Selecting the right software development company is a thorny process. One should go through a nerve-racking activity of evaluation, analysis, and negotiation. Once you embark on this audacious journey, you will need to define clear selection criteria to avoid the risk of recurring vendor searching.
If you don’t want your partner eventually to fall short of your expectations in terms of quality, professional mindset, culture fit, you need to specify certain standards for selecting a software development company from the outset. In this article, we explore the top 15 criteria companies should consider during the selection process of a vendor which will make their journey more lightweight.
When businesses are on the lookout for a trusted software development company, among the first criteria they examine are the company size, pricing models, expertise, etc. Rarely do they define communication as an overriding factor. Here we bring this criterion to the forefront to highlight its weight to the overall project success.
In fact, ineffective communication may encompass many aspects including insufficient English proficiency, the lack of emotional intelligence, cultural differences, etc. But let’s approach it from a different angle focusing more on understanding the client’s business needs. Opt for those vendors who tinker with setting up extra calls with you and sending follow-ups showing the true interest in your business. The eagerness of a vendor clarify with you all the nuances ensures the comfort of your further cooperation with them. It guarantees the success of your partnership in the long run.
2. Company size
The size of a software development company as well as the scale of its projects matter a lot. If a vendor is too big and works mostly with large enterprises, they may not devote enough attention to your specific needs. If a company is too small, it may not have enough experience working on such a scale. Thus, choosing a vendor similar in size to yours works best when you are looking for a partner that would treat you as a VIC (a very important customer).
Another aspect that is affected by the vendor’s size is its ability to scale the development team up or down. Medium and large size vendors have more internal resources and a bigger external pool of candidates. So they can easily extend the development team to handle increasing workload and rotate people to a different project if you need to ramp down.
Here at N-iX, our customer base is growing year by year. But we are not losing focus on our mission to care about customers’ needs and deliver on their expectations. By building strategic partnership relationships with both large-scale businesses as well as fast-growing startups, we ensure the success of every project we are working on.
The pricing is definitely not the first criterion you should look at, but it plays an important role in the decision-making process. Nobody wants to buy the cheapest service, but rather the most cost-effective. To avoid your money going through the roof, you should clearly understand the scope of your project and your final goal. In fact, the budget of the project is determined by the engagement model you choose.
For instance, it doesn’t make sense to employ a full-time IT architect or a UX designer if you need their services only during a certain period of time within a project. On the other hand, it is not reasonable to pay developers or QA specialists an hourly rate if they are going to be fully involved in the project and will work a 40-hour work week. Hourly rates are much higher than the monthly rates of dedicated engineers, so the T&M contract is not the best option for a long-lasting partnership.
As for the Fixed Price model, it works well for businesses who have a complete vision of the product and clearly defined requirements. A dedicated development team model, by contrast, is an optimal choice for long-term projects with changing requirements. You receive a team of software development professionals entirely focused on your project, define their workload, and have total control over the process. Moreover, it is highly flexible and fully adaptable to any changes. From our experience, we can state that the dedicated development team model leads to the most sustainable results.
Businesses go to great lengths to find a software development company that specializes specifically in a certain domain and technology stack. Let’s say, you are looking to extend your in-house team with Java developers who work with microservices. You would first consider those vendors who could provide you with this type of expertise and quick staffing regardless of all the other criteria. So when you are looking for a specific skill set, you should shortlist those vendors who have a proven track record of working in that area.
On the other hand, leveraging the knowledge of your offshore partner is more cost-effective than developing all this expertise in-house. Even though today your company doesn’t rely on such innovative technologies as Big Data, VR, and AI, in the future you may need them. So choose a mature vendor with diverse tech expertise at the outset so that you will be able to tap into it when needed.
Before kicking off a partnership with a specific vendor, make sure the company has hands-on experience in similar projects in your industry. It’s obvious those who develop fintech solutions and specialize in insurtech, crowdfunding, P2P lending can not be equally good at automotive software development services.
