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Choosing the Right Software House: Practical Tips for First-Time Clients

Michal Krzysztof v2 a28a1397a9

21/05/2020 |

9 min read

Michał Krzysztof

The world as we know it has been turned upside down by the COVID-19 pandemic, so has the global economy. Many businesses have closed, countless more are fighting for survival, and even those that are doing well in the current circumstances are looking for new possibilities to ensure their stability. 

As a software development and IT consulting company, we can’t help but notice that digitalization may be the path that some companies may want (or have) to pursue. At the same time, we realize that the situation requires extra caution in undertaking new business endeavors. That’s why we’ve decided to share some practical advice on starting a successful partnership with a software company, having especially first-time clients in mind. 

Below, you’ll find a Q&A with answers provided by our Business Development Manager, Michał Krzysztof. 


Software house services

When can I reach out to a software company? What services does a software house offer?

Whenever you feel you could take your business to the next level by means of technology. There are many situations in which you could use the help of a professional software house: with expanding your portfolio with digital services or products, introducing new digital products or improving already existing ones, augmenting your development team or collaborating with an entirely external one. 

It’s pretty obvious to many people that you connect with a software agency when you need software engineers to code a great website or an app for you. But software companies don’t only write code. For example, at Codete we also offer audit and consulting services. So you may just as well reach out to us for technological advice.

Before you contact a software development company, it’s best that you have an outline of your project and a firm estimate of your maximum budget. 

You don’t have to know the details, but you should be able to roughly describe what you need. You may also want to take some time to review Software as a Service options first, especially if you’re on a budget, tight schedule, or simply don’t need a complicated, fully customizable solution. Sometimes it may prove beneficial to start with out-of-the-box software and see if the idea fits at all. Custom software fits like a glove, but it also takes more time, money, and effort to build. 


Client’s tech background

Do I need to know what technologies would be the best for my project? 

It’s alright if you’ve selected your preferred technologies and it’s alright if you haven’t, too. 

The main difference here is that when you don’t know what technologies would be the most suitable for your project, you should direct your steps to a software company that works with many different technologies, so that they can advise you on the best one based on their experience. If you pick this option, make sure the company indeed has skilled engineers in the technologies they advertise for. At Codete, we work with many different technologies, our offer is very broad. We have a wide choice of top-notch specialists at hand, ready to advise you on the best tech stack for your project – and ready to develop it later on. 

And if you’re sure about your preferred technology, you can work with a smaller software house that’s focused on writing that particular kind of code. In this case, try to find out what’s their take on a situation when expertise from a different technology is suddenly needed -- for example, how fast they can find a new engineer to augment their team. 


Do I need to have an IT department or in-house software developers for the partnership to work out? 

You don’t. If you have one, but it’s too small for your plans – you can extend it with external software developers. Our experience at Codete shows that teams composed of in-house and external developers can work together perfectly. We always try to adapt to our client’s development processes, agile ceremonies – their company culture in general. We know how important it is to build a real team. It’s an essential part of a successful partnership. 

If there are no IT specialists in your company, you can either collaborate with a complete software development center that will provide you with comprehensive IT support (which is a top-shelf option), or you can go for custom-built software. Of course, if you pick custom software development, you can also count on support and maintenance for the ready product, it all depends on your needs. 


Nearshoring or offshoring?

Does location matter in software development? Should I pick a software house nearby? 

It’s another thing that depends on your preference. There are 3 basic models of cooperation with a software house, based on location: onshoring, nearshoring, and offshoring. Onshoring is when you collaborate with a company nearby, in the same country. Nearshoring typically refers to working with a company from a different country, but usually on the same continent. While offshoring refers to cooperation with a company from a faraway country.

Nowadays, entirely remote collaboration is possible. Still, most businesses find it important that they get to meet their partners at least once in a while – it’s always good to know who you’re working with, it’s beneficial for both sides. 

