The technological world changes before you know it as the industry is filled with young, fast-moving talent in motion, transmitting impactful data solutions worldwide. Implementing these modern technologies brings higher productivity, flexibility and scalability to businesses of all industries. However, large companies often do not have enough employees, time or understanding to keep abreast with these rapid changes and update their technologies accordingly. Executives end up appreciating this fact sooner or later and making adjustments anyways.
The intuitive conclusion is then that the sooner the software systems are improved – the better the outcomes. Thus, business owners and leaders end up coming to the conclusion that a technical partner is exactly what their company needs. Choosing a technical partner means entrusting all your confidential and sensitive information about your business operations and processes to a software company you are coupling with. Sounds like an important decision when putting it that way, right?
That is because it indeed is, the act of selecting the right technical partner cannot be taken lightly and has to be approached with an unduly sense of responsibility. Not least because your software development partner also has to be someone who fully understands your business specialties and intricacies, as well as meets your expectations and aligns with your business goals and objectives from a technical standpoint. The criteria for finding the tech partner are numerous and all of them should be considered during the research. After all, your company’s development, scale, improvements, and ultimately success depend on this choice, so we recommend taking this seriously.
That is why we are bringing a step-by-step guide with the things that you have to take into account when looking for a technical partner to drive your innovation. And as a bonus, we also provide a list of hot tips from our CTO, which we are certain will be a useful and interesting revelation for you.
Things to consider when looking for a technical partner
The search for the right technical partner is a real challenge as you are going to share in the business responsibilities with the 3rd party company. Along with the general selection criteria like the portfolio of past projects, duration on the market, and industry specialization, there are also numerous important details that may not be as obviously and blatantly important, but it would be a good idea to consider them nonetheless. This article discusses all of those and highlights the main things that we recommend you focus on when picking a reliable technical partner for your business.
Make sure the provider understands your business specifics
One of the first and main requirements for your potential technical partner is knowledge of your industry’s specifics and experience in building solutions in that particular branch. A tech partner has to be aware of the current state of the general level of software usage in that market, the latest technological trends, the kind of products that are being offered by competition, and, of course, last but not least, the developer’s team has to understand your immediate business needs and values. A large share of all software projects fails because they do not satisfy the main requirements and end up not being profitable or worth it for the company or customers. Each business industry has its differentiators and specialties, so make sure that your potential partner is good for it.
The easiest way to figure it out is to check the company website, particularly landing pages and portfolio to know if the company has ever had the experience building custom solutions in your industry. You probably wouldn’t want to be the guinea pig or testing ground for the developer’s company exploring working up solutions and experience in your industry from scratch.
Ensure that your business priorities and values align with the provider`s ones
As choosing a tech partner implies a long-term partnership, you need to ensure that you and your partner have the same direction and goals. That is why we recommend conducting deep and thorough research and analysis before following through with the actual choice; namely, there is a need to investigate the following company information in particular:
- company history, its development, and how long they’ve been on the market;
- investigate the company policies in case this information is available as you want to avoid any instances of cultural or personal disconnects after partnership is already sealed and development is already underway;
- check the company portfolio and released products, make sure that the majority of them are still on the market.
Usually, software development companies indicate their main values and priorities in working with clients in their description, which you can find summaries of on websites such as Clutch, Good Firms, Wikipedia, etc. You need to feel that your technical partner is passionate about your product just like you are, otherwise, the partnership will be filled with complications or even impossible. However, it does not exclude the need of your presence during the whole development process as this is likely something you hold dear because you care greatly about your solution and company.
Here is the video where you can find out more ways of looking for and choosing a suitable technical partner for your business.
Check the level of communication that company provides
As you may know, communication is a key to success in any sphere of our lives. And your long-term tech partner has to have no shortage of it. The level of communication has to correspond to your expectations. We would like to insist on and emphasize the fact that it is vital to be engaged in the development process as a client by staying informed about any changes and participating in executing tasks. Communication shows how responsible and serious they are about delivering their work.
We are proud of the communication level we have at Altamira. We recognized the main rules that are worth following – consistency, frequency, and atmosphere. Let us explain what we mean by that. Our team understands how important and necessary good, transparent communication is and is available to be reached anytime. We take pride in trying to get back to our clients as soon as possible if not immediately around the clock and even on weekends. We assign employees with the right skillsets for your project and schedule matching employee shifts accordingly. We also typically plan all upcoming meetings to pose and answer questions to address any issues or concerns. All of which is done in the spirit of making sure that all hands are on deck and that everybody involved in the project is available and focused.
Transparency in all working processes
Development transparency starts with accurate documentation. It is usually divided into three consistent steps:
This can be a project vision document that contains vital information about the future solution, particularly:
- business objectives that should be reached with the solution
- problems that the company faces
- solution to the counted problems
- roadmap of the product
- value proposition
The development documentation usually consists of coding and testing documents to show how the solution actually works with comments from developers, testing plan, flows, and reports.
This is for when your tech partner is truly a long-term partner and provides continued prospective maintenance of your product after its original development. This type of documentation provides a log of managing the solution and may also come in handy in the future.
