5 Considerations When Looking for a Custom Software Development Company

Custom software development services is a $70 billion market that’s increasing by 5% every year. Needless to say, you have numerous options when it comes to choosing the right custom software development company.

Unlike your favorite hoodie, a one-size-fits-all approach isn’t always best. Organizations need tailored software solutions capable of adapting and scaling alongside continuously changing business needs. This means having the flexibility to modify features over time, tweak functionality, and streamline integration with new systems as infrastructures evolve.

So what should you look for in a software solution provider based on your organization’s needs?

The Search for a Custom Software Development Company: Finding ‘The One’

Maybe you have an extensive checklist when it comes to determining which full-stack custom software development company can help you meet your goals, or perhaps you’re not even sure where to begin. Either way, here are a few suggestions to help you on your quest.

#1: Does the firm have experience building a software system that addresses similar challenges?

This isn’t a reference to common or overlapping challenges across industries, like those related to healthcare or banking apps. Instead, the firm should have experience developing software systems that address similar business challenges as those you’re currently up against.

Every software solution is unique. For example, the firm doesn’t necessarily need previous experience building the particular loan application you want. But the developers should have encountered similar types of challenges before and found viable ways to solve them. This kind of targeted expertise can ultimately prove far more valuable than industry or sector-specific experience.

That being said…

#2: Do they have experience in your domain?

Some organizations put domain expertise on a pedestal and want to contract developers with substantial experience in their unique domain. We think that domain-specific expertise is secondary to the experience gained from innovating and creative problem-solving through various challenges. Essentially from a software development standpoint, challenge-specific experience trumps domain-specific experience.

But leveraging domain-specific experience, like banking, eCommerce, healthcare, or hospitality, does mean that there isn’t as much of a learning curve. Plus, certain requirements and user needs are already understood by the software developers, which can also help them recognize any missing requirements and fill in gaps more efficiently.

#3: How are contracts handled?

The fixed fee vs. time and materials debate wages on. Generally speaking, most businesses favor a fixed price contract. But from a client perspective, this can end up boxing you into a corner without any leeway for changes that are bound to arise over the course of the product or application development process. This can result in constant change orders and leave little flexibility for any possible issues that may emerge.

Software is unpredictable. Think of the process like a kitchen renovation - things are bound to change, come up and go wrong (maybe you want granite countertops after all instead of that travertine you initially decided on). Time and materials contracts in custom software development are more aligned with agile methodologies because, while there’s a roadmap and a framework involved, it still offers both clients and developers the freedom to go off course.

#4: How does the firm operate from a methodology standpoint?

In other words, consider the firm’s operational process from ideation to eventual deployment. As a client, how closely will you be participating in the firm’s end-to-end development process? The firm should be fully accessible to the client and transparent and communicative about their processes.

The firm shouldn’t just provide a single meeting and then a final deliverable, leaving you in the dark as to what exactly went into their process along the way. You should be involved in all iterations, which triggers a constant feedback loop to ensure that the software is developed correctly and the solution consistently performs the way it’s supposed to the first time it’s released. Not only is this the heart of a truly agile methodology, but it helps prevent easily avoidable project bottlenecks.

#5: Who is responsible for testing?

This doesn’t just mean user acceptance testing for the final end-user. The responsibility of testing and determining if the solution is up-to-par shouldn’t fall solely on the client’s shoulders (unless you already have an in-house QA team). Extensive, in-depth quality assurance testing is necessary for each feature. Essentially, every “happy path” should undergo QA testing to cover both the things you expect and everything that could go wrong, like inserting invalid inputs, etc. This establishes intuitive usability and optimal functionality and prevents potential bugs.

QA is often the most variable role in terms of responsibility. Larger organizations may want to manage QA in-house with their own team, but smaller organizations will likely pass this process off to the software firm. The most important thing is that QA testing is effective, as defects are an inevitable part of the development process. Ensure that the custom software development company you choose is prepared to take on this responsibility if you are not.

Bonus: Look for a company that gets you

Despite what the critics say, being involved in your company’s custom software adventure can and should be fun. Find the team that can make the process enjoyable, not just survivable.

No Worries. We’ve Got You.

Organizations in every industry are facing difficult challenges today, whether it’s shifting user demands, digital disruption, or a rapidly changing regulatory landscape. You need a purpose-built, bespoke enterprise software solution that delivers real value while enabling you to overcome any obstacles on your journey to becoming the company you’re meant to be. This way you can get back to focusing on digital transformation, innovation at scale, a stellar customer experience—or whatever your core enterprise objective is. Rinse and repeat.

Dream big. Rest easy. Contact Restless Labs for custom software developers who get it.

Brad Bisinger Principal Consultant