That’s why I’d advise you to consider either onshoring or nearshoring, especially for your first project. Think about the costs and time of your potential business travels, and select a convenient location you can reach in short travel time, at a reasonable price. 

Codete is lucky to be situated in the heart of Europe, so we’re easy to reach from nearly all countries on our continent. Poland is a good country to consider, we not only have some of the best software developers in the world, but also low prices of accommodation or food if you decide to visit. 


What about communication? Is efficient collaboration possible with a remote technological partner? 

The distance is not the issue here. What matters most is the company culture and communication practices. Sometimes people don’t communicate well even though they sit in the same room, while others can communicate smoothly sitting in two different corners of the world. And it’s not only about the tools and processes, it’s about the mentality.  

Communication is crucial in any project. 

Don’t hesitate to ask about the typical communication practices of your potential software partner: how do they keep their clients updated, how often do they meet with them, and so on. It’s alright if you ask about their internal communication inside the teams, too. But transparency and updates are one thing, another important thing is really building a partnership – building the sense that you’re truly working together on the project, as a team. You should talk about your expectations openly and discuss the ways in which you can work out the perfect partnership together

If you’re curious how it works at Codete, here’s a sneak peek. Communication is a vital part of our company culture. From the very start, our clients can get in touch with the engineers they’ll work with – as I have mentioned above, they have the possibility to evaluate their technical skills for themselves. We’ve got nothing to hide. Then, most of our software developers spend two weeks at the client’s premises for onboarding. Further on, we meet on a regular basis, but mostly communicate online. It works really well! However, we have successfully completed 100% remote projects, too. It’s all a matter of maturity and mutual trust. 


The experience, the expertise

How do I verify it’s a good software company? How do I know they’re right for my project?

Take a look at their clients, browse their case studies, search for testimonials and reviews (not only on the company’s site, but also places like Clutch.co or Design Rush). Ask for their experience in your particular industry, find out more about these projects – the challenges, their ways to overcome them. Of course it doesn’t mean that the company is bad if they don’t have any projects from your business vertical in your portfolio, but cooperating with a software house that does may simply prove easier and more efficient – for both of you. 

Lastly, inquire about their developers: the number of engineers they hire, their seniority level, you can even ask how long on average they stay in the company. Software developers often change jobs, so if your potential technological partner knows how to keep them – it’s a good sign. It’s worth asking about their recruitment processes and the usual time it takes them to hire a new engineer, just in case it turns out that you need more specialists for your project along the way. 

We’re transparent about our software developers’ know-how and experience at Codete. Our clients can evaluate the technical skills of our engineers just as they would evaluate candidates for their own in-house positions. 

Money talks

And what about the price? Why is the cheapest option not the best solution?

You know how the saying goes: buy cheap, buy twice. It’s no different in IT. If you choose the cheapest option, you may end up with a never ending project (or at least one that significantly exceeds your deadline), poorly written code, or even worse – no ownership of the source code for the final product. 

Knowledge and experience of top software developers, scalability of the team, efficiency, good communication, many support and maintenance options, the above mentioned code ownership – these are a couple of things you shouldn’t save money on. I always stress that the key here is cost-efficiency, aiming at the best value you can get for a given price.  

There’s also the question of fixed or flexible price (also known as time and material or T&M) contracts. In general, the T&M pricing seems to be the more reasonable option for more complicated projects and for agile projects, which is the go-to methodology in IT. This pricing model puts quality first, and the time and material costs are adjusted as you go – according to what it takes to arrive at the desired final effect. And as for the fixed price model, it should work fine for small projects with clear requirements and a strict deadline. 

If you have any questions concerning working with a software company, either about the services or a project that’s on your mind, feel free to contact us. We’ll be happy to answer them, and we’ll let you know how Codete could help you boost your business. 

Best of luck!

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Michal Krzysztof v2 a28a1397a9

Michał Krzysztof

Bussiness Development Manager at Codete

Our mission is to accelerate your growth through technology

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