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Choosing A Custom Software Company

If your business depends on technological systems for its survival, the last thing you should be doing is suspending crucial development work that could give you the competitive edge. Or if you’re a newbie with a bright idea, holding fire on your dreams could mean someone else beats you to the punch by the time you decide to act. This article examines how business survival depends on evolution and those that decide to wait out the credit crunch could find themselves obsolete.

So your turnover is down, and your customers seem to be window-shopping rather than buying. What can you do? Batten down the hatches and wait for the economic storm to pass? That might be your natural instinct, but the chances are that by the time you re-appear from your self-imposed exile, your competitive edge may have gone, and rather than re-emerging into a post credit-crunch world where economic recovery offers you fresh opportunities for business prosperity, you could find yourself obsolete.

Survival depends on evolution. Hold still and the world will pass you by.

That’s why if your business depends on technological systems for its survival, the last thing you should be doing is suspending crucial development work that could give you the competitive edge. Or if you’re a newbie with a bright idea, holding fire on your dreams could mean someone else beats you to the punch by the time you decide to act.

So how do you steer your company through an uncertain economic market to the safe shores of a brighter tomorrow?

Firstly, bear in mind that a tough economic market doesn't stop innovation - on the contrary, history informs us that adversity fuels innovation.

If you’re an innovator, the chances are that the factors that came together to spark your bright idea in the first place may be there for others to draw the same conclusions from. Innovation very rarely happens in a vacuum and, referring to history again, it’s the first person to capitalise on an idea that wins (take, for example, the invention of the light bulb – Thomas Edison succeeded in making the first practical prototype, but he wasn’t the first, or the only person working on the light bulb).

However, without cash flow to grow your idea into something tangible, an idea is all it will remain.

With banks and lending institutions making it very difficult for companies to raise the capital necessary to undertake large custom software projects, it is perhaps understandable that some businesses may be tempted to put their software projects on hold until the market recovers - or to settle for an off-the-shelf substitute that ‘makes-do’ for now. As attractive as this may seem, the risk is that an off-the-shelf solution could ultimately hamper your business objectives if the system isn’t right for you, which could result in having to make business sacrifices later on.

It’s also worth remembering that a tough market can give customers a better hand than in times of plenty. As a potential client, you can negotiate more ‘bang for your buck’, so offsetting the cost of undertaking the project.

And if you do decide to go ahead, it’s important to keep control of your software development project. To do that, the solution is to outsource the work to a reliable software house with a good track record – but you need to be careful and do your research.

Big software houses can be expensive, as well as impersonal. Small software houses can lack resources or developer expertise. Look for a consultancy somewhere in the middle. Look at their website for contact information. Chances are that if the phone number is difficult to find, they’re not the best communicators, which could spell trouble ahead.

Spend some time getting your idea right. Make sure you know what you want your idea to do and what you expect from a software developer. If you’re clear on how you want the software to function, chances are so will the software developer.

Remember also that if you’re serious about developing your idea, it’s always a good idea to run it past a software consultancy before you embark on spending serious amounts of cash. A consultancy can assess the technical feasibility of your plans and provide that extra, independent analysis of the business risks associated with your idea, so that you can move forward with confidence. Some developers will provide free initial advice, so you can see what’s involved. You’d be surprised at how many ideas fall at this crucial first hurdle.

How To Choose A Custom Software Company

Before approaching a software development company, work out your exact requirements in the form of a basic analysis. This includes the requirements from an end user point of view and a rough design specification.

  • Research the Web for custom software development companies that have undertaken similar projects.
  • Check the consultancy’s technology expertise.
  • Ask for client testimonials to check for past performance on the timely delivery of software and the quality of service.
  • Ensure that the company has a proper post software development support system in place.
  • See if the software consultancy gives a free detailed quote based on the best spec you have.
  • Assess the costs involved and whether you can afford it.
  • Check that the project can be completed in the timeframe you want.
  • People are the most important factor in a software company. Make sure you get on with the people who will directly work on your project and that they have the necessary expertise to get the job done. This is easiest to assure in a medium-sized company that isn't too large to be impersonal or too small to lack resources.

Top ten questions to ask your developer.