Common roadblocks to communication between clients and software developers may come from something as simple as lack of information. This is why, prior to contacting the software house, it pays to sit down and agree on a couple of details. The benefit: faster and more efficient planning process.
To make sure you have the essential information necessary to move your project forward with a software house, follow a simple checklist. It covers the key information every software house will need to decide if they can build the product and deliver it — on time and within the agreed budget.
So, before you actually grab the headset and contact a software house, take a deep breath and relax. Make yourself a cup of coffee and spare a few moments to go through the text.
1. Why bother
There are really only a few reasons companies decide to develop new software: making more money, saving money, or avoiding some risk of losing money. This is why, when contacting a software house, it is important to reach an agreement as to the business goal the final product is expected to achieve.
While the details of the project will probably go through tweaks as the collaboration progresses, the ultimate goal of the application should remain unchanged. Leave the interview to the sales team who, due to their experience with similar projects, can see the bigger picture. They will assess your project in terms of viability, and let you think even bigger. Or more realistically.
2. How will it work
You do not necessarily need to go into much detail at this point, but it certainly helps if there is a general agreement on how the final product is supposed to work. Say what the software is expected to do.
Since you are not likely to have a ready prototype, there are a couple of things you could do:
- Use competitive solutions as examples. This can provide useful analogies for designers and software architects,
- Decide if you want to run it on desktops, mobiles or both,
- Prepare a list of technical must-haves such as login, profile setup, maps etc. Some clients do it though it can be time-consuming and frustrating. User stories are a good way to illustrate your feature list,
- Schedule a blueprinting session with a software house and have them come up with ideas and features for your application. Blueprinting sessions may not be free of charge but some software houses like Briisk do them for free if you decide to develop your application with them.
No matter which way you choose, it’s all about simplicity. This is a starting point to create various scenarios that focus on essential features of the product.
3. How will it look
As soon as there is an agreement as to what the application is generally expected to do, you can go into more detail in terms of design. It is good to align ideas of what the layout should look like so that both you and the development team are on the same page.
Again, what can help here are:
- Competitive solutions as examples. Mark all the things that you love in those designs. You’ll want your users to love them in your solution, too,
- Sketch simple screens in your notebook (paper copies are as good as digital),
- If you’re tech savvy or like to do things yourself, use one of the tools for wireframing. Most probably the software house will also use them before they start the development. But don’t worry if you don’t have them ready. A good software agency will take care of it.
- Schedule a blueprinting session with a software house and have them come up with ideas and sketches for your application.
4. When you want to have it done
It’s a tricky question, I know. Your answer to it is probably “yesterday” or “as soon as possible”. Keep in mind that whatever you answer, it affects the project. Short deadlines require bigger team size, but also a lot of your time and involvement.
Before you ask for a quote, make sure you sincerely answer to yourself:
- How much time can you devote to communicating with the team?
- Which features are absolute must-haves and which you can start without?
- Do you have all designs and mockups ready or are there things the team needs to design in order to start?
- What’s more important to you – proper planning or fast execution?
Software providers understand that you need to release the product on market and expect to do so within a certain timeframe. But they want to deliver a product you both can be proud of. The more information you provide at this point (and the more honest you are with yourself), the better they will be able to plan the backlog and advice on how to move forward.
5. What about the money?
Now the tough thing. I know what you’re thinking what kind of a question is that? After all, you’re getting in touch with a software house to know how much your application will cost. But here’s the thing – knowing how much you have you’ll know how much can be delivered within your budget. A range is good enough as it leaves a margin in case requirements change. And they do. Often.
Looking for a software partner in Europe, you have to prepare for big price discrepancies, from 25EUR to even 100EUR per hour. They can vary a lot for many reasons:
- Location of your team,
- Number of developers involved and their experience,
- Project timeline,
- Other people involved in the team (project manager, tester, designer etc.),
- Whether you want a fixed estimation or hourly rate,
- Level of details in your scope.
In order to discuss your project further, a software house needs to know your budget. On top of it, they will put a margin for requirement changes, will cooperate and prioritize the workload, agree which features are a must, and which are just “nice to have”. Then, decide on next steps.
Hint: Using a cross-platform, progressive app is a smart way to save some money. This allows you to develop just one version of the app that runs across multiple desktop and mobile platforms. If unsure what to choose, the development team will analyse your project and budget to help you decide.
Although this list seems basic, the information will prove incredibly helpful when talking details of your new project with the software house, saving you a lot of time and additional questions in the process.
- Why do you want the application/feature? What’s your goal?
- How will it work? Are there any similar products that you can show us?
- How will it look? Have you found appealing layouts in existing applications?
- How fast do you want to have the app done?
- What’s your planned budget?
Equipped with the checklist and your answers, holding an empty coffee cup in your hands, grab the phone. Now it’s a good time to call a software house and schedule a blueprinting session. Good luck!