In our previous blog, we covered the questions we will ask you in the discovery phase of your new custom software development project. Now, we’ll lay out the questions you should ask any software developer that you’re considering working with on this project. So, here are 10 questions to ask your custom software developer before you begin:
- How do you estimate the timeline to complete this project? Very little is more frustrating to a client than a timeline that goes awry. Find out how your developer manages that. For example, we create a detailed project plan with every feature and task, with each its own time estimate. That’s literally how we stay on the same page.
- Tell me about project management for a project like this. This statement question will give you insight into how the developer works, communicates and delivers a project. This very complex project should have very simple, clear steps to completion. Check out ours here.
- Is there a specific point of contact during the project? Imagine putting down a large deposit on a software project and then not being able to get a hold of your developer. Ask them right up front, who the contact will be. With us, you have one point of contact throughout the entire project. With larger companies, you may get handed from one contact to another as the project progresses. Just be sure to ask.
- Have you developed custom software projects like this one before? No two custom software solutions are the same. And you may bring some pretty unique requirements to the table. But you should have confidence that your developer can handle it, so ask about past work that lines up with your project.
- How have you measured the success of your other projects? A good software development team will measure their success in terms of your success. They’ll be focused on delivering a great solution when they said they would deliver it, within the budget they promised. To that end, they should have a process to track progress and communicate it to you, clearly.
- Can the developer understand the business side of the equation? You have some pretty clear business outcomes defined for your software. The performance of this custom solution is important to achieving those outcomes. Therefore, you want to gauge how well your developer understands the business side of things. If they cannot, it’s unlikely they’ll deliver the software you need.
- How do you go about understanding our needs and business goals? Remember, we said we would ask your users what they need from the software? You’ll want to hear something like that from your developer -- a process to really dig into your business, the problems that this software will solve, and who will be using it.
- Who owns the software, code and the copyrights once it’s completed? This one is very important. You don’t want to end up being held hostage to your developer. We work in a “work-for-hire” agreement, which means you own your software. Once the project is complete and closed out, full intellectual property rights transfer to your business.
- Will this solution be built on a platform that others can maintain? When you ask this question, know what you’re talking about or you might get a fast-talking answer. Ask about specific platforms. That way, you can do your due diligence and ask your technology advisors, to make sure they’re using common technology.
- Is there a risk that I’ll hire your firm and end up with overseas developers or other outsourced programmers? This uncovers another trap that companies end up in. You hire a team you like, only to discover that they’re going to farm out the work to overseas developers. That’s not always a bad thing, but it’s good to know up front because it can cause serious issues.
- Bonus Question: How are changes handled along the way? Every custom software project is a two-way street. It is vital that you understand how your developer will handle changes, from documentation, charging for, and communicating those changes.
Make the Right Choice the First Time
Choosing the right custom software developer will end up being one of the most important business decisions you make. It’s a long, complex process that requires regular communication, clear expectations, and a disciplined project management process. That’s why it’s important that you ask your developer these key questions before you start.
Still have questions? Contact us now to get answers.