So you’ve got a stellar idea for an app, but you lack the technical skills to build it yourself: what do you do? Well, luckily for you, there are literally thousands of development shops across the world just waiting for your call—but be wary, not all tech agencies are created equal.
Who would have thought that picking a development partner would be the hardest part of building your own app? Sometimes, even after you’ve found a talented agency to work with, it is still difficult to maintain a healthy client-developer relationship.
1. What do you need?
It seems like an obvious question. I need an app, duh. Not so fast, what about features the app’s features? What technologies do you need it to be built with? What standards does it need to support? Unless you know all of this offhand, you ought to dedicate some time to research, lest you be taken advantage of by your tech partner.
2. Choose a partner that knows data.
A good software developer knows their data. Data is a critical component in crafting the perfect solution to a given problem. There are a few data types that a good software developer ought to fluent in: user data, industry data, and various analytics data sets.
Software development companies that know and rely on a number of data types are generally more successful and better equipped to build your app.
3. Know what you’re paying for.
Like any business, software developers need to make money. Naturally, they will charge you more than it actually costs to build an app. That said, it does cost a lot to build an app—you have to pay the developers, the designers, the QA specialists, etc.
Your best weapon when negotiating the cost of building an app is to know how much people usually pay for the features you want, and how much you are being charged specifically for each feature. In other words, demand an hour sheet from your partner.
4. Understand the software development lifecycle (SDLC).
Every company uses a different development lifecycle (ex: agile vs waterfall). Knowing the lifecycle will save you many headaches. It gives you insight into when you ought to be meeting with your partner, when to expect updates, and more.
The SDLC is important because it not only determines when you get your app, but also when you get each feature (if it’s an agile lifecycle). This way, you can use your time to develop your marketing and release strategy instead of constantly following up on the progress of your app.
5. Work with a company that cares about your business.
Perhaps the most important point in this list is to work with a company that cares about your business. You ought to pay attention to a number of things when making your decision about who to work with: culture, client relationship, how much do you trust the company? Who are you meeting with when you meet with the company? CEO? Or low-level staff?
Read up on some reviews beforehand. The company I work for, Codal, has a 4.5 star rating on Clutch.co, for example. As a result, we get many leads every month, because our clients know how important it is that we care.