Nov 6, 2020 Written by David Barlev

How to Choose a Software Company to Develop Your Business Dashboard

A computer dashboard display

When you need complex data distilled into a simple, easy-to-read format, it’s important that you find the right software company to develop your business dashboard. This can be tough.

There are countless software developers out there vying to have you as a client, and not all of them can deliver what you need. In this blog, we’ll talk about some traits to look for that identify a reputable, trustworthy development company.

First things first, though: you need a plan. In order to build a successful dashboard, you need to know the kind of data that best serves your needs. If you are a print shop in California, for example, you probably won’t need regular access to how much you spent shipping one package to Finland.

Don’t prioritize any data you don’t absolutely need every day.

Your dashboard should contain KPIs and useful metrics that help your business move forward and stay ahead of the game. A good software developer can help you organize a layout that best suits your business style, but the best way to approach your dashboard project is to plan it out yourself first.

So how can you choose the right company to develop your business dashboard?

They Have Work History with Companies Like Yours

A man at a companyWhile most software developers can build a dashboard well enough, the right developer has already built a dashboard similar to the kind you need. By bringing your ideas and allowing them to offer some advice, the odds of you getting a better dashboard skyrocket.

There really is no substitute for experience. The more time a developer spends building software for a certain industry, the more insider tips and tricks they learn which can help you with your project.

Once you think you have a few possible developers ready to interview, ask them what industries they primarily serve. Knowing this can help you move forward with your dashboard, as they might be able to tell you a little more about what works and what doesn’t.

APIs Are a Piece of Cake

Because Google Analytics, AHRefs, and other online tools are crucial for your business, your developer needs to have a strong grasp on how to incorporate those pieces into your dashboard. This means they need to bring software into your computer systems that didn’t originate there.

How? By using an application programming interface (API).

An API allows your dashboard to access real-time metrics from other useful applications right there in front of you, meaning you don’t have to scan through four or five different browser tabs to find data that helps your business succeed. Instead, that data comes from a variety of different sources right to your fingertips.

APIs can be a little tricky to use, so make sure your programmer has a good understanding of what it takes to gracefully bring other software to your interface. If you have any favorite business apps you love to use, now would be the time to look up their API requirements so you can bring it to your developer.

They Can Code in Many Languages

A Computer screen with codeIf you want to develop your business dashboard, you must realize dashboards aren’t built with just one coding language. They have to be able to communicate with the internet, your business network, various apps, and other devices, and that requires different code.

Your developer needs to know the most efficient way to integrate all the right languages and do so in a way that doesn’t end up with bugs slowing your company down.

This is why it can be important to find a software studio that employs a few different coders with various backgrounds. Sure, a solo freelancer could probably learn it and do what you need, but all that time spent fixing mistakes costs you money and can lead to errors down the road. A team of experienced professionals has better odds of success.

Make sure you have a conversation about what kinds of coding languages are required to build your specific dashboard. You should feel confident about what they say.

They Deal with Local Companies

Some companies choose to outsource their development to other countries like India to pay less for a dashboard. This may seem like a good idea at the outset, but there are some major drawbacks.

For example, they will start working on your project at about the same time as you finish your workday in the States.

If they have a question for you at 1 p.m. their time, you’ll probably be asleep, leaving them to either wake you up or try to make a decision on their own. Do you know you can trust their judgment? Wouldn’t you rather be there to collaborate?

By dealing with a software developer that works in the same time zone and culture as you doesn’t mean everything will be perfect, but it does increase your chances of being on the same page with them as each decision is made.

Plus, you can feel warm and fuzzy inside about helping out your local community.

They Keep a Small Caseload

A computer design companyOne gigantic myth in the software world is that bigger companies produce better products. It’s easy to prove this wrong with even a little research, but that doesn’t stop doe-eyed startups from forking over wads of cash to developers that don’t deserve it.

Like your mom always said, just because it’s advertised doesn’t make it true. In many cases, companies with a big reputation start to increase their rates while cutting overhead by giving customers a turnkey, out-of-the-box dashboard that doesn’t do as much as it could. By taking a factory approach to their projects, these big companies miss out on the chance to innovate and customize for their customers.

99% of the time, you will have a better experience with a company that’s still hungry for your business. They are more concerned with keeping you happy, and they are willing to put in the extra time to make sure your dashboard is built right.

Plus, small companies are easier to get in touch with. You probably won’t be sent to a team of customer support employees whose job is to make sure you don’t cost their company anything more by requesting a fix. Contracts are generally better with small companies, and you can build a long-lasting relationship with someone to whom you’d feel comfortable referring friends.

This isn’t to say big companies are always bad, just that they can be a little less pleasant to work with.

They Keep Design Simple

Your business has to be efficient in order to be successful. When you build a dashboard, it’s important not to bring in a million “cool” data points you think will get you thinking in new, different ways. Focus on the basics.

Even with a dashboard limited to the essentials, you will still be able to find plenty of important information to help you chart a path forward. Plus, the data’s always there if you need it—just not hogging precious dashboard space.

If your developer is experienced with building dashboards, there is a good chance they can advise you about what metrics really matter. Do your homework by reading about KPIs and figuring out which ones best serve the needs of your business.

You Enjoy Working with Them

A group of colleagues talkingAt the end of the day, there’s nothing more important than your ability to communicate with your developer and explore ideas without having to worry that they’ll be misused or misinterpreted.

While a good developer may be able to crank out a great dashboard without any input, that’s rare and will likely come at the expense of customization in the future.

The better plan is to work with someone who works well with customers and wants to understand your needs. After all, building any kind of custom software is hard work. If you’re just a ball of stress throughout the entire project, you can suffer from burnout and allow mistakes to happen that will frustrate you down the road.

Read reviews. Check to see if they’ve won any significant awards. These are usually decent indicators of what it will be like to work with them. Recommendations are always great too, so ask your business owner friends who helped them build a dashboard and whether you should call them.

How to Develop Your Business Dashboard

The most important thing is to plan ahead. Your developer can’t be all things to your project, though hopefully, they will bring some valuable insights to the table. It is up to you to have a vision of where you want your business to go and how your dashboard will help you get there.

By knowing how to maximize your dashboard usability, you can help them make your dream product and get the data your business needs to be successful.

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