To successfully hire a software development team, due diligence is crucial. You will need to have knowledge of every aspect of your potential vendor in order to establish its commercial potential. This article is written keeping in mind what are the questions you need to ask a software development company. These questions will help you understand your software team better and make sure your software project is a success.
Whether a business has just started out or is soaring high into the sky, the software is a critical part of any business. And rest assured, if you want to run a successful business and compete with the data-driven digital world, you need software. Saying that the next part of the process is hiring a software development team!
Hiring a software development team goes two ways - Hire an In-house software development team or Outsource software development. We talked about hiring an in-house team in this article. This article will focus on questions to ask to offshore development companies. We will talk about how to evaluate a software development company and the questions that you need to ask to make sure you are hiring the correct software development firm.
Read more: Why outsource software development?
When you are outsourcing software development, you don’t know the vendor, you don’t trust the vendor and you definitely cannot meet the vendor for coffee every Monday morning. But, there is a hefty cost associated with the vendor.
You are scared that things often do go wrong. Schedule and costs might overrun. If it overruns, it is mostly due to lack of due diligence, incorrect assessment of the software company and poor selection process.
There is a saying that, coming across a black swan event in software development is inevitable, but it doesn't necessarily need to be that way. One very straightforward way to make sure this doesn’t happen is to spend some time up front to assess the software development firms before the start of the project itself.
Discuss the project requirements in detail and make sure that the software development firm that you are looking to hire attempts at understanding the full scope and deliverable of the project. Also, they try to assure that the stated goals are met within the specified time and cost.
See, I know that it’s really easy and convenient to jump into business with the one who seems to promise to give you the world, it’s better that you do your due diligence first and ask the potential software outsourcing team these 5 questions, so that you know that the firm that will gladly take your money, will also deliver at par results.
 What Similar work did you do previously?
Past performance to a large extent predicts future results. You can also get an overall idea about the skill level of your potential software company by looking at their experience.
Before you hire a software development company, go through the case studies and project demo videos to gain comprehensive knowledge. This will make you more confident that their expertise matches the needs of your project.
Also, when you work with a firm that has expertise in your industry, they will have a comprehensive knowledge of the industry. This will make it easier for them to comprehend what problems the software will solve.
Also, if they have worked with the same technology and features, it helps them to find easy solutions if they run into some problems during development.
 Would you mind if I talk to some of your previous and current clients over a quick call?
References matters. The most credible source of information that you can get regarding your potential software development company is from their satisfied and dissatisfied customers.
Start with taking a look at directory sites like Clutch.co and Goodfirms to get an idea of how well your potential software firm has performed in the past. (We are recognized as a top Software Development Company on DesignRush)
Ask directly if you can speak to some present and past clients. This will form a more impartial outlook for you and result in better judgment.
When you get client references, talk to them about the quality of work, project management, cost and also ask them if they feel there are any areas that they think the software company you will hire has the potential to improve. This will also help build your trust and credibility with them.
 Can you discuss the approach that you take w.r.t software development in details?
Ask your potential software development company what approach they normally take when it comes to software development and what they do differently to avoid the “Black Swan” situation.
This will help you get an idea about how they operate. Also, as you are expected to do your due diligence, this should also help you decide if they are the right fit for your project.
The first and foremost step for the company should be Requirement Gathering so that the project has no grey areas. Both parties discussing the business requirements in details and documenting it reduces the probability of “understanding gaps”.
This also makes sure that that the potential team has complete knowledge of the requirements, issues, timeline, and budget and can deliver on those terms.
Avoid teams that know only to nod their heads and repeat “yes sir” for every ask without deciding what’s genuinely good for the project. Remember the success and failure of your software projects primarily depend on the approach that your software company takes.
BinaryFolks approach to development is clearly outlined on our website.
 How Will You Keep Me Updated on Progress?
Communication is what matters the most when it comes to software development. If you hire a local team, chances are you meet them once a week or maybe once a month! If you are outsourcing, chances are you never sit face-to-face with your team.
It is of utmost importance to ensure that the communication remains seamless and you are completely aware of what is going on in your project, whether it’s development or design or testing!
Software development is an iterative process and the potential firm should assign you a dedicated project manager who will be your single point of contact and is expected to have a complete 360-degree idea of the project and should ensure that you get timely updates (emails or video updates)without you having to constantly knock on their door.
If you are outsourcing make sure that the project manager is at least fluent in English and is experienced in working on many projects where the clients are located in completely different time zones.
 Will you maintain my project after launch and Do I Own the Code?
This is important. When the software is developed and handed over, the work is yet not done. The software firm, from time to time, will need to release new updates, fix bugs and add features and functionality to streamline business operations, remove outdated functions, etc. Maintaining software is equally important as developing it.
Ask your software development team about the maintenance and support they provide and how much they charge for that. Look for a structure that works for both of you to ensure that the software is maintained properly.
Though these might be the most important questions that you need to ask before you hire a software development company, we don’t encourage you to ask only these questions. Some other questions to evaluate a software outsourcing firm are :
[a] What technologies are you specialized in? How many resources can you dedicate to my project?
[b] What is the size of your company? Do I have direct one-to-one contact with the C-level executives?
[c] What happens during a production emergency?
[d] What is my role in this whole project timeline?
[e] What happens if my requirements change or I need iterations?
[f] How do you estimate the software development time in general?
[g] What is your code deployment process?
[h] How is the whole team generally structured?
[i] How do you make sure the outsourcing risks are minimized when I work with your company?
-: Final words:-
Ask questions! A healthy round of questions shows that you care about the development and you are engaged and excited about it. Treat the project like your baby.
I hope the above set of questions will help you choose the right software development company for you and also ensure there are absolutely no negative surprises for you when the time comes for delivery.
If you would like to know more about choosing a software development company, take a look at this article on how to choose a software outsourcing partner.