IT Team Management Tips

12 Questions to Ask a Software Development Company When Outsourcing Your Project

How do you choose a software development company for your project? Ask them the right questions.

Choosing a proper partner for your software development project is a huge decision that will directly impact the outcome of your project and the sufficient functioning of your business as a whole. That is exactly why you need to approach your vendor carefully and with a set of specific questions to ask when outsourcing software development to make the right choice and ensure successful delivery of the end product. Outsourcing your project to a professional team of developers is a great idea as it offers you a more comprehensive, fast, and cost-efficient development. However, working with an outsourced team of dedicated developers is also associated with certain risks as there are thousands upon thousands of companies out there and each one promises superb quality at low cost. So, how do you distinguish a good development partner from a not-so-good one? 

For starters, you’ve got to narrow down your search range by checking out different rating platforms, and hire the developers who match the required area of expertise. Once it is done, you need to come up with a set of questions to ask a software development company you are planning to work with. Well, we have that covered for you. As a custom software development company with 15 years of experience in the industry, we’ve been answering those questions for quite a while, and today, we are going to share the most common and the most important questions to ask a software developer before you hire them for your project.

How Do You Estimate a Project Timeline?

It is important to make the estimations for the development timeline, and that is one of the most important software development life cycle questions you should ask when interviewing your development partners. There is a catch to the question though, it is not possible to give a precise timeline for the development cycle without knowing the project’s specs. So, in case a developer gives you an exact figure without even looking at the project scope, it means they are prone to making false statements and uninformed decisions. The experienced developer would likely tell you that they would give you a more or less precise timeline only after reviewing all of your requirements and making the respective estimations. 

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How Much Will It Cost? 

Similar to the question about the timeline, the price of developing software can only be determined when all the project specs are clearly defined. There are two major pricing models in software development: fixed price and time & material model. Fixed price is best suited for the short-term project with a defined scope of responsibilities and tasks. In that case, you can negotiate the total price of the project with your vendor and they would be able to tell you how much it will cost to develop your software. However, in case the project’s end goal is unclear and you cannot really put your finger on the exact scope of the project, there’s no way to tell you exactly how much it will cost. Of course, your vendor will be able to tell you an approximate cost of development but the exact figure will only be known once the project is over. 

What Is Your Project Management Approach?

A professional project manager chooses a management style based on the kind of a project they would be working on. Many PMs these days seem to chase fancy words and go with the trendiest approaches. For instance, the agile approach is one of the most popular methodologies for managing software development projects, and the less experienced managers seem to shove it into any project whether it fits or not. 

The fact of the matter is that different projects would require different management approaches, and you cannot disregard such models as Waterfall just because they are not as fancy and trendy as agile or extreme programming. Each software development model deserves its place on your roster, so if your partner offers agile just because it is trendy without even taking your project specs into consideration, you are probably talking to the wrong person. If you are looking at a long-term project with ambiguous requirements, then yes, agile might be the right choice; however, if we are talking about a shorter project with well-defined specs, the waterfall is a better choice for you. There are many more approaches to managing a software development project, and all of them might be relevant under certain circumstances. 

What Is Your First Step When Starting a Project?

The answer to that question should be gathering more information about the client and establishing clear requirements for the project. No vendor can formulate a clear vision for the project without understanding the client and figuring out what would benefit their organization. In case you are not sure what your project is going to look like, a good vendor would focus on gathering the requirements for the project rather than on the technology needed for the project. The technical specifications can only be established after there’s a clear vision for the project.

How Many Developers Do You Have?

Of course, the number of employees is not as important as their quality but you should understand that the more employees the vendor has, the more choices you have. If there are like 20 people in the company, you’d be having a hard time finding the right talents for your project. In contrast, a wider selection of people automatically means having better choices for you and your project. Working with a vendor who offers a wider selection of talents is always a good idea as it allows for more staff flexibility in case you’d need any changes in the team composition. At Intersog, we offer a talent pool of 250+ developers, all of whom are real professionals with a proven record of expertise.

Do You Use Contactors for the Project?

The following question comes from the number of people the company has. In case there are not enough people on the team, it is likely that the vendor would delegate some tasks to the contractors. This is not the best-case scenario for you because contractors are less reliable in the long run compared to direct employees. A team that offers direct employees over the contractors is more likely to maintain a stable software development life cycle as well as the post-development support for the product. Contractors, on the other hand, cannot guarantee long-term cooperation, so if the project is going to take many months to develop, you might experience some difficulties maintaining the adequate size and performance of the team.

