October 17, 2018
By: John Tomblin, Senior Solutions Architect
PhoenixBizz, a division of Sofvue, LLC
Printed with permission of Data Titan, Sofvue LLC, and the author
1. Can your development firm effectively communicate?
At PhoenixBizz, we believe the adage that communications are five parts listening, and one part saying something worth hearing. You can take the most comprehensive Statement of Work, a document containing thousands of articulately defined business requirements, and placed into the wrong hands of a poor communicator, whether a stakeholder, project owner or project manager, will crash the project straight into the ground – leaving no survivors.
Only choose a company after you’ve had a chance to talk with them, hopefully in-person, and at a minimum in at least two phone conversations or online meetings. I’ve lost count of the number of companies who selected a development company from one fifteen minute phone conference, and six months later are no further along than when they started. This is not how the software development life cycle works. Be sure you have two calls where you can present your project goals and listen to the software developer’s solutions. If communications falter in the initial two calls, it’s a major red flag the communications will only get worse.
2. Is your development partner an expert in the niche market YOU serve?
At PhoenixBizz, we often refer to ourselves as a “niche development partner”, not because we have an ownership in the applications we develop, but because we understand the niche market we serve. When we understand a client’s niche, we can fully immerse ourselves in understanding the project objectives and finding cost-efficient ways to solve the sometimes very complex business problems.
When interviewing software firms, ask them what niche markets they serve. Do they serve mostly the medical industry or real estate, or are they specialists in e-Commerce? Do they prefer working with small companies or large Fortune 500 firms? At PhoenixBizz, we know we’re not always the right fit, and when we’re not, we’ll tell you. It’s impossible for a development partner to effective develops any type of application for any type of industry. Too often, development firms assert they can be everything to every project…but that’s simply not possible, and everyone knows it.
3. How will your development “partner” create its Statement of Work, Project Spec or RFQ?
There are many development models to choose from; Scrum, Agile, Waterfall, V, Iterative, to name just a few. Whether you plan on developing in 24 hours or 24-day sprints, the end goal is the same. You must identify the business requirements and deliverables, time and budgetary constraints, and then scope, code, test, release and maintain. When an architect designs a commercial office building, she’ll develop a series of architectural drawings to present to the client, along with the cross sections, construction details, and elevations, to name a few. At PhoenixBizz, we follow a similar approach by developing low- and/or high-fidelity wireframes, then adding all the requirements to create a Statement of Work (SOW). That said, other firms may produce an RFQ so they can estimate costs and work on a Cost+ or Cost+ Change Order model. You’ll need to be comfortable with this model before making your final decision. Find out what development model they use and ask how they control scope creep and scope bloat, two major obstacles that can kill a project fast, particularly when there’s no wireframes or SOW.
There are many factors one must consider when choosing a development partner; years in business, staff size and capability, availability, experience, etc., but communications, niche specialization and how the deliverables will be produced are three recurring issues we hear about on a regular basis. Get these three right and you’ll be well on your way to successfully fulfilling your project.