Tips in Choosing the Right Custom Software Development Company

August 22, 2022

By: John Tomblin, Senior Solutions Architect
PhoenixBizz, a division of Sofvue, LLC
Printed with permission of Sofvue, LLC and the author

So, you have reached the end of your proverbial rope. The spreadsheet drama must end, and you’ve been putting it off as long as possible.  Your team is now squealing for a solution, and you have no choice but to explore all possibilities. You have looked at a dozen off-the-shelf-solutions, but none are able to solve all the problems.  So, the last and best option is finding a software development company that can take your business project or idea to get your best return on investment (ROI). 

Here are some points to consider when looking at different companies and how they might help you achieve your business goals.

1. Look for a Company with a Solid Reputation

When picking a company to build your software, it is important to look for a local firm with a good reputation. You want to be sure that the work that they do is of high quality and that their customer service is responsive and helpful. This can make for an overall better experience for you and your customers. 

In addition, you should also look at how long the company has been in business and if there have been any complaints against them. If you aren’t sure where to find information about these things, check out sites like Better Business Bureau or Yelp!

2. Ensure They Understand Your Needs

A good software development company in Phoenix will show that they understand your business needs by:

- Talking with you about what's most important for your project.
- Identify budgeting and what it’s going to take to build your software.
- Discussing how they can help you achieve your business goals.
- Ensuring they understand how your software needs to work and the nuances that must be taken into consideration for your project.

3. Ensure They Have Experience in Your Industry

Look at their application portfolio, along with case studies they have posted online. These will give you a strong indicator of the types of projects they've worked on with other clients. 

Additionally, you should solicit and ask the company to send you at least a dozen referrals from past clients so you can pick up the phone and make the call. A software developer in Phoenix who takes pride in their work will have no problem providing contact information of past customers willing to talk about their experience working with the developer in question. 

4. Ask the Right Questions

Once you’ve narrowed your search down to the right software development company in Phoenix, you need to have a few exploratory (discovery calls) so you can ask questions and get suggestions from the developer.  These questions will give you a better understanding of how the software company works and whether they are the right company to fulfill your requirements. 

1- What is the Software Developers Technical Expertise?

When choosing a software development company, you must ensure they have the right technical expertise and experience to deliver a solution.  For example, if a company has years of experience in eCommerce and mobile app development, it’s safe to assume they will have the skills to create an online store or mobile app.  Conversely, if a company doesn't have much experience in eCommerce or mobile app development, but they are strong with SaaS, Web-based platforms and database systems, then you’ll have a better idea of which company is going to work best for your project. 

2- Tackling Complex Problems

Critical thinking is everything with software development.  The problem-solving capability of a software development company in Phoenix will make or destroy your project. That said, here’s a few questions you should not overlook. 

- How do you tackle complex problems associated with design, UX/UI, and how do you make sure developers and PM’s stay focused on delivering the end solution? Ask them to share past experiences.

- What are the most common pain points experienced in the development process, and how does your company mitigate problems, so they don’t become bigger problems? What solutions have worked in the past to address those issues?

- If we were to contact some of your past clients, what do you think they would say about working with your company?  What positives would they discuss?  What negatives?  

- Is there a specific methodology or framework you use when approaching new projects or challenges? 

- What automation and development tools does your company use to manage projects, especially when there are more than 4 or 5 people working on the same project, whether waterfall or agile?

3- What does your software development process look like?

There are six phases associated with the software development process. Talk to your software development firm to determine how they manage each of the following: 

Discovery & Engagement Stage:  Not all projects are created equal, and not all projects should be pursued.  The “Discovery” stage allows you and the development firm to explore the overarching parameters associated with your project and whether it can or should be developed, and we spend a lot of time discussing and researching the “can” and “should” questions.

Planning and Design: -Your Phoenix software developer will gather as much information about your business and its goals as possible. Then they'll work with you to establish a clear vision for what your new software should do, how it should be designed, and when it will be ready for launch.

Coding Stage: At this stage of the project, the design and specifications are complete, the Master Scope Document (MSD) is complete, and all the programming requirements are loaded into your software company’s task management system.  With all of this now complete, programmers can actually begin coding your business application.  

QA and User Acceptance Testing (UAT): Coding is one thing, but testing is something completely different. There are many automated testing tools available in the marketplace, but nothing replaces actual human testing to validate and confirm all the functionality associated with the application have been met.  Also, you should never establish a launch date for your application until UAT has signed off on the project and you are 100% certain that a launch date can be established.

Launch Stage: Launching custom software typically requires the migration of the codebase from your [production] and [staging] environments to its home on a production server, and “production” can mean much more than an AWS hosting account, especially when you are developing accompanying mobile apps as part of your overarching goals.  All this said and depending on the type of software that’s being developed, the software development firm will deploy your codebase onto your company’s production environments and lastly, release the source code ownership to you. 

Stabilization Stage:  Often times, the stabilization process is misunderstood, but by design, it’s in place to allow User’s an opportunity to learn about and use the software, become familiar with all its associated modules and components, and over the course of the first month, or two or six, to identify areas, if any, where the codebase can be improved upon, and eventually, create enough functional “new” requirements that it becomes cost- and time-effective to add new programming to the now “stabilized” software.

4- What’s the Communication Process?

Ongoing communications to only way to ensure your project stays on track. When working with a software development company, you'll want to ensure there’s an established plan for how often you will get updates and demos throughout the project, how those demo’s will be managed and who is expected to participate in each demo.

The communication plan should also include clear guidelines on when updates are expected, what tools will be used to show progress (if any), and how much time should be allocated for your software development company to respond to questions or concerns from you.

Another important factor in choosing a software development company is whether or not their work environment allows for frequent interaction between team members and you. This can be particularly important when working remotely or as part of a distributed team; however, it's still necessary even if everyone works in the office, or in dispersed teams around town, or across the globe. 

How Can PhoenixBizz Help?

PhoenixBizz has been developing custom software applications for nearly two decades. We’ve worked with small and mid-sized businesses across multiple industries, and across the nation, including B2b, B2c, D2c, biotech, pharma, wholesale, and manufacturing, to name a few, as well as right here at home in Phoenix, Flagstaff, Tucson, Cottonwood, Scottsdale, Mesa, Chandler, Glendale and Buckeye. To learn more about our services or to schedule an introduction/discovery call, contact John Tomblin directly at 623-845-2747.  

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Article number: 081720220155.

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