Things to consider when selecting a software vendor
Businesses today need dedicated software and technology for efficient operations and growth. Whether you run a small business or a multinational corporation, you will want the workflow to be as efficient as possible. And in most cases, automation and software are what make these feasible.
Needless to say, the software you pick is crucial for your business operations. Choose wisely and your operations will be perfectly streamlined. Choose poorly and you will end up wasting resources. Thus, one of the first challenges that need to be addressed is choosing the right vendor.
But how does one choose a software vendor that is the right fit for their company? Here are some important things to consider.
First of all, you should know what is crucial for your company’s operations. Narrow down the business software requirements by being as accurate and technical as possible. Your potential vendor’s software solution has to align with the goals of your business, as well as the needs of your team and stakeholders.
It is important to check if the vendor has completed projects similar to what you need. If yes, then onboarding, knowledge transfer, and implementation would go rather smoothly.
Satisfied customers are always willing to share their working experience with their software vendors. Ask vendors if you could get in touch with some of their past and existing customers for references, particularly with ones in the same industry as you (we do it at DevsData when looking for a vendor).
Vendors who are eager to provide such a list should always receive positive points. When contacting their customers be sure to ask about:
You can also always do a quick Google search of the vendor to look for reviews about him, as well as information about his way of working. Most vendors would eagerly share with you that they work with clients from all around the world. It is a good sign if a software provider has clients from different parts of the globe, as it shows his solutions are not just for localized businesses, but for global ones as well.
On the same note, it will also be good if the said vendor worked with organizations of different sizes. Startups and enterprise clients will have specific and often-varying needs and goals when it comes to software. This will also show if the vendor’s products and services are scalable or not.
When evaluating tech and software development consulting vendors, always look into his background, especially the years he has been working in the technology industry. This industry is constantly evolving. As such, you will want a provider that has been in the business for some time and has the insights and experience about the changing markets.
Ask how long he had been in business, and if he had been growing or downsizing. Another good indicator of their capabilities (and a boost to their credibility) is partner certifications related to the solutions they are offering. Do they have their own team focusing on product/service development and implementations? Are they just resellers who work with other providers for the implementation?
A common dilemma when choosing a software development consulting vendor is whether to work with a large or small company.
In many cases, big companies have the reputation but may lack agility and work at their own pace. Meanwhile, small software providers are more dynamic but may be seen as not very reliable, not only in providing strong solutions but also because of the risk of going out of business. Of course, this is not to say you do not work with either.
This is where due diligence and the clients’ testimonials come in. Verify as much as you can about a software development consulting vendor you are considering: his physical location and reviews on Google Maps, his social media posts, mentions in the media, and the claims on his website. Go through his ‘About Us’ page, gallery, and even the photos of the team, office, and events to give you an idea of his workplace and work process.
If the company is based in the US, do they have grants, contracts, or cooperative agreements with the NSF or SBIR? Do they have a nearby office or representatives that you can easily get in touch with if you have concerns?
These checks will help you determine how reputable the software development consulting vendor is.
Your software vendor should double up as a partner for success. He should be a problem-solver, not just a seller. Both parties should be able to get great value from the partnership.
Ask the potential vendor how he handles financial information, other sensitive data, and GDPR, and PIPEDA compliance. Your company data, workflow, and clients are sensitive and should be managed with utmost privacy and security.
Moreover, ask what happens to your data if you decide to part ways and how difficult it would be to migrate your processes and information to another system. The vendor will try to win you back but if you are firm in your decision, he would also be willing to help with your transition.
Transparency should also not be overlooked. From a financial point of view, make sure to account for additional fees that may not have been included in the main package. Check also if there are one-time or recurring costs that could drive up your budget.
Do not just focus on the technology solutions of the software development consulting vendor. Successful software operations will always depend on humans, too. As such, you should also look into his non-tech operations.
Does he have strong UX specialists, graphic designers, and dedicated QA professionals who are ready to provide support in the different aspects of tech implementation and management? A software vendor with reliable marketing operations will be quick to augment and scale his solutions to fit your needs.
Does he have experience with dirty, real-world software projects? Does he have experience in data processing, web scraping, spreadsheet programs, data visualization, analysis, and other processes? The answers to these questions will help you greatly in choosing the right vendor for your organization.
