How to pick the best software development company

26 October 2021
Jakub Urban
Jakub Urban
Marketing manager
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  • Intro

There are a lot of software development companies out there, and you can find it difficult to know which one is best for your project or mobile applications. Custom software development companies have different specialties and skillsets so it’s important that you find one that has experience in what you need.

You are about to embark on a journey of choosing the best software development company, but how do you know what questions to ask? 

How can you tell if they will be able to deliver high-quality work in time and within your budget? 

There are many factors that go into selecting the best custom software development company for your needs. This blog post will provide an overview of some important considerations when picking a software development company for custom software solutions. 

Before you start: prepare yourself for looking for a software development company

Before you begin your search for software development companies, you should do some homework yourself.

#1 Specify your goals

The first step to finding a software development company that can help you grow your business is identifying the type of software you need.

The platform and programming language they will use will also need to be determined. Make sure that the project falls within your budget by researching how much similar projects have cost in the past.

In the case that you are interested in reaching out to a specific software development company for this project, it would be beneficial to do some research on them before you get in touch.

Through custom software development companies are typically very approachable, if you aren’t able to find much information about them online, it would be best to move on and find another software development company.

Having done your research, the next step is to make a list of questions that will help you make a more informed decision about a software development company.

#2 Research the type of software development services you need

If you are looking for a software development company, you must determine what your needs are.

Do you just need a simple website? Do you have a sportsbook app that needs development as well? Would you like them to build MVP of your mobile applications? This will narrow down your search. There may also be a difference in costs based on this, although software development companies charge different rates based on their experience and location. You should decide how much work you need done before contacting a software development company. 

When you know the scope of your project within software company services, you will have an easier time finding a custom software development company.

#3 Set up budget and KPIs for the project

It is important to set a budget before contacting a custom software development services provider so they know what to expect from you.

The success criteria or KPIs they will have to meet in order to be paid and how much they will be paid should also be outlined. There are custom software development companies that work with clients from all over the world, so it is best to include all fees and services in the contract from the beginning. 

Once you’ve received bids from software development companies, you can decide which one best meets your needs. It’s even possible to ask more than one software development company to submit a proposal and compare rates.

Before you start looking for a software development company
Before you start looking for a software development company

Checklist: what reasons to take into consideration when selecting your software development company

#1 Consider the company’s size and past experience

The software development industry is similar to other fields of business in that small companies can be just as effective and produce just as high-quality results. Nevertheless, some projects might require more resources than a smaller company might be able to provide, so take into consideration the number and type of employees they have.

Consider the custom software development company’s past experience – how long have they been in business? View examples of their previous work that are similar to what you need. We will cover that in detail later on.

There is a lot you can learn about a particular software development company from their website, but don’t just stop there! You should also ask for examples of software development work so you can get a better sense of their expertise and capabilities.

#2 Consider the software development company’s approach and philosophy

During the development process, how do they handle scope creep or unexpected changes in design? Do their responses seem reasonable, professional, and thoughtful? Also, consider how much communication you will be involved in with your software development company. The more communication, the better for everyone involved.

You should hire a software development company that communicates frequently with you so you know what is going on.

#3 Look into the reputation of the software development company

It is also worth looking into how long they have been doing software development; however, this is not always an indication of success since many companies are new but excel at software development. However, if the software development company has been in business for some time, it should have a good reputation in the software industry.

What is the perception of this software development company currently among software companies? Find out what people are saying about them by asking around or searching online.

Check out review websites like Google business reviews to get a sense of how past clients feel about a software development company. 

For reviews of custom software development companies, Clutch may be a better resource, though.

Check our profile on Clutch >>

#4 Check what project methodology they follow

The Waterfall Methodology may be a better choice for projects with well-defined requirements and minimal changes. If scope creep, uncertain requirements for product design or shifting business goals are expected, agile software development is more suitable.

You may want to choose a company that follows the Agile methodology with iterative cycles for deliverables and a better approach to the software development life cycle, too.

This approach allows developers to move quickly when they are productive, but still, recognize when they are not. The engineering team is also able to focus on delivering valuable software with minimal waste. Additionally, it allows for changes and refinements throughout the software development process rather than burdening the release date with these changes. Through effective change management and active stakeholder involvement, good requirements can be turned into great products.

In general, web software development companies that employ quality assurance and offer a wide array of services are more expensive, but if you have a big project, they may be worth it.

#5 Assess cultural fit

Because you will likely be working closely together, it is important to find a software development company that fits your needs.

Culture is a lot more than just work hours, dress code, and language on the job. Culture embodies the company’s values and priorities in an uncertain world so it needs to be balanced by your own values and what you want from your career. If you don’t share the belief of the company on some key issues such as work-life balance or diversity on teams then it might not be a culture that will fit your goals. 

Examine the culture of the company’s workplace – does it seem like a good fit for you, or not so much?  The efficiency and deliverables of software development companies with great morale are usually better.

