This article will concentrate on how to choose a (software development) partner who helps you grow your business, not just deliver certain tasks.
Choosing any kind of business partner is challenging. How do you know whether or not they can support your business growth? Do you feel comfortable trusting them? Do you need a partner who delivers a set of predefined tasks or someone who takes responsibility for helping to achieve your growth dreams? This article will concentrate on the last one - how to choose a (software development) partner who helps you grow your business, not just deliver certain tasks.
I have been in the software and product development industry for almost 20 years and have sat at both sides of the table - offering services and also choosing trustworthy partners. I have seen how a partner is chosen by judging CVs and hourly prices. And honestly, I have to say that this doesn't work for me at all. The CV alone says nothing. Yes, I expect high competence, but a bunch of nice CVs don't guarantee it. Not even a little bit. As for the price, yes, money matters, but ROI also matters. The cost of something is nothing compared to if it is done in a way that supports growth. Growth is my passion.
Here are two simplified examples:
You put the same amount of money into the development of 5 new features. The first option is that they get done exactly as written, but later on it comes out that the end users chose not to pay for those features. Therefore, it does not increase your income. The second option is that maybe only 3 of those 5 features get done. But by using methods of understanding the end users, their behavior, and marketing, those 3 completed features get instant success which then leads to higher profit.
You put the same amount of money into the development of a bunch of features. They get done, but with different architecture choices. With bad choices only afterwards do you start to hear excuses like "this functionality cannot be added", "this breaks the whole system", or "it takes ages to implement this". However, with better architecture choices the comments will always be "yes, it's easy to scale the product and conquer new growth goals".
Which way do you choose for your product?
Looking at those examples, the initial team, CVs, or budget won't help you understand which outcome it will be.
So, let me propose 5 out-of-the-box things to consider when you are looking for a partner organization to build software that helps your business grow:
They have passion for what they do. Real passion and excitement. It is not just a 9-5 job for them, but something they care about and put effort into. They are continuously learning and sharing that with the world. They are committed to delivering results, not just getting a task list done. You can see the passion when they show curiosity and enthusiasm for your business.
They know how to share experiences inside of their company. One person can only get a certain amount of experiences during a certain time period. For example, two people with 5 years of experience can have very different knowledge and expertise levels because of what they have learned from others. That is one of the greatest values when choosing a partner for your development. A partner who has tons of experiences with different situations and customers can build much better solutions. But ONLY if they know how to share knowledge within the company. Ask how they do it and you will get a good insight!
They always remind you that your business growth and happy end users are the most important things. It's not about developing tasks, use cases, or choosing a technology. In the end, it's all about understanding how software is used by your end users and how it helps your business to grow. See if they say "no" or at least "are you sure?" to developing something that is not really helping to reach your business goal. The world is missing high expertise developers, but at the same time how much wasted code is written each day?! Let's stop producing waste!
They have full stack development teams who take ownership in the product they develop. Task managers who translate business needs into detailed tech tasks tend to lead to situations where real needs get "lost in translation". You need teamwork and not individual experts who do their thing and do not care about the rest.
Finally, if you do want to ask for something concrete, then I would suggest going with trustworthy recommendations. Those are saying a lot more than years of experience in a CV or numbers in a budget. Ask for a contact and call them to validate if the last 4 points in this article are true about that company. If yes, start cooperation and enjoy your business growth!