5 questions to ask a prospective custom software development company

5 questions to ask a prospective custom software development company

Published on: 24 Sep 2018

By Vinod Subbaiah

So, you’ve decided to outsource your business needs to a custom software development company. But how do you go about picking the right one to work with? This is a very important decision to make and one that needs a bit of thought and research. We have earlier written about a few important things to consider when choosing a custom software development company. You can read the piece here. But, new queries and considerations constantly come up, and we want to help you make the right decision with regards to the choosing the firm that can deliver the best product for you. So here are some questions to keep in mind during your search:

Who will manage the project?

It is important that a person with good technical as well as business skills is designated as your main point of contact throughout the duration of development, and also during the support and maintenance phase. This way, you can focus on your business, and the project manager can focus on the technology needs of your business. However, not all software development firms provide a project manager. So, if you don’t have a project manager on your end, and the development team is unable to provide you one, you could have some serious issues communicating your needs with clarity to the development team.

Will the software firm build on my ideas?

When you go to a software company with an idea of something you want built, you need them to not just grasp the idea and build it, but you also want them to add to it. They should ask you questions and try to fully understand what you have in mind and want in the product. They should also provide you with options and suggestions to make the product better!

Who owns the intellectual property?

When you engage a software development firm to build a custom solution, it is common to assume that you and your business have complete ownership over the source code that is created. This isn’t always true. Read the fine print of the contract that is drawn up with the software company, before you sign it to make sure that there are no ‘gotchas’ when it comes to who owns the license. Ensure that you have a non-revocable, non-exclusive, worldwide, royalty-free license to all the source code. Without this ownership clause, you may be obliged to pay licensing fees perennially to the firm that built your project, just to keep using it!

Will the software firm advise and educate me?

As a business owner you will have some requirements for the software you want developed, but not all of it might be feasible or doable. When picking a software firm, go with someone who isn’t afraid to disagree with you (if it’s necessary), and is able to present you with alternatives. Look for a software development company that has wide experience, and will be able to advise you on what works and what won’t. They should also take the time to explain the thinking and reasoning behind the decisions they make with regards to your project.

Will they understand my business needs? Will they communicate it to their team properly?

Communication is key between, you, your stakeholders (if any) and the software development firm. A lot of back-and-forth takes place during the different stages, and ideas are shared. So, it is important that in the development team you choose, you have someone who has a good understanding of technology as well as business. This is usually the project manager. He or she, will keep you appraised on the progress of your project, play a key role in communicating your vision to the development team during product discovery meetings, and will gather feedback from your stakeholders during product demos. Make sure to pick a company to work with, where the channels of communication are open and effective!

If you get favorable answers for all of the above questions before you engage a firm to build your custom software application, you will most likely have a problem-free working relationship from the start while ensuring quality of the end product.

Vinod Subbaiah