The way to know if a company’s culture is a good fit for you really depends on the person. Just as some people are better at operating outside or inside of organizations, some are better at working in very hierarchical and goal-driven environments and others respond well to more chaotic places where there is less structure or oversight. 

If your non-digital work history is with large corporations, and you prefer control over each step, this probably isn’t the culture for you. But if your work experience has been entrepreneurial and independent – with no particular preference for hierarchy or lack of autonomy – then it’s worth checking out! What matters most is that both parties can be honest about how they operate.

#6 Consider the software development company’s rates and fees

In general, software development projects cost more than similar projects in other industries, but that doesn’t mean they should be prohibitively expensive. Since software development companies typically charge per hour or per day, it’s important to take into account the number of hours (or days) it will take to complete a project.

A software development company should clearly explain its billing policies, which should include how you’ll be charged for changes, downtime, or other issues out of your control.

Meetings with customers can cause costs to increase significantly, so determine how much time they expect to devote to you each day. Nevertheless, if the project is well run, daily meetings may not be necessary. 

#7 Check location and time zone

Consider the availability and geographical location of the software development company when making your decision. It may also help reduce any additional costs associated with translation services or overtime if you work with a software development company that works in the same time zone as you. However, by following this approach only, you can miss a lot.

You can gain access to a wider talent pool, better skills, and better overall service quality by outsourcing your project to a software development company.

You should not be afraid to search for a software development company overseas. Many companies in the software industry find it advantageous to work with developers outside their country when it comes to software development. Needless to say, it can be cheaper as well. 

#8 Compare a few software development companies

Don’t get swayed by bells and whistles when comparing software development companies. There are a lot of “extras” that companies may try to throw in, but those shouldn’t sway your decision – stick to what’s important, which is quality and price.

You should ask a software development company for references from past clients so you can learn more about their work.

Additionally, there are software development companies that often work alone or with a small team. Although these software development companies may be able to charge less, you must consider how they handle issues that arise during the development process.

If your project is more complex, it may require multiple developers to work on different aspects of the software development process.

When a project has a lot of moving parts, a software development company may be more appropriate since they can dedicate entire teams to specific areas. By doing so, not only will they be able to manage complexity more easily, but they will also be able to provide you with a wider range of professionals who are knowledgeable about all aspects of implementing web development frameworks or web applications.

You can find software development companies that will be more suitable for your project than others – do your research and select the best one.

#9 Assess the company’s skillset and make sure they are well suited to your project

Often, software development companies have a wide range of experience for your project.

Is it a multi-disciplinary team that covers all tech stacks with examples of work completed, or if they specialize in one tech stack or area with examples of work from that area?

Asking about previous successful projects is one way to check skillset. A company that has the right skillset will then be able to present its achievements in detail and even provide references from satisfied customers as an added assurance. If a company only has fancy PowerPoint presentations, these are usually just projections based on estimates or wishful thinking, not real work delivered. In addition, if they are unable to provide a portfolio of completed work, it probably means that they haven’t finished any work at all yet.

To determine this, look at how long they’ve been in business. Only a few months in, it’s more likely that they’re struggling on some level, which doesn’t bode well for their future. On the other hand, if they’ve been in business for years, that means not only are their skills honed and improved by experience, but they also have enough resources already secured to weather difficult times. 

In case you aren’t sure what type of company would work best for your application, a software development company can help you match up with developers who meet your criteria so that they can start working as soon as possible.

#10 Make sure they know your industry

Make sure the software development company you hire understands your industry and has experience with your type of application or website – they should not have to spend much time learning about your organization, product design, services, etc. before starting the project.

Companies that specialize in specific industries usually have a better understanding of the software development needs of organizations in those fields.

In case you are working with software development companies to create a website for a fintech organization, you should ensure they have experience with developing software specifically for fintech companies.

If your company operates within different industries, it may be harder to find software development companies that can handle all aspects of your project.

For this reason, you might consider partnering with a software development company that has developed software projects for a variety of organizations and industries to ensure they have the expertise to turn your idea into reality.

Choosing software development company
Choosing software development company
We have experience working with several industries, including betting, fintech, IoT, and healthcare. Learn more about Crustlab’s portfolio >>

Before you sign on dotted line: questions you should ask your custom software development company

As a way to make things easier for you, we’ve prepared a list of questions that you may want to ask any software development company you’re interested in collaborating with. 

Question 1: “Tell me about your design process”

The design process should be clearly defined. It is important to ask the software development company about their approach and any specific specifications or tools that you need.

Question 2: “What are your primary programming languages?”

Choose software development companies that use the language (or languages) your project requires. You should be able to review examples of previous work done by the company so that you can determine whether they meet your needs.

Question 3: “What is the size of your development team?”

The perfect answer for you ultimately depends on the type of product you are building. When it comes to speed and cost-efficiency, fewer developers are often more efficient when it comes to small apps with relatively few moving parts. We generally recommend a team size of at least seven to nine people for projects with many high-impact features and significant complexity – each focused on a specific area, such as design/UX, development/engineering, or quality assurance. 

