vendor is difficult. To make it easier for you, here’s how to get a reliable long-term development partner for years to come.

Such a software development partnership goes beyond just paying for a project and waiting for the finished product. It’s an involved process. In fact, as the practice becomes more refined it becomes more involved at the same time. People got burned on misunderstanding and missing features. That’s why choosing a software vendor you can count on is so essential for the success of your endeavor. Here are 10 tips to consider when searching for someone to drive your business forward.

Check the Expertise and the Technical Proficiency

This is pretty obvious advice but there is no harm in reiterating it. If you want to partner with a software development company you should know what they can and cannot do. This includes both their experience as a whole and their particular stack of technology.

It’s important to assess how their expertise and innovation can benefit your business. You can strike a deal with a company that has 10 years of experience creating websites but it’s doubtful that they can develop a complex EPR system for your organization. It is technically possible but highly unlikely.

That is also the reason you should look into the technology stack of your potential partner. Certain programming languages and frameworks are better suited to certain tasks. For example, .NET is a preferred option for enterprise software and so on. Also, if you find a reliable vendor they can educate you on the topic of software development and keep you up-to-date with innovations in this field, as well as their pros, cons, and relevance to your business.

Search for Developers Who Get Your Business

Every single industry has its own nuances and intricacies. Software development for a healthcare facility is very different from a multimedia entertainment project. Look for a team that either has experience working with your particular vertical or has a track record of doing their due diligence in researching these specifics. You want somebody proactive, who combines their knowledge of your field of work with their technological expertise. That’s the recipe for mutually beneficial cooperation.

At the same time, it’s understandable to see your company as special even within your area of business. Each organization has its own workflow and finding someone who can smoothly integrate into your day-to-day processes is challenging as well. Ask your potential vendor about the type of clients they have worked with and which do they prefer. It’s common for enterprise software developers to better understand the requirements of an enterprise. Just like that, many startups often go with smaller development firms. However, this tendency is not always applicable. It’s not uncommon for mid-size vendors to efficiently work with huge corporations and vice versa. Never be afraid to ask.

Check Their Case Studies and Testimonials

Software developers don’t need to focus on a specific industry to be successful. In reality, most software development companies work with a variety of businesses from various fields. So, if you can’t find a vendor with a background in your vertical that not a big deal. Search for firms with portfolios that have projects similar to yours.

Remember, that a lot of work development companies do may be confidential. In fact, it’s a good sign if an established vendor doesn’t boast with a page flooded with a hundred different case studies. It shows that they take security seriously and uphold their NDAs and also let their work speak for itself.

Another useful tool is finding a good developer is feedback from past clients. You can often find testimonials on the company website or platforms such as clutch.co, goodfirms, designrush, and others.

Company blogs can also be a great way to look into the expertise of the developers. By covering a variety of topics they introduce readers to new technologies, practices, or news. Looking through such blogs can give you a good look into what the company often works on.

Pick a Suitable Model for Both Payment and Engagement

In general, there are three payment models when it comes to software development:

  • Fixed-price
  • Time & Material
  • Dedicated Team

Each one of these also represents the type of engagement that is expected from you. Note that some projects won’t fit the standards of some models. For example, fixed-price projects are usually smaller in scope and have clearly defined requirements. You simply pay an agreed-upon sum and receive a project after its completion. This approach is not really geared toward building a long-term relationship between two parties since the interaction is minimal in the majority of cases. It has plenty of drawbacks, but if by chance the requirements are accurately specified from the get-go it can still be a valid option.

Time & material is quite different in comparison. It implies close cooperation between the developers and the client. Each side is free to contribute their ideas, request features, and offer solutions. Split up into defined periods of time, the payment is done in parts as the work is completed. This model is more suitable for longer-term and more ambitious projects. Tight communication often results in the project the clients are happy with and the developers are proud of.

The dedicated team is a different type of model. If you choose it then the developers become an extended part of your own development team. Software engineers, QA, and project managers working with you will be focused solely on your project under your guidance. It’s a great choice when you’re serious about establishing long-term cooperation with a team you’re confident in.

Choosing the right pricing model

Don’t Overlook the Security Policies

Security should always be of paramount importance. There should always be measures in place to mitigate the risks of your data getting into the wrong hands. If a company cannot provide you with a clear answer on how they guarantee its safety, it’s a giant red flag.

There are many practices for the protection of intellectual property like non-disclosure agreements (NDA), for example. Be careful, however. If you outsource your development to another country check if that NDA is actually legally enforceable. If you want to learn more about this topic check out our article.

Some projects require extra security measures. For example, you are planning to process vast amounts of personal information with bank details, contact data, addresses and such. In that case, you can ask for the results of security policy audits. Keep in mind that if you’re making a development deal with a smaller team they probably aren’t going through routine audits like the well-established companies are. However, it is a must for mature firms.

