The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has become a new normal for everyone, especially businesses. With the rapid change in industries all around the globe, most businesses have been on the lookout for ways to cut costs, increase efficiency, and maintain profits. Many organisations have found outsourcing to a bespoke software development company to be a viable solution and, for some businesses, it is an absolute need of the hour.
If you are a company looking to outsource your software development project, here’s a guide to prepare you to outsource the right way. Software outsourcing comes with endless choices of software providers, a plethora of services, and greatly varying costs. As a software outsourcing newbie, it can get overwhelming to select the right outsourcing company, and any poor decision can jeopardise your project.
Here are ten important questions that you need to ask a software development company when considering to outsource your project to them. This list of questions will help you gauge the experience of the software outsourcing company and their methods of operation and development.
Key to Software Outsourcing Success – Important Questions to Ask an Outsourcing Company
When assessing a software development company to outsource your project, it is important to not only assess their skills and experience in developing software but their ability to deliver a project similar to yours and their experience in collaborating with clients similar to you. Here’s what you need to ask a software development company while judging their suitability.
Do They Have Experience With Similar Projects?
This is a good question to get started with. When you reach out to a software company with your project and tell them your requirements, it is important to inquire about their past experience with projects that have similar requirements to yours. A software provider may claim to have extensive experience and convince you about their track record but words are not enough. It is crucial to ask the company to provide case studies and portfolios of previous projects so you can have a better idea of the work they have done in the past.
It is better and safer to choose a company that has experience working with clients in the same industry as yours.
Have They Worked With Clients From This Location?
Your location and the location of the software company you want to outsource to can be a major deal-breaker in the success of your project. This is especially true if you are outsourcing to an offshore software development company. The time difference and cultural and linguistic barriers between you and your outsourcing partner are important to factor in. Ask the software development company if they have previously worked with clients located near you and how they managed to overcome these barriers and successfully deliver the product. Their response will reveal whether or not they can manage remote teamwork and collaboration.
How Much Does An App Cost?
This is a big one! And it is a question you should definitely ask before working with a software development company. When it comes to software projects, it is important to work out a realistic budget and find a software development company that can work within it.
Discuss the different pricing models that the software company offers and the estimated cost of development for a project like yours.
It is practically impossible for a software company to tell you the exact cost in the very first meeting, but an expert software company should be able to provide you with a realistic range of development costs after carefully considering your requirements.
To read up more on software development costs, you need to check out our dedicated article on ‘How much does it cost to develop custom software?’ It will give you a thorough rundown of factors and features that impact the cost of development.
Always bear in mind that you’re not actually paying for the features of your application; it is the development time taken to build different features that ultimately influences your final cost. It is also important to ask yourself if you are prioritizing cost over quality because some offshore development companies, such as those based in India and China, offer lower rates which can be appealing for startups trying to cut costs.
Although going offshore may seem more cost-effective, the total cost of development could end up higher than expected due to several factors and risks.
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How Will The Project Be Managed?
Project management methods can vary greatly between software development companies so this a good question to ask up-front. There are different steps within the software development lifecycle such as:
- Research and Requirement Analysis
- Design and Prototyping
- Writing Code
- Ongoing Support and Maintenance Post-Launch
The software company’s answer to this question will tell you the SDLC model they follow to go through the stages of software development. Most developers follow a mix of the agile and waterfall methodologies. Agile is an iterative process that breaks down the development process into smaller ‘sprints’ and allows changes and feedback to be incorporated at every iteration. On the other hand, waterfall is a traditional approach that structures the development process into defined stages that need to be completed in a linear sequential order.
This will also help you determine the level of involvement the developers would require from you. For instance, agile practices require more involvement and feedback from the clients at every iteration whereas the waterfall model typically only requires clients’ involvement at the initial stages of software development.
What Does Their Typical Process and Timeline Look Like?
The timeline for a project is absolutely critical, especially for the total expenditure of the product. The longer a project timeline is, the higher the total costs are likely to be. A software development company should provide you with a realistic timeline of the project outlining the total duration of the project and the time for each phase, along with a tentative plan of deliverables throughout the timeline. This will help you set clear expectations and plan your budget accordingly. A thorough discussion about the timeline helps you and your software development partner stay on the same page about milestones and possible time of project completion.
What Technical Expertise and Talents Do They Have on Their Team?
Most software development companies have teams that are assigned to each project and it is necessary to discuss the team composition beforehand. Based on the requirements of your project, an expert software development company should be able to advise what roles and expertise are needed for it. Usually, a team comprises the project manager(s), developers, UI/UX designers, and testing and quality assurance engineers. You can also ask the company to provide the resumes of their team members to better assess their technical capabilities.
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What Will Happen After the Application Is Launched?
The project does not end with the launch of the application. There is a lot that can go wrong after the software is deployed. Therefore, it is important to know the scope of any post-launch services offered by the software development company. Most software providers offer a warranty period and post-launch maintenance and support services to keep their clients’ application up and running.
How Will My Application Be Tested and How Do They Track Bugs/Issues?
Proper testing and bug tracking methods are important to ensure a fault-free performance of your application. A ‘bug’ is a technical issue which makes your app crash once users take certain actions. After your app is launched, you will receive a lot of feedback – there might come to surface some bugs that make the app less usable or accessible on certain devices or OS versions. This means there must be a system in place to report bugs and issues so they are resolved by the developers.
Who Will Own the Source Code When the Application Is Completed?
Businesses that lack the know-how of software development often overlook this important question. In simpler terms, source code means the one who owns the lines of code behind your application. The only correct answer to this question is ‘You’. As a client who is paying for the development of the application, you should have complete rights over the source code of your application. Any software development company that does not give you sole ownership over the source code is not worth considering.
Can They Provide Good References From Previous Clients?
References from previous clients can help you verify the claims of the software development company and assure you of their credibility.
You should always ask for at least a couple of clients’ references, clients who can speak well about their experience with the software development company. You should also consider verified business review websites such as Clutch and Manifest. A software company’s client reviews and ratings on Clutch will provide you with insights about both the quality and scope of their services (e.g. see our Clutch profile here).
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GoodCore Software is rated highly on Clutch and Manifest with numerous 5-star client reviews. We take pride in the fact that our clients continue to say positive things about our work.
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While interviewing and vetting different software development outsourcing companies, you should ask them the ten questions outlined in this article. The product that your software partner builds for you is an investment on your part. Therefore, you need to make sure that the development team you choose meets certain standards. A software company that is able to meet the criteria that we have discussed in this article will surely produce software applications that fulfil your needs as well as quality benchmarks, making your time and monetary investment worthwhile.
Before we sign off, here are three important tips to make your interview process efficient:
- Always prepare an elevator pitch: An elevator pitch is a brief, persuasive summary that explains your idea in less than 30 seconds. You should be able to explain the software application you want to have developed in a brief and concise manner.
- Always do your own research: You must do your research for every claim and reference that a software development company provides to you. Verify all the provided information to make an informed decision.
- Take your time: Planning and selecting the right software development firm is the most important decision of your project. Remember to take your time to thoroughly interview and evaluate your option so you can make the right choice.