You have an idea for an app. You’ve started to think about concepts, marketing, operations, and you’ve got funding. Now it’s time to start building an MVP. Once you are at the point where you’re considering hiring a software development company, you’ll have a new task: doing your homework on a shortlist of potential companies.
It’s critical that you have a handle on some basic questions before you sign a software development agency to build your app. With that in mind, here are 7 questions you can ask to ensure that the development company you’re hiring is the right fit for your product.
Question 1: What apps have you built?
This might seem like a simple question, but it is the most important. A development company that has any experience, let alone experience in your industry, will have some examples of the apps they’ve built.
Ideally, these apps are available for public view. However, if they’ve developed internal apps for companies, they probably also have a deck or whitepaper on it to share with customers within the framework of an NDA or other agreement with their client.
Question 2: What is your process?
This isn’t something you have to have a deep understanding of to ask, but it is important to ask nonetheless. When hiring a software development company, you should feel comfortable that they have a workflow and process in place.
If the company can’t give you a straight answer, or if they don’t seem to have the infrastructure in place to develop high-end or cloud apps (or whatever you’re looking to build), then you run the risk of problems down the road. And the last thing you want is missed deadlines or a poorly designed product.
Question 3: What tech stack do you work with?
Your team must pick the right tools for the job, because the choice impacts important considerations like scalability and speed of implementing changes. The right tech stack for the job can make a difference in faster go-to-market and release cycles.
The tech stack must support the needs of the functionality you would like to build. There are many programming languages, and all have their advantages in specific situations. While you might not understand the ins and outs of each tool, you should get a handle on the ones that your developers would plan to use. If they propose to use tools that are not popular among most developers, for example, then you may run into all sorts of issues down the road.
A few examples in a modern tech stack will include:
- Ruby on Rails - a programming language and framework that’s a favorite among startups. It features a large plugin ecosystem and is perfect for rapid application development, letting you reach the go-to-market stage quickly.
- Elixir is a functional language designed for building scalable, high-performance applications and parallel processing.
Question 4: What is the extent of your experience with UX design principles?
Experience with UX could help you cut costs. Many companies will have an in-house UX or design team to help develop the frontend of the app. They could include this as a service with their fee, which would run less than hiring two separate agencies.
Question 5: What is your bandwidth and production timeline?
Ask for candor in this when hiring a software development company. If the agency is completely loaded with work, they may not have the time to take on your job. Likewise, an agency eager for work, even if they can’t support it, might take more than they can handle and compromise quality.
Much like the process question mentioned above, a solid development agency should be able to give you a rundown on their capabilities to handle your job. If they can’t, or if they give vague answers, then there is a problem.
We aim to give you a clear, firm timeline of production for deliverables, and are transparent with our clients and partners about our capabilities.
Question 6: What will you need from me?
The truth is that no software development company should be a black hole of information: they should communicate back and forth, outline their own goals for the project, and tell you what they need to fulfill those goals.
Make sure to ask what they need. You’ll find that, when hiring a software development company, the solid ones will already have a list of tasks to get started, with the option of asking for more information as the process continues.
At VeryCreatives, we communicate upfront about what we expect, and aim to keep communication lines open as we work together.
Question 7: How do you handle app changes and maintenance after release?
Your product is not done after you release it to the market. When customers start using it, you’ll gather feedback and want to make adjustments. Your software development company should be able to handle change requests for you. But not all agencies offer this - or do it well - so it pays to ask upfront.
Find out how the software company you’re looking to hire will handle things like adding new features, fixing bugs, and other one-off or maintenance tasks that must be done. Dig in to find out if they can provide specific response times to show their availability for ongoing maintenance and support.
Two things to look for are:
- A support and maintenance plan that includes consulting. This means they’ll be prepared to help you make skillful decisions as you navigate new features and updates.
- A Team as a Service (TaaS) structure. If your cashflow or funding allows for continuous development, ongoing dedicated developers can provide you with a predictable cost structure and a highly committed team.
Hiring the right software development company
There are dozens of other questions you could ask. Some of them simply overlap with these questions, some are more specific to certain industries, and some are specific to the kind of app you’re building.
This basic list, however, can give a snapshot of how an agency can meet your needs. Hiring a software development company involves knowing what it is you need and what a company should be able to provide to meet those needs. With these questions, you can step into a potential hiring meeting armed with the knowledge you need to hire the best team for your product.
We are happy to provide transparent answers to your questions at VeryCreatives. We believe the best outcome is produced when we work as a partner with you. Set up a call to talk with us today.