5 Important Questions to Ask Your Software Development Partner

Deciding to outsource software development is a big commitment – one that comes with significant risks.

 (photo credit: INGIMAGE)
(photo credit: INGIMAGE)
Deciding to outsource software development is a big commitment – one that comes with significant risks. When you plan to hand over your project to a third-party software company, there is a lot at stake for you and things can go south because of poor decision-making. The first step of successful outsourcing is to select the right outsourcing partner for your project.

Imagine you have a big software development project and you are looking for the right software partner to outsource it to. Ideally, you need a partner that is experienced and reliable, and has sound knowledge of your business model. But you also need a software development company that offers the most well-priced services and adequate post-completion support and maintenance. You need a partner that is right in every aspect. So here are five important questions you need to ask to select the right software development partner.

1) Have they worked on similar projects in the past?
When assessing the competence of software development service providers, it is crucial to ask about their past projects. The breadth of their experience can be key to the success of your project. You can also get an overall idea about the skill level of your potential partner by looking at their experience. Your software partner should present a few examples of projects they completed in the recent past for reference. Study their case studies and product demos to gauge their skills and ability to understand client requirements and build applications that fully meet them.

Client references are as important as past projects. Previous clients can be a credible source of information about the company. Speaking to present and past clients and looking at client reviews on online directories like Clutch and GoodFirms are two good ways to evaluate the track record of the software company.

2) What is their process and project management style?
This an important question to ask your software partner because there are different software development methodologies and project management styles. This determines the level of involvement they require from the client throughout the development process.

Most companies follow a mix of agile and waterfall methodologies. It is better to discuss their process and management style up-front to have a clear idea of the level of involvement and feedback they expect from you.

3) How much does software development cost?
If you have a pre-set software development budget (which you should), then the cost of development is something you must discuss with your software partner. Cost and time overrun only occur when companies do not set a realistic budget or fail to clearly communicate it to their software partners.

The cost of software development services can vary depending on several factors and a software company can't quote the exact cost of development before initiating the project. However, an experienced software provider should be able to provide you with a realistic estimate of the final cost after evaluating your requirements. Have a thorough conversation about cost with all the software companies you are considering and compare their pricing to select a company that fits your budget.

4) What is their team composition and expertise?
A dedicated development team will likely be assigned for your project by the software company that will work with you during the project lifecycle. To avoid any negative surprises later, it is crucial to discuss the resources that will be working on your project. You should also ask for the resumes of members who will be working on your team to assess the technical capabilities of the team that will be responsible for your project.

5) What will happen after your project is completed?
Thinking ahead is important if you want a successful partnership with your software provider during and after the completion of your project. It is necessary to ask the software company about the terms of deployment, documentation, and intellectual property rights for the application that they will develop for you. It is equally important to discuss the scope of post-launch services they can offer, such as support, maintenance, and training if necessary.

Wrapping Up!
Software development outsourcing requires due diligence and a healthy round of questions with your potential software partner(s) will help you comprehensively assess them and make the right choice.

The above set of questions will help you evaluate and choose the right software development company for your project that can deliver a quality software product, making your time and monetary investment worthwhile.