The same is true of managing large-scale projects with several distributed teams. The company that has no previous experience working with remote teams would find it challenging to establish effective cross-team collaboration both at the technical and organisational levels.
Firstly, it may be difficult to ensure technology alignment as distributed teams must share the same coding practices and constantly exchange knowledge within the project. Secondly, maintaining healthy communication may pose a challenge. So the software development company should have experience in working with other vendors and remote teams using various communication channels and tools, such as Slack, Confluence, Jira, etc.
6. Recommendations on a software development company
While choosing a software development firm, visit popular review platforms such as Clutch, GoodFirms, AppFutura, and others to get some real customer feedback about different vendors. Plus, it is essential to request a reference from the existing and previous clients, who may give you true insights into the company’s processes and the service quality. Facebook and Google reviews might be helpful as well. Industry recognition is one of the vital criteria you need to check up on. Take into consideration the most reputable industry awards that would help you choose the best software development company. For instance, N-iX is regularly listed in the Global Outsourcing 100 by IAOP, Software 500, Inc. 5000, GSA, and other respectable ratings of software development companies. If a company pursues professional growth, you can easily find it in the listings of the most wanted software development firms.
The knowledge of agile development practices is a must for any software development company today. Yet it’s not what we mean when we say that a vendor should be agile. Here we’d like to emphasize the importance of business flexibility.
When choosing a software development firm, make sure it is flexible enough to embrace the change as your business grows. This concerns a lot of aspects, such as the ability to scale, adopting new technology, offering different pricing models, knowledge acceptance, etc.
Firstly, a vendor should be able to adapt to your plans and strategies quickly and scale easily as your business evolves. Secondly, advancements in technology have become so fast-paced that the tech you are using today may become outdated tomorrow. So, it’s important to select a software development firm that can keep up with the innovations.
Also, the IT vendor should provide you with a variety of pricing models to choose from. And in case your project scope and business requirements change, your partner should be able to offer you the pricing model that suits you at that point.
8. Cultural fit
Uncommon values and a different corporate culture may hinder software product quality, impact communication, and thus lead to delays in project delivery. If you want a partnership with a software development company to be successful, you need to dig deeper into the provider’s cultural peculiarities and business ethics.
To build a lasting partnership with a software development firm, businesses need to make sure that the provider’s culture is close to theirs or at least they can accept it. For instance, Indian developers are not likely to question the client’s requirements and suggest alternative ways of product development. This often causes miscommunication and unmet expectations.In some cultures, religious beliefs may prevent developers from working with a client that, say, produces or sells beer.
By contrast, Eastern European software developers share the Western culture, so it’s easier for them to work with the North American and European businesses.
Read more about cultural aspects that ensure a successful partnership with Ukrainian software developers.
9. English proficiency
As English is the de facto language of communication in the tech world, it goes without saying that a software development company should have the sufficient level of the English language proficiency.
If you are considering outsourcing software development to Ukraine, for example, its IT professionals have a decent level of English knowledge. According to the EF English Proficiency Index, Ukraine has a score of 52.86 and ranks 43rd among 88 world countries. Other countries with the moderate English proficiency include France, Italy, Spain, Belarus, to name a few. Also, 79% of developers in Ukraine have Intermediate or higher level of English, according to DOU survey.
Ukrainian IT companies invest heavily in English training initiatives. Many companies offer their employees either full or partial reimbursement for English courses and even set up their own training centres. Here at N-iX, we practice English as a language of corporate communication. It allows us to maintain English at a high level among the company’s workforce.
10. An easy to get location
A convenient geographical location is a vital criterion every business should take into consideration while looking for a partner overseas. Short flight distance, small time difference, and visa-free travel are a few advantages that can significantly improve outsourcing partnerships.
