Finding a great startup idea and raising funds is actually the first step in the success of your startup journey. You'll need somebody to help you create your software product, either your own, in-house software development team or a custom software development company.
Building a development team vs hiring a software development company.
There is an ongoing dispute in a startup environment on which option is better. Some argue that your own team based on freelancers will identify with the project and finally create a better product. The other argues that building teams take time, exhausts resources from owners, and require advanced management skills (especially remote management). Let's try to write down some pros and cons for each of the options.
The pros of hiring in-house software developers:
- You have full control over the software development process and product
- You can manage developers easily as they are working in your office
- The company culture is easy to implement among in-house software developers
The cons of hiring in-house software developers:
- It takes time to find, interview and hire great software developers
- You will need to provide software developers with office space and equipment
- Managing software developers require a lot of time and resources
The pros of hiring a software development company:
- Professional software development companies have skilled software engineers on staff, meaning you don't have to worry about finding, interviewing, and hiring software developers yourself
- Professional software development companies have the resources and expertise to manage software development processes effectively, minimizing the time and effort required on your part
- Companies like these typically offer a range of software development services at a single, fixed price, making it easier to budget and plan for software development projects
The cons of hiring a software development company:
- Costs can be higher than hiring in-house software developers, especially if your project is particularly complex or time-sensitive
- It can be difficult to find and vet software development companies, as there are many out there that are not reputable or experienced enough to deliver high-quality software products.
Overall, the best choice for a startup looking to develop software will depend on a number of factors, including the software development needs, budget, and timeline. Whether you decide to go with an in-house software development team or a software development company, it is important to do your research and carefully consider all of the available options. By taking the time to find a software developer that's a good fit for your startup, you'll be one step closer to achieving your software development goals.
In this article, we will focus on the second option and try to elaborate on some basics that might help you to pick the right vendor for your project.
How to choose the right custom software development services vendor?
There are many custom software development companies that claim to be the best in the world. Google will offer you millions of results for the query "custom software development services". How do you even begin to evaluate them all and find the software development company that's right for you?
We have prepared a list of the key factors to consider to make it easier for you. Let's now discuss everything in detail step by step.
1. Prepare your goals, objectives, and expectations
Before you even start looking for a software development company, it's important that you do your research and know exactly what you need. Define your project requirements and objectives, and be sure to communicate these clearly to any potential software development partners. This will help ensure that you find a company that is able to deliver on your specific needs.
The reason behind this approach is straightforward. It saves time and money by eliminating the need to describe an abstract idea to a development team that will not comprehend your aim until they see images and workflows. The most significant blunder you can make is to believe you've made your point when, in reality, you and your software development partner have very different ideas about the end product.
2. Consider the budget and timeline for development services
Of course, the cost is always an important consideration when choosing any type of service provider. When it comes to software development companies, there can be a wide range in pricing depending on the size of the company, its location, and the scope of your project. It's important to get quotes from a few different companies so that you can compare costs and find the one that best fits your budget.
With a limited budget, you may be limited to smaller software development companies. There are certain differences when it comes to pricing and location. You can easily find a software agency 4-5 times cheaper in India than in US or UK. However, the price (hourly) might not reflect the final cost of the project and the quality of the work. The best scenario is to find "western" work ethics combined with a reasonable price. This is why many companies are exploring such places as Central Europe, Mexico, or Brazil instead of more risky Asia or Africa.
3. Look for reputation, experience, and expertise
In order to ensure that you're working with a custom software development company that has the skill and experience necessary to deliver high-quality results, it's important to look for companies that have a proven track record of success. This can include factors such as years in business, number of projects completed, or positive client testimonials (Clutch, Google reviews, LinkedIn).
Additionally, it's important to pay attention to the specific skill sets of the software developers, UX designers, and Product Owners at each company you are considering – things like programming languages, software platforms, and other technical qualifications should all factor into your decision. You can also take a look at company PR notes on social channels in search of participation in industry events, conferences, or seminaries to prove expertise and reputation.
The other important matter here is expertise in a specific technology. Some software companies are focused more on mobile app development, others on web development or blockchain dApps. Details about their accomplishments should always be available on their websites in Case Study or Portfolio sections. The perfect situation would be to find a successful project which is somehow similar to yours.
4. Consider communication process and responsiveness
When choosing a software development company, it's important to consider how well you will be able to communicate with them throughout the project. After all, effective communication is a critical business process for any successful software development project. Make sure to ask about their communication style and process upfront, and be sure that it meshes well with your own preferences.
Additionally, you'll want to make sure that they are responsive to your questions and concerns – you shouldn't have to wait days or even weeks to get a response from them. Some companies might even suggest that 72 hours of reaction time is a standard SLA in software development services. In fact, they are stretched by serving too many customers at once and might put your project in jeopardy in case of any fire.
What would be the best scenario, then? Well, some custom software development vendors provide really good customer care, including such solutions as:
- startup product consultancy
- product development workshops
- dedicated Product Owners / CTOs (PO/CTO as a service)
- direct contact with the company Owner
Those additional benefits can improve communication and lead to real savings by a better understanding of your product and choosing more accurate solutions.
5. Ask about their project management process
In order to ensure that your software development project stays on track and is completed on time and within budget, it's important to ask about the company's project management process. Find out how they will keep you updated on the project's progress, and how they will handle any issues that may arise.