During the initial stages, make sure to ask about their work process and where you fit in it. What kind of reports do they give and how often do they involve you in their meetings? Previous customers will be able to help you with this aspect. You can ask them about their experience with the development stages.
Question their values before hiring their team. Think about it, would you want to work with someone who does not even give you a proper report on their progress? Open communication should be one of the things they should mention in your initial meetings.
Establish an agreement regarding what kind of platforms you will all use for collaboration. They might be using platforms such as JIRA, Asana, or Slack. This would help you understand the stages of the development process and what aspect they are working on.
Don’t forget to discuss the proper development methodology. If properly adjusted to the project specification, it can enhance the communication between you and a software development consulting vendor.
Check the facts. If the software development consulting vendor you are selecting gave you information about their team, then all of that information should add up. It would be quite odd if they claim to be a legitimate business in an office setting and yet there is no trace of team photos or their office. While this is quite understandable for smaller remote teams, sizable teams would most likely show off their team photos. It is important to know whether you are working with a real and honest team.
It would be a huge plus if they have local employees or representatives in areas such as New York City or San Fransico. That indicates that this business is open to face-to-face discussions which often speeds up the planning process. If possible, take the opportunity to meet one of their representatives to gauge whether you are going with the right team that understands your business.
Depending on the stage you are at, it is crucial to choose the right path to achieve your goal. Following the wrong direction will result in a waste of time, either of funds or both. The solution must be chosen according to the scale of your project to avoid this happening.
Do you need to reach your customers quickly with your product? During the scoping phase is needed to decide whether the final solution should be built from ready-made blocks or prepared as an individual unique solution. If you care about time, the vendor should offer you serverless solutions and build your product on a ready-made infrastructure such as Amazon AWS, Microsoft Azure, or Google Firebase. Such a solution may be slightly more expensive to maintain due to the chosen billing model, but you will be sure that it will work perfectly. Often serverless platforms have additional solutions to support project maintenance.
If you already have a product that you would like to rebuild or adapt, then they should offer you a strategy of dividing the logic into microservices. This solution is more independent in development because the team can focus on the development of individual modules without worrying about the operation of others. Stability will be ensured by tools such as Kubernetes, which allow for perfect orchestration of system elements.
Choosing the right way to achieve a goal is as important as choosing the right team!
Is the software development consulting vendor familiar with the challenges of data security? Data has become a crucial asset in the industry. Your software is bound to collect sensitive data from company information down to personal information. Taking mobile applications as an example, these applications are often faced with vulnerabilities such as lack of binary protections, Unintended data leakage, Weak encryption, Execution of activities using root, and more.
Make a note of the possible security aspects that you might be faced with when developing the application and ask them about their experience regarding these matters. If they have yet to deal with it or even worse, they have no idea how to address them then you might be better off with another vendor. Again, data is not something to be trifled with in this day and age. One mistake can cause you a fortune.
Financial companies are especially mindful of this aspect since the data they collect and hold are often targets of cyber threats. These institutions cannot help but be reliant on data and new development that increases their efficiency. To prevent a data breach, your vendor should be capable of employing innovative and tested solutions as a response to these threats.
That being said, the issue of collecting and storing data is more complex than we ought it out to be. Legal aspects should be taken into consideration when creating software that will be using data collection. Your vendor should know about these regulations to prevent any legal damages to your company. The Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA) and the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) are two notable regulations that govern data and information.
GDPR states that those who control data must provide means to safeguard this data. It is stated that no personal data shall be processed unless done under one of six lawful bases specified by the regulation (consent, contract, public task, vital interest, legitimate interest, or legal requirement). PIPEDA governs how private organizations collect and use these data for commercial purposes. Collecting data requires consent from the users and these users have the right to access and change the accuracy of the data they give out to these companies.
Teams who contribute to open source projects have access to knowledge and expertise of other project members from the community. They can share pieces of advice, good practices, ideas, and solutions with other developers.
What is more, companies that contribute to open source projects get to know technologies at a much deeper level than they would by only using it in personal projects. Finally, contributing to open source helps understand what your customers expect and what can be done to achieve those expectations.
When choosing the right software vendor to provide you with software development consulting advice, always keep your mind open. As long as you do your homework and due diligence, finding a provider that perfectly fits your needs will not be as daunting as you think it is.
Once your software project is delivered, you may want to reach out to a SEO agency to find new clients by boosting your search engine ranking.
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