For example, countries from Eastern Europe serve as a getaway to the West. They are located on the crossroads of major transportation routes from Europe to Asia and from the Scandinavian states to the Mediterranean region. IT outsourcing destinations, such as Poland, Ukraine, Belarus, Bulgaria, and others are easy to reach from key global business hubs. For instance, it takes only 3 hours to get to London from Kyiv by air, and – 2 hours from Kyiv to Berlin.
11. Tech infrastructure & office facilities
A software development company should be able to provide a reliable and secure IT infrastructure. Businesses, on their part, should ensure that the vendor can equip their future team with good hardware, software, networks, and all the tech infrastructure required to develop, test, deliver, and support IT services.
Comfortable office infrastructure is no less important. Seeing is believing: if possible, visit the company’s office to make sure your development team has everything they need. A good office space has a convenient location, plenty of space, enough meeting rooms, relaxation zones, and most importantly, it should be secure.. Ultimately, smart office space can help your employees boost their productivity, reduce stress, and stimulate creativity.
12. Training acceptance
When negotiating a deal with a software development firm, don’t forget to ask about its policy on training employees. The vendor should provide its workforce with a range of training opportunities so that all the members of distributed teams share the same coding practices and speak the same language.
It is important that a vendor cares about the professional development of its employees and provide them with necessary tools such as professional certifications, leadership programs, employee career maps, etc. To avoid career stagnation and employees looking for more fulfilling job opportunities elsewhere, the vendor has to invest heavily in the development of hard and soft skills at all levels.
For example at N-iX, we draw special attention to the professional development of each specialist. We have training and leadership programs that help our people master new skills and get promoted. Also, we hold regular internal meetups to facilitate knowledge sharing within the company. Effective training ultimately helps retain top talent and provide better service to the clients.
13. Knowledge transfer and easy exit process
It’s no secret that when a software developer or a manager walks out of the door they take valuable knowledge with them. Thus, a software development firm needs to establish and encourage knowledge sharing sessions between team members within a project. This practice is especially important for distributed teams which collaborate remotely and are located across the globe. Sharing best practices eliminates project knowledge loss and miscommunication gap.
When businesses are looking for a software development partner, rarely do they think about how they will end the partnership. Ending a partnership with a software development company is as important as the search and selection process. A vendor should ensure that project knowledge is well documented and best practices are transferred to a client. So, make sure your vendor will let you go when the time comes and handle the transition as seamlessly as possible so that you can part on good terms.
14. Employer brand
The image of a software development firm on the global and local tech market has a huge influence on how well and fast they can attract tech talent. A business that is looking for a software development partner wants, first of all, to get rid of the recruitment hassle and split the risk of hiring people. So a vendor with a reputable employer image is less likely to have problems with employee staffing and retention. Therefore, employer brand is such a crucial criterion to review when choosing a partner.
It is worth mentioning that in Ukraine N-iX is recognized by DOU among the top 5 best Ukrainian employers in the category with 800-1,500 IT specialists.
15. Enthusiasm & passion
Good interpersonal relationship between business partners directly influences the success of both parties. So when a vendor shows genuine care about the client’s success, it’s a game-changer. If a vendor doesn’t show true excitement about your project and your business at the initial stages of cooperation, this should be a wake-up call for you. So businesses should look for a partner that expresses a healthy hunger for a deal by active listening, proving quick responses, and showing true interest.
No one ever partners with a software development company without doing comprehensive research on the company, its services, portfolio, and references. Little attention, however, companies pay to such criteria as communication, culture, agility, and employer brand, which in fact are decisive in building a successful partnership. By putting all these puzzles together, you will receive a detailed yet succinct overview on a vendor. This will help you choose a reliable vendor and get the ball rolling in the right direction.
Here at N-iX, we build dedicated, full-time outsourced teams for our clients across the globe. With over 16 years of market experience, we have delivered software development services to a number of industry leaders as well as innovative start-ups across a variety of industries. Should you need any help with outsourcing software development, don’t hesitate to talk to our expert.