Some relationships are defining and this is one of them. You need a software developer who understands your project as well as you do – and maybe even better. You need someone you trust and feel confident will catch the ball when you throw it. A software developer you feel comfortable working with.
Credentials, reputation, accomplishment are all important, but the key determinant will really be how well you work together.
Before you can start looking for that software developer, you need to be sure of what it is you want to do, and what your preferences are in a working relationship. This will go a long way toward making the search effective.
Don’t be shy! Get answers to the hard questions, like how long they have been in business, and if they are financially sound to be in it for the long run.
Seek references, which a reputable vendor should be able to supply, in addition to a portfolio of their projects and clients. The answers you seek may be literally at your fingertips. Search the web for reviews.
Some questions you want to ask past or current clients are:
Can you rely on them to meet their deadlines with you? Your deliverables are also their deliverables because you have deadlines for which you are answerable.
Something well worth considering is to arranging up front an SLA with metrics and performance standards. According to Sanket Naik, vice president, Cloud Operations and Integrations at Coupa, a developer of procurement software:
“Work with your potential software providers to create key performance indicators (KPIs) prior to signing any contracts. By putting KPIs in place upfront, both parties will know what needs to transpire to make the software implementation a success. A successful implementation will lead to a trusted partnership between the CIO and software provider that can last a lifetime.”
Make sure that all the costs are clearly laid out upfront, and ask about any possible extra charges, which may be hidden or appear later. You’ll want to establish who owns the data when you part ways.
Another item to put into your agreement should address how updates and upgrades will be managed. Don’t forget about training and helping to set up users, which should be included in the implementation costs, along with how the software will mesh into your current systems.
While it may go without saying that good communication is essential to a good working relationship, be sure to get it in writing. Think about the tools you’ll use, and the frequency you want. Your partner must be accountable to you, and available when you need them. That means they return messages, set up regular times to touchbase, and don’t leave you hanging.
What familiarity and existing skills does your prospect bring to the table? What can you learn from them that will enhance your project, and how ready are they to hit the ground running?
Reasonable expectations include:
Something else you want to consider is scalability. Software should scale according to the market. Given your investment, you don’t want to have to re-invest and re-evaluate after only a brief time.
Put yourself in the driver’s seat and don’t hand over the wheel.
Establish what you want, ask tough questions of prospective partners, and request assurances in writing. The right partner will value your vision and your reputation as much as their own, and will always bring something extra to the table. Take the time to ensure a good fit. Because success is in the details.