5 questions you should expect
from your new software engineering partner

Author:

The Customer’s Checklist

Engaging the right development partner can be a challenging process. It is a bit more complex than simply conducting job interviews for various technical openings at your company.

Because beyond “filling the gaps” and finding your initial development team, it is important to engage the right organization. A partner.

If you are not just looking for temporary “hands” – which you may find more easily through a recruiting agency – then you might be looking for a specialized Application Development company. A professional Provider, to help you define, plan, refine, build, launch, and maintain your applications. Or build you a revolutionary digital product. A company that is able to add more flavor to the cake.

So HOW DO I START?

From a good engineering partner you will likely expect, already in your early discussions, some guidance, maybe a business proposal, a commercial offer, some technical advice, or at least a projected path towards the realisation of your vision.

To help you kick off an efficient dialogue with your candidate Partner(s), we have prepared a practical guide on

How to start an external software development engagement effectively”.

In our experience, this below is what a Provider needs to know in order to respond back with some sort of a proposal.

Answering these questions in advance will save you time and effort in the early stages of engagement with a potential software services provider.

Our practical checklist below will help you prepare for some of the most common questions that you should expect from a candidate software engineering partner.

 

Download your free guide here…

 

1.    Can you share your vision about the solution you intend to develop?

The best start for a successful collaboration is to provide a clear description of your business needs. Explaining what the project is meant to accomplish, which industry it will serve, what type of application you wish to develop, offering a bit of business context (functional), will help get the attention of the engineering team.

It will show that you know what you want and you are prepared to articulate it.

Don’t hold back from details. Be as specific as possible when describing your existing in-house capabilities. Mention if you already have an internal software development team or not, how big it is, if there is an existing application ecosystem that the new project will relate to or not, etc. Define the business objective for the partnership, regardless if you are looking to build a new application from the ground up, or reengineering some existing digital processes, or simply hiring for specialized roles such as programming, testing, DevOps, or product development.

2.    Are there any known prerequisites for the candidate company or for the project itself?

After having a high-level functional overview of the project scope, it is time to offer additional context, such as the desired infrastructure, or some technical requirements, if you know them.

Are you looking to build a new digital product, or a proprietary platform, from the ground up, so that you own 100% of the intellectual property created?

Or you’d rather have a working solution faster, but built on existing third-party software and… possibly not fully mapped to your business needs? Keep in mind: when using third-party software, you will not own the IP.

At this stage, it is important to balance out the different opportunity costs, depending on your specific needs. If you have reached a decision, share it with your partner, for early calibration. It’s more productive.

When it comes to technical requirements, you should clarify from the beginning whether you have any prerequisites or restrictions. For instance: do you have a preference about the technology stack that should be used (if decided already)? Do you require certain credentials and/or certifications (e.g., ISO 27001)?

The same goes for clarifying early if your future team should have a specific language skill or the ability to cover a certain timezone.

3.    What is your expected project timeline?

Efficient time management is another key factor in ensuring a good start. Share your expectations regarding any planned go-live dates, the intended duration of the initial engagement, and any plans for extensions.

The more details you are able to provide about the project scope and deliverables, the better the chances to get a focused proposal from your provider. Share your project timeline expectations and hear out your supplier’s input on how feasible these objectives are.

After all, you want to know how long it would take them to build the solution, not just some random development team.

4.    Clarify your expectations about a possible team structure, roles, and responsibilities (if you have them)

Are you looking to hire a team or just some individual roles?

Are you looking to buy “solutions and services” (partner becomes responsible for the end result) or “hands” (partner only provides outsourced roles/staffing, but you remain in charge with the end result)?

How many people do you estimate you will need, for how long, and what are the roles you expect the team members to fill-in?

With this information, your partner can start drafting a proposal, knowing what you expect from them. If you already have job descriptions for the roles that you are planning to source through your partner, you should share them before you ask for a quote, or even before asking “how soon could you start?”.

Do you require any occasional on-site presence? If yes, explain where, how often, and for how long. Or if you expect (even part of) the team to work on a different time zone than their standard coverage, you should make it clear from the beginning.

Team stability is another important factor to consider at this stage. You should be very clear if you expect a steady volume of work, which would keep a dedicated team of engineers busy for X months or years, or if you only have ad-hoc needs that will require assistance from a partner.

5.    What are the financial details associated with this collaboration?

 

One final aspect to discuss before moving forward with an offer request is the financials. If you need to meet a certain budget, it’s best to share it, straight on.

If the budget is too low for instance, your supplier should let you know pretty soon.

 

 

Your budget could be expressed in different ways:

  • A maximum budget for the entire project (total cost of ownership)
  • Budget per milestone
  • Budget per activity (e.g. for the Development, for QA, for Infrastructure, etc)
  • A fixed-rate card (fixed daily rates or hourly rates, per role / per seniority)
  • Monthly spend appetite

If you have specific requirements for the commercial model (e.g. fixed monthly rate per person, or milestone-based payments) or regarding the currency that you would like to receive your quote in, this is the time to share such information with your partner.

Final thoughts

Remember that this is YOUR IDEA and you are ultimately responsible for the success of the project. Your software engineering team will be there to assist you and provide all the needed support to maximize this success.

Here is a checklist with the questions you should prepare for when asking for a quote from a new software partner.

Download your free guide here…

 

*Note: We have designed this material to serve as a guideline for Buyers considering developing a software solution with an external partner. The checklist represents our point of view and what we believe to be a practical way to engage with a new engineering partner, based on our own experience in running international R&D projects for over 15 years.

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