How to choose the best software house for your project? Part 1 – Complete guide, important criteria and useful tips 

Read more

Regardless of the type and scope of services you are looking for, the decision to choose a software house will be crucial and will impact every aspect of future cooperation, both in financial and organizational terms.  

However, it is worth considering that the importance of individual criteria that you will take into account when analyzing the collected offers will be different, depending on what type of services you plan to use.  

In both parts of this article you will examples of most important criteria and our advices on what you should pay attention to when looking for the perfect software house. We relied on many years of our experience, as well as on the opinions of our Clients, thanks to which we know exactly what was most important to them when they decided to choose SOFTIQ as their perfect software house. 

What should you consider when choosing a software house for your company?

Software house offer selection criteria which you should use

When you will start looking for the perfect saftware house, you will quickly realize that the seemingly lack of available options is not a problem, because there are plenty of companies on the market, both domestic and foreign, that offer services in the broad sense of software development, outsourcing or IT consulting. 

However, in order to find an offer and a partner best suited to the individual needs of your company, you should both carefully analyze and define your needs, as well as collect as much information as possible about potential candidates for cooperation. 

What you should consider when you will analyze recieved proposals and choose a software house?  

  1. What is the scope of the services provided by software house and how they fit into your current and potentially future needs? 
  2. What will be the amount and type of information that the software house will ask you for to prepare the initial offer? 
  3. What does the initial stage of preparation to the project look like? 
  4. To what extent will you be involved in the project at various stages? 
  5. How quickly the software house is able to complete the service ordered by you? 
  6. What is the size of the company and the team that will work on your project? 
  7. Does the software house use subcontractors, or will it work on its own? 
  8. What technologies the company uses and how they fit into the needs of your project? 
  9. What is the software house experience with similar projects? 
  10. What are the opinions about the company and whether it can provide references from previous cooperations? 
  11. What will communication with the software house look like? 
  12. What practices quaranteeing security and product quality assurance are used by the software house? 
  13. What does the post-implementation service offer look like? 
  14. What is the value of all offers and which elements may affect the differences between them? 
  15. Is the software house open to meeting and clarifying the offer? 
  16. What mistakes should you avoid when choosing a cooperation partner? 

We are aware that depending on the complexity of your project, the weight of those criteria will vary. 

However, we always encourage our Clients to take their time at this early stage and analyze the cooperation proposal carefully.  

It is worth remembering that often the first project is the beginning of a long-term cooperation, the course and effects of which depend on how well the software house will be tailored to your needs and expectations. 

Software house selection criteria # 1

What services does the company provide and how do they fit your needs?

some of services provided by the software house

The type and number of services offered by a software house may be important not only in the context of your current needs, but also in terms of what kind of support you will use in the long run. 

We realize that often when looking for software house for one project, for example create a mobile application, you do not think about what other competences its employees may have, whihc could be useful to you in the future. 

However, it is worth remembering that, especially among small companies, there is quite a large specialization. As a result, the supplier can perfectly cope with the creation of, for example, the mentioned mobile application, but if you want to further develop the project and use consulting services or order and UX/UI audit, you might be forced to find another partner for those services. 

That is one of the reasons why software houses such as SOFTIQ, often referred to as a “full-service development company”, may be the best choice, providing you with comprehensive service regardless of the size and type of your project. 

The range of services provided by such companies may include, among others:

  • creating custom software,
  • web development services,
  • software architecture design,
  • modernization of legacy systems,
  • maintenance and development of third-party systems,
  • DevOps services,
  • software engineering consultancy,
  • Deep Dive Design Workshops and consulting sessions,
  • consulting in the area of UX and UI,
  • delivery of dedicated project teams,
  • outsourcing of IT specialists and teams,
  • Quality Assurance (QA) services,
  • Quality Control (QC) services and software tests,
  • security audits and penetration tests,
  • integration of IT systems.

Finding the right software house is a time-consuming process in which defining the needs, collecting offers and their comprehensive analysis may take you up to several weeks, depending on the complexity of your project. 

That is why it is worth thinking carefully about what kind of services you may need in the long term. This will allow you to find a partner who will be able to fully support your company even in the long term. 

Software house selection criteria # 2

What information will the software house need from you to prepare the offer?

Software quotation elements required by software house

Preparing a reliable calculation requires us to collect precise information regarding the specifics of your project. 

Most often, after receiving a general inquiry, we contact the Client to arrange a discovery call, or otherwise recieve information from him regarding, among others, the goals of the project, its complexity and time frame. 

