How to choose the right software developer?

A key red flag to developers is when they receive an RFP (Request for Proposal) and find out that they are up against the massive players in the space e.g. IBM and Accenture; the tiny local developers; UX specialists; systems integrators etc.

It shows that the customer is unsure what they are really looking for which makes it very difficult for a developer to assess whether there is a good fit.

The best way to start a good developer relationship is to decide what you need first.

Now you may be just starting out and really unsure of what it is that you want to build. Fret not, take a step back and a deep breath, we’ll walk through this step by step.


What are you trying to achieve? Objectives? Awareness, Sales, Community building etc.

What is this problem/opportunity worth to you? e.g. if you had a system you’d be able to release 2 people to work on something else? Or being able to reduce your global training program from 2 years to 4 months? Or are you hoping to make $2m of sales?

So, given who you are trying to reach, what device(s) should you target?

Define your apps


Ok, so now you should have an idea of What you are trying to build its important to decide who you should partner with to build it.

This is where you often think about whether to hire in-house or outsourcein-house or outsource. There are pros and cons of both but for the purposes of this blog we’re going with outsourcing.

Now to type of company.


Freelancers -

Some truly great ones but;-

  • Problems arise when the individual gets a job, falls sick or just doesn’t deliver.
  • Whats the back up plan?
  • Make sure you have strong project management skills in-house
  • Get recommendations


Small companies -

  • They can really dedicate attention if you have a significant brand or project
  • They may struggle with more than a couple of specialist skills
  • Balancing multiple projects can overstretch small companies
  • If your company is big ask if they have vendor approvals for other large companies
  • Get recommendations


Large companies -

  • Powerful as they can cover the whole range of services
  • Ask for the typical project length as things can go much more slowly
  • Do you have the budget for the big boys?
  • Is it overkill for your needs?
  • Get recommendations


Once you have decided the type of company its important to consider 2 quite significant filters

budget. You know the expression “Speed, Quality or Cheap? Choose any 2”. Decide which 2 are the most important to you.

- Do you need them to meet with you face to face? Or are you ok with working remotely?


Now you can start to dig into the detail.

  • Do they develop for your required platforms?
  • Do they have experience in your industry or on similar types of projects?
  • If you have a specific type of skill requirement e.g. credit card payment or augmented reality apps. Can they provide examples?
  • Download real apps by the developer to try out.
  • Do you have a strong in-house design team or will the developer be doing it? Ask for examples.
  • If your app is your entire business find an expert in UX(user experience) as this is the only place customers will know you.
  • Will they let you own the Source Code? Or are you okay with someone else getting the same app with their logos rather than yours?
  • Ask what their project management process is. If they can’t show you examples then be prepared to do a fair bit of this yourself.
  • Chemistry - do you trust them and communicate well?
  • Fixed price is good as you know what you get BUT it allows for less flexibility and things WILL change, so pay more or cut features?
  • Alternatively find out if the developer builds in a generous margin to allow for changes.
  • “Buckets of Hours” may work for you so that you can get what you want but the developer doesn’t lose out if you make changes.
  • Payment terms. They vary but there is usually a big chunk upfront e.g. 25- 50%, a mid-project payment and a final payment when the project is accepted.

Hopefully by the time that you’ve got the answers to these questions you’ll be in a strong position to make a good choice. 

"Building an App" Checklist


Alternatively, if you want help with finding the right development company for your project let us know how we can help

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