A group of team mates at a software company

What to Look for in a Custom Application Development Company

Dallin Nelson

December 9, 2020 · 5 minutes

If you’ve reached a point where your business needs better software than what’s out there, you should know what to look for in a custom application development company.

There are countless developers offering services, and most of them could probably do a decent job on your project. But if you want outstanding results, you may have to look a little harder.

Some developers do better with web apps while others excel in mobile products. There are software studios that cut their teeth on healthcare programs while others specialize in merchant services. Just because a programmer has a strong résumé doesn’t mean they are the right fit for your project.

Let’s go over a few helpful strategies that can make finding a custom application development company that much easier…

Start with a Plan

A man writing some kind of blueprintsUnless you have a close-to-exact plan of what your software will be, even the best developer will have a tough time delivering the right product. A strong plan saves you time, money, and headache that can come from dealing with misunderstood expectations. A basic marketing plan is important here?

Who is most likely to use your app? How old are they? What’s their lifestyle? Are they your employees or will others use it too? Does your app need to be simple or should you leave room for other software to be included?

If you don’t have answers to these questions, hiring a developer will be extremely expensive. They can help you design a great program from scratch, but you’ll be paying top dollar consulting fees for something you could do mostly by yourself.

Look around the internet or ask others in your industry about the best software. A reputable program is the result of tens of thousands of dollars (at least) in research and development. Glean what you can from the software you love. Steal it. There’s no shame here.

Where Is Your App Being Used?

There are about a dozen major programming languages used in software development, and each one serves a unique purpose. HTML is used for web-based apps while JavaScript and Python have a more prominent place among smartphone apps.

If your business needs an app so that employees can do a better job at work, it may not be as important to focus on sleek lines and complex features. Your money would be better spent on making their tasks easier and collecting useful data.

Which Metrics Matter Most?

Another part of planning your software is knowing why you’re creating it. This may seem simple, but you’d be surprised at the staggering number of useless apps out there. If there’s money to burn, sure, build an app that tells you if it’s dark outside. Otherwise, stretch your dollars by refining your why first.

Custom business software offers the amazing benefit of letting you decide what’s important. Whether you’re interested in tracking customer data, employee performance, marketing trends, or you want it all, a custom program lets you do far more than an out-of-the-box solution engineered by someone else.

When interviewing development companies, ask questions about how your software could integrate with logistics to give you the best information.

Find a Developer with a Relevant Background

A woman at her computer monitorsThe best place to start on your project is to find a professional whose work experience matches the kind of software you want to build. Not only will this ensure you have the best possible product, but you’ll also save time and money because they will already know much about software in your industry.

For example, if you need software to track inventory in a hospital, hiring a game developer is probably a waste of money. Why not just ask around about which hospital app works best, find out who built it, and talk to them about working for you?

By choosing a developer with relevant experience in your industry, you’re more likely to end up with a product that will incorporate best design practices and give you the advantage you need.

If that doesn’t end up working out, you can still produce an excellent program as long as you take notes on what you like in good software. This takes time, so give yourself a few weeks to scour the internet and identify the leading programs in your industry.

Don’t Reinvent the Wheel

Building a custom application for your business takes time and money. It takes more time and money, however, if you’re building things from scratch that already exist. Whenever possible, you should incorporate outside software into your program so that it has the best features without you having to develop them.

Does this sound like a crime to you? Don’t worry—utilizing software within other software is a common and excellent practice. Using an application programming interface (API), your app can communicate with other apps and be used in tandem.

Every time your phone asks for your location, camera, files, or other operations, this is an API at work. Your custom business software should use APIs as often as possible, both to save money and to provide the best possible product.

During your interview process, ask your developer about their philosophy of using APIs. If they don’t know much about them, find someone else who does.

With the right use of internal and external software, you’ll be able to do more with your program. Your app will be able to collect more kinds of data, then used customized features to aggregate that data for you to understand and use.

Understand Scalability

When business is good, your company can grow to accommodate more customers and provide better services. This means that the demographic of people you serve will expand. Be ready for that to happen.

Scaling gracefully requires that your application not only grows to serve more people but also that it can serve people across more platforms.

Your developer should be able to build web apps, native mobile apps, and everything in between. As mentioned earlier, if they know how to integrate apps across more devices, you’ll be better suited to actually use the data you collect.

Your developer should also know how to scale up for increased web traffic. There are economical ways to do this and expensive ways—an experienced developer will have some tips for you about how to save money without sacrificing on quality.

Know Their Plan

It’s important that you have a plan for your developer, but it’s equally important that they have one for you. Before you start paying for services, it’s important to know that they have a stable, predictable timeline detailing exactly how your product will materialize.

If they don’t have a plan for you, things will only get tougher as time goes on. When there’s no plan, there are no mutual expectations, which usually leads to a breakdown of communication that will have you pulling your hair out.

Find a developer whose philosophy includes keeping you in the loop and having a concrete timeframe for your project.

Your app is going to be great! Keep up the good work.

Ready to hire your own custom application development company?
Click here to schedule a free consultation about what to do next.

About Dallin Nelson

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