01/22/2020

How to Choose the Best Software Development Company

At the heart of every successful organization is a quality custom software solution. From managing transactions to data analytics, companies in every industry use software to better a variety of their business processes. As the CEO of Microsoft, Satya Nadella states, "All companies are software companies."

So when businesses are looking to gain a competitive edge, they turn to bettering their business processes with a custom software solution. By improving the efficiency of their operations and maximizing their technology investment, custom software allows them to grow. The demand for custom software is not new - as those with a commercial software solution can experience some significant disadvantages.

Recognizing the need for custom software is one thing and embarking on the mission of finding the perfect software development company is another. It can be a confusing and intimidating task. Keep these things in mind when you start shopping -

1. Understand Your Needs

The goal with custom software, is to have everything you need and nothing that you don't. So before you begin your search, you'll need to know exactly what functions you require. 

This may seem obvious, but think carefully about your business needs. Be prepared to spend time defining the exact objectives you'll want your custom software product to support. Think about what features are going to enable your business to grow, decrease costs, and increase revenue. 

Understanding your requirements is also important since some developers focus on very specific services while others offer a variety of custom software development solutions. And having well-defined needs will help you better gauge a company's capabilities against your criteria. 

2. Offshore vs Onshore Partnerships

Now that you know what you're looking for, you'll need to decide between hiring a local custom software development company and sending your project overseas. This is a common struggle among businesses. The main reason companies decide to offshore is because it's cheaper.

Depending on your needs and goals, this cost-cutting strategy can prove to be challenging. With modern Agile custom software development processes, a large emphasis is placed on heavy collaboration and communication to deliver a powerful product. This can be difficult with a company overseas.  

When making this decision, ask yourself:

  • How much am I willing to spend?
  • How important is great communication and collaboration with my project?
  • What are my expectations with understanding of my company, goals, and customers?

3. Referrals From Trusted Colleagues

After you’ve decided whether to onshore or offshore your custom software project, dig for some referrals. In addition to doing online research, ask around about which software development companies’ people in your network have had good experiences with.

Referrals are a powerful way to get accurate information about successful (or less than successful) collaborations between businesses and software development companies.

Ask questions like: 

  • What was the project management style?
  • Did the project stay within budget?
  • Was the final product the original idea?
  • Were there any changes? Why?
  • Were projects delivered on time? If not, why?
  • How were problems handled and solved?

4. Review Portfolios

Explore the prospective software development company’s previous projects. Picking a company with projects under their belt may be considered advantageous since they likely have a proven process in place. Companies in their beginning stages may not be as familiar with the challenges that can occur during a custom software development life cycle.

When reviewing portfolios, also consider the size of your project. You’ll notice if some bespoke software development companies prefer working with certain sized projects.

5. Compare Offers

Naturally, you'll be tempted to go with the cheapest option. Don't. 

Those who go with a low-price custom software development company often overlook the risks. Beware of hiring a company whose services are abnormally inexpensive, as this will likely be reflected in the quality of your product

Your employees will end up wasting time when they don't know how to use it. Even further, you'll spend money hiring developers to fix bugs, or starting from scratch when you need an entirely new software product.

6. Ask About the Technology and Testing

Learn about different software development technologies (JavaScript, Python, Git) and their characteristics. Determine if there are any specific technologies that you’d like your product built on. Inquire about what the company is experienced in - especially if there’s a specific software system you’d prefer.

Also ask about testing. Testing lets developers catch and fix errors fast. Your app will be finished faster and the risk of bugs following deployment is kept to a minimum.

7. Ask About the Team

Good communication is essential in producing a powerful software product. Get to know the structure and methodologies used by your potential partner. Are there project managers and business analysts that oversee and support sophisticated custom software development projects?

Ask how the process is organized. Top software development companies typically use an Agile software development method where you are a part of the team. It’s also good to know how the developers work and whether there are tools that assist with planning and progress. With great communication and total transparency, there should be no gray areas when it comes time for billing.

8. Data & Technology Security

Security should be a top priority for any software development project. Ensure that the company you choose to work with is experienced in vulnerability testing and sophisticated encryption algorithm – especially if you're working with sensitive data.

If the company you choose is less than versed in working with high security and high safety systems, you could be playing a part in major violation and compliance issues. Find a software development company with expertise in cybersecurity that will implement what's necessary to protect your data.

We're Discussing Cyber Security

Some security features that you should look into include: 

  • Computer Access Control - ensuring that users are who they claim to be and given appropriate access to company data.
  • Defence in Depth - redundant protections such as installing antivirus on individual workstations when there are already virus protections on firewalls and servers.
  • Application Security - preventative steps taken to improve security by finding and fixing vulnerabilities.
    • Antivirus Software - used to prevent, detect, and remove malware.
    • Secure Coding - guarding against the introduction of security vulnerabilities due to defects, bugs, or logic flaws.
    • Secure by Default - ensuring that the default settings are the most secure settings possible.
    • Secure by Design - the design of software from the foundation to be secure.
    • Secure Operating Systems - implementing operating systems that meet a particular set of security requirements.
  • Authentication - proving the identity of a user.
    • Multi-Factor Authentication - using multiple authentication factors to prove the identity of a user. 
  • Authorization - specifying certain access rights and privileges to resources/staff.
  • Data-Centric Security - an emphasis on the security of data itself.
  • Encryption - encoding information so that only authorized parties can access it.
  • Firewall - a network security system that monitors and controls incoming and outgoing traffic based on security rules.
  • Intrusion Detection System - monitors a system and produces reports for malicious activity or policy violations.
  • Mobile Secure Gateway - ensures secure communication between a mobile application and backend resourced within a corporate network.
  • Runtime Application Self-Protection (RASP) - learns an application's behavior to monitor/analyze traffic and detect abnormalities or issues.

9. Clarify The Contract Terms

Your entire software project should be clearly spelled out in a contract. It should outline your contract terms, the timeline, and pricing breakdown. You should discuss and cover everything from a statement of work, required materials, intellectual property, and payment terms. You’ll want the company to commit in writing to providing after development support, for things like software configuration, orientation, maintenance, and backup services.

How powerful your custom software application is depends on the company that develops it. It’s a big decision, but with these tips, you’ve got a clear path towards finding the best fit for you.

Looking for the right custom software solution for your business? Our Custom Software Development team has a high level of technical excellence and years of experience providing performant solutions for organizations like yours. Contact us today to start your project.

We have a passion for productivity & efficiency.
Let us show you how we can help with your next project.
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