It is hard to imagine a modern company that has no custom software. Each year more and more businesses snub ready-made solutions and try their luck instead at developing their own software in-house for internal or external usage.
Instead of detailing the various advantages of custom business management tools, this article will instead discuss how to actually build one for your company. What really tasks company owners these days is how to find and hire experienced developers. This can be an extremely hard task if you are neither a person with a tech background, nor have such a person to consult with in your immediate network.
So you may be wondering about questions such as these: “Where should I start? What developers should I hire? And how would I know if they are a perfect fit for my project?”
To help you find the answers to all these and many other related questions, we have prepared this article full of useful tips. So, without further ado, let’s get started!
Where should you start?
Once you’ve made the decision to build your own custom solution, you face a lot of uncertainties, especially if you don’t have any technical background. You may not know anything about programming languages, development cycles, methodologies and approaches.
But do you really need to be a tech geek or a CTO to build a highly-functional and smoothly running app without wasting your time and money, and without changing several teams? The answer would be – no, you don’t. All you need is to get prepared and complete several crucial steps before making a final choice and signing an agreement with any developers teams. And now, let’s discuss everything in detail.
Every project starts with an idea that needs to be shaped and formulated into a set of requirements. So before looking for a team it is better to think over your idea and run a preliminary research.
Why is that so important? Because when you reach out to developers, you will need to be able explain what it is exactly that you would like developed; in other words, what your vision for the project is, and what objectives it should pursue.
So, first of all, you need to explore the market; investigate what your competitors offer or what tools they use to optimize internal processes. Also, it is important to pay special attention to your target audience, unique value proposition and something that will make your solution stand out among all available on the market.
Preparation is the key to success, because when you know what you want and need, it is easier to find an appropriate development partner and cooperate effectively to reach the coveted outcome that you want.
The second but no less important step that goes after the research is preparing your feature list. You know your business from the inside, so you can definitely point out what software is required to optimize certain processes or operations.
So what you need to do is to prepare a list of options that you consider to be of utmost importance and define your future software expectations . Why is this required, you might ask? Simply because it can help you and your developers team define the right technology stack to build your solution.
Moreover, it is important to know that some of the options and functionalities that you may want to add will require third party assistance; whether it be with integration, APIs, or implementation of specific tools. Acknowledging this ex-ante is likely to expedite the development process, while avoiding some pitfalls. Tech takes will explore all those third-party services, think over the approach and implementation, and ultimately offer an optimal way to move forward.
Additionally, a well thought-out feature list can come in handy if you are working with a limited budget. It will be easier to define primary and secondary options, and build an MVP that includes the first to expand its functionality later.
Explore the world of tech stack
Once you’ve defined your target audience, the purpose and goals of your software and its possible feature set, you need to delve into the world of technologies. You will need to at least somewhat understand their specifics and their various interactions and compatibilities with different platforms. Of course, you do not need to dig too deep and sift through seemingly endless reading materials from the programming world. Let’s leave this to professionals.
What you really do need to do is define an approximate technology stack that can be used for the development of your project. First of all, this will let you find a team of experienced tech takes who work with that exact stack. Second of all, you will be able to determine the approximate cost of your project development taking into account the hourly rate of the required specialists, combined with extrapolating the expected time allotment for the project.
Let’s say you need to develop an app for educational purposes. In this case, you probably need a mobile solution for iOS and Android devices, since now it’s easier and more productive to study on the go using smartphones and tablets.
So to develop your corporate educational solution, you need back-end programmers who work with Java or Kotlin for Android, and Objective-C or Swift for iOS. When it comes to front-end specialists, you will need web engineers who are skilled at CSS and HTML. You will also need a UI/UX designer to create a look for your app. Then you can explore the market, see the comparable rates of each specialist, check that against what skills that person needs to have, and make a decision that will best align with your existing budget-constrained plan.