The development process itself is split into three distinct stages – planning, development, and testing. In cases where your potential tech partner also offers services of maintaining and upkeeping the software solution, a fourth stage should also be added. Let’s look at these development phases in more detail.
This stage entails creating pre-development documents, which business folks can think of as a sort of “business plan for the software”, which describes the product’s intended functionality, along with the tools that are going to be used to that end. We call this pre-development step a discovery stage that outlines and defines the upcoming development process through a step-by-step guide. Ensure that the company you are going to choose doesn’t skip out on this phase as the product’s success in large part depends on it.
This phase directly implies writing code that strictly adheres to product requirements. That is why the discovery stage is arguably no less vital than the actual development phase, which cannot start without first having clearly defined specifications. Remember, this quite a radical step with a lot of sunk costs involved that we are talking about: developing and implementing a new software system into your workflow. Hence, there is no room for critical errors or miscalculations. Alternatively, you may have an existing solution that may be in need of code refactoring due to the poor quality or ineffectiveness of the previous code. As a reminder, code refactoring does not change the status quo purpose of the code, just translates it into a more modern programming “language”.
Testing stage is considered to be the most vital as it shows how the product actually works. Quality assurance developers run a range of tests to see the product in action and reveal any errors before its release. The number of tests that have to be run varies and their nature differs based on product specifics. However, there are two main, general types of tests that cover different software systems:
- manual – it is a good one but doesn’t exclude the human error;
- automated – this type provides the highest quality of testing.
A reliable partner enables you to be engaged in the development process and informed about any updates about your product. The transparency is reflected in the availability of regular reports about the performed tasks, constant communication via video meetings or emails with the Scrum master and other involved developers, and in discussing each product sprint to decide whether the steps being taken are aligned with the overarching vision for the product or if something needs to be done differently.
Project management tools to monitor the development cycle
There is a wide variety of project management tools that can be used and each of them can be used to develop unique features and benefit the development process. The most popular of which are ActiveCollab, Trello, Zoho projects, Jira, among others. Why is a project management tool required? It provides full tracking of the development process and contains:
- signed documents;
- visualizing the project roadmap with specifications;
- creating and assigning tasks to particular specialists;
- tracking duration and quality of task execution.
All in all, it helps to properly monitor the development process. Here at Altamira, we uphold the Scrum methodology that is great in combination with the Jira project management tool. Scrum is an agile methodology that is easy to understand, transparent, and suitable for all types of projects. It implies dividing the entire project into smaller parts – sprints, epics, and user stories. Jira is a tool that helps coordinate and compartmentalize tasks into parts throughout the development process, while also tracking the time spent on work and progress achieved. With the help of Scrum methodology, the product requirements can be gradually adjusted or expanded along with the flow of the development process to its logical conclusion.
At Altamira, we fully control all cycles of the development process including resources, costs, and project scope as we responsibly deliver on the services we promised and owe.
Relevant technological expertise is a must
One of the main reasons for looking for a technical partner is to keep up with the latest tech trends and implement them into business processes. As companies usually do not have the spare time and resources to constantly research the most recent market trends and think about which solutions could be good to phase into the company, business development managers are responsible for choosing a tech partner who knows what these trends are and how they can boost company efficiency. When choosing a technical partner, ensure that your branch requirements correspond with the tech stack the company provides.
Also, make sure that the tech partner is aware of the relevant technologies and knows how to easily integrate them into your business operations to optimize the resources and make your workflows more productive. Moreover, check if the developers that will be engaged in your project have experience in working with these latest technologies and know how to accurately implement them.
Knowledge of what innovation your business requires and experience in finding suitable solutions
Each software product is unique and requires a special approach considering industry intricacies and company peculiarities. Your future technical partner should not only support your technical department and do the bare minimum but also go above and beyond by giving suggestions on how things can potentially be improved, receiving feedback and taking the initiative, and implementing innovative solutions into your business operations. Thus, your tech partner has to provide research and figure out what exact solution is best and should be integrated into your workflows to increase the general efficiency of your business. And to do this well, to a previous point, the company has to have solid and pertinent prior experience.
This point is also related to the company’s experience. So make sure that the partner you are choosing has previously produced the right results for large companies. Scrutinize and find out what challenges they faced in the past and whether they are known to have a collaborative and proactive approach to projects. As well as whether their solutions have proven to be viable, innovative and impactful enough in practice. When you are partnering with the right technical partner, you are also getting a valuable value proposition in attaining a long-term consultant who provides suggestions for solving problems, generating ideas for any area imaginable in your business.
Easy to understand and detailed estimation
There are different ways that providers estimate quotes and project prices. The main logic that people in this business apply to calculate projected cost outlay for a given project can be summarized as:
- rough estimate that implies an approximate cost of your project based on your basic functional requirements and potential duration of the development;
- detailed line-item breakdown by the feature of the product development and description of potential risks;
- often part of pre-development documentation, if done right, it should provide ballpark accurate indicators as it takes into account all project specifications, vendors, risks, etc.