Make Sure Your Partner Is a Good Fit Culturally

Effective technical cooperation and mutually-beneficial business practice are both important but it’s not enough for a partnership to be lasting and successful. For that, the culture of both companies should be compatible. It implies that either the vendor already has a similar way of thinking, values, and goals or is willing to adopt yours. That being said, they shouldn’t blindly agree with everything you say either.

Two common disconnects that stand in the way of establishing a common ground are micromanagement and transactional attitude. These boil down to misunderstandings. One of the parties is seeing cooperation as a means to an end rather than an actual working relationship. Either the client is overly controlling in all aspects of work or the developers are acting in a transactional kind of way.

Both may be destructive. Whatever the reason for micromanagement you may have it will be perceived as a lack of trust. Often the client demands total control even over the aspects they have no understanding in. This slows the work down and leads to burnout that overrules all the financial benefits.

Lack of personal involvement from the vendor’s side is also harmful. This happens when the developers don’t care about the success of the project and are only looking for a payday. It’s more difficult to establish a lasting partnership with companies like this since this type of relationship often doesn’t interest them.

Finding a company with a compatible culture is difficult. How well you work together is something you can only see in practice. However, testimonials and reviews can give you a glimpse into the experience of their previous clients.

Account for Time Zones to Determine How You Cooperate

At first glance, if the vendor is located in a different time zone it might be a source of many problems. The scheduling of meetings has the potential to be especially problematic. In reality, it’s nowhere near as difficult as it sounds. All you need to do is choose a time for communication and stick to it. Note that the payment model you choose determines how much time you need to allocate to meetings. Practice like CI/CD also help you keep track of of what is happening with your project.

If close collaboration on most issues is essential, then working with a team in your time zone makes the most sense. Cooperation with companies in other hemispheres also has its own benefits. Namely, they can work when you sleep. This completely eliminates all the downtime. With overlaps in the schedules for status checks and feedback, this type of partnership is commonly preferred.

Analyze the Communication Skills

Expanding upon the previous point, establishing a good system for communication is an irreplaceable part of any collaborative process. There are a lot of nuances to consider here. One of them is language. If the vendor is from another country where English isn’t native, how well can the team speak it? Thankfully, due to the nature of software development, almost all of it is done in English. That means that as far as technical terms go, you will always be on the same page. Also, you can always schedule an online call to hear their level of knowledge with your own ears.

Another important aspect is transparency. It goes without saying that you need to trust your software vendor. This goes for the workflow as well. The better you understand how developers structure their work the more input you have. The opposite is also true. The better developers understand how your company is structured the better their support will be.

A great sign would be the readiness of the developers to meet personally. It shows commitment to the job and confidence in their skills. If possible, visit each other’s offices to get a first-hand look into how the work is done. This establishes a better understanding between parties than any amount of Zoom meetings.

Determine the Long-Term Value for Your Business

As you can see, there are many factors determining the value of such a partnership. While the development of software itself is certainly a huge part of collaborative work it doesn’t stop there. Everything from the technology stack to a general attitude has an impact. In particular, express interest in the growth trajectory of the development company. How does it align with yours? Also, how financially stable is it? You don’t want to be left high and dry by tying yourself with a firm that’s about to go out of business.

Make sure that developers understand your target audience and the strategic goals of the project they will be working on. “Strategic” is the keyword here. Most collaborators understand the tactical goals, such as fixing all of the bugs or deployment of the project in time. However, a partnership implies a bigger scope and a focus on long-term results. Will the new software be viable in 2 years? What about 5 or a decade? It’s crucial that both you and your developer team are on the same page here. That is the true value of software vendors.

Assess the Value for Your Software Vendor

Any partnership is always a two-way street. Just as you want to see a commitment from the developers they want to see the same from you. In return for their work, they will expect new projects to complete and new problems to solve.

Chances are that you will encounter some problems along the way. It’s normal in every aspect of our lives and business is not an exception. If you aren’t happy with the team you have partnered with, get to the root of your issues. Don’t switch vendors without getting to the bottom of the problem. You may face the same exact problem with your next team. Work together towards a solution both are parties are happy with and you’ll build a stronger relationship.

You need to assess the value your partners get from working with you. What incentive outside of money do the developers get? If the goal is long-term cooperation for years to come then the success of the provider is in your interest. Leave a review, plug them on social media or just recommend them to an associate. All of this goes a long way in building a relationship where everybody benefits.

10 Tips to Find a Reliable Software Vendor

In Conclusion

The best software vendor is the one you confidently keep coming back to. They become an invaluable asset to your team. From the creation of software itself, such a relationship has many more benefits on offer. Maintenance, support, advice, guidance, all of that and more are expected from a good partner. However, finding a reliable one is not an easy task. It requires a lot of work on your part. Although now that you know what you should pay attention to, we hope your search becomes easier. And if you’re tired of searching, you can drop us a line. Digital Skynet is always happy to help!

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