There is also a possibility of cross-platform app development. For example, Flutter is the most popular cross-platform technology now. It will allow and enable you to create a native-like app that will run on both: iOS and Android devices.
If one is looking to build a reliable web solution, then it is best to resort to programming languages and frameworks such as: Python, Laravel, PHP, etc. The decision to select a tech stack should depend on a project’s complexity and its overall needs. So when choosing a developers team, check out the list of technologies they work with. And remember that each platform necessitates the use of different programming languages.
- Android – Kotlin, Java
- iOS – Swift, Objective-C
For example, here is the list of technologies our company’s employees are skilled at using:
Don’t forget about the design
It is impossible to imagine a solid solution without a visually pleasing and intuitive design. However, while doing research, many non-technical people overlook the importance of paying special heed to selecting designers. That is, do not be mistaken, their work is of paramount importance to the appeal of the end product. The designers create frameworks that can be seen as the backbone of your future solution.
The wireframes and layouts of all future app components can be thought of as the bases or foundations, from which developers will keep building out from. So when it comes to choosing the designer, you have to be certain that you’ve found a truly skilled UI/UX specialist.
The designer should pick a color scheme that does the best job highlighting and conveying your brand, develop a suitable graphic design, think about all buttons, animations and navigation elements. And also, what’s even more important is to ensure that your app is totally user-friendly. After all, the main purpose of all custom business management tools is to make the work process easier and more efficient; but certainly not to complicate it by making it unnecessarily onerous to figure out how to activate this or that option.
What programmers to choose?
After you’ve completed primary research and shaped your idea into more or less clear specifications, it is the right time to start looking for a developers team that will get the job done for you. But before you start browsing various websites and forums, you need to make one more decision. What team do you actually need? Should it be your own in-house one or would you like to outsource your solution development?
Let’s take a closer look at pros and cons of both named options, and clear up which option is best for which type of job, project, and situation.
Gather in-house team
Many business owners still believe that something can be done right only if you do it yourself. And this mindset leads to the decision to gather your own in-house team of developers. But is it really the best option? How does the cost-benefit breakdown of this approach compare to the alternative? And is it really worth it, and if so, under which circumstances?
When it comes to your time and budget, you will definitely lose a great deal on this front. Finding tech takes and organizing them in one holistic team is time-consuming and ultimately will likely end up being quite costly.
You will have to look for each separate developer that works with the tech stack required for your project. Then you need to test those people, and more often Which means that you will have to run job ads, seed out candidates, conduct interviews, discuss and agree on things like their work conditions and salary, sign them to often long-term contracts.
On top of that, you will have to organize their workplaces. And even if you find remote specialists, this may very well cause prospective incohesiveness and complicate the work, dashing almost all hope that this improvised solution will yield the needed results at a low enough financial and time cost threshold.
That is, such a procedure may take weeks or even months, which could have been spent on building your solution instead. That, combined with the various challenges your team may face while it attempts to autonomously develop the project, make for a questionable solution at best, and a foolish undertaking at worst.
Even if you are a leader who much prefers taking all matters into your own hands and/or think that you have available within the organization strong developer capability potential.
Some specialists may lack some knowledge or practice. As briefly touched upon earlier, your internal team may lack organization and synchronization between team members (particularly if some of them work remotely). All of this may take up an obscene, yet unnecessary amount of effort. And it is possible that in the end you will end up having to look for an outstaffing partner anyways or, if not, will likely need to eventually go to some additional specialists to do a part of the job.
So to sum it up a little bit, let’s put all disadvantages into 1 small list:
- Gathering an in-house team will take more time and money.
- Higher demand for experienced specialists. It is hard to find a tech take who works with the technologies you need and has a certain set of soft skills. On top of that, you’ll need to compete with other employers
- There is higher staff turnover that can lead to searching for new developers when your project is about halfway through.