At such an early stage of searching for a software house, you should avoid companies that will provide you with an detailed calculation based only on your short inquiry. 

Such calculation can be prepared reliably only after a thorough analysis of the project, otherwise you can be sure that you should not expect an individual approach, and better focus on other offers. 

What then determines the amount of information necessary to prepare the calculation?

  • The type of service you are interested in – for example, estimating the price of a consulting service requires much less information than estimating the cost of designing and building custom software for your company. 
  • The final cooperation model – especially in the case of software development, the contract is based on Fixed Price (where the valuation is based on a full specification) or Time&Material models (where we rely on a preliminary calculation based on general information about the customer’s requirements, and the costs are detailed during at the later stages of the project). For more information on how projects are valued based on both contracting models, have a look at this article on our blog

What does it look like in a specific example?

Let’s assume that you are interested in ordering a mobile application for your company from SOFTIQ. After receiving your inquiry, we will ask you some basic questions to better understand the specifics of your project and business goals. 

We will ask, among others, the following questions: 

  • What will be the primary purpose of the application? 
  • Who is the target group? 
  • Do you have a specification or functional brief of the application? 
  • What platform or platforms is it to be developed for? 
  • On which devices the application will be installed? 
  • Do you have any specific requirements for choosing a design team? 
  • What will be the scope of the project – is it full or can you develop some elements with your own team, e.g. part of graphic design, UX / UI design ect.,? 
  • Do you have a specific budget for app development? Its value may determine the selection of the best technologies and solutions. 
  • What is the preferred project delivery date? 

With such basic information, we will be able to proceed with the calculation for the project, contacting you later to ask about your other expectations if necessary. 

It is a good practice to prepare a brief for a software house, which will contain the most important information about your company and details of the planned project.  

Tips on how to prepare such a document can be found in one of our articles on the SOFTIQ blog. 

Software house selection criteria # 3

How does the software house prepare and start the project?

discovery workshops example with software house

Especially for Clients who will cooperate with a software house for the first time, it may be useful to understand what they can expect at the very beginning. 

What information about the project preparation and initiation stage should you get from the future partner? First of all, it is worth finding out: 

  • Will the software house organize kick-off workshops for your team? 
  • How will priorities be set and what will communication look like? 
  • What project management tools will you use? 
  • What project management methodologies will the software house use, and how will they translate into the process and individual stages of the project? 

The more you learn at the beginning about how the software house plans to initiate the project and what support you can count on, the easier it will be for you to assess whether it is a partner with whom you will work well. 

Software house selection criteria # 4

To what extent will you be involved in the project at various stages?

As a Client, you should definitely pay attention to the aspect of software house expectations regarding your involvement in the project. We realize that it can be tempting to rely on assurance of some companies, that you can trust them completely and not worry about them wasting your time with constant questions. 

However, it is worth to remember that such ongoing contact and your involvement are crucial to know your expectations and matching the final product to your needs as much as possible, which is why your active participation in the project is highly recommended. 

level of your involvement in the project with software house

However, the type of this involvement will differ, among others, depending on the chosen model of cooperation. 

Customer involvement in the Fixed Price model:

  • a lot of involvement is necessary at the early stage to prepare the requirements specification, 
  • during the works, the client participates in them by specifying the requirements and through acceptance of the completed works (when they are divided into stages), 
  • software house does not expect the Client to know about the methodology of work or prioritization of tasks. 

Customer involvement in the Time&Material model: 

  • at the initial stage, the client is expected to define framework requirements that will be detailed during the progress of work, 
  • it is necessary to actively involve the Client in the team’s work at all times, by accepting the effects delivered in individual iterations, as well as making decisions about the scope of work at next stages, 
  • due to the degree of the Client’s involvement, he must have knowledge of the production process as well as the prioritization of tasks within the project. 

In addition to the commitment resulting from the type of contract signed with the software house, you will also be responsible for tasks related to budget control and, to some extent, risk management. 

Software house selection criteria # 5

How fast is the software house able to deliver your project? 

Project completion time by software house

In the vast majority of cases, Clients want to complete the project as soon as possible and receive the final product. What is why project deadlines will and ability to meet them by the softeware house will probably be important to you. 

When you will analyze all offers, it is worth to pay attention to any conditions, on which meeting the deadline by the contractor may depend, so that you can choose the offer best suited to your expectations. 