This should be covered by the Project Manager, CTO, or Product Owner depending on the methodology. Those people should be your first contact. You might want to have cyclical status calls with those people next to daily slack and email exchange.
6. Look for quality assurance measures
When choosing a software development partner, it's important to look for companies that take quality seriously. This includes things like software testing and code reviews to ensure that any bugs are caught early, as well as software documentation so that you always know exactly what is going on with your project at all times.
A good custom software development company should also use professional tools for productivity, project management, and communication. A well-organized organization usually achieves better results and guarantees quality.
7. Ask about their software development methodology
Different software development companies use different methodologies when developing software – some may be more agile than others and require frequent updates, while others may be more traditional and focus on less frequent but larger releases of the software. When choosing the right software development company, it's important to consider which type of methodology will best fit your needs.
The latest and the most popular methodology is Agile. It allows software development teams to constantly streamline their software development process and make software products more responsive to client needs. The biggest value here is the "agility" during the development process based on iterations. this way the product can be constantly upgraded. Agile software development offers also the MVP (minimum viable project) in a short period of time that can significantly help in validating product-market fit and making further business decisions about the product.
Agile product development is considered the fastest and most cost-effective way of creating all kinds of products (eg: cloud applications, mobile apps). It saves a lot of time and eliminates the risks of errors in planning. This is why it gained so many supporters in a startup environment.
8. Consider long-term support and maintenance
When selecting a custom software development firm, it's important to consider not only the initial development of your project but also any long-term support or maintenance that may be necessary. Find out what kind of support the company offers, and whether or not they have experience with projects like yours. Additionally, ask about their software update schedule – you'll want to make sure that they are able to keep your software up-to-date as new versions are released.
As we mentioned before some vendors offer full support in the software development life cycle (from consultancy through ideation to scaling). It's much easier to work with somebody, who can take a large part of project ownership and become your business partner.
9. Pay attention to potential red flags
As with any decision in life, there are always going to be some red flags that you should be aware of when choosing a software development company. Things like unrealistic promises, lack of transparency, or unprofessionalism should all be taken as warning signs that you may want to look elsewhere.
Most of us are constantly looking for a better price for any service or good. Some companies offer software development services at very attractive rates in comparison with US or EU countries. In many locations, it shouldn't be anything suspicious. However, we always suggest to doublecheck the unusually low rates by facing them with other local competitors.
10. Take an additional look at security issues
Having a partnership with the right software development company means there will be a transfer of sensitive information. You will need to know how the company handles this and what measures are in place to make sure both your idea, product, solutions, and confidential materials are not let into the wild.
Then, there is the other side of the security issue how to secure the solution being developed and what security level should be adopted if needed.
11. Get everything in writing
Once you've found a software development company that you feel good about, it's important to get everything in writing before starting the project. This includes things like the project timeline, deliverables, cost, and payment schedule. It is very important to write everything in detail to protect yourself from any risks.
We must always bear in mind that software development is a very difficult industry with plenty of things that could go wrong (lack of employees, financial issues, skills gap, political events, catastrophes, etc.) The proper contract will help to ensure that there are no surprises down the road and that everyone is on the same page from the start.
Here are some basic elements of a software development contract:
- Statement of work
- Project Timeline
- Budget and cost (protect you from exhausting funds)
- Payment schedule (monthly or per milestone?)
- Confidentiality agreement (protect you from dishonest behaviour)
- Intellectual property rights (protect you from future claims)
- Contractual penalties (for delays or poor quality)
The importance of Product Owner in software development.
When selecting a software development company, it's important to consider the role of the Product Owner. The product owner is responsible for ensuring that the software development team understands the vision for the product and is able to build it according to the specifications. They will also be responsible for managing the product backlog and prioritizing features.
It's important to choose a software development company that employs experienced Product Owners that have a proven track record of successful products. Additionally, you'll want to make sure that the product owner is able to work closely with the software development team throughout the project in order to ensure smooth communication and avoid any delays.
The fact is that many times you'll encounter software development firms that are focused only on renting hours of their software developers (body leasing). Naturally, it is a more cost-effective way of programming - but in many cases leads to enormous errors and misunderstandings. Every product must have an owner who will take care of everything on the way to success.
The bottom line is that if you are too busy to work with developers, you'll welcome a Product Owner to do it for you.
The best location to find top software development companies?
There are many software development companies all over the world. Some companies are located in countries with unstable political situations or poor infrastructure. This can lead to delays in the project or even complete failure if the situation deteriorates.
We suggest looking for software development companies in stable countries with strong economies and good infrastructure. Additionally, it's often easier to work with companies that are located in the same time zone as you are. This can avoid communication problems and make it easier to resolve any issues that may arise during the software development process.
It is wise to choose locations with similar cultural and work standards. It will make cooperation much easier because there will be fewer misunderstandings that can't be fixed after the development process launch.
So, where are the best software development companies located?
The most recent trends indicate the popularity of these several regions/countries: Central and Eastern Europe (Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Bulgaria, Romania), Mexico, South America (Brazil, Argentina), Indonesia, and Portugal. For a company headquartered in Asia, the obvious destination is Indonesia, the Philippines, India, and Vietnam.
The bottom line
Overall, there is no one "best" software development company for your startup project - it all depends on your specific needs and requirements (goals, software solutions, business process, location, budget). However, by doing careful research and considering the above factors, you can make an informed decision about which software development firm will best meet your needs. Good luck!