The IT industry is in the throes of a massive growth spurt as innovation rapidly transforms the way businesses grow in a highly competitive environment. The software development industry, riding piggyback on hardware innovation, has already racked up $4.8 trillion in revenue in 2018. For many startups and SMEs, salvation lies in tapping this perennial stream of software expertise to live-stream innovative projects.
Why Is Software Outsourcing Gaining Importance?
Pouring through the IT industry outlook 2019 report, three trends are noteworthy:
- There is a 74 percent spike in demand for emerging tech skills, but persistent worker shortages are forcing companies to look for alternatives.
- Technology professionals are adopting predictive analytics tools to anticipate future problems and mold appropriate responses.
- The tech-partnership is the new Holy Grail inspiring companies to create and sustain unique technology ecosystems responsive to client needs.
Dallas based tech and software company Entrance Consulting maintains that outsourcing tech projects paves the way for businesses to stay focused on what they need to be doing – running the company and responding proactively to customer demand by rolling out products faster.
You have invested considerable time and energy fortifying the groundwork. You’ve analyzed your needs threadbare, you’ve almost decided the IT architecture that you require, and you’ve planned the project and finances down to the barebone details.
But there’s a glitch. You’re unsure about the software partner you need to implement your complex IT project end-to-end.
7 Factors That Help You Identify the Best Software Companies in the Business
1. Evaluating the service provider’s software engineering expertise
Knowing the software company’s capabilities is critical when you’re mapping end-to-end software development, and in-depth partner evaluation should consider the following points:
- Software Engineering Specialization: Your business needs may be varied. What you look for in a software company is the ability to distill a set of core requirements that’ll ensure timely deliverables. The right software provider uses a Requirements Traceability Matrix (RTM) tool for understanding your project’s full scope, potential, and needs.
- Design and Development Capability: All businesses regularly face fluctuating external factors such as customer satisfaction levels and customer preferences. You’ll be incorporating changes at later stages in product development. A/B testing of products on multiple platforms will figure on your agenda.
You’ll need software companies using processes, methods, and tools (PM&T) that enable data-driven agile project management systems which are uber responsive to change.
- Validation and Quality Assurances: Businesses are usually tied down by archaic manual tools that hinder product development and hamper product delivery. You need a company that brings cutting edge automation to accelerate growth and product delivery. The reputed software companies carry out Statistical Process Control (SPC) for validating quality at every stage from inception to delivery.
Companies with the best application maintenance and support services will do a better job of lowering costs while enhancing applications performance and efficiency.
2. Judging the software support service’s Project Management Capabilities
Software developers at Miropoint opine that the most reliable software companies come to you with high-quality project management skill sets and a proven track record of satisfied vendors. What you’re looking for is complete control over every aspect of the project keeping a tight leash on costs and schedule overruns.
These project management capabilities will convince you that you’ve chosen the right partner:
- The Japanese Kanban method of project visualization enables a comprehensive overview of each stage of the process in a simplified dashboard that companies and contractors can easily access.
- Advanced project management tools such as Trello allow seamless tracking of files, images, and applications.
- Projects powered by the ‘Internet of Things‘ (IoT) minimize risks, eradicate bugs, and effortlessly deliver projects well within scheduled timeframes.
- Machine learning based algorithms are enabling software companies to crunch big data and predict how clients are likely to behave, thereby helping companies to devise proactive responses that fulfill customer intent.
3. Determining the Quality of the Software Provider’s Design and Construction Skills
The software company’s design building team has the responsibility of formalizing the vision document for a project. The team should possess the skill sets necessary for end to end project conceptualization and execution.
Probe the following criteria when you’re evaluating the vendor’s design and construction skills:
- If you’re in a SaaS project, ensure that the company is skilled in rolling out SaaS architecture platforms.
- If mobile app development is your goal, ensure that the company is familiar with Mobile Backend as a service (MBaaS) platforms.
- If you’re in the process of launching an Ethereum Blockchain Distributed app (Dapp), it won’t help if the company is unfamiliar with the scaling of Ethereum Dapp.
- If you’re digging deep into enterprise Java projects, it helps to have a partner with a robust archival experience of scaling Java project architecture.
- Mobile app development projects require a higher degree of customization which is not possible without creating a new API to monetize data. You get a head start if your partner is comfortable building a new RESTful API for your mobile app.
What we’ve discussed is not a comprehensive listing of projects; it is to drive home the point that a software partner is acceptable only if it ropes in the skills that help customize the project to your exacting requirements.
