Deciding What Custom Software Solution to Build

Who holds the responsibility for coming up with designs, targets, and measures of success?

Read on for part 1 of our series: 10 Questions to ask any Custom Software Development Team Before you Sign the Dotted Line.

Unless you have experience with developing software, you probably aren’t too confident in vetting either the companies or their proposed solutions and services. How can you ensure the dollars and time you invest will return real value? What is the right approach to shopping for such a highly technical service?

We created a bank of non-technical questions you should ask every custom software development company you are considering. These questions will help you determine if the providers you are considering have the right experience, philosophy, and approach to deliver real success for your project. Today’s question is:  

How Will We Decide What Needs to be Built?

Why is This Important? Custom software should always be designed for you and your specific needs. Great custom designs consider your industry, business, processes, and your people. You should not be expected to bring a pre-designed solution to your custom software development firm. You are the domain expert for your business, and likewise, a valuable custom software development firm should be experts in identifying the real problems to solve, and working with your team to craft a solution that solves that problem.

What to Listen For: First, details on their experience understanding who clients are and what business problem(s) they are trying to solve. If they usually work off of a spec or design document from the client, that is a major red flag. Next, you should expect to hear about their approach, the people, and the roles that will be working with your team to elicit and identify the real problem to be solved, and create specific criteria to measure success. Hint: the people that can do this work are almost never software developers. They will have titles like Consultant, Business Analyst, or Solution Architect. If you are funneled to a project manager, engineers, or developers, that is another red flag. Finally, you need to understand how the company will reflect their understanding of your problem and solution to you in a way that you can see it, understand it, agree with it, and hold them accountable. If they can’t clearly explain their proposed solution in plain English, you should be looking elsewhere.

For more, check out our other posts in this series with the tag “10Questions”

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