Nowadays, it is difficult to imagine running a business without supporting it with IT solutions. Regardless of whether the company is a start-up, a small or a large enterprise – the need to implement appropriate software will certainly appear fairly quickly. Is it worth commissioning a software house to design it? What does such cooperation look like and what are its advantages?
What choice do you have?
When you urgently need programming services for business purposes, you have several options. You can:
- recruit programmers and create your own IT department,
- use the services of freelancers,
- decide to outsource the work to a company that specializes in creating and developing software.
An undisputed advantage of the last option is its versatility because you get an experienced and well-coordinated team with extensive technological knowledge right away. This option will allow you to reduce the costs and time that, when choosing the first and second options, you would have to spend on searching and recruiting employees.
A software house brings together experts with knowledge of many programming languages, who will help you bring your dream product to the market faster and advise you on how you can minimize the risk of errors. When you hire a software house, you outsource not only programming work but also team management and solution testing, which is why the company can create software ideally suited to your requirements with minimal input on your part. If you have an idea and would like to put it into practice, but you are not sure how to do it best – the software house will provide you with advice and support.
By starting a cooperation with a software house, you can receive the highest-quality application without the need to recruit programmers and provide them with training in your company. It is also worth realizing that work on a project never ends once your software is created. Later, it requires proper control, constant updating and improvement, and all this should be entrusted to an experienced team of IT specialists.
Software house - for whom?
For anyone who needs advanced software. For individual clients, small enterprises, start-ups and large corporations.
The simplest criterion for answering the question of whether I need software house support in my company are the goals. If these goals can be achieved by creating automation, an interface for customers, digitization of the process or implementation of an IT product, and the company does not have a team of programmers or it is too small for a given task, it means that the support of an external IT company such as a software house may be helpful.
We choose the company - so both size and skills matter
The choice of an IT company must depend on the specific task. If we want to implement a presentation-type business website or a light interface to a company process, a small company (up to 10 people) will be a pretty good choice.
On the other hand, if the goal is to implement an extensive system that takes into account many scenarios and on which important decisions in the company or contacts with clients depend, then it is wise to look for a software house with more than 25 employees and with appropriate bank security or share capital guaranteeing the payment of compensation in the event of errors.
The second very important factor is the competence of the company and the people assigned to your project. Always pay attention to the team that has been assigned to achieve the goal, because even if the company has extensive competences, it does not mean that a specific team also has them, or that it will be supported by the entire company. The best example of this are very large corporations, which as an organization have enormous knowledge, but in practice, only the assigned team will struggle with problems, not the entire company. Paradoxically, large companies can turn out to be the most expensive, while dedicating the least experienced team.
Summing up, the choice of the company should depend on the size of the project and the size of the IT company as well as the competences of the team assigned to the project.
Cooperation with software house
The method of cooperation is usually adjusted to the specifics of a particular company and the needs of the project to be implemented. It happens that we join the client’s team on a team leasing basis. We also often create software ourselves from start to finish.
The priority is always good communication with the client and getting to know his expectations in detail. It is also important to ensure a clear flow of information at every stage of planning and software development.
As part of the work with the software house, the key role on the supplier’s side is the coordinator, manager or scrum master. These are three different roles that are often intertwined. In some companies, there are three roles at the same time, in other companies, there is only one of these roles. Regardless, remember that it is the person or persons you will most often talk to, especially about difficult topics. Therefore, try to confirm right from the start, whether the communication is smooth and whether the selected person fits your personality.
The first step, carried out early, even with an incomplete team or even one person, is recognition. Its purpose is to collect information on what competences, technologies and business specialities will be needed to implement the project. This allows the IT company to select the appropriate team.
Coordinator / manager / scrum master in the first stage of the project proposes a KICK-OFF meeting. The purpose of this meeting is to get to know the whole team and to present the purpose of the project. Often at such a meeting, initial requirements will be collected and a team will be selected for analysis and workshops with requirements.
At this meeting, the way of carrying out tasks and achieving goals will be selected and discussed. Currently, the most common approach is agile, scrum or kanban, but there are also various variants aimed at efficient communication and delivery.
A meeting such as a workshop with requirements is a key moment to write down your assumptions, goals, describe the scenarios and required functionalities in detail. Usually, it does not close the later changes but remember that the later each change is proposed, the more expensive it is in implementation, as opposed to efficiently describing the expectations at the beginning.
The next step is planning. After collecting and writing down the requirements, they are prioritized, discussed with the team and divided into smaller tasks that the development team will implement. Planning is an important meeting – and one that will be repeated throughout the project cycle. During the planning meeting, as a client, you will be able to change priorities, clarify additional issues or introduce new requirements to the plan.
Further work and meetings depend on the selected process – there may be daily status meetings, communication via a text messenger where important issues or requirements are explained, and a board with tasks and their statuses.
At the initial stage, a good software house should present the way of working so that it is understandable. It will also help to understand the process during the project.
The project ends with final testing and product implementation. This stage is often iterative which means that the product is implemented in stages. Each stage, in this case, is a closed product that can be used and meets specific goals and use scenarios.
End of the project and what next?
A good software house does not leave the client without post-implementation support. This is important because IT products are complex creations and it takes a very long time for a new team to learn about them (many weeks, sometimes months). Therefore, when choosing a company, you should make sure that it stays with us as long as we need it. As a standard, it should be a minimum of 3 months after the formal implementation, a good practice is a period of 6 months of support, but for some projects, it should be ensured that the company provides support services throughout the entire period of using the product, which can be replaced by an IT company implementing an internal employee who will take over the knowledge and support duties.
Keep in mind that IT products are never closed boxes. Adding new functionalities or changing the use case, e.g. due to a change in the law, is the norm. If your product is at risk of such changes, remember to ensure post-implementation support or even maintenance of constant support and programming work.