As a Partnerships Manager of the STRV design and engineering team — which has shaken the market through partnerships with brands you know, like Microsoft, Barry’s Bootcamp, MedMen, The Athletic and many more — I've got the ultimate guide to navigate you down the right path.
Before we dive in, let's make sure we're on the same page about the importance of aligning your vision and priorities with a software development company, especially one with a reputation of excellence.
In other words, I’m talking to those who prioritize a certain level of quality over committing to just anyone that can code. Software development is a fast-moving discipline, so you need a partner that tracks the leading edge with tangible effects on the real world.
Let's get into it!
Start With Requirements
The right partner will ask you the following questions upfront, helping you zero in on the optimal conclusions through the discovery process:
What exactly do you want to achieve? What kind of software do you need and what features should it have? Have you thought about the look and feel (UX/UI) you want for the design aspect of development? For the technical people: Do you have a preference for tech stack platforms? Native or React Native? Oh, and don't forget about your budget!
Having answers to these questions will make it a heck of a lot easier to narrow down your search and find a company that can deliver exactly what you need.
To take STRV’s preparation process as an example, we have engaged with many partners through a Discovery + Design exercise to bulletproof production plans and create fully clickable prototypes and proof-of-concepts (POCs), and we leverage centuries of collective internal expertise across functional teams to make recommendations along the way.
Through collective teamwork in preparation, we’re able to win before we even start with the first line of code — saving tons of potentially wasted time and money.
The proof is in the pudding. Ask your potential partner to show you their “Prize Bull” projects and apps. Have they won any Webbys or Apple Store Awards? Received any other public acclaim? And definitely ask for a list of similar projects and testimonials from clients in the same industry!
For example, if you’re creating an app that primarily functions to streamline appointments, I might provide you with the case study and testimonial of STRV’s work with Barry’s Bootcamp. For subscription-based editorials and readers, I’d refer you to our work with The Athletic or Rebel Girls. For fintech and investing, probably Nav or Bitcoin IRA. And for an iOS Point of Sale (POS) app, MedMen would be a great example.
You want to work with a company that has experience with the type of software you need. So, do your research and find out which companies specialize in the kind of software you're looking for. Look for a track record of quality work and a portfolio that showcases their expertise.
Make sure you find a company that communicates clearly and regularly. You don't want to work with someone who disappears for weeks at a time, leaving you in the dark. That's just asking for trouble.
How often will your team be invited to join their “stand-ups” between sprints? Oh, and if looking offshore, does the whole team speak your preferred language? Or just the product manager? What communication tools will they use during development? Slack? MS Teams? Google Suite?
Visibility Is Key
You want to work with a company open about its development process, timeline and pricing. Don't sign a contract with vague timelines and costs that keep escalating. You want clarity, not confusion.
PRO TIP: Ask to see the sample Statement of Work (SOW) contract! This will give you a wealth of information about how the vendor works and will help define expectations for both sides.
Meet the “Dream Team”
The success of your project depends on the team working on it. Look for companies that have a talented, passionate and experienced team of engineers, designers and product/project managers. Have a virtual meeting with some of the lead engineers. Are they cool? Are they happy?! You don't want to work with a company that doesn't really care about its team and churns out subpar work. Quality matters!
Last but Not Least, Don’t Forget About Support Post-delivery
You want to partner with a company that provides ongoing support and maintenance for your software. Constantly starting from scratch with a new team is a waste of time and resources. Keep your hard-earned money and stick with a company that will support you long-term. At the very least, ask what functional and technical documentation you will receive at the end of the engagement.
Now that you know what to look for in a software development company, it's time to start your search. Use these tips to narrow down your options and find the right partner for your project. And remember, don't settle for anything less than what you deserve.