Software development

How to Choose a Bespoke Software Company

The success - or failure - of your business depends on numerous factors. Such as having the right product offering. Finding the right audience. Or building a thriving ecosystem by choosing the right suppliers.

The ideal partner can elevate your business, give you a real competitive advantage, and help you make the most of your budgets. Choosing the wrong partner can prevent you from realising your full potential. And this is especially true when you’re choosing a bespoke software development company.

Without specialist knowledge about application development, you’re relying on the key indicators you can spot. Indicators that let you know whether a software developer is reputable, reliable and able to translate your business vision into technological reality.

10 key indicators that a bespoke software company should be a good fit

There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to finding the right software developer, and you’ll need to make your final decision based on your specific needs and requirements. But as a minimum, you should be looking for a development team with:

1. A History of Stability

When you’re preparing to invest significant amounts of money into a development project, especially one that is critical to your operations, you want to be certain you’re partnering with a company who’ll be here next week - and for many years to come. Do your due diligence and make sure they’re financially stable. Have a look at the companies they work with: a diverse client base lowers the risk of their going out of business if they lose the odd client - or even if a whole sector collapses. It’s also important to check if they’ve been around a while, because you’ll want to see…

2. General Experience

Software development projects largely rely on the experience and expertise of seasoned project managers. Don’t just look at the age of the company, as it can be misleading. Use LinkedIn to see how long the senior management team has been in place, and how experienced their project managers are. The right person overseeing your project means you’ll have access to a wealth of experience to keep your project on course.

3. Glowing References

One of the most surefire indicators that a software company will make a good partner is their client list. If they have a list of clients - many of them long term - who are willing to provide case studies, reviews and testimonials, then you can feel reassured that your business is in safe hands.

4. A Weighty Portfolio

Client testimonials are a good indicator, but they need to be backed up by a solid portfolio. You want to see diverse projects in a range of industries, to prove that your chosen partner is flexible and adaptable enough to tackle even the most demanding projects. Ask to see demos or live projects where possible, and ask questions about ongoing support. Then listen, because you want to hear the software company ask you questions too.

5. An Interest In Your Business and Your Success

If a bespoke software company doesn’t take an interest in your business, how can they help you? If they don’t understand your business and vision, how can they meet your needs? If they don’t understand what makes you different, how can they protect your competitive advantage, let alone build upon it? And if they don’t understand the processes, how can they help you work effectively? Always make note of the questions you’re asked. You need a partner who understands every aspect of your business.

6. An Interest In Your Stakeholders

This interest needs to extend to your key stakeholders. The right software partner will need feedback from end users and key stakeholders to keep the project on track and improve the usability and overall user experience (UX) of the final product. If they never ask about the people who’ll be using your bespoke software, you should have second thoughts.

7. The Right Methodology

Bespoke means bespoke. You might not understand the whole development process (although a good partner will try and explain it to you), but you want to see flexibility and a willingness to go with what will work best for you over a rigid, dogmatic approach. The best developers can and will combine concepts, instead of sticking to cookie-cutter frameworks. They know that context is key: even if a certain methodology has worked well for yesterday’s project, your needs and vision may call for a different strategy.

8. A Long-term Outlook

It can take a while to develop your bespoke application, but you’ll spend more time using it than any developer will spend building it. Look for signals that a prospective partner is on board for the long term. If they’re willing to provide continued support and enhancements to future-proof your investment, you’re talking to the right people.

9. The Right Team

We’ve touched upon project managers, but there’s more to development than the customer-facing personnel. Don’t be afraid to ask about the team behind the scenes. How long have they been working together? Is there a good range of skills? Do they have an international presence to support you in multiple time zones? Ask the questions that are important to you, and make sure you’re satisfied by the answers. Especially in the case of…

10. Security Credentials

Nothing trumps security. You could be dazzled by their portfolio, charmed by their project managers and impressed by their methodology, but if your prospective partner isn’t trustworthy when it comes to security, then you can’t hand them your project. Make certain that you can trust their data security, the security of any applications they’ll use or build, and the security of any hosting. If you don’t feel 100% safe, walk away.

What else do you need to know before choosing a bespoke software company?

Choosing the right bespoke software company can be one of the most important decisions for your business, but it’s not the first decision you need to make. To learn all of the ins and outs of managing a bespoke development project and choosing the best possible partner for your needs, make sure you request a copy of our ebook -The Ultimate Guide to Choosing a Bespoke Software Company.

You’ll find advice on what to look for in a development company - including the key indicators we couldn’t fit into this blog - a sample project timeline, and more information on whether bespoke development is the right choice for you.

If you’ve read our ultimate guide and you’re ready to make a choice, you can choose Transition as your bespoke software partner by getting in touch today.

Last updated:
July 2023

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