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Do You Offer Support and Updates?

Can your vendor offer stable cooperation even after the development stage is over? It is essential to maintain stable conditions of cooperation with your vendor as you might eventually need some updates and improvements added to your software. More so, you would want your vendor to support the product after the development stage, and so you would need the team around for much longer than the duration of the development. The support team is critical for the long-term performance of your product as it would fix any possible issues and make the necessary improvements to the product to ensure its flawless functioning throughout its life cycle. We offer support and maintenance services to keep your product going for as long as you need.

Who Do I Talk To?

Proper communication is vital for the success of the project, and it is impossible to build proper software that corresponds to your needs without constant and effective communication. That is why you will have to talk to the vendor’s representatives on a regular basis. The best idea is to talk directly to the team and the project manager as they are the people directly involved in the development process and responsible for the timely delivery of the results you expect to see. Of course, the answer to that question would depend on the management approach used by the project manager and the type of project you are working on but the more communication you have the better. The best idea here is to talk to the project manager as frequently as necessary and have regular meetings with the team as well. This will help you make informed decisions throughout the SDLC and keep the teams as productive as possible.

What About Intellectual Property? 

When working with a software development company, one of the important questions to ask a software developer is how are the intellectual property rights handled in their company. You do not want the software you’ve paid for to circle around the web and be used by your competitors, that is for sure, and for that reason, you must find out how your intellectual property is going to be protected, if at all. So, you need to ask whether there’s any licensing for the software developed by the company and whether they sign the IP protection and Non-Disclosure agreements. You pay for that software, so you surely don’t want anyone else to use it and gain any benefit from it. At Intersog, we sign all the necessary IP and NDA contracts to give you full ownership of the project and guarantee the total security of the code. 

What Was the Biggest Problem You’ve Ever Faced? 

This is the question you might want to add to your software development client’s questionnaire when interviewing the individual developers. This question will help you understand whether the developer has ever been pushed to the limit and whether they’ve been able to find the right solution to the problem. It is easy and pleasant to work when everything goes according to plan, but disruptions happen all the time and you need to be sure your team will be able to handle those. 

In case the person gives you a detailed description of the problem as well as a set of solutions they’ve used to defuse the situation, you’ll know they have the experience you need to get your project going smoothly. Besides, it is easy to talk about successes, which is what most people do; it is much harder to talk about failures or the times you’ve been really tested, and the answers you get will show whether you are talking to a rookie or a seasoned professional. 

What If Things Change?

When working on a complex long-term project, changes are not only plausible, they are inevitable, especially if you are working in a volatile market. Your requirements and the project goals might change over time, and as you try to implement those changes, you will need a team of flexible developers who’d be able to adapt to the changes and implement relevant solutions to meet your new needs. One of the most important software development questions is whether it is possible to change the scope of the project on the go. 

If you do a basic survey, you’d see that companies that offer an agile approach in software development are rather comfortable changing the scope and requirements for the project. Here at Intersog, we put a strong emphasis on offering our clients alternative approaches to software development and agility, so we can adapt to the changing requirements and offer solutions to any kind of problem. This allows us to remain on top of the game for over 15 years, and we are always on our toes when it comes to dynamic projects in volatile domains such as AI and IoT.

Can You Ensure the Quality?

Quality is the most important thing in the entire process of software development. It does not matter how cool your app or how revolutionary your concept is, it all becomes irrelevant once your app crushes. Quality assurance is critical for any project, and you must know whether your vendor can offer an adequate quality assurance service. At Intersog, we employ relevant QA practices such as automated and manual testing to guarantee a top-notch quality of the software we develop for our clients. That is something you need to pay attention to when choosing the right partner for your project as the presence of the QA experts on the team will surely improve your chances of getting the software you need.

Conclusion

So, there’s a set of questions you need to ask your potential vendor before you make your partnership decision. This will allow you to weed out unreliable vendors and make the right choice in the end. Ideally, what you need is a vendor with years of experience in the industry, a vendor who offers a wide range of services from product ideation and up to post-production support, a flexible team of experts, and proper quality assurance services. These are the basic requirements your vendor should be able to cover. From there on, you can make an informed choice and be sure you are partnering with a reliable team of professionals who can deliver on their promises. So, ask those questions whenever you interview your vendor and see how they respond – that is how you can be sure you are making a good choice.

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Intersog has been recognized as a leading IT solutions provider in the United States and beyond. The company has been providing tech consulting, staffing and software development services for Fortune-500 companies, tech startups, and SaaS enterprises for more than fourteen years.