4. How Does the Software Services Provider Measure up Against ISO/IEC 27001 Cyber Security Protocols?
Safeguarding sensitive data is the top priority, especially when you outsource projects, as you are virtually handing over the keys to your software, systems, and servers to a third party whom you know little about.
Coming to your rescue are two organizations; the International Organization for Standardization and the International Electrotechnical Commission. The ISO and IEC have evolved an Information security management system (ISMS). It’s called the ISO/IEC 27001.
If you insist on making ISO/IEC 27001 standards compliance a contractual obligation, you can rest assured that –
- Personnel roles and responsibilities will be clearly designated.
- Processes will block pathways to no-go areas.
- IT systems will restrict access to a designated pool of outsourced staff, and
- Every precaution will be taken to improve information security risk management.
5. Probing the Client Base and Customer Relationship History of the Software Firm
Recommendations, referrals, and reviews have helped you shortlist a clutch of great software vendors. But they all look alike, so how do you decide which company is best for you?
The ideal vendor offers scalable solutions for your growing business and displays the flexibility to overcome challenges unique to your niche. You can’t fall back on gut instinct and try predicting how these firms might perform. There is a better solution.
Assess the company’s reputation and capability by probing its client and customer relationship history.
- Scan customer/client reviews and feedback posted on popular platforms like Clutch and GoodFirms.
- Use social media like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn to establish a rapport with the vendor’s clients/customers asking for feedback.
- You are not alone. There are rapidly expanding online community platforms such as Vanilla, vBulletin, and XenForo that help you engage directly with professionals who help you assess vendors and find solutions.
Following this approach may overwhelm you with responses, but you’re one step closer to identifying the ideal software service provider that is perfectly aligned with your business goals.
6. Doing a Cost-Benefit Analysis on the Expertise That You’re Acquiring
An expensive software service with all the bells and whistles may fulfill your intent but leave you thinner on the bottom-line. At the same time, you’re unlikely to opt for low-cost services that compromise quality and security.
Some companies brazenly overcharge you to look better and bigger. You’ll bear hidden costs and extra fees for documentation and annual maintenance, along with monthly support fees and in-house training modules chargeable by the hour.
The ideal partnership that stays within the budget may be a rarity, and more often you’ll be tempted to stretch the budget to accommodate a perfect vendor. If that’s the case, you’re better off doing a cost-benefit analysis:
- The software service provider is the right fit in every measurable parameter but is marginally expensive compared to the competition – negotiate to cap expenses to stay within the budget, and ensure to ink the final costs leaving no scope for overcharging.
- The software company appears too expensive compared to the competition quoting optimal rates – If you’re confident that you’re getting a great partner offering customized software solutions, think long-term and view the additional cost as an investment that’ll pay off in terms of increased efficiency and productivity.
7. Last but Not Least: Is the Partner Prepared for a Hands-on Demo?
All the features, benefits, and usability of the software support would remain meaningless without the direct experience of how solutions roll out in a test drive, and good SaaS companies would be happy to oblige.
The test drive can be a game changer because you get instant feedback regarding the functionality and usability of any feature over the long-term. For your company, bespoke software solutions need to scale, adapt, and evolve as the business grows, and the trial puts many doubts to rest.
What you need to observe in a demo is whether the software provider follows agile project management methodologies that give you better control over how the project is conceptualized and executed. You’d be seeking answers for three critical questions:
- Is the software provider giving pride of place to human interactions over procedures and protocols? After all, you don’t want your in-house team saddled with tons of code and reams of instructions with little or no communication or team to team interaction.
- Are you left holding the manual of instructions or does the software operate with optimal user-friendliness? Your team doesn’t have the time or energy to follow steep learning curves, and you expect full software functionality from day one.
- Does the software service provider build a customer collaboration ecosystem? The software solution should enable real-time customer feedback so that you can frame proactive responses that generate customer delight.
- Is the service provider proactively responding to change or is the provider focused only on finding and fixing problems? The hallmark of an agile management system is responsiveness to change and being conscious of the need to prevent issues from blowing out of control.
A two-week trial period provides ample opportunity to see whether you and the vendor, working within an agile development framework, can achieve visible progress.
What we’ve discussed is not an exhaustive listing of requirements for the perfect software development firm. Regardless of the sophistication of your technology stack or the complexity of your project, the seven considerations we have highlighted are deemed crucial for the perfect hire.
If you are satisfied on these seven points, the probability is high that you’ll end up with a software partner that’ll press the accelerator, and break all the speed barriers as you race down the highway delivering top-notch customer satisfaction.