How to choose the right software development company
When you want to carry out a project, you often face the fact of finding a suitable software development company that will perform a given order for you. This is a difficult task, because if you are not familiar with the industry and not very “technical”, then the question arises how to make a choice so that your idea is realized perfectly. The most sensible first step is to send an inquiry to many companies that can be found on the Internet, and in response you will probably get very different offers, both in terms of pricing and the implementation of the project itself. We choose the one that seems to be the most attractive in terms of price, hoping that it will be made reliably. The price itself is not everything, the components of the entire project that are important to you are: the experience of the programmer / team of programmers, calendar and execution time, the complexity of the specification.
Unfortunately, small software companies that do not have experience are often unable to properly estimate the costs of creating an application or a specific project. The software industry is quite a specific economic activity. Before you decide to choose a specific company, you should answer yourself: what you need and expect, and how complex this project is. If the assumptions are simple, such as e.g. installing a blog system on a server or introducing a simple module, it is worth considering a company that deals with such services and there is no need to involve a professional programming company.
The situation is different if the project is complex, requiring extensive technical knowledge and experience in this matter. This is, for example, about creating a web application with an existing customer panel, where there is a payment system or user accounts. For this type of service, making the right choice is particularly important and emphasis should be placed on the specialization of the software company in this field. If we choose the wrong contractor, you can lose a lot of money and the project will be non-functional, incomplete or will not work properly.
What should you emphasize when choosing the right company?
- Technology — this is the key that is the basis of the search. Each company can use a completely different technological stack, so it is worth checking whether the selected company works in the technology that we care about. The price for a project will largely depend on the complexity of the plan, but also on the language the developer is working in. This is very important because a PHP-based encoder makes less money than a Java-based developer. When sending an inquiry, please ask which language the company specializes in and whether it has additional licenses, as this may involve costs for servers or databases. Cloud solutions are a great help, because they enjoy faster scaling and completely simplify the server monitoring procedure, because the technical part is taken care of by the cloud provider. These are great solutions for companies with a limited budget. Thanks to the flexibility offered by the cloud, its computing power can be changed at any time to suit specific requirements.
During the general valuation, it should be noted whether the company uses web solutions or standard programs that are installed by the client on his equipment. This is important because nowadays, desktop programs are being abandoned due to the maintenance costs and the complexity of the entire process, which depends on the client’s operating system. Web applications are available to every Internet user, regardless of whether they are currently using a smartphone or other equipment with a given operating system, eg Windows. Companies that use web technologies increase the efficiency of the application and shorten the response time to errors. One more important issue should be mentioned, namely whether the potential contractor of our project uses the current version of the language. This is important because if it is based on an outdated version, nowhere, unsupported solutions can incur additional costs in the future. The use of outdated solutions is ineffective and dangerous because all previously caught vulnerabilities were fixed in subsequent releases.
- Framework — is a programming platform on which applications are built, and thanks to it programmers work more efficiently and more effectively, which in turn means less lines of code and better quality. This solution gives a lot of ready-made diagrams and improvements. Having ready components, the encoder can focus fully on building a specific application. It is important that the company working on our project uses generally available frameworks, e.g. for PHP projects it can be the Laravel framework, thanks to which you can be sure that in the future there will be the possibility of further development of the application.
- Proprietary copyrights — before signing the contract, it is worth asking whether it includes their transfer, because it will depend on this whether it will be possible to make changes to the application code in a specific situation. If such rights are not given to us, only the creator will be able to make corrections. It is also important, because if you do not obtain such permissions, you are attached to this company, and also doomed to not develop the project if the creator does not express willingness to cooperate. We also need to know that the transfer of property rights has an impact on the price, because the developer cannot use a previously written application elsewhere and has to create it from scratch, and the price in this case will be much higher.
- Open Source — This is a branch of the free software movement whose goal is free access to software by every user. In everyday life, this means that every Internet user can use previously written code at any time, when creating their own applications. Every professional software company that participates in this type of project has nothing against showing others what it has worked on before, because it confirms the quality of work and the importance of achievements. Every self-respecting programming organization should not only use the Open Source project, but also intensively support the development of already existing solutions.
- Automatic proof tests — this is already a standard in current programming. They significantly reduce the risk of shameful errors, ensuring high quality of the code. After applying the tests, you can expand our application in the future and change its operation, which is impossible in the case of larger applications, where not for previously written tests. Unfortunately, few companies use this solution for reasons of lack of time or staff shortages. This is a wrong behaviour, because when there is a need to make corrections or changes, unplanned errors may appear in the resulting application, which will determine its correct operation.
- Portfolio and references — they are an ideal source of completed orders and projects and illustrate the achievements of a given company, although it is difficult to check them in this industry. It is not about the lack of willingness to present one’s own achievements, but rather about the type of confidentiality agreements. However, it is definitely a good way to check the references of a given company, so it is worth using such portals as LinkedIn or GoldenLine, where there is a lot of information about a given developer and company.
What else is worth remembering?
First of all, about the fact that each client, when creating the idea of the project, is not an expert in it and thinks rather in terms of business, and everything that is supposed to be included in the project seems easy to do. The programmer looks at it technically and knows from the very beginning how complex a task it can be. Most companies will not provide a reliable quote based on such an initial specification, it is simply technically impossible, as various complications may arise during the implementation of the project that could not be predicted before. Generally, it can be assumed that writing 90% of the code takes 90% of the time and the remaining 10% of the code takes 90% of the time, which is probably the essence of writing a project.
Sometimes what seems to be child’s play in the long run turns out to be more difficult than it seemed, and the most difficult stage is the last stage of creation. Therefore, if we do not have experience in creating specifications, let’s look for someone who will do it perfectly, and also find a company that will take care of the plan. Such a “planner” will interview us about our expectations, how the program should work, and then on this basis I will prepare a technical and easy-to-evaluate specification and submit it to the appropriate company.
To sum up – when we decide to implement a project, we must be aware of how complex the process is. Let’s ask ourselves if we need a programmer or if the help from the WebMaster is enough. When we know that we need programmers, let’s check what technology the company works in, which will deal with our order and whether it works on ready frameworks, creates tests and whether it transfers copyrights and property rights. Before the final decision, you should check the portfolio of several companies and choose the one that has the best qualifications and recommendations. One that will meet our expectations.
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