Jan 12, 2021 Written by David Barlev

How to Find the Right Software Development Firm for Your Needs

A team working on a project together

Wondering how to find the right software development firm for your needs? If you’ve reached the point where you’re ready to embark on a project that takes your business to the next level, custom software is calling your name.

More and more companies today choose custom software to take care of their needs—they can get exactly what they need at a comparable price to turnkey software solutions. Developing your own software flattens the learning curve, saves on subscription fees, and ensures your operations aren’t upended when a midnight update goes awry.

So which software development firm is best suited to address your concerns? Which one will be able to help you achieve your goals?

Knowing What You Want

A woman sitting down at a deskBefore you start hunting for the perfect software development firm, it’s crucial that you know exactly what you’re looking for. That means getting your ideas down on paper, running through use case scenarios, planning for marketing, and working out all the kinks you can.

Will you be building a mobile app? Does it require a huge database to accommodate tens of thousands of users? Are there any complex functions that need to be performed? Do other programs offer similar features that you can build off of?

No matter which developer you choose to work with, they’ll need to know more than just a general idea of your program. Software development requires that every single operation be written and coded, and as simple as it may seem to walk through a series of actions, it’s not easy.

Planning bottlenecks are the main cause of bankrupting projects before they get a chance to launch. Business owners can’t make up their minds, and as their app begins to take shape, they start demanding changes to its fundamental structure. Alterations like these cause ripples throughout the rest of the program, and suddenly, app development costs twice as much.

Find Developers with Experience in Your Market

If you know exactly what kind of software you want, it’s a lot easier to find someone that can build it. Take a look around at each developer’s portfolio to see the kinds of projects they’ve completed.

The more apps they have under their belt, the better your experience is likely to be. This isn’t to say that new players to the software game won’t perform, but getting from planning to launch will likely have more hiccups along the way.

Trust your gut, though—if you really like a developer’s style and have no reservations about their ability to get you across the finish line, go for it.

Ask the Right Questions

A group of team membersBuilding software means you’re (probably) about to drop at least $10,000 on development. It goes without saying that you need to know they’ll do the job right. Just because they can build your app doesn’t mean they should.

Depending on the kind of software you want to build, some development firms will be better than others. For example, some firms focus their work on more experimental projects that push the envelope. These obviously cost a lot more, suit a narrower niche of consumers, and are likely to run into more problems.

Why gamble on a developer you don’t know? Ask good questions instead.

How many projects have they worked on?

What’s their marketing background?

What specific suggestions do they have for someone like you?

Having these conversations with developers is important, especially before starting work. The more you talk about what you want and what they can deliver, the clearer everyone’s expectations will be, leading to more satisfactory outcomes in a shorter time.

Use What’s Out There

Another important thing to talk about is the use of APIs. These are code blocks used to import features from existing software in your custom app. Use them. Don’t try to build everything from scratch—it costs more and you probably won’t do it as well.

The titanic software companies out there spend hundreds of thousands of dollars—even millions—on UX/UI research, marketing strategies, and overall efficiency. Look over apps you like and copy whatever you can from them (legally, of course).

Ask your developer what they think about APIs and how they could use them for your software. Don’t use anything you don’t actually need (there are some stunning offerings), and make sure they have the industry experience to implement them as seamlessly as possible.

Using someone else’s software doesn’t mean you’ve given up. On the contrary, actually—APIs are standard practice, and the apps that use them effectively have a better chance of success than those that try to do all the heavy lifting on their own.

Steer Clear of Overpromises

If you’re at the point where spending thousands on custom software is affordable, you’re probably a decent businessperson. Still, it bears repeating that even the best developers have their limits. It isn’t uncommon for a freelancer to make outlandish promises to coax your wallet out of your pocket, only to suddenly be “really busy, man” after they’ve been paid.

Realistic expectations—on the part of you and your developer—are the key to a successful project. But more importantly, working smarter includes avoiding pointless tasks, even when they could wow a potential client.

Consider Your Options

A collection of computer equipment and writing padsNow that you have a better idea about what to look for in a developer, it’s time to ask some questions about what your software needs in order to work properly. If you are to stay under budget while making something people will actually use, it’s important to keep things simple. Trim all the fat. Get rid of the stuff people won’t use.

One way to do this is with Cookiecutter apps. These are templated packages that give you a solid starting point to take care of basic features without breaking the budget. Enhance your design process by using wireframes to flesh out a more complete idea.

Once you have a strong plan in place, bring it to your developer and talk to them about how to bring it to life.

Cookiecutter apps are the simplest way to get started, but new app offerings like Flutter have made app creation faster than ever. These apps can be built quickly and deployed on both iOS and Android devices. Otherwise, the next option is to build a native app for both operating systems. This costs more, but it may be the only way to construct more complex software.

Ask your developer what approach they like to take. Do they know about Flutter apps? Have they built for both iOS and Android? If they have a specialty area in development, what is it?

Closing Thoughts

As you can see, the best way to find the right software development firm for your needs is to just know your needs. Doing your homework may seem like a waste of time, but it pays big dividends as you smoothly get through development. Find apps you love, ask developers relevant questions about how to build your program, and stay positive. You got this!

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