Published on February 19, 2014
How to choose a web / bespoke development company The right tools for the job
Introduction Choosing the right company to develop your website or back office business software is not easy. You need to be able select from a group of companies that know much more about development that you need to. The right tools for the job
Purpose of this Guide This is a plain English guide on how to select a development company. It will provide you with the some of the questions you should ask. It also suggests a way to separate the wheat from the chaff. The right tools for the job
Questions The right tools for the job
Does the technology matter? Php vs dot.NET vs No Yes • It will be outsourced • Software systems are loosely coupled • We want full service including long term support • • • • Java You have an in-house team We often use contactors We need deep integration We have a defined technology stack The right tools for the job
It’s not my first rodeo Experience is important, but not the sort you think. An outsourced team need experience in: • The technology they recommend • The type of problems your project has • N.B. these might in a different vertical but that is ok • Supporting systems as well as building them • Solution design not just build • A developer is ok but most systems fail due to poor design • Business process analysis • Information architecture The right tools for the job
Certification / partnerships Not all certifications are equal! • What are the certification requirements? • • • • Pay some money Qualified developers Customer feedback Sales of product • What does certification / partner status provide? • • • • A stamp Access to high quality technical support Increased turnaround on support issues Training The right tools for the job
Team size How many people are there doing what you need? Understand the skills you need to deliver the project and which skills they have in-house and which are contracted in. • How many developers with 3 years or more experience in your chosen technology? • Do they have in-house project managers? • Do they have in-house testers? • Do they have in-house infrastructure people? The right tools for the job
Choose your weapon Which is the best methodology for you? At a high level you are choosing between Waterfall and Agile. Waterfall vs Agile The right tools for the job
Choose your weapon The question you need to answer here is this: Can you define your requirements upfront to a very high degree of accuracy? If not then choose Agile with a fixed budget. The right tools for the job
Can they practice what they preach? How do they walk the walk? Now you have chosen your methodology you must ensure that your list of suppliers practice it correctly. In Summary: • Check their process overview • Check their document templates • Check the tools they use • Check who is responsible for what The right tools for the job
What to look for in Waterfall Waterfall is documentation-heavy so look for example documents that go into a great deal of detail. You will need a good business analysis and information architect to understand all the challenges upfront: • • • • Check their example PID for detail Check their SOW for detail Check that their test plans match the SOW Check their project plan The right tools for the job
What to look for in Agile Agile is not an excuse to just make it up as you go along. You need the right tools to make it work well- the value of agile is that it forms a basis for learning as you go along: • Check their tools for managing • • • • User stories Testing Automated deployment Wireframes • Sprint plan The right tools for the job
Who’s who, who really does the work Corr he’s ugly! Meet the people that are going to deliver your project. Having a great sales person is no good for delivering work, you need a team of pros. Be wary if you get: • people with big titles (don’t do real work) • no one that just speaks technical (these are the people that make it happen) • no project managers (they get the geeks to do it on time) The right tools for the job
Don’ts Pretty pictures do not make a software team If what you are building is a large complex website or other front facing tools, do not choose your development team on: • What the design looks like • Creative flair The right tools for the job
Process The right tools for the job
Tender process Request for tender Tender response Score tender Short list Invite for pitch The right tools for the job Pitch Award
Request for tenders Tell them what you want In an RFT you need to be explicit in everything you want. Prerequisites are: • Tender structure including all the sections, and an explanation of what each section should contain • List of consolidated requirements • List of company information The right tools for the job
Request for tenders Example structure • Executive Summary • Solution Overview – Point by point response to requirements • Project process – Indicative Project plan • Team – Short bio for each person on the project • Case studies relevant to tender • References • Company Information – Last 2 years of summary accounts – Insurance – Certifications The right tools for the job
Points make prizes Tune the point scoring matrix to enable you to make an informed decision about which supplier is right for you. The company with the top score might not be the one you pick but it should be one of the top 3. Please download the free software developer house scoring matrix from here. The right tools for the job
Interviewing potential suppliers Feedback is really important Before you invite any companies in for a pitch you need to feedback to them what you felt was missing in their tender document. This provides them with a chance to complete the pitch. Be clear and honest with feedback. If you want a lower price tell them, if need more information tell them. They don’t know what you are thinking! The right tools for the job
Final negotiations Bargaining on what you want- be honest! • If you need a lower price tell them what it is – Don’t ask them to lower their price, they will just take a bit off again and again. Cut to the chase! • Be careful about pushing them to go low on priceshared risk is a much better approach – Pushing down the price just means they will need to reduce the costs if you push too much. – Defining the objectives and creating incentives for them to deliver is a much better approach The right tools for the job
When the deal is done Be honest and transparent Once the deal is done be honest and transparent; the more honest you are with your supplier the more honest they should be with you. Create a partnership that is true and not one that is adversarial. If they don’t do this sack them and find one that will. The right tools for the job
Good luck! We hope you found this guide useful. P.S. don’t forget to invite FelineSoft to tender The right tools for the job
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