Of course, project managers, product managers, and specific software engineers are inevitable in the process.

This way they won’t get into bottlenecks or lose focus, and the work won’t overlap too much (branding can be handled by one person, marketing assets by another, UX research team might know what good flows look like, but not how code works, etc.). 

Question 4: “How does your payment structure work?”

A software development company should be able to explain its payment structure so that there are no surprises later. Some companies charge by the project, while others charge by hour/day.

Question 5: “What is your software development Process?”

Software development companies will have some sort of software development process in place that helps them manage projects and workflow – they should be able to describe how they manage software development projects. They should also be able to explain what tasks they will complete and how long it will take them to complete the project, e.g. healthcare mobile app development or software application custom solutions. 

Question 6: “Do you have any references I can contact?”

Finding out more about a software development company’s work, experience, and ability to deliver projects is easy by asking for references. You should be able to obtain references from a software development company, so make sure you ask!

For example, if you’re in touch with an iOS mobile app development company, ask them for their mobile development successes or level of expertise with enterprise clients. 

CrustLab's Clutch review
CrustLab’s Clutch review

Question 7: “What types of projects have you worked on in the past”

Find out more about the software development projects that a company has worked on in the past to determine its skill level.

Ask the software development company for details of any similar projects they have completed or contact any of their previous clients. You can then decide if the software development company is right for you based on what they can accomplish.

No one says about sharing intellectual property, product strategy, or precise client requirements – they can simply mention current products or share key takeaways and valuable insights. 

Question 8: “Do I need a contract for my project, and if so what are the terms of said contract”

Before beginning work on a software development project, software development companies can require a small or large deposit.

If you are unsure of what type of contract your software development company requires, you should seek legal advice. In case you need a software development contract, a software development company should be able to provide you with more information about their terms and conditions.

Question 9: “How to communicate with you?”

It can sometimes be tricky to reach software development companies by phone, so having this process sorted out is essential. A software development company should be able to explain what type of communication they prefer and what hours are convenient for their availability.

Question 10: “What software development tools do you use?”

Various software development companies will have a wide assortment of software tools – inquire about the software development company’s preferred method of working. Also, software development companies should be able to provide you with some insight into their experience with specific software and explain which ones they are most comfortable using for your project.

Question 11: “When can I expect to see progress on my project, and how will it be delivered to me”

Knowing when you can expect work on your software development project and how software development companies will deliver it is another requirement. This software development company should be able to explain their software development process in more detail, including the order in which tasks are completed, milestones they reach throughout the process, as well as how long each stage takes.

Question 12: “What is your cancellation policy if we decide not to continue our business relationship”

It is important to be aware of a software development cancellation policy before you sign any software development contract.

If you are unsure about the agreements with the software development company, you should consult a lawyer – always ask software development companies for clarifications if anything changes or is added along the way.

There may be a chance that you’ll have to handle the cost of software development even if the team building a web app for you doesn’t deliver a viable product.

Question 13: “What is your company size, and how many developers work for the company”

There are times when innovative software solutions can be complex, so software development companies need to have a large enough team to complete the project as quickly as possible and in the right quality standard.

Selecting a software development company with an appropriate number of software development companies for your software development project could save you time, money, and headaches. An experienced software development company will be able to explain its team structure and experience.

Question 14: “What are your payment terms?”

Different software development companies may have different credit policies and custom software development pricing for digital solutions. Find out the software development company’s preferred method of working, including whether they require a deposit or monthly payments. Find out what the software development terms of your team of software developers are.

Question 15: “What are the costs associated with the development of custom software”

A software development company should also be able to provide you with a software development agency cost estimate based on types of software development, technical expertise, quality control or technology stack. Software development companies should be transparent about their costs and let you know immediately if anything changes along the way.

Question 16: “What kind of support do you offer?”

Software development companies may also provide software development company support services, especially if the software development project requires long-term support. Your software development company may be able to provide you with some insight into how their software development process works and how they can assist you during – and after – the software development phase of your software product. For example, you may want to specify if they will be available for real-time communication or can contribute to your strategic roadmap after they bring your ideas to life. 

Question 17: “Can I see examples of previous projects that you’ve completed for other clients”

The software development company should also be able to provide software development examples of work they have completed in the past, including project details and time frames, upon your project requirements. A software development company is more likely to agree if you ask for an example of their work instead of asking for a list of all the previous clients they provided the development of software for. 

Question 18: “How will my project be managed after it’s finished – who will take care of any updates or changes”

Clarifying this step is important because you don’t want your project to go unattended.  Software development companies should be able to explain how their support services and processes work.

Over to you

Finding an ideal partner – a good software development company – can be tricky, but doesn’t have to be. With Crustlab’s help, you’ll find the right fit for your needs and goals without having to go through the process alone. We understand that finding someone with experience in this industry is important so we make sure our team has years of knowledge in both software engineering and project management under their belts. If you’re looking for world-class talent at reasonable prices then contact us today!

Contact us and get a free project estimation!

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