Does Technology Intimidate You?
If you are like the majority of small business owners that I have interviewed, you may experience frustration, anxiety, and often anger throughout your work day due to technology related issues. Having someone on your team that can address the problem without taking time away from your busy schedule is an absolute gift.
Many of the business owners that I interviewed don't have their own technology department, and feel rather helpless when their technology isn't working the way it should. They don't always know who to turn to, and some of them fear they will be taken advantage of if they do.
When you do find a great software development company that can fix your issues and get you up and running again, it's like a breath of fresh air. The pain and frustration that they just relieved makes you feel like doing a happy dance, or hug them with appreciation. Or maybe that's just me.
Finding a good software development company is like finding a good mechanic. If you know a lot about cars it may not be an intimidating task to find a good mechanic because you know what questions to ask to qualify them. Many of us don't know enough about cars to know what to ask, let alone decipher the answers we receive back to be truthful or not. When you do find a good mechanic, someone that is honorable in their work ethics, talented in their skills, and professional on all fronts, you don't want to lose them. They are a precious asset. You don't always need them, but you know where to go, when you do.
Below are three things you need to know before you hire a software development company. You can also watch this short video about choosing a software development company
1) Trust In a Good Reputation
It's so much easier to find a good software development company if you know someone that can refer you, but that's not always a possibility. If you do get a referral, ask the person that is referring you why they liked the person or company so much. Learn a bit more about their experience. The more you know going into the first meeting with the company, the better.
Google reviews and other review sites like Yelp are very helpful to see a company's reputation at a glance. I recommend weighing the good reviews against the negative reviews of the same company. If the date of a negative review is over six months old, and the company has had multiple positive reviews since then, you can assume the company restructured their personnel to defend their reputation.
Based upon what you read, and what you hear from others, you can begin to narrow it down to a few companies to reach out to. Have some questions written down so you feel more prepared. When you talk to them on the phone, do they present themselves well? If so, move on to the next step.
2) References and Past Performance Portfolio
Once you decide a company is worth pursuing based upon their reputation, it's time to ask for proof of their performance quality. Don't believe everything you see online. We've seen many software development websites displaying website and mobile app projects in their online portfolio that weren't created by them. There are also many projects that the company may have built that are not allowed to be displayed publicly online.
Ask the company for references, and sample projects they can share with you to help you determine if they are a good fit for you. If they are unwilling to give you references prior to hiring them, run! You need a company that will be transparent with you so you can begin building a trusting relationship.
Be sure to call their references and ask questions about the development process, the billing, the quality of work, the customer support, etc.The more you talk to people that have worked with the company in the past, the more empowered you are to decide if they are worthy of your trust and your business.
3) Clear Communication
Vetting a software development company requires communication. Whether written or verbal, it is imperative that you are able to communicate well with the company you choose to do business with. I'm not only referring to understanding a person's accent, I'm also referring to understanding the meaning of what was said.
Initially you will likely be speaking with a company sales representative or a project coordinator, before you sign any formal paperwork in the hiring process. Ask to be introduced to the person that will be managing your project. Hopefully a quick introduction is possible to ensure that you can clearly understand each other's language. Most companies will only hire project managers if they can speak the dominant language clearly.
Prior to signing any contact, ask the company what the process will be like so you can know what to expect. Do they charge for an assessment? How often will you see proof of their work? What is the payment schedule? What happens if you are unsatisfied with their work? If the company doesn't want to answer your questions prior to signing a contract, what makes you think they're going to communicate well after the contract is signed?
Each invoice from the company should be accompanied by a work log and a deliverable. A deliverable can be a scope of work, a wireframe flow chart, or a test version of the project, etc.. The work log will give you transparency into what goes on behind the scenes, and what your money is paying for. If the company is reluctant to provide you with a work log upon request, than you might want to rethink working with them. All professional software development companies track their work, and open communication both written are oral are paramount to a successful development process.
If at any point down the development path, you feel that communication is not good between you and your project manager, you need to report it to the top manager. If communication does not improve after multiple attempts to clear any misunderstanding, it may be best for you to pull out of the contract. This is a very difficult decision, and the company will likely fight to keep you moving forward to complete the project. If you do decide to finish the project with the company, ask for a different project manager, because miscommunication wastes time and money. Your dollars should be paying for quality work not errors due miscommunication.
The More Information You Can Provide, the Better
Now that you know what to look for in a software development company, it's time to discuss what you should bring to the table in order to help the development process run efficiently and smoothly.
If you have an idea and want a software development company to help you determine how much it would cost to build it, here are a few things they will need (if possible):
- An outline of the idea, who is it going to benefit and how you believe it should work
- Flowchart showing workflow for both end user and admin perspectives
- Any examples of other (existing) systems that could be used for comparison
Some ideas are flushed out better than others. If you don't have all three of the things listed above, you can ask the development company to help you create them. This is all part of the assessment phase needed in order to understand what needs to be built. There may be fees involved with this part of the process. The company you decide to work with should be clear with you on the financial obligation with each phase of development.
If you are in need of an assessment for something you're working on, click here to briefly tell us about your project. We'd be happy to take a look and steer you in the right direction.
About the Author, Michelle Calloway
Michelle Calloway is a Speaker, Int’l Bestselling Author, and the Founder and CEO of REVEALiO, Inc., an innovative software solutions company specializing in augmented reality interactive experiences. She is driven to success in response to a calling she believes has been placed in her life. Her goal is to make augmented reality experiences accessible and affordable for everyone, to enhance human relationships, and empower business owners to have more impact, influence, and income.
Michelle combines her expertise in visual communication with the emerging world of augmented reality (AR). This cutting-edge technology overlays virtual content on top of real world objects when they are viewed through a mobile or wearable smart device.
She wants to share her inspirational story and teach the power of augmented reality video marketing to entrepreneurs, small business owners, CEOs, marketing professionals, and print professionals. Her heart is to empower small businesses to gain the ultimate competitive advantage by captivating their audiences and influencing their buying decisions.
Hire Michelle to speak at your event today.