Custom Software Development: How to Choose the Right Software Partner

by Matt New

Whether you have a vision for a new fintech app or need help implementing unique solutions to track user behavior on your website, it’s going to be essential to find the right software development partner.

Shopping around for the right software partner becomes even more daunting and stressful if you’re a non-technical founder with little understanding of how to take your idea from concept to reality. Custom software development is a unique process, and not every team is going to be equipped with the skills and experience you need to enter the next stages of your business. The good news is, that’s okay.

Knowing what to ask a potential development team is essential; if you’re able to articulate your needs and vision, you’ll be able to find the right partner. After combining our years of experience, here’s what our team feels is crucial when beginning this part of the development process.

What Are Your Needs Regarding Custom Software Development?

The software development process is going to be a lot easier if you’re able first to understand and then communicate your software needs. As a software consulting and contracting company, we do more than just fill software developer or software engineer job roles so that our team can crank out apps and websites for startups.

Because we view each partnership as just that, a true collaboration, we’re able to take the time to get to know our partners and work with them to tease out their long-term vision and goals. We do that so we can understand not just what you need to build now but advise you about what you can wait to build later, and perhaps most important, what not to build at all. This all starts with understanding your current needs and translating those into tangible project goals.

Ask About Their Software Development Methodologies

Agile, Scrum, Waterfall. If you’re not a technical founder and don’t come from a background that’s deeply rooted in software development, buzzwords like these can have a big impact on the working relationship you’ll have with your software partner and how your project will progress.

They’re all unique software development methodologies with different approaches to the overall workflow of the project and how your software partner will communicate with you during this stage of development.

The Waterfall methodology divides the process into self-contained stages, whereas Agile caters more to complex projects that are collaboration-heavy. This works for some companies and teams but not for others, and for some projects a hybrid approach works best.

The way the development team works is going to be crucial to how you track progress and measure the success of the team, so you should have a clear agreement about how both sides will communicate these needs to define the project’s full scope.

Check the Partner’s Portfolio

As a founder, you wouldn’t hire a Product Manager or CEO without taking a look at their resume or at least having a conversion about their past experiences in that role. So why would you consider doing the same for a software partner?

Take time to dive deep into what the potential software partner has built before and remember that a team is only as good as its individual players. Look at every area of each product they’ve completed and find out what their role was in the strategy, UX, design, and development.

Remember that while your product might look completely different than anything else they’ve done before, there will be elements in each of their past projects that will allow you to get a broad idea of whether or not they’re capable of delivering what you need. Custom software development is unique in that it uses similar approaches to provide different results to different ideas.

If the company has experience with what you’re trying to build, even better. This shows that the team has previously encountered standard roadblocks in the development process typical to the journey you’re about to take. They’ll be able to identify those and adapt the development process to overcome them quickly, often saving you from making costly mistakes.

Consider Breadth and Scalability of Services

When you’re considering the capabilities of the team, make sure you get to know what each of the team members specializes in. A great partner will have people looking at your project from perspectives other than just the primary reason you sought to hire them. You don’t want to just hire for the needs you have today, you want to set yourself up for scale and success.

When you hire a dev shop without in-house, integrated expertise in product strategy or UX, for example, they may build exactly what you ask for – nothing more and nothing less, whether it’s what you actually need or not. A team that has people involved from every aspect of the product development process can help you avoid big mistakes that end up costing you later.

When we started working with Max over at Float, for example, he had no existing plans to incorporate analytics into his financial app’s framework. In terms of long-term growth, this posed issues with scalability and meant that it would be hard for Float to measure users’ value in a way that would allow Max to scale his business successfully. Since we had someone on the team looking at overall product strategy, we prioritized that work from Day 1.

When moving from a proof of concept to an MVP, Max was able to work with different team members that brought their own set of unique expertise to that specific stage. This ensured that he would have more than just a functional app; he would have an app that made sense to users, looked great, and allowed him to scale his business using built-in analytics to understand his users’ journeys.

A potential software partner should be able to walk with you through these stages, and they should be working to implement changes and solutions that will genuinely allow you to scale your product and your business over time. Anything else isn’t a true partnership.

Think About Long-Term Partnerships

The right development team will be more than just a company you contract for services; they’ll act as a collaborative partner. Finding people that can work independently without needing prompts from you at every stage is hard enough, but it’s just the start. A true partner will go beyond that to prompt you about the things you haven’t yet considered. When they’ve worked to understand your unique vision, needs, and goals from the start, they’ll strive to help you through every stage of the development process.

Think about whether these are people you’d like to form a long-term partnership with, aside from their software development methodologies and unique approaches to custom software development. If you don’t click with the partners who will help you build your business, every meeting and email will feel stressful.

As a team with experience in the startup world, we understand that added stress is the last thing you need in your entrepreneurial journey. Any great software partner will understand that.

UpTech as a Software Partner

UpTech is a software consulting and contracting company specializing in Product, Design, and Development. We work to turn ideas into stories and stories into great products that scale and set your company up for success.

Because our team is made up of diverse and experienced members, we’re able to take you from proof of concept to viable product with ease, and we do so by ensuring that we’re always giving you the tools you need to continue your path to success long after our job is done.

We’re enthusiastic about working with entrepreneurs, startups, and businesses that are doing cool things. If that’s you, we’d love to start a conversation. Get in touch to begin that dialogue and see if we’re the right software partner for you.

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