With the way things are in 2023, companies can easily find a software development services company and hire outsourced developers. The challenge is: how to choose a software development company among many competing to get the contract? Even though the software developer position is the number one job in the US, not every professional or agency offering their services will match your needs.
After all, hiring software developers who don’t meet your demands can lead to budget issues, unmet deadlines, and a flawed final product. This isn’t always due to a lack of skill, either, as different management approaches and project directions can determine what you’ll get in the end.
Using DigitalSuits’ years of expertise, we’ll pinpoint the current state of the market, the things that matter when choosing a firm to hire, and the challenges of leading the collaboration. We’ll cover everything from management to budgeting and tell you how to choose the best custom software development company. This is all to make sure your search can be informed and based on your own preferences, not just the agencies’ marketing efforts.
What is custom software development?
Software development is about more than just a quickly-created piece of code. Custom development is done for one specific client and adheres to their plans. Like all development, it includes extensive testing, design, and creating a product from scratch.
Handled by professional companies, the service is usually requested when a company doesn’t have an in-house software department. However, it’s also possible to supplement your own staff with a few agency hires. This will allow you to reach the desired result without having all of the work done externally.
As for the reasons to invest in custom software for business, the logic is straightforward. You could take a product designed for general use and thus miss some of the details that would make it convenient for you. Instead, you can commission a piece of software that would have functions specific to your internal processes and could be integrated with your own system.
That tailoring, in tandem with post-development support and updates, often means that custom development is cheaper than settling for a mass-market solution. While the latter may have a lower starting cost, you’ll end up paying more to make it compatible with your company and keep the license going.
With that said, while custom development is a good idea in general, there are a few important points that should influence your choice of partner. Let’s talk about why to hire a custom software development company at all and how to choose a custom software development company based on DigitalSuits’ experience as such.
How to choose custom software development company
While there are a lot of small details that might influence your decision, there are three main categories you need to consider when choosing an agency. For this article, they aren’t ranked in order of importance as different companies value different things. However, we would still encourage you to pay equal attention to them, as these are all crucial factors. We’ll tell you how to choose a software development company for bespoke solutions.
Expertise and experience
This is the most obvious thing to look for, regardless of project type. When thinking of how to hire a software development company, you should aim at a company that’s worked on similar tasks. That way, you may get a better result and receive some guidance, as their expertise can be leveraged for your own purposes.
Our recommendation is to consider the experience in context. Five years on the market don’t mean much if the company isn’t sharing successful case studies. They may be a veteran in their field, but it’s hard to put your trust in an agency with no positive feedback. Similarly, if all of their experience is with small businesses, it’s risky to approach them as a big enterprise. You should understand what is a software development company worth your attention.
For example, DigitalSuits has worked within the e-commerce industry for years and a good bit of our case studies is about that field. That way, a company interested in boosting their e-commerce venture will know we’re comfortable with their type of project. If you’re not finding relevant experiences on an agency’s website, it may be best to look at other options.
This part matters the most for behind-the-scenes processes and the long-term benefits of the solution. When laying out the project plan, you must highlight a few key things you want to see realized no matter what. Then, add a few that would be nice but may not be mandatory. Based on that, the company can offer tools in their stack that would help achieve your needs.
One example is scalability. You can build a system that tracks inventory for a warehouse, and it would run smoothly, doing its job for now. However, as your business grows, you will need to manage more data for more warehouses with extra parameters and filters. If your product doesn’t have the built-in capability to expand to that level, you’d be in trouble.
This is why a company may be the oldest on the market but could still fall short of what you expect. There simply isn’t a one-fits-all agency on the market. When you decide how to choose the right software development company services, don’t just rely on raw statistics about their success. Look at what they can offer for your current project.
Pricing and Budget Considerations
Even if you have a lofty budget, you don’t want to end up overpaying. Try to gather some industry-average data and see how your current top choices correspond to it. Granted, some companies may ask for a higher rate but also deliver better quality. In cases like that, you need to know both how far your budget can stretch and whether you need to go that extra mile.
Try to build in a percentage that can go toward unexpected delays and team or project scope expansion. Don’t try to cut it close by choosing a company that just barely matches your preliminary budget.
