The typical modern business runs on a vast array of software solutions. In fact, organizations worldwide use an average of 130 software as a service (SaaS) applications and the average business worker uses 9.4 different applications for daily work. With so much depending on your business software, it’s essential that your solutions are modern, interconnected, and perfectly suited to your business needs. Out-of-the-box software may not fit that bill.

Custom software development can be used to create brand new solutions, modernize your legacy applications, integrate your existing tech stack, and more. But if software development isn’t your company’s core competency, it’s hard to build and maintain those solutions. It's expensive and time-consuming to hire a team of in-house developers, and you may not be as successful at attracting top tech talent as a company devoted to software development would be. It's better to outsource to an expert software development firm. Your custom software partner will not only be able to provide expert software engineers to work on your project, but they can also easily scale that team up and down as needed.

So how do you choose the right firm? When you’re looking for a custom software development partner, keep these 8 factors in mind.

8 traits to look for in a custom software development partner

1. Modern technology expertise

Make sure you’re working with a team of true experts with many years of custom software development experience. The best consultancies have a deep bench and a wide range of skillsets. You may only be working with a small subset of the company’s developers, but they’ll be able to access the collective knowledge of their colleagues. If you have specific technical needs based on your existing stack and goals, you can look for specialists in those areas.

