Project management

How To Outsource Projects that Require a Deep Understanding of Your Industry

Some things in business are universal. No matter whether you’re in pharmaceutical manufacturing or packaging design, certain mission-critical tasks will be very similar.

Others couldn’t be more different.

And it’s projects addressing these tasks that often pose a real challenge for businesses - especially when that solution has to be fully or partly technological. Not only do you find yourself searching for a bespoke software developer with the right skill set, the right team, the right core competencies - you’re also looking for one with the right understanding.

Because that understanding can be the difference between success and failure for your whole project. 

Understanding comes from experience, so if your project requires that deep industry, sector, or target market insight, there are four questions you need to ask to discover if a potential development partner has the right experience:

1: Do They Have Experience in Your Sector?

By far the easiest way to find a development partner with a deep understanding of your industry is to look for companies who’ve worked in your industry before.

Successfully completing a software development project needs the development team to develop a real understanding of how an industry works. The business case for a certain application. The needs of specific audiences or potential users. The challenges posed by industry best practices or legislation.

If they’ve done it before, they’ve learned all this, and they can apply it to your project. It really is that simple.

However, it’s important to realise that even the most experienced development company started somewhere. If they haven’t worked in your sector on development projects, they may still have worked in your sector in different roles, for different companies. 

Not all experiences are equal, but a grounding in the way your business works, and your customers and competitors think and work, can make all the difference.

2: Do They Have Experience in Similar Projects?

Industry experience lets a developer know the basics of how you work, but project-specific skills don’t always transfer across.

For example, if you’re in an industry where purchase orders and invoices have to be handled a certain way, and you’re looking for an application to take care of that workflow, a development company will still be starting from scratch if all they’ve worked on in your industry is an applicant tracking system.

But if they’ve worked in your industry before on a similar project, then it’s not just experience they can bring to your application, but code, too. Instead of starting anew, they can take assets they’ve created before and adapt them to meet your needs.

And this adaptation isn’t always limited to your industry. If the way you process a certain task isn’t sector specific, assets from a project in an entirely separate field can still serve as a strong foundation for your bespoke application. 

3: What About Project Managers?

While you need to know about a development company’s experience as a whole, you should take the opportunity to learn a little more about the project manager you’ll be working with. As your primary point of contact during the development process, it’s the project manager who’ll need to have the fullest understanding of what you’re trying to achieve.

If just one team member at a potential partner has experience in your industry, then make sure they’re the project manager. It’ll be far easier for them to explain your needs to coders or testers than the other way around.

If they’re familiar with your industry, if they’ve managed similar projects before, then you’ll need to spend less time bringing them up to speed with your goals and requirements.

A good project manager with a wealth of experience will also give you the option to look for companies covered by our fourth question. Ones who don’t have the experience you’re looking for, but who do have all of the skills you need.

4: Are They Flexible?

One final thing to consider is the flexibility of a development company. In an ideal world, you’ll find a partner with the right experience of both sector and applications, with a project manager who’s personally overseen successful projects in your industry, and with the skill sets you need at the price point you can afford.

But unfortunately, we don’t live in an ideal world. It’s entirely possible you’ll find an experienced developer whose projects just don’t inspire you. Yes, they’ve worked in your sector, and on applications very similar to the one you’re looking for, but there’s something that doesn’t quite sit right with you.

In cases like this, you’ll want to look at flexibility. If you find a development company that hasn’t worked in your sector, but has worked in adjacent industries, or with clients who share your requirements on functionality or security, then keep them in mind. You may well find that you’re better served by a great software developer with a wide knowledge base making their first forays into your sector than by an average company that only works in your industry.

It’s a case of deciding what serves achieving your vision better. Agility in real life, or experience on paper?

A Good Sector Fit Isn’t the Only Factor

Whether a bespoke software development partner understands your industry isn’t the only factor you need to consider. When you’re making a significant investment into developing a new application, you’ll also have other questions you’ll need answering.

We can think of dozens, ranging from whether they’ll give you full ownership of the code or IP, to whether they’ll be using onshore, offshore or nearshore staff, to how their feedback gathering processes work.

And the whole process can be daunting, which is why we’ve put together a checklist of questions you’ll need to ask any prospective developer. It includes ways to check their project and sector experience, and you’ll find it in Chapter Eight of our free ebook, The Ultimate Guide to Choosing a Bespoke Software Company.

Along with your checklist, our ebook covers everything from no-code vs bespoke development, to managing your project to completion. Everything you need to know to make a well-informed decision.

Request your copy today. 

If you’ve already read our ultimate guide and you’re looking for a little extra information on what Transition can offer you, get in touch today.

Last updated:
July 2023

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