Despite all cons that we’ve mentioned, that would be unfair to say that in-house team is a bad option. It has its advantages that you need to know about. Here are some of them:
Consider outsourcing and outstaffing
And now let’s speak about the second popular option many business owners prefer – outsourcing and outstaffing. By choosing an outsourcing development partner you get lots of benefits.
You do not need to look for separate specific specialists as the team is already gathered. You do not need to organize any of the working processes since this is the responsibility of the company you are hiring. All you need is to get in touch with them, describe your idea, challenges and expectations you put on the software. And the development agency will do the rest for you.
As to the outstaffing, it allows you to quickly expand your team with truly skilled developers of a certain expertise. You contact the company, agree on details and get tech takes helping your team to complete the project. This is a great practice that saves time and nerves.
Apart from outsourcing and outstaffing you may come across one more business model called dedicated development team. This model implies an agreement between a business owner and software development company according to which the latter party provides developers to the first one on a long term basis.
Dedicated development team is a perfect option if you have a huge project but there is a lack of technicians to complete it. Here at Altamira we had such experience. Our specialists worked with another team building a complex trading platform. This was a very fruitful cooperation that resulted in the release of an advanced solution for algorithmic trading.
Now, let’s get back to outsourcing and point out some reasons why you actually might like to consider it for building your solution. Here are the main ones:
- It’s cost effective to outsource the development.
- It offers faster project start since the team is all set and ready.
- The processes are well-organized.
- The estimation of your project is well-grounded and transparent.
- Agile project management that offers velocity and allows you to make changes to projects at any development stage.
- Broad expertise of developers and diverse skill set.
- Cohesive and flexible team that is easy to communicate with.
- The team focuses on your particular business processes and needs.
- The team helps with budget planning.
- The company Business Analysts write high-quality technical documentation.
- The team knows how to mitigate all kinds of risks.
As you can see the number of advantages is quite impressive. And outsourcing companies like ours really offer that range of services. While you are busy doing your business, we are busy doing digital transformation of it. And thanks to effective communication the outcome of such cooperation is always better than it was expected.
Where is it better to look for the developers team?
Once you’ve decided what team and with what range of provided services you would like to hire, you should start looking for that team. But where can you do this? After all, sitting for hours and googling different requests may not be very effective.
To help you with this task we have prepared two searching hints for you. First of all, while looking for your team online, try exploring special websites that rank development agencies from all over the world. Second of all, create a list of the most suitable candidates and navigate to their websites to check what they have to offer and show you.
Explore platforms rating top firms
We imply Clutch and Goodfirms, since these two are the most reliable platforms that rate the companies according to many criteria. Let’s take a closer look at them to understand what you can discover about any software development company.
While looking for a development company on Clutch or Goodfirms, pay attention to the reviews left by their clients. Usually such reviews are written by business owners or their CTOs who cooperated with the developers and are satisfied with the end results. The reviewers tend to specify their company name and position. So you can easily google that company if it is similar to yours or related to your industry, and see its size. Also reviews provide first-hand information about cooperation peculiarities, coherence of processes and real values of the development company.
Surf the company website
After browsing the platforms with lots of different development companies, you will definitely have 2-5 favorites that you’d like to contact. But before you do this there is one more essential step you need to complete.
It is a good practice to visit the company website and examine certain sections of it. This will let you collect all the missing information and make a final decision. Wondering what criteria to take into account? Then here is a shortlist of main ones for you:
To wrap it up
If you check out some reputable sources like Gartner, you will see that the biggest trend for the upcoming 5 years would be digitalization of businesses to the fullest. The competition in the business world gets tougher, and there is no time to postpone optimization of the internal processes. It’s time to turn your ideas into real projects. After all, it is always better to be one step ahead of all your competitors and set trends instead of following them.
To perform a successful digital transformation, you need to find a reliable partner that will structure all your ideas, develop and then deliver a highly-functional custom solution meeting all your needs. It is not so hard to find such a partner, if you know where to look and what criteria to take into account. We hope our article will be of use to you and you’ll definitely make a right final choice.