As in the case of the degree of your involvement, the date of completion of the work will also depend to some extent on the type of cooperation model with the software house that you finally decide on: 

  • In the case of cooperations in the Fixed Price model, the deadline for completing the works is strictly defined in the contract. These dates are binding and are not subject to shifts without the acceptance of both sides and amending the contract, 
  • On the other hand, contracts in the Time&Material model contain an estimated date for completion of works, which ultimately depends on the direction of project development. The works are divided into billing periods, the length of which is agreed individually between the supplier and the customer. 

Especially in the case of contract based on hourly billing, it is worth analyzing the received proposals carefully, because sometimes it may be more profitable to choose a software house that offers a slightly higher rate per hour, but is able to complete the project faster, which in turn may result in a lower cost total. 

Software house selection criteria # 6

What is the size of the company and the team that will work on your project? 

Software house size and team members examples

The size of the company you decide to cooperate with will be important in several aspects, including: 

  • certainty that the company will have specialists with various competences, thanks to which it will be able to complete even the most complex project, without the need for additional recruitment (which involves the time necessary to introduce a new employee) or to subcontract some of the work, 
  • a guarantee of quick replacement in the project team, if for some reason, one of its members will not be able to participate in further work. 

For example, at SOFTIQ we employ over 200 top-class specialists, including not only programmers, but also analysts, software architects, project managers, DevOps as well as manual and automatic testers. 

In addition, thanks to belonging to the Euvic technology group, we have access to the largest database of IT specialists in Europe, thanks to which we can handle any project. 

Software house selection criteria # 7

Does the software house use subcontractors or will it deliver all services for you on its own? 

Sometimes the software house only manages the project, and some of the development work is transferred to subcontractors. From the customer’s point of view, this is not an ideal solution, but acceptable under certain circumstances. 

Another variant may be when a group of companies work on a project, where one has a leading role and the others a supporting one. This solution is especially common in the case of very large and complex projects, when it is difficult or impossible to find a single contractor who would not only have the technical potential, but also the necessary experience to deliver the product. 

elements to check when software house uses suncontractors

If you know that some of the work is to be transferred to subcontractors, you should find out: 

  • what will be the scope of works carried out by the software house with which you will sign a contract, and what works will be outsourced to third parties, 
  • what are the qualifications and experience of software house partners with similar projects,  
  • what the project management and communication between you, the software house and subcontractors will look like. 

Only when you will have complete information in this regard, you can decide whether to choose the offer of a company that uses subcontractors, or one that is able to complete the entire project based on its own competences. 

Software house selection criteria # 8

What technologies does the company use and how do they fit into the needs of your project? 

technologies used by software house on SOFTIQ example

Both in the case of software development services, as well as consulting or analytical services, the technologies in which the company specializes will be important.  

Especially when ordering the development of custom software, you should make sure that the software house’s proposal includes information about the proposed technology.  

This choice will determine the logic of the system’s operation, so this information should not be missing in the offer, so that you can decide on a specific solution. 

The offer should include the following information: 

  • which specific technologies will be used in the project, 
  • what architecture design will be suggested, 
  • whether the system will be hosted locally or using a cloud environment. 

The selected programming languages and technologies will affect not only the costs of developing and maintaining the system, but also the possibility of its further development, efficiency and scalability. 

If you do not have knowledge about the solutions used, you should ask the software house for a clarification why they have decided to use these technologies, which will allow you to better understand the offer. 

It is also worth asking additional questions when a software house declares that it can carry out a project in any technology and with the use of any programming language.  

It is then good to check whether these are not empty declarations, whether it means the use of subcontractors, or whether, as is the case with SOFTIQ, it results from the employment of a large number of specialists working in various technologies and from access to a base of additional IT specialists, through belonging to the Euvic technological group. 

If you have doubts whether the proposals received so far best meet your expectations, contact our experts, and we will certainly be able to present you an offer that will be beneficial both in terms of price and quality. 

SOFTIQ software house offer

The criteria described in the first part of our article, which you should pay attention to when choosing the best offer, are only half of the guide we have prepared for you.  

We invite you to read also the second part, which you will find on our blog. 

Feel free to read our articles and download useful materials!

Learn how to keep your IT project budget in check and avoid major mistakes.

Learn the advantages and disadvantages of staff augmentation and find out how much you can save by outsourcing specialists.

Check out the advantages of dedicated software and learn what benefits it can bring to your company.

This post is also available in: Polski (Polish)