Top 10 Qualities To Expect From a Custom Software Development Firm

Top 10 Qualities To Expect From a Custom Software Development FirmThe relationship you forge with your custom software development firm is ultimately vital to ensure the success of your project. With so many different types of firms that you can turn to, the following ten qualities can help guide you in choosing a custom software development firm that best suits your needs and project.

1. Effective Communication Skills

Effective communication is arguably the number one skill required for custom software success. While the rest of this list is not ranked in a particular order, communication abilities reign above. With people representing top causes for software project failure, positive social interactions with the firm are critical [1]. 

How do you determine if a firm is good at communicating? Try answering the following questions:

  • How frequently are you in contact with the firm?
  • How long does it take for them to follow up on emails?
  • Do you have difficulties reaching them?
  • How specific are they in their responses?
  • How accurately did they understand your needs?
  • Do you know a specific contact person or the development team members by name?
  • What is the number of channels you use to communicate?

Ideally, your answers should reveal the following: timely frequent communication that focuses on building the necessary groundwork in order to tackle issues together effectively in the future.

2. Experience: Is it Everything?

When it comes to custom software solutions, there is no one standard by definition. However, many issues companies face can entail similar solutions, approaches, or challenges.

This means that custom software development firms with experience (particularly experience relating to your situation) are more likely to have preexisting insights that allow them to create a finished solution faster with higher quality.

Still, it is important to note that while experienced firms have a more thorough base of understanding through which to tackle your requirements, experience isn't everything. Because custom software solutions are so unique, a visionary firm that is able to develop deep insights into your case can just as well deliver a robust solution that suits your needs.

3. Dedication to the Cause

It's not uncommon for software development projects to run into snags. In fact, it's more the industry standard than a surprise. With 66% of all large software development projects running over expected costs and 33% extending past schedule, issues can and will come up [2].

When partnering with a custom software company, it is essential to confirm that they will remain dedicated and persistent in their efforts without dropping the pace of development.

It can be easy for all partners involved in the custom software undertaking to feel discouraged when the going gets tough, and that is exactly why the ability of your custom software development firm to stay dedicated, even in tough times, is essential.

4. The Ability to be Visionary

Depending on your exact requirements, "standard" off-the-shelf offerings may not meet your specific needs.  While an experienced firm may have the know-how for dealing with particular problems, it takes a visionary firm, with critical thinking skills, to solve challenges that are entirely unique to your situation.

This quality is particularly important if your company is in a niche industry or finds itself with other specialized, perhaps even never before seen pain points or requirements.

The ability to be visionary is the balance for experience: if there are no custom software development firms dedicated to your particular niche, whom do you rely on? A firm able to think outside the proverbial box, even possessing only tangential experience, is only a positive.

5. Diverse Development Team

With 25 million software developers expected by 2020, the pool from which to draw from is immense [3]. With diversity increasingly recognized as a key driver of innovation, teams that come from diverse backgrounds and experiences are a valuable asset [4].

Diverse firms can build on the unique knowledge of their members in order to best solve your business pain points while also introducing the possibility for innovative solutions.

6. A Passion for Testing

In software development, bugs happen. The real question for you is how does the firm deal with them? Furthermore, what guarantee is there that they even find the bugs? Here is where solid testing practices come in. Firms that test regularly and thoroughly can ensure the level of quality that you need.  Embrace a firm that encourages the diligence to find bugs early and often.

7. Honesty

Honesty may sound like a no-brainer, but when it comes to complications that arise in software development projects, it's not hard to be dishonest through the simple omission of information.  Having good intentions just isn’t good enough. 

Imagine a scenario where your custom software development team doesn't understand when you said you need your software to be "X." However, it's late in the project timeline and they have already built in their understanding of "X."  If the developers never voice their concerns and what you really wanted is "Y," you'll end up with a solution that doesn't fit your true needs. Concerns and misunderstandings happen in software development projects all the time.  If the custom software development company readily admits uncertainty early and often (and mistakes) through honest communications, you are much better equipped to resolve issues.

8. Safe & Secure

This point may be #8 on the list, but it's absolutely vital when it comes to comparing different firms. Before embarking on a joint custom software development venture, you should identify the importance of security for the development firm.

  • Will they protect your data like it deserves?
  • What safeguards do they have in place?
  • Can you trust their safeguards?

These questions must be asked in order to identify a company that suits your needs, particularly if you are in certain industries dealing with sensitive customer information.

9. Total Transparency

Perhaps 100% total transparency isn't possible, but it should still always be the goal for all working relationships, particularly in custom software development.

Tying into the concept of an honest software development firm that is able to voice concerns and issues when they arise, a company that ensures transparency will be able to provide you with all of the information needed to take action should the need arise. 

Honest communications put the firm in a proactive role, but transparency enables you to also play your part.

10. Interventionary Policies 

On average, firms have $74 million worth of projects that are classified as "failing" out of $200 million in projects per year [5]. Out of these troubled projects, 74% that applied interventionary recovery policies were able to save the project [5].

When you are looking for a custom software development firm, you want one that is not only unafraid to voice their concerns, but will also act as an equal partner when needed.

Custom software development firms see both successes and failures when working with customers and can provide valuable insights into potential indicators of trouble.

Firms that are able to identify these possible pain points in the development and apply interventions when needed are positive partners to have.

Final Thoughts

While each custom software development firm may be as unique as the solutions they build, these top ten qualities can be seen amongst all successful firms and projects.

By identifying companies that possess these qualities, you can better equip yourself for ensuring project success.

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References:

  1. Lehtinen, T.O.A. Mäntylä, M. V., Vanhanen, J., Itkonen, J., Lassenius, C. “Percieved causes of software project failures – An analysis of their relationship.” Information & Software Technology Volume 56, Issue 6, June 2014, Pages 623-643.
  1. Bloch, M., Blumberg, S., Laartz, J. “Delivering large scale IT projects on time, on budget and on value.” 2012. Retrieved on November 16, 2016 from http://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/digital-mckinsey/our-insights/delivering-large-scale-it-projects-on-time-on-budget-and-on-value
  1. "Global Developer Population and Demographic Study 2016." 2016. Evans Data Corporation. Retrieved on December 16, 2016 from http://evansdata.com/reports/viewRelease.php?reportID=9
  1. "Fostering Innovation Through a Diverse Workforce. Global Diversity and Inclusion" July 2011. Forbes. http://www.forbes.com/forbesinsights/innovation_diversity/
  1. "Strategies for Project Recovery: A PM Solutions Research Report." 2011. Project Management Solutions, Inc. Retrieved on December 15, 2016 from http://www.pmsolutions.com/collateral/research/Strategies%20for%20Project%20Recovery%202011.pdf

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