We recommend that you only consider companies that offer a pre-development stage and consequently all of the benefits that come with it, such as a conscious attempt at providing accurate project cost estimations. Why is this point important? For the same reason, it is important to construct a budget and devise a contract with construction work contractors that are going to build or renovate your house. There are many positive implications as a result of this scrupulous review process, for example, it also helps understand the needs, hours of development that will have to go into this, and, by extension, assign and schedule required specialists onto the project, as well as plan for devoting and allocate all other necessary resources as needed. Detailed estimation docs also are clear and easy to understand for clients who are not tech people, providing a good communication gateway and segway and setting up a foundation for success for all future communication.
In other words, we view the pre-development stage as a quintessential springboard for the future success of the solution and have hopefully convinced you of that as well by now. Without further ado, we would like to present you with a sample of estimation as presented by Altamira. We always want to make sure that we make our cost estimation for projects as detailed as possible, regardless of how diverse the scope of the project is, and irrespective of how extensive the solution is – that is, of whether it’s for a small app or a large system.
Our sincere recommendation is that you consider the MVP approach to software development. It entails first releasing a trial version of the solution equipped with a basic feature set, giving you the chance to test and assess the system, get customer feedback and reviews, and decide whether you want to pursue further development, make the required adjustments, and continue unraveling the software. changes due to your or your customers’ reviews. MVP mitigates the risks of losing excessive amounts of money, time, and resources, not to mention that it gives you a chance to beta test the technology for further improvement.
We provide an accurate estimation considering a client’s requirements and project specifications. Here is an example of our estimation document, so feel free to check it out.
Providing product maintenance post-implementation
Notice that the development process is never-ending. In order to keep pace with the latest technologies and integrate them into your internal systems, your technical partner also has to offer product maintenance services and make available a team of developers who will be involved in upkeeping your project and improving the technologies as needed on a revolving basis. These changes are usually needed when:
- you get negative feedback about the system;
- update of tech trends on the market;
- fix bugs in the product’s functioning;
- your system requires upgrades to work more efficiently.
Our company offers full package maintenance for the released product as we know how important it is to be aware and in front of modern technologies to stay in business and avoid setbacks associated with having outdated software. We have three different packages that contain different sets of requirements, numbers of engaged developers for periods of time, and, as a result, cost estimates. We insist that you look through our maintenance presentation to become more familiar with our services.
Check the clients` review about the development cycle and product quality
No technology and capability outlines or promised features can compare to real and reviews from company clients. The company can be on the market for years, but clients` feedback validates their value like no other. You can always do the research on the web and look through different resources where you can find reviews and references about your potential business partner.
The top platforms for such research are Clutch, Good firms, and corporate websites where you can find concise testimonials about client experience throughout the development cycle with their development partners. However, you may want to resort to a different method of sourcing this information: reliable software development companies usually have a list with their client’s contact information, thus, you can easily contact one of their past clients and ask them any questions to find out the details that you are interested in. Ideally, if you are lucky, one of those referrals turns out to be from a company that operates in your industry.
Questions that will help you choose a technical partner
To make your selection decision easier, as promised, here is a list of important suggestions from our Chief Technical Officer (CTO) consisting of important insider tips that you will hardly find in other resources elsewhere:
- Pay attention to how the company’s internal processes are managed. We recommend finding out what tools they use to assign tasks to specialists, statistics and metrics maintenance, and whether they provide it all. One more tip is to ask about their way of staff management as it usually shows the company’s values and reputation.
- Find out about the average skill levels of developers that will work on your projects ( junior, middle or senior) as some factors depend on this fact like required costs and suitability to your case.
- We also insist on meeting the leaders of all technical departments in the company to learn about their experience and if it is deep, and the flows of their career development to find out their positions are justified.
- As a result of the previous point, we advise you to know the employee life-cycle flow in the company you are going to choose as a technical partner – from the hiring day and through the whole career development. Ensure that their status is deserved due to their real skills.
- Ask for Linkedin profile links of key company specialists to see what they are, how long they work in the industry, check their certificates if there are any available, and know how long they have been working in the company you are going to be a partner with.
- See what challenges and problems the company faced and what solutions they have taken to cope with them. It shows how quickly and efficiently they can solve problems during your cooperation.
- The last one but not less important tip – ask for resumes of the specialists who will be involved in your project. Pay attention if they have experience with modern technology stack and are flexible about programming languages, it would be a privilege if they know several programming languages and have experience exactly in your business industry.
- relevant technical expertise;
- transparent documentation;
- well-managed development cycle;
- clear estimations;
- experience in your industry.
All in all, choosing the right technical partner entails assuming a high level of responsibility and demands that you apply scrupulous attention to researching, and making a final decision only after examining and learning every single tiny detail about the company you are going to select. Speaking of us, we have vast experience in building software of all sizes, for different types of companies operating in various business industries, markets, and geographic locations.
Our team knows how to create a working environment where all your and your company’s needs are taken into account, we offer to take what we see as the most feasible path to developing a suitable and custom approach and suggest a solution that would work best for your company and your needs and verify that it resonates with you. Despite the industry, every business company is unique, has its specialties and values. We understand how to turn your values into benefits for your company and deliver the kind of quality services that you expect.