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How can I compare software development partners?

How can I compare software development partners?


Selecting the right software development partner to work with is critical to the long-term success of the application to be built and the business processes it supports.  

While there are many factors that should be considered when choosing the best partner for your needs, the four points listed below will provide you with a good framework to get started.


Determine your short and long-term needs.

Do you need a partner who can handle every aspect of the project and support the new application long-term or do you simply need a developer or two to augment your team for the initial build?  

The answer to this question will largely depend on:

  1. Do you currently have an internal software development team, i.e. architect, developers, UX/UI expert and DBA
  2. If you don’t have an internal team, do you plan to invest in building one or outsource the initial build and maintenance of the app 
  3. The complexity and business value of the application to be built
  4. Your philosophy regarding cost of ownership 
  5. Your tolerance for risk avoidance and mitigation

Do they have experience with projects similar to yours?

One of the best ways to quickly trim the list of potential partners is to ask them to tell you about their past projects which are similar in nature to yours.  

Listen to understand the following:

  1. Are the projects really similar?
  2. Do they discuss them primarily in a technical or business value sense?
  3. Do they consistently follow a mature software development process?

Do they constructively challenge your ideas and suggest alternative ways to achieve your business case?

There are developers who are consultative (consultants) and developers who just code (coders).  Typically, the greater the complexity and value to the organization of an application, the more important it is to select a consultative developer.  

For example:

  1. Consultants will help you to think through your business and operational processes relative to achieving the business case for your application.
  2. Coders will record your business requirements and rarely challenge your thought process relative to your business processes and goals.

Do they have the right skills, experience and use the appropriate technology?

There are many different types of software developers, languages and platforms.  Make the wrong choice for your project and it could significantly increase your cost long-term and create perpetual frustration.  

  1. Gain the counsel of a neutral CTO or CIO with at least 10 years’ experience
  2. Survey  your professional network about their experiences using various software
  3. Ask Google about pros/cons of software, languages and platforms 
  4. Interview references about experience and long-term pros/cons of solution

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