Different companies encounter different problems in their day-to-day operations. To solve these, they often hire agencies that can provide standard or customized solutions for their business. Standard or off-the-shelf software is a popular choice for businesses since it is readily available and often cheaper. However, for more intricate problems or pain points, more businesses are choosing customized or bespoke software since it is unique and specifically developed to match their needs.
While the thought of having a tailor-made software for your company may sound enticing, the process of choosing an agency to craft one is a lot more complex. Like every other business venture, you have to consider a variety of things before sealing the deal. No one would want their solutions provider to add to the company’s list of problems, right? To help in selecting an agency that can successfully deliver your project, here are a few pointers to consider.
Think of it like you are hiring a new employee. The first thing you would check is their CV—does he/she have related work experience, key accomplishments, and knowledge in the position they’re applying for? These things give you the impression of one’s credibility and knowledge on the job. The same goes for the agencies you are looking into. Have they completed projects similar to your needs? Do they have success stories and numbers to back up their work?
By answering these questions, you not only get an idea of how deep their technical know-how is but also how successful their projects are. Agencies who worked on related projects already have a background of the best practices and fixes for common problems so it will be easier to implement what is needed.
Previous clients are the character references in an applicant’s profile. They are key people you want to hear from since they can share positive points and negative comments about the people you might work with in the future. The question here is, would the agency allow you to call previous clients? Would these clients be willing to share their testimonials? Or worse, does the agency even have previous clients at all? You can never be too sure. So it is always best to check because it is a very good source of information about a given company. Based on a given reference, you can easily conclude whether a given company has met the expectations of its previous client.
In addition, depending on the form of reference, you can learn how communication with the agency went, which is crucial in providing the software we are interested in. Information about previous customers is very important especially now where there are many small companies who title themselves as software agencies but have no previous business experience at all. If they happen to have existing clients, consider where these clients are based. Many firms only have clients from eastern Europe.
While it is not necessarily bad, a variety of clients coming from the US or different parts of the world can provide more insights and feedback on the agency’s work. In case they are not willing to provide contact with their previous client(s) without giving any good reason you should consider choosing another agency.
Aside from checking the client’s testimonials, why not see if there are media mentions as well? In the age of digital media, information is so abundant and highly accessible that with just a few clicks, you would instantly know what is good and bad in almost any brand’s work. Do your own research and see what the media is saying about the agency pitching to you. Most importantly, remember to check credible sources for the mentions you find. No one wants to read a BS post that only contains high praise for an agency but has no substantial basis.
A good place to find reliable reviews about the agency is Clutch. It is an independent platform that collects objective feedback from clients about each company registered on the site. They perform in-depth interviews with clients and customers about the quality of their interaction with each Clutch-registered company. Based on the data gathered, the service formulates a fair rating of all the firms. Clutch categorizes companies by their geographic location, a field of their expertise and the focus on proven skills. Feel free to check out media mentions (don’t overlook Bloomberg) at DevsData.
It is a no-brainer why businesses prefer experienced agencies as their solutions provider. Aside from a shortened learning curve which could save cost and time, experienced agencies already have mastered techniques under their sleeves through the years they have spent in tech. If there is anything else you would want to look into about their experience, it is more of who they have worked with before—startups or large enterprises?
While both require specific dynamics, the scale of their needs might be different so the approach would be different as well. Knowing how the agency handles these types of clients shows you how flexible and capable they are in providing custom solutions. If you are interested in employing a non-US agency, consider paying a local senior software freelancer to interview their team from a technical standpoint. Thanks to this solution, you can receive not only professional recruitment but also information on whether there is any language barrier.
Say you have already checked their previous works, listened to client testimonials, and reviewed their tech experience, but still, you are left with a long list of options. What do you look for next?
Think about it—there are a lot of development agencies who are good at what they do and are capable of providing what is asked from them but not all of them have the knowledge and experience in business and marketing. How could they provide tailor-fit recommendations if they do not understand the basic requirements and needs of the business? An agency who knows how the business works and has marketing experience can provide a more specific software that would fit the demands and requirements of the company. Business owners, especially startups, value this a lot since they require a more specific approach.
Since you are looking to hire an agency to work with your company, it is important to know if you will get your money’s worth. At the end of the day, we all want an ROI for the business investments we make. The key to knowing what’s worthy or not is doing the basic: research. Is this vendor big or small? While either one can work well on different projects, you can consider differences in dynamics and speed.
Usually, smaller vendors are more dynamic and provide better service. Check if they have industry experience related to what you plan to build. Maybe they can provide samples of their software that are close to your concept and that will show you their ways to solve given problems.
Next, where is the company established? If it is in the US, you can look into grant-giving bodies like the NSF & SBIR to provide extra assistance for your project. This works best for startups. Research also on how the agency handles data privacy and financial information.
Since we are in the tech-space, data privacy is a very sensitive issue that should be taken seriously by both the company and agency. We would not want to encounter any issues or disputes with GDPR and PIPEDA. In case they are not from the US, check if they provide time overlap with you. Communication with the agency that creates your software is very important. Thanks to this, you are constantly informed about changes and you can suggest such changes yourself.
What most businesses tend to overlook while choosing an agency is its experience and capacity in delivering software projects that are technical Most of the time, agencies would highlight their skills in creating sexy mobile layouts, snazzy web apps, and intricate UI designs. But how about the dirty, real-world software projects that happen behind the scenes like data processing, web scraping, and excel-like data systems handling?
These are key factors that should be considered as well since it’s not always aesthetic that brings in the money for businesses—data is highly important as well. So it’s better to pay attention to whether an agency responds to changing software trends such as Artificial Intelligence, Cross-Platform Development Tools, Blockchain, IoT or Progressive Web Apps.
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