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How to choose a custom software development company

Reading time: 6 min

The software development company that you choose to work with should always be aligned with your needs, preferences and style of cooperation, not to mention your specific requirements. Not all companies – even the most renowned ones – may be the best option for your project. So, what exactly should you look out for during the selection process?

Checklist for choosing a custom IT partner

First and foremost, you need to submit a Request for Information in order to gather everything that you need to know about your potential suppliers. This means that you should already have a list of companies in mind. We’ve also prepared a number of things that you can check on your own. If you find that something’s missing, you can always inquire about it later on, in your RFI document.

1. Specialisations

  • Check out the case studies
    This is the easiest way to learn more about companies’ flagship services since their case studies will feature the most successful and spectacular projects. They may even be similar to what you have in mind.
  • See what kind of projects they usually run
    Remember that not all of a company’s projects will be described in the case study section on their website. You should look beyond that, and see what kind of industries they operate in and what they have been working on lately.
  • Find out which technologies are in their area of expertise
    Let’s say that you’re interested in creating a warehouse management system and you have even found a potential supplier with a lot of experience in that field. However… you also want to base your software on machine learning solutions to drive innovation within your business. Therefore, you need to see whether a supplier is technologically capable of doing this – and take a closer look at their specific areas of technical expertise.

2. Processes and values

  • Learn about their approach.
    Familiarize yourself with the procedures they have set up in case of certain events and circumstances; the project management methodologies they leverage; and the way they manage security issues (e.g., if the company is ISO 27001-certified). All these factors will serve as the foundation of your future cooperation.
  • Check to see if they have any COVID-19-related policies.
    The business continuity of your IT partner, especially in the case of emergencies and unexpected changes in the external environment, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, is crucial to the safety of your project. Find out if they have mechanisms in place to mitigate the risks associated with switching to fully remote teams or dealing with increasing numbers of sick leave.
  • Find out what kind of values they believe in.
    A company’s culture is no less important than the technical side of things. Transparency, openness, constructive feedback, mutual respect, and so on – all of these things should be expressed on paper as well as reflected in the supplier’s internal and external communications and methods of collaboration.

3. People

  • See what kind of specialists they hire.
    Check this both in terms of their levels of seniority and the roles that they have within a team, such as System Architects, UX/UI designers, or project and engagement managers. The company should also provide their employees with internal and external training, so they can always stay up to date and easily close knowledge gaps.
  • Find out what languages they speak.
    You should be able to communicate effectively in the designated language. No matter if it’s English, German or Chinese – the people to whom you will be speaking or writing must be able to interact flawlessly with you and your team.
  • See how high their employee turnover rate is.
    This may not be the most important point on our checklist but it’s something that tells you a lot about the company’s general working atmosphere and knowledge transfer. If turnover rate is 10% or less in a given period of time – that’s a really good sign.
  • Check their NPS.
    The Net Promoter Score is designed to measure the loyalty of a company’s customers – and how likely they are to recommend your services to others. This indicator gives you a general idea of how satisfied you can expect to be with this cooperation.

4. Clients and opinions

  • Check out the testimonials on the corporate website.
    While the NPS is just a number, the client testimonials can give you more details on what exactly was so great about the cooperation process. This is where you will find an overview of the supplier’s greatest strengths.
  • Read the reviews for the company on external websites.
    This, in turn, shows both the advantages and disadvantages of working with this potential partner. Reading the reviews on platforms like Clutch.co can provide you with more precise insights and also offer you a more complete picture.

5. Memberships and awards

  • Check to see if they belong to any significant organisations or have any interesting partnerships from which you could benefit.
    These may be IT, automotive, commerce or any other types of organisations that are good sources of knowledge, innovation or where you could make valuable contacts. Depending on the sector in which you operate, you may be interested in being connected to some of these organisations.
  • See if they have won any awards.
    Last but not least – make sure that the supplier is a trusted company within the industry as a whole, and not just among its customers or employees. There are a number of awards that are given by various software developers and outsourcing service provider associations around the world each year. See if your potential partners have received any of these honors.

Wrap-up

Whether you are looking for standard system modernisation or a bespoke software solution – the programming expertise and experience of your IT partner, along with their unique approach to delivering products, and the general atmosphere of your collaboration – all of this must be in line with your preferences, requirements and working style. This is absolutely essential to project success, so conducting a thorough background check on each of the companies that you’re interested in working with is a must.

Some of this information will be easier for you to find than others (at Future Processing, all of the items listed above are transparent and can be found online). In cases where the information you’re looking for cannot be so easily accessed – ask some additional questions. Only then will you be able to truly compare the suppliers on your shortlist and select the right one, for example, by using our free and downloadable tool – the RFI scoring matrix.

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