Before you start your research, ask yourself how advanced your idea is. Prepare a brief - the more details you will include, the bigger the chance a company will get your concept as it was intended to. Estimate your budget. It will make you more confident during the negotiations phase and consider any further modifications.
Investigate market presence
No words build credibility like experience and market presence do. Period. If you need a software house to rely on, then its lifespan and previous projects may be valuable indicators of its potential. It’s always safer to entrust your vision to somebody who has spent a number of years in the market working on different projects and had to deal with various clients and expectations.
Check the portfolio
It’s more likely that the software house will understand your needs better if they have previously worked on something similar. It doesn’t necessarily mean that the purpose of their previously developed apps must be exactly the same as that of yours, but maybe you can find some common features or functionalities? Thinking about a brand new, brilliant crowdfunding platform for a specified branch? Check if your potential business partner has already done something related with fundraising. You need an effective project management tool for your company? Perfect, just take a look if your business partner has designed a similar application. Need an Ruby on Rails, Android, iOS or Elixir development team? Pay attention to the technologies used by a software house you choose.
Read ratings and testimonials
Client opinions are equally important as the company’s portfolio. In fact, they shed more light on how a project was carried out. A review made by a client may make you choose a particular software house or completely bury it. If they deliver a thoroughly tested, bug-free product on the dot and the overall cooperation experience is fine - it all makes them trustworthy. If the client ended up with semi-finished, long overdue product, well… you better keep away.
The most popular rating platform for IT companies is clutch.co, where clients are welcome to publish in-depth reviews describing their experience with a particular company. Prograils has been doing really good in that respect. However, remember that clutch.co favours reviews of the most recent, rather single-project collaborations. This is why the picture it gives might not be the most accurate in case of long-time relationships. Which are the ones we like best.
Learn about project management
Who is your contact when it comes to discussing any project-related matter? Does the software house use a specific project management tool, like Trello or GitLab Issue Board? What kind of additional tools are in use to exchange information? Are Skype, Hangouts, face-to-face meetings, phone and e-mails used for extra clarifications? What methodology does the software house employ?
In Prograils, we do our best to keep our workflow as transparent as it can be. We use Scrum methodology for close cooperation with the client, which means that our work on a product is divided into sprints (time periods usually between 2 and 4 weeks long). During each sprint, we complete a specified scope of tasks.
We like making business personal. You are not merely a client, but a partner. This is why we do our best to make our relationships direct. When in need, you contact our chief executive or project manager directly, not any sales or business development department. More on our project management can be find here.
Ask about pricing
There are two possible models of pricing: Time & Materials or the fixed price. The former is usually applied by companies working under the Scrum methodology. It means there is no fixed price for the software house’s performance, and you pay for time and work spent on your project, according to a company’s hourly rate and as reported in the management tool. Fixed price makes the software house’s remuneration stiff regardless of the time actually devoted to bringing you the solution you want. At first glance, the latter model is frequently viewed as cheaper and, thus, safer. But cheaper rarely means good in the long run. No worries, a reliable software house operating under the Time and Materials model will bear your budget in mind, and all the work dedicated to your project will be meticulously reported. For transparent billing in Prograils, we use our own software, called Teamlens. It tracks how much time developers dedicate to your project and controls all your costs and expenses. A full monthly report will be included to every invoice with a written status describing activities spent performing your project.
Examine their self-confidence
It does not mean that a software house will answer a ritualistic “yes” to every idea you come up with. Actually, a company with a proper level of self-knowledge knows its limits very well. Be it limits resulting from team size or timing. First of all, your potential business partner has to feel and understand your vision. If there is no excitement about the project on their side, you can hardly expect any commitment. Simple as that.
So you have pre-selected a perfect candidate, but want to make sure if this is the partner you want to make business with? Ask them for a free test run. That’s what confident software houses offer on a regular basis. In Prograils, we offer a 40 hours free test drive in a form of a little task we will solve for you. During this period you get the opportunity to learn about our workflow and see how we manage things. If you decide not to cooperate with us after the test, we do not charge. Business is risk and in this case it is on our side.
There is a great number of software houses making bold statements to attract possible clients, but spotting the proper one might be quite a task. There are lot of things to pay attention to, but the more serious your approach towards ticking them off your list, the bigger the chance for a successful business relationship and money well-spent. Thumbs up!
Still looking for a good software house?
At Prograils, we have been developing web and mobile apps for seven years. Our core technologies include Ruby on Rails and Elixir/Phoenix for web development, and Swift and React/Native for mobile. Our agile dev team is battle-proven having worked on tens of software projects. Thanks to the fact that we don't want to grow bigger than 30 members, our work is fully transparent, well-managed and executed. Have an idea for a disruptive tech product? Need advice on project management? Need an UI/UX designer or Q&A expert to check if your product is free of bugs? Don't waste your time, get in touch with us!
Photo by Qusai Akoud on Unsplash