Guide: How to choose the right software development partner

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The creation of this guide was driven by one of the most frequent questions asked by businesses in need of software – how to choose the right software development partner? We’ll get into that and take you step-by-step from having an idea or project to having the shortlist of your most suitable development service providers.

Step 1: Choose the geography

That's the number one priority. There are a number of locations where world's major software development companies are traditionally based. They vary by hourly rates, collaboration models, and approaches.

Do a Google search with different keywords, keep it specific, since many companies are very vague about their services, which may not be to your favor. The location of your future development partner has a dramatic influence on the cost and the approach.

Fair enough, the more client-oriented a company is, the higher are its costs. Usually, the prices are based on hourly rates.

If you're tech-savvy enough and have a detailed spec, India/Pakistan/Philippines may be your viable option. However, do not expect them to be extra-creative with your project, and mind the language barrier. More often than not developers are not fluent in English, causing miscommunication.

At any rate a local development service provider would be an ideal choice. Same language, same time zone, common cultural values, but at a cost of higher prices, especially if you live in the US, UK or Australia.

Eastern Europe and Latin America are worth your attention as optimal locations cost- and quality-wise. English fluency may vary from a company to another, but in most cases you'll be given the opportunity to communicate with the development team before you move forward with the project.

Step 2: Ask for recommendations

Word of mouth is one of the most underrated methods of seeking for great service providers. If you have a professional network make some due diligence, you'll surely find someone who has done business with development companies before.

You'll get good and bad reviews – try to make a reasonable choice, not an emotional one. You're going to spend some money with these people, choose wisely.

Additional tip: A good idea would be to do a social media research. That will give you the understanding of WHO the people you're going to work with are. That really gives some insights. You want real people, don't you, not faceless bots. Read blogs, get to know more about what you're going to do, ask people on social media – that’s a tool you cannot underestimate.

Step 3: Look through directories and catalogs

This is another great way of finding real proven experts in the industry. Catalogs are usually very careful about who they rank, and companies that care about their reputation (customers) have great visible profiles. Moreover, some catalogs offer services for contacting, pitching and even paying for your projects. You can leave your review for those you've worked with to help others choose.

Step 4: Mind the design

Find companies that include UI/UX design into cost.

Working out project requirements and going through user experience design all by yourself is very time-consuming. Which is why we'd recommend working with someone who offers a workflow through wireframing, prototyping and mockups. UI/UX is key for web development. That's the basis of how your user interacts with your software. No room for bad decisions here.

Your future development partner should ideally have expertise with both UI/UX design AND development. However, you're free to turn to a number of different providers for those two services.

Step 5: Ask for quotes, reject the cheap

You don't want your project to be cheap, you want it cost-effective. There are too many factors to software development to only chase the lowest prices. Neither look for the most expensive. To make the right choice – spend some time talking with the representative – you'll see right away whether what they offer is worth the price they name.

Contact the company you shortlisted, asking them for a quote. Make sure you give maximum information required, so that they can better serve you and give you a precise estimate. Pay attention to how soon and who contacts you back. Ideally, that should be a dedicated manager, who gets back to you within hours (if you contacted via contact form/email).

Almost finished

Now you have a shortlist of the most suitable development companies for your project. If you're still undecided, try getting it all on paper in a single comparison table. Sift through the offers you get and contact the ones that really get you wanting working with them.

Spend some time communicating and learning more about the team, processes, and values – that time investment will return tenfold. If the budget/timeframes are suitable and you're comfortable with the people– you've found your best software development company.