Consider a Software Vendor? 7 Things to Check First

Dedicated team | 4 min read

Consider a Software Vendor? 7 Things to Check First

Tips that will help you to gain trust in the quality of services promised and make a grounded decision.

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Here they are. Your shortlisted potential software vendors. So different, so alike. They are miles away from you, share different time zones and cultures. But they all are “leading software providers”, “your reliable partners”, and other “pick-me” titles that you’re not buying into.

Nah. You know what your ideal software vendor is like, right?

You need somebody who has experience in your domain. A vendor that can share your vision and attitude to getting things done. A vendor that will get the things done the way you need. And of course you seek for an affordable price – isn’t it what outsourcing is meant for?

And they all promise you to give it. All those 5 or 10 companies whom you shortlisted based on their promises. How to choose?

In this article, we list 7 things a business owner needs to check about his potential outsourcing vendor before starting cooperation. These tips will help you to gain trust in the quality of services promised and make a grounded decision.

1. Online references

Check if your outsourcing provider has online reviews on independent review sites like Clutch, Goodfirms, Extract.co, AppFutura which list custom software development providers.

Unlike a provider’s website the purpose of these platforms is not to sell you one provider over another but to stand as a trustful source of information and help business owners to make a choice. Therefore, all reviews posted there are validated and can be trusted.

A vendor is not listed on any of the platforms? No online reviews? Ding-ding-ding. The first warning bell.

2. Client’s testimonials

You need more proves so you can ask for the first-hand testimonials. Ask for the references in your industry, similar to your technology focus or from your country. Talk to those who’ve already been working with your potential vendor and ask their feedback.

A vendor has put clients’ logos on a site but can’t share any personal contact details? Ok, as a business owner, you know how unsolicited calls are irritating. Especially if it has nothing to do with your business.

That’s is why a wise outsourcing company would have an officially signed reference with the client’s personal signature and his company’s credentials. Some companies ask their clients to leave a recommendation online – on Linkedin or Facebook page.

Speaking of which.

3. Company’s SMM activity

Nowadays, every company is trying to raise its brand awareness and build trust. And SMM here comes as a top of mind tool helping brands to stay transparent. For customers, for partners, and for potential employees.

Suppose you visit a vendor’s site and read that they claim to staff 100+ people. The first link in google brings you to a vendor’s Facebook or Linkedin page and you see nothing there – no company’s news, no followers, no photos from corporate parties or comfortable offices. A logical question arises. Where are those 100+ people?

The opposite scenario. You see lots of photos with happy people working there and company’s daily life – your credit is gained. Now you know that the company has team-building events and cares for keeping its employees happy.

What does it mean for you? If you opt for a long-term partnership, you don’t need a turnover on your project. You’d rather prefer a stable team who’ll start and finish your project.

That’s why it’s useful to inquire about employee retention strategy which an outsourcing company implements – corporate events, perks and benefits, social package, etc. A quick look at a company’s FB page can give you a sneak peek into this.

4. Candidate requirements

Another way to check if a potential vendor fulfills his promises is to see how well he can meet your requirements for a requested candidate.

You state exactly the skills, level, and other important requirements for a specialist. A vendor will provide candidates whom you may interview personally and check if they fully match your requirements.  

Did you ask for a Senior iOS developer, 4-year min experience, but they are trying to sell you a yesterday’s graduate who can’t tell about half of the apps from his CV?

Your understanding of a Senior level didn’t find a match. Neither will your quality expectations.

5. Company documentation

Make sure that a vendor has proper documentation that protects your interests.

The docs that you may check are as follows:  

  • NDA. Your data and all the information about you and your project won’t be shared with 3rd parties or published anywhere.

  • Contract for service rendering. Make sure there are no hidden costs in the contract, e.g additional fees for training. Read carefully that the vendor may not increase fees over the course of your cooperation. You have all the IP rights and ultimate privacy of all data provided and ownership of the product you develop using vendor’s resources.

  • Indemnity insurance.

  • Certifications. Check if your vendor follows international standards for software development.

6. Trial period/Pilot project

Finally. You can and should request a trial period. Within the trial, make sure all promises are fulfilled.

From our practice, three weeks will be usually more than enough for you to evaluate a developer’s productivity and ability to deliver. As well as you evaluate a company as a partner – how communication is processing. And don't be afraid to ask the vendor questions or address upcoming issues if any and see how your vendor resolves them. 

If you work on a dedicated team model the trial period goes for free.

You can also try a pilot project. It’s a small scope of work you ask your vendor to complete to see how he delivers the needed result if you go fixed-price.

7. Stable IT infrastructure

You’d like to feel safe and know that your data is protected when you cooperate with a third-party vendor, right?

Make sure that a vendor has a properly secured IT infrastructure. He is capable to provide stable internet connection to make your cooperation and communication easy. He has all the necessary tools and software installed properly. He takes all measures to protect his IT infrastructure from hacks (Linux, software updates, antiviruses, server monitoring).

Moreover, he has a video surveillance system and alarm, badge entry system, gatekeeper, employees’ personal PC passwords, no third-party device can connect to the corporate internet. Your data will be stored on a separate server with strictly defined access rights.

There are other measures that can be tailored to your case. But these are the basics that every outsourcing company should be able to provide.

These are the basic steps that you can do to find a top software development outsourcing partner and make sure that your potential vendor is not a flight by night company.

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