TOP 12 questions to ask a software house before choosing one

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Choosing a software house is a big step. There are many things to consider, and questions you need to ask before making a decision such as the size of the company, its location, areas of expertise, previous projects, etc. They will help you determine whether the potential software house is fit for your needs and can be a valuable partner in developing your product. If you are a CEO of a software house, make sure to have answers to these questions ready!

Which aspects should you take into consideration before choosing a software house to work with?

  • team experience
  • clients’ opinions
  • development costs
  • estimation
  • methodology of management
  • communication
  • post-production guarantee, support & maintenance
  • training after delivering product

These are just some of the most important aspects that should be taken into consideration before starting cooperation with a software house. Asking about them, you'll ensure that both parties have the same expectations and can work together effectively towards achieving a common goal - delivering a high-quality product on time and within budget. :)

#1 Have you got experience in delivering similar projects?

Make sure that the software house you're considering, has experience with your industry and projects yours. Ask them about specific challenges they faced and how they resolved them. Check, if the team size that worked on this kind of project was big enough, and what each person was responsible for. This will give you a better overview of their capabilities and whether they're able to handle your project. Pay attention to their sales materials - portfolio, and case studies - you’ll find out how large scale of the project they were dealing with. Read it carefully and ask questions if it's needed.

#2 Do you have any reviews or recommendations from other clients?

By reading recommendations, you can learn a lot about a company and its style of work. What are people saying about the company's culture, work/life balance, and opportunities for growth? Are the reviews positive or negative? What do employees think of their experience working at the company? What do customers think about developed projects? Are they satisfied with the results? Are they as good or even better than they expected? All of this information can be found in recommendations on different profiles - start with Clutch.co, then check social media like Facebook and LinkedIn. Google opinions is also a good place to read clients' reviews. Remember, referrals and direct recommendations are the best - there’s nothing that you can more rely on, than your colleagues and friends.

#3 What development skills does the team have?

A key skill for any IT engineer is the ability to develop new applications and software. This requires not only a deep knowledge of computer programming but also an understanding of how businesses work and how customers interact with technology. By being able to create new applications, IT engineers can help businesses stay competitive and keep up with the latest trends in technology. They can also provide solutions to problems that customers are facing and come up with ideas for new products and services. In addition, development skills allow IT engineers to customize existing applications to better meet the needs of individual businesses. This can save companies time and money, and improve the overall efficiency of their operations. Before choosing the software house, ask about the technology they're using, and why. Why is it so important? Sometimes an unfortunate situation happens - a specific engineer chooses an unpopular technology that he wants to work with during the project. The problem comes when this engineer leaves the company, and an employer has to replace him with someone else. Then it turns out that it’s not that easy to find a replacement or the replacement is too expensive. In the end, it turns out that the project cannot be completed, because of too high maintenance costs. What's also important, ask about the seniority in the company. Do experienced employees work there? It's essential for achieving high-quality products.

​​What’s also important to remember is the fact that each project has a different level of complexity, so the software house has to pay attention to applied solutions. To properly deliver the project, the company needs to build an experienced team of specialists and decide who is responsible for what. There are a lot of experts available in the IT industry: Frontend Engineers, Backend Engineers, Analysts, Project Managers, Quality Assurance, etc.

#4 Do you understand what my expectations are?

The software house should be involved in understanding the customer's project, market, and industry before starting the cooperation because it’s important to know the customer's specific needs in order to provide the best solution possible. By being engaged in the customer's market and industry, the software house can gain a better understanding of what the customer wants and needs, which will help them create a solution that meets those specific needs. Additionally, being involved in the customer's project will help ensure that the software house is providing a solution that is tailored to the market and industry, not just something that they think will work.

#5 How high are the development costs are?

The number of development costs in a software house can depend on a variety of factors. One of the most important factors is the type of project and software that will be developed. More complex software will naturally require more time and effort, leading to increased development costs. Additionally, the size and complexity of the team working on the project can also affect costs. Larger teams typically cost more than smaller teams, and teams with more experience tend to be more expensive than less experienced teams. Always remember about checking the average salaries of specific specialists. Here, you’ll find a sample report drawn up by inhire.io, which shows a summary of salaries in the tech industry in Poland, in the second quarter of 2022. Now, you can compare it to the offer you received from the chosen software house. Of course, staff costs are not the only ones. Infrastructure, tools, and programs also cost a lot of money. What’s more, the geographical location of the software house can also play a role in development costs - high-cost areas often cost more than other locations. Remember - before choosing a software house, schedule a meeting with a person in charge, and ask for free project estimation.

#6 Can you provide an accurate estimation?

The importance of providing an accurate estimation of the project before starting the cooperation with a software house is crucial in order to avoid any misunderstandings and ensure that both the client and the software house are on the same page. By providing an accurate estimation, it allows for each party to have a realistic idea of what is expected from the project and what is possible within the set timeframe and budget. In our example, the error range is up to 5% of the project value. This also helps to avoid any surprises down the road that could potentially lead to disagreements or even litigation. In short, providing an accurate estimation is essential in order for successful cooperation between a client and a software house.

#7 What kind of methodology of management do you use?

