8 Tips When Choosing a Development Shop for Software Solutions

man thinking of hiring a dev shop
Author Photo Rachel D. 6 Mar 2022

As more and more businesses are developing their own custom software and mobile apps, software development will be in greater demand than ever in 2022 and beyond. Many of these businesses will be turning to software development shops for their projects and need guidance choosing the right dev shop. This is because not all dev shops are created equal, and it can be tricky for newcomers to know which ones are worth the investment and which ones aren't.

If you're a start-up, small business, or just looking to enhance your company's tech, we can help you navigate your options. Read on for our list of 8 tips to keep in mind when choosing a dev shop in 2022.

Tip #1 — Research their team.

Every business, brand, and company is made up of people. In the case of dev shops, it's the team members who will be building the software, so it's important to know a little bit about who they are and what skill sets they can bring to your project.

A good place to start is by checking out the About Us page on the dev shop's website. Take a look at the team bios, if they are posted. Another part of your due diligence should be to check out other clients they've worked with. An experienced dev shop will have a portfolio of completed projects they're proud of and will usually display it prominently on their website, along with positive client feedback they've received.

When you've narrowed down your options, you may want to reach out directly to the dev shops you're seriously considering and ask a few questions, such as:

Tip #2 — Find out how they view their clients.

Creating software from scratch is a huge commitment. It takes time, money, and most importantly, communication to build software that's functional, user friendly, and meets the needs of your business and its customers.

This is why it's critically important to make sure that the software development shop you choose sees itself as an extension of your team, with everyone working toward the same goal. An approach like this creates more transparency and better communication, so you're much less likely to find yourself out of the loop or blindsided by project setbacks. This doesn't happen with a dev shop that sees you as just another client on the roster.

It's also important to pick a shop that's the right size for you. If you're a small business, you're probably going to want lots of personal attention since you won't have the resources for a dedicated in-house person or team to handle your software and app development. A small dev shop that specializes in one-on-one support is your best bet for getting the kind of personalized treatment you need.

online meeting between clients and software developers illustration

Tip #3 — Development contract? Ew, no thanks.

You might be thinking that a development contract is not only a good thing, but a necessity, if you want to ensure your app or software gets built from start to finish — and for the established budget. While this may be the case for shorter projects, a contract can actually end up costing you more and holding you back when it comes to longer-term projects.

Remember that custom software doesn't get built in a month or two. These projects typically take anywhere from six months to two years. That's a significant amount of time in the world of tech, with new tools, features, and updates being rolled out all the time. Six months into your project, you may realize a scope change is needed, but if you're tied into a development contract, you may be facing a hefty charge for that change.

So, whenever you can, don't commit to a fixed project plan and price. Keep things flexible so you can rest easy knowing that a change is manageable if needed.

Tip #4 — Check their reviews.

The feedback on a development shop's website is selected and posted by them, so naturally, they are only going to highlight their success stories. But it's important to know what, if any, projects didn't go as planned, and how they responded.

Check out their reviews on other platforms, such as Google and Facebook. If they have any negative reviews, look to see if they have responded to them. Are the responses polite, professional, and informative? Or do they shift blame and criticize the client? You'll also have to use some judgment here to determine whether the client who posted the negative review was doing so out of a genuine desire to inform the public or if it was out of spite.

If a software development shop doesn't have any online reviews, you can also try reaching out to past clients directly to get their overall feedback about what went right and wrong with their project.

Tip #5 — Make sure they have a UI/UX Designer in-house.

A user interface (UI) or user experience (UX) designer plays a major role in the success of any software development project. So make sure the dev shop you're considering has one on the team!

The UI/UX dev plays an essential role right from the get-go, during the discovery phase of software development. They are the ones who get to know the end user, and all of their particular needs, wants, and desires. They take that information and use it to turn the blue-sky vision into concrete reality, ensuring that the finished product meets the needs of the user.

Doing this successfully requires close communication with the rest of the development team, so it's ideal for the UI/UX dev to be in-house and to already have a good working relationship with the devs who will be executing your vision.

illustration of a user interface designer painting

Tip #6 — Confirm that they don't outsource their work.

If there's only one piece of advice you take away from this article, it's the importance of having your software built by a team that works together synergistically. An experienced team that knows how to collaborate is your secret weapon for producing work that is dynamic, creative, and innovative.

When work is outsourced, it creates the potential for miscommunications and work siloes. This is terrible for a couple of reasons. One is that important information can fall through the cracks, if someone forgets to send an email or fails to provide an update on their progress. Another is that this way of working almost never yields those “lightbulb” moments of inspiration.

Tip #7 — Choose a dev shop that's transparent.

Software development is a multi-step process and usually requires a significant budget. Make sure you understand what you're getting and what you're paying for by choosing a dev shop that is transparent about their development processes and pricing.

Your project quote should cover the details of what each stage of development entails and what it costs. You should also have a scope of work document that confirms what the finished product will include. This way, you are far less likely to experience disappointing results and “surprise” charges.

Tip #8 — Make sure they have a project manager.

illustration of a software project manager sending a message

As we mentioned, software development can be a complex process with many moving parts and several distinct stages. A successful project hinges on having a project plan that makes sense and progresses smoothly. So when choosing the right dev shop, it's important to make sure there is a project manager and a project management process in place that will ensure the project stays on budget and is delivered on time.

Quick Recap

If you're a business owner looking to hire a dev shop for a project, these 8 tips can help you make that final decision:

Choosing a dev shop doesn't have to be difficult, but it does require a bit of due diligence. If you keep these tips in mind, you'll be well on your way to finding a dev shop that can deliver a top-notch project and help you grow your business.

Deep Fork Technology specializes in software development for small and medium sized businesses. If you're looking for a dev shop for your software project, get in touch to see how we can help.

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