Original Author: David Thorpe at Carve Digital
Original Links: N/A
You might not recognise it, but there likely areas of your business that can be automated and streamlined through the use of in-house, custom built software.
Software can be hard to understand if you aren’t involved with it day-to-day. I want to highlight some incredibly helpful tips for you to follow when you’re looking around for a team to help develop software for your business. If you keep these three questions in the front of your mind, you’ll end up with a very low-risk set of options when choosing your software provider.
Are they a generic agency?
Many full-service agencies will claim that they can build web apps. In my extensive experience of dealing with agencies, this is categorically false. Usually they have one person in their team that has built a few small websites that have a bit of ‘extended functionality’. When you’re looking for an expert to solve your business problem, this isn’t what you want.
They’ll know how to cobble together something that resembles what you asked for, but they haven’t the experience to ask the right questions about why you’re looking to implement this software, and this is incredibly important for ensuring you’re both on the same page.
I would strongly encourage you to find a development team who focus solely on software development rather than a full-service agency who tend to have to use people who are a “jack of all trades, master of none”.
If you know your problem, for example:
“I am having trouble tracking the jobs that I have running currently in my construction business”
then search for businesses that:
“Built software for the construction industry.”
They’re much more likely to resonate with you, understand your business problem and will be able to come up with an effective solution that poses very little risk.
Are they asking the right questions?
Usually, once you’ve found a more niche vendor (as above) this will also follow, but it’s best to check. It’s very easy for a business owner to speak to several different teams and ask for a quote up-front from some vague end-result that you have in-mind. That might seem like the normal way of doing things, but it’s akin to me asking you “How much to build me a new house”, or “How much does it cost to rent a property for my shop?”.
What I would expect, for example, is if you said:
“I really need a new website for my business.”
I’d then be asking why you need a new website; perhaps even making you question your own desires. We might get to the bottom it and realise it’s because you want to attract more business via your online presence. The solution then might not actually be a new website; it could be to increase the effort put into your search engine optimisation or to use some direct content marketing.
If someone is all-too-eager to jump and give you quotes without fully understand your problem, in my experience, there will be a large disconnect between what you were expecting, and what has been delivered. When you’re laying down tens of thousands of pounds for software projects, you sure as hell want it to be right.
Can they provide testimonials from previously happy clients?
What you’re going for here is to figure out if these people are good to work with. You can have the best technical team in the world available to you, but if they are difficult to work with and hard to communicate with, then it really isn’t doing you any justice. You need that open, two-way communication to ensure that again, the right questions are being asked. This is why my company prides ourselves on not being IT people, and “speaking human”.
My pet peeve is technical firms that talk down to their customers. I’ve never had a mechanic talk down to me when I’ve asked what I’m sure were stupid questions about my car. Why should software developers do the same?
Cheapest is most certainly not the best
If you’re looking for the cheapest person to build software for your firm, it’s important to know that software development, unless you’re highly technical yourself and can direct it, is certainly not a commodity item.
Some people look to work costs out by asking agencies, developers and teams what their rate is. But think about that for a moment, that’s actually really ineffective.
By asking someone’s rate, you’re assuming that you know exactly how long this project is going to take, and when everyone works at different speeds, that’s not something that’s possible for you to work out.
I’ve seen it happen countless times, people hiring a developer because their rate was half the amount of the other, but they took double the amount of time to get the job done. And even then, it felt like a battle, because the developer wasn’t asking the right questions about what to do to help solve your business problem.
I pay a lot of money for my Macbook Pro. The reason is, I can’t afford the downtime if it breaks and I want a good return on investment. I get 5 years out of a laptop before I have to replace it. Compare that to generic, run-of-the-mill PC manafacturers. I have previously only gotten 2 – 3 years out of those, and support for their systems was absolutely terrible. I pay more because I know that if there’s a problem, it will be fixed and that I trust my business in the quality of Apple’s products.
If you’re looking around for software or have software ideas for your business and aren’t sure on a development teams’ credentials, I’d be more than happy to personally help advise. I know that it can be tough choosing a team to undertake expensive and complex work and I want to make sure that no-one ends up with a project gone wrong. If you’re worrying and that sounds like you, please email me: firstname.lastname@example.org.