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How To Choose a Software Development Company - Part 1

Do you know what you’re doing?

It’s a question that most agencies wouldn’t ask a new client (or a prospective one) but it’s an important question, even if it’s challenging.

Your response to that question can fundamentally change the selection criteria for your new partner agency.

If you’re the kind of person that’s:

  • The most digital

  • The most technical

  • The most experienced with outside suppliers

Then you can go ahead and skip to this article and look at how to write a great brief.

But if this project has more or less fallen into your lap, it’s worth considering our discovery workshops, which help people dive into the challenges and opportunities of their web and mobile apps and identify and qualify the scope of its project and viability.

The Discovery Process

Our Discovery Process is designed to complement your brief or help you create it, depending on where you are in your journey. Once we’ve read your brief, whichever form it comes in, we take you through our discovery process.

Discovery consists of multiple two to three hour workshops that are designed to drill down into the heart of your problem or opportunity and come up with the best way to execute it. We use this time to really understand what your needs are, the needs of your customers and to help you build and create personas of your ideal customers.

If you would like an in-depth walk through of how our remote discovery process works, you can read it here.

Working with your existing team

Some clients come to us with an existing team that they need to add velocity to. They’ve been looking at near shore, offshore and onshore solutions and approach xDesign as part of that consideration process.

We’re one of the great locally based agencies and we have extensive experience integrating with existing teams and adding value and velocity to projects with minimal downtime. Our partnerships are based on face to face relationships, whether that’s with a dedicated Product Owner or an engineering team that’s brought in to reinforce your own resource. You won’t be wrangling time zones and we can guarantee there is strong accountability every step of the way.

Owning your own project

Working with us, doesn’t mean that you’re locked out of your project once it’s finished. We have an easy handover process that makes it simple for your team to pick up the project and manage its maintenance and upgrades, if that’s what works best for your business.

We’re able to integrate members of your team into our team (or vice versa) so your team is up to speed when it comes time for them to take control of the project. We’ll also equip them with documentation and walkthroughs and we have ongoing support options to suit your project (more on those below).

Outsourcing and putting bums on seats

We’ve seen people use contracting and bum-on-seat outsourcing for the better part of a decade.

It’s a popular solution and one a lot of companies turn to when they think an extra set of hands will help get the job done. Unfortunately, it doesn’t do a lot for risk management and adding value. A bum on a seat will do the job you set out in front of them, but can they do much more?

We’d be lying if we said our clients and business partners didn’t deserve the best. We know that the flexibility of outsourcing can have great implications for budgets and deadlines. So, we came up with Augmented Engineering.

Augmented Engineering goes beyond putting a bum on a seat. It’s about augmenting your existing team with the skills of an agency. What makes it different is that our engineers never stop being part of the xDesign family. Not only are they accountable to us but they can also depend on us, rely on us and turn to us when they need advice or guidance with a problem. It’s essentially outsourcing but with the full weight and expertise of an agency behind you (with none of the overheads).

It helps us to help you more but removing barriers and boundaries for innovation. In a standard outsourcing situation it might not be the remit of the person joining your team to speak up or problem solve or look at additional services but with Augmented Engineering, we’re joining your team in a relationship that’s designed to add value, that encourages people to innovate and problem solve so you’re constantly getting the most out of your investment.

Is Agile right for you?

Agile working means that we value collaboration and flexibility over having a strict set of requirements. For people that are new to agile, this can seem scary. What it means, in practical terms, is that we’re able to optimise the product as we face challenges, continually learn as we go and then present a final product that’s more in-tune with the goals and needs of you and your customer.

For that to work, it revolves around a strict set of principles and your collaboration. We need you to have capacity and time for user based feedback, to attend sprint demos (usually every two weeks) and regular stand ups, where we can talk about roadblocks and challenges and how to overcome them.

It can seem like a lot - especially when you have a lot on your plate - but in return we’re able to offer fully agile teams that respond quickly, aren’t overwhelmed by changes that digress from the plan and a fixed feature, fixed cost strategy.

Project Maintenance - beyond completion

It’s important to think about how the maintenance of your web and mobile app will be managed after the initial and who in your team (if not yourself) will be looking after it. This is the long tail of the build with the app / software needing to remain perfectly functional and up-to-date over its lifetime.

Your agency should include support beyond bug fixes (we certainly do) and it pays to look at your own teams capabilities and capacity. Depending on the project build and nature of your team, it might be more beneficial to manage updates and maintenance in house but if you don’t have a team of engineers, you’ll need to look to your agency to provide this support.

These are all underpinned by our post production warranty of ensuring there are no bugs in your code.

Now you know about how to choose a software development agency, if you would like to take the next step into looking at a discovery process and how we can help tackle your challenge or opportunity, get in touch.

Read Part 2 of How to Choose a Software Development Company