How to choose a software developer

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Nearly every business incorporates software to some extent in our ever-evolving technology-packed world. From apps to games to home appliances, software touches our lives in infinite ways, and businesses across a wide range of sectors must find ways to leverage it in order to stay relevant and competitive.

As more and more organizations hire software developers to fill this need, the number of options continues to grow, too. It can be difficult to sift through the choices, especially if you’re not a developer yourself. So, what do you look for in a software developer or development team? Although every company has different needs, there are some key steps to take when deciding, no matter what product you want to create.

6 steps for choosing a software developer

1. Make a list of requirements

Before you even begin to recruit software developers, you need to fully establish the scope of your project. Start by making a list of key requirements your end product must have. It’s best to do this with the rest of your team or key players who will be involved in the project. They will likely be able to offer valuable input.

This list will guide you in your search because you’ll be able to ask crucial questions to prospective developers and inform them about what your goals are for the product. They, in turn, will be able to tell you whether or not they can achieve them.

2. Discuss quotes

Pricing is a delicate balance. You don’t necessarily want to choose the cheapest option because the adage “you get what you pay for” tends to hold up. Your product could suffer in quality if you hire development teams solely because they fit into your budget.

That doesn’t mean you should hire software developers who are the most expensive, either — you do have to pay them at the end of the day. Instead, look for the option that brings the most value to your project.

Make sure they meet the requirements you’ve outlined. If they seem like the best choice to build your product and you can’t afford them, you may want to wait until you can. You should also attempt to negotiate prices and rates — it’s certainly possible that you’ll be able to come to a middle ground that works for both of you.

3. Review a portfolio of work — and ensure that the developer has experience in your niche

Any time you hire developers, you must be able to see samples of their previous work. If they don’t have them readily available, it probably means they don’t have much experience and could make for a risky partnership.

When you’re reviewing this portfolio, be on the lookout for experience aligned with the goals you’re trying to achieve. More specifically, you want a partner who has experience working in your niche or a similar one. For example, if your business is in the education industry, you’ll want to hire development teams that have experience working in the edtech space.

4. Ask for references and read reviews

Another way to learn about your prospective developers’ value and experience is by hearing from past clients. Ask the company for references so you can learn about the pros and cons of the organization directly from people who have worked with them. Again, if the developers don’t have any to offer, consider it a warning sign.

In addition to references, you should also read reviews. You can usually find them sites and forums like Clutch and GlassDoor. If you see the same complaints over and over, that’s another red flag.

5. Discuss process

Even if you don’t have a background in development yourself, you should still inquire about how the team will build your product. That doesn’t just mean hammering out the details of the development process itself — you also want to establish how frequently they intend to communicate with you, what a timeline might look like, and so on.

You’ll also want to ask about the quality assurance process. Will they conduct it themselves? Will you need to find another outsourcing partner?

It may be helpful to involve another team member in the interview process when you hire software developers and don’t know the ins and out of development. You will want to ask about the basics of which methodology they’ll use, such as Agile, and a colleague who understands this terminology can assist in facilitating this conversation.

6. Consider factors like size and location

Compatibility is another key factor in determining which developers you should choose for your project. Factors like how many people will be involved in building your product can play a role in the outcome.

If the company is huge, it might mean your project won’t be the most important one on their plate. Too small of a company could mean that there are some important players missing or they don’t have the necessary resources to fully execute your project. Often, a team that’s mid-sized or similar in size to yours is your best bet.

Location also matters. While there are plenty of great options all around the world, remember that if you hire software developers in, say, India or the Philippines, communication, different time zones, and other factors may be an issue. That doesn’t mean you should write off offshore outsourcing, but you should account for the obstacles it could present.

Every business has unique needs, and you may find that you’ll want to add additional steps to the process when you hire development teams. However, these are important considerations to take into account when you’re embarking on any software project. Even if your business isn’t a “tech” one, per se, the products you create could greatly improve or detract from the overall success of your company.

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