Industry trends in 2023
Research suggests that the reigning new directions for 2023 were:
- Scaling development through platform engineering
- Using AI to augment software or even in-house teams
- Approaching any project as if it’s open-source.
The first trend is about making internal processes smoother. It helps future-proof the business by creating platforms that developers can rely upon for various tools and services. Like many other things in tech for 2023, it’s a way to automate the tedious parts of a developer’s job.
As for AI, it’s been the hot new thing for many industries, but IT is its prime sector. Coders use AI to supplement their own work and generate the code for their projects. Alternatively, many companies are exploring the power of AI functionalities within their software, such as “smart recommendations” in e-commerce or algorithmic processing for industries that rely on data.
Last but not least is InnerSource, which is a software creation strategy. It suggests that the open-source ecosystem nurtures healthier and faster development, even when used for proprietary code. Thus, some companies have started to adopt these principles, focusing on documentation, collaborative work, and prioritizing rapid development.
Communication and Collaboration
Regardless of which software development company you choose, the outcome of your project will depend on how you communicate. Starting from the introduction, where you lay out exactly what’s expected of the team, it’s essential to be transparent and open to input. Since the developers will be the ones bringing the project to life, you should be aware of what their ideas are.
Communication is a two-way street, so be sure to have regular check-ins. These need to be agreed on right away, both their frequency and their structure. While some companies prefer a more formal call with data being shared, others may be more used to a quick chat over Slack. Finding the tools that work best for you is a vital part of structuring your communication.
Project Management Approach
To pick the method that works best, you need to consider your own preferences, the project scope, and what the team is most comfortable with. For example, while you may prefer Agile from past use and the desire to finish the project quickly, it could be unfamiliar to the developers. This would lead to a lot of time spent on acclimation and ultimately cost you progress.
Since the development of your custom software for business will most likely be remote, a methodology like Kanban could work great. Based on heavy visual support, it could bridge the gap between you and the agency, relaying information more efficiently.
On the flipside, a Scrum-like approach could create too much busywork with its daily stand-ups and a focus on long-term team cohesiveness. In short, you need to always consider the context you’re making the choice in. If the team is working remotely and only hired for a short project, the management should reflect that.
Questions to ask potential software development companies
These questions should help you get a feel of what the company is like and whether they’d fit your project. It’s based on the things that DigitalSuits has been asked during our collaborations, as well as the factors that influence the quality of the work.
How do you calculate your budget and timeline estimates?
This helps you see if the company is genuinely analyzing the project and if it did a thorough job in this preliminary stage. Any company that doesn’t do its due diligence at the very start is not a very reliable one.
What’s your work and project management style?
Tying in with our previous section, get acquainted with the team’s work ethic and their flow. Cultural differences are a major influence on work processes, so make sure you click well with the team or, at least, the contact people.
Do you subcontract any of the work?
While it may seem like a strange question, this is a real possibility. Some companies will take on a contract and then contract another, cheaper and wholly unfamiliar team to do bits of the work. This runs the risk of damaging the end result, as well as simply taking the project out of your control.
How do you handle change and force majeure?
Do not settle for a marketing answer of “We don’t have accidents.” Major shifts can happen in any project, and you, as the client, deserve to know how they will be handled. Provide possible examples of situations that could affect your project to see the company’s response.
As we’ve shown in this article, picking a software development company isn’t necessarily difficult as long as you know what you’re looking for. With proper planning and a clear idea of what you want, the collaboration should go smoothly and benefit your business.
We’ve recommended that you focus your attention equally on the company’s practical experience, their technology stack, and the way they manage the team. This is all based on the collaborations that DigitalSuits has had, creating custom solutions for companies.
For example, when creating a management system for e-commerce, our team used Node.JS and AWS. Specifically requested by the client, who is familiar with our tech stack, these helped make the system scalable and more flexible. This project was a full collaboration with our analysts, making suggestions while the client provided important guidance and approval of our ideas.
Ideally, this is what your contact with development companies should look like. Now that we’ve taught you how to choose a software development company for an IT project, you can start your search. If you want to keep it short and fruitful, you can contact DigitalSuits for a consultation now.