Management methodology is extremely important in a software house. Its approach to managing projects can really make a difference! There are many different types of management methodology, but some of the most common include Waterfall, Agile, and Scrum. Each has its own strengths and weaknesses, so it is important to choose the right one for each project.

Waterfall is a sequential methodology that is often used for larger projects with a lot of dependencies. It involves breaking the project down into phases, then executing each phase in turn. This can be a good approach when there is a lot of certainty about what needs to be done and how it needs to be done.

Agile is an iterative methodology that is well-suited to projects that are likely to change as they progress. It involves breaking the project down into small chunks, then working on them in turns. This allows teams to react quickly to changes and ensure that they are always delivering value to the customer.

​​Scrum is a project management methodology that relies on a team of workers, or "scrum team," to break a project down into manageable chunks and then complete them in short, time-boxed iterations. The goal of scrum is to ensure that the project is completed as efficiently and effectively as possible, while also maintaining transparency and accountability among team members.

#8 How do you communicate with customers?

The software house should have a clear communication policy with its customers. This policy should include the frequency of communication, as well as the tools that will be used. The SH should communicate with its customers on a regular basis because a regular frequency is important. A good rule of thumb is to communicate as often as needed to maintain clarity, but no less than once a week.

This communication could take the form of updates, reports, video calls, or even just a simple chat session or emails. Most essential is that the tool is easy to use for the client. If it's possible, it's good to meet face to face, from time to time just to take care of the healthy relationship between a service provider and customers. The goal is to keep the customer informed of what is happening with the project and to get feedback from the customer.

It's also important to be aware of cultural differences when communicating with customers. What may be considered polite and professional in one culture may not be received well in another. For example, using formal language in emails or chat messages might come across as cold or unapproachable in some cultures. Taking the time to understand the customer's culture can help avoid any misunderstandings. What’s more, it’s also good to take into consideration time differences, especially, when you live halfway around the world. Pay attention, when you call and email each other. The best option is to schedule meetings in advance, at a time that is suitable for everyone.

Communication tools are not the only ones. Also important are tools used for managing the project and tracking time spent on it. Thanks to them, the customer precisely knows, what the work process looks like.

#9 Can I expect to receive reports?

The software house should create reports for the customer on a regular basis, perhaps weekly or monthly. The reports should include information on how the software is performing, any updates or changes that have been made, and any issues or problems that have arisen. This information will help the customer keep track of how their investment is performing and ensure that they are getting what they expect from the software.

Additionally, the reports should include a financial overview. This will help the customer understand how much money they have spent on the project and how much they can expect to spend in the future. It will also give them an idea of how close the project is to being completed.

Reports should also be created for management purposes. These reports can help the SH track how well its team is performing and identify any areas where improvement is needed.

Remember - if the project is managed honestly and transparently, you’ll receive the report ad hoc - after you ask for it.

#10 Will I get a post-production guarantee, support & maintenance?

Delivering a product is just the beginning of a long and ongoing relationship with the customer. Software house must provide post-production guarantee, support, and maintenance in order to keep the customer happy and ensure that they continue to receive value from the product.

This post-production support and maintenance can take many forms, such as providing updates to the software, fixing bugs, answering customer questions, and more. It's important for a software house to be responsive to customer feedback and make changes and improvements as needed.

The goal is to keep the customer happy and ensure that they continue to get value from the product. The software house must also be prepared to handle any problems that may arise after delivering the product. With good post-production support and maintenance, software house can build strong relationships with their customers and create a foundation for future success.

#11 Can I get a training session or manual instruction after delivering my product?

Delivering a product to a customer without any form of training can be detrimental to the success of the product. A properly trained customer is able to understand how to use the product and get the most value from it. When customers are not familiar with a product, they may not be able to use it correctly, which can lead to frustration and a negative experience with the product.

A well-trained customer, on the other hand, is able to understand how the product works and what it can do for him. He will be more likely to be satisfied with the product and continue using it in the future. This can lead to better outcomes for both the customer and the company that created the product.

Thus, it is important for software houses to provide some form of training for their customers after delivering a project. When the product is not that much complicated, sometimes even manual instruction is enough. This allows customers to get the most out of the product and increases the chances that they will be satisfied with it.

What’s more, in the IT industry, there is something like SRS. The Software Requirements Specification is a document that outlines the specific requirements that a software product needs to fulfill in order to satisfy all stakeholders' needs. It describes the product's features, functions, and performance characteristics in detail, as well as how the product will be expected to behave. The SRS also includes information about who will use the product, how they will use it, and what results they should expect. Make sure, if you’ll receive that, after your cooperation with chosen SH.

#12 What if I'm not satisfied with the result?

If the client is not satisfied with the project, they may feel that they did not receive what they desired. They may feel that they wasted their time and money on something that did not meet their expectations. This can reflect poorly on the business and may cause the customer to hesitate before working with them again in the future. In some cases, the client may request a refund or ask for additional work to be done in order to meet their expectations. Remember that he who pays the piper calls the tune. :)

Always ask relevant questions before starting the cooperation with a software house

By asking a software house the right questions, you can ensure that you'll be working with a company that has the experience and expertise to deliver a high-quality software product. Always remember to check, if they're the right fit for your project and ensure that the cooperation goes smoothly. Most importantly, make sure that the software house understands your business and is committed to providing you with a great customer experience.



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