Challenges of Choosing a Software Development Partner

The competition for top-tier software development talent has never been tighter, and it’s forecasted to get even more challenging.  ‘Lone-wolf’ web developers and designers abound, but true full-stack software engineers and consulting firms that possess this expertise are in scarce supply. The impact of this shortage is compounded as schedules collapse and budgets shrink, all while market competition for customer share increases.

Many times, an appropriate outsource solution can be used to effectively manage these labor and market dynamics. If you determine that contracting for your software engineering needs is the right solution, please consider the following criteria when you’re deciding on the consulting firm that is right for you.

Do They Have the Right Experience?

When looking for a software development partner, it is essential that you find someone with software engineering experience that is relevant to your goals. For example, a software developer that has spent the bulk of his or her career developing landing pages for small businesses is not the ideal candidate if you are trying to build a B2B application for a commercial market.

Will They Take The Time To Learn About You?

When looking for a developer with adequate and relevant software engineering experience, it is also wise to make sure they are willing to spend the time necessary to get to know your company.  In particular, will they take time to understand how their work integrates with your current project or engagement, and how their work dovetails into your longer-term product or technology roadmap?  Your business and software projects are unique. A software development partner that is truly committed to your success will be willing to take time to understand your business and your project in order to ensure their services truly provide what you need.

Will They Provide The Information You Need To Make Good Decisions?

Having a partner that has proper process and communication methods in place will ensure all levels of the team and management are aware of progress, status, and risks. The outcomes with your software engineering partner will be much more successful if that partner communicates with you clearly, consistently, and concisely. Be sure to pay attention to their communication skills when you are interviewing them, and make sure you feel comfortable with their proposal before engaging them.

Will They Provide Long-Term Support?

Business is complicated, with a lot of moving parts. Software development is only one aspect of your business. You need a software development partner that will ‘be here tomorrow’ as post-release questions or problems pop up along the way. It is imperative to have a partner with staying power, who can assist as issues and questions arise.

Are They Capable Of Truly Completing A Project?

‘Throwing a project over the wall’ without testing, without documentation, and without ensuring that a release will meet the requirements means the project isn’t completed.  Savvy, experienced software consulting firms understand this and provide expertise to complete a project, not simply knock out the code. Applying the appropriate engineering process is probably the single most important aspect of developing a code base that can be maintained and extended after its initial release.

A software consulting firm that is serious about being your partner will embrace that and provide those capabilities as an important component of their services delivery.

Outsourcing software engineering is a great way to augment your internal staff and reduce project risk. Take time up front to consider more than just technical capabilities when evaluating a potential development partner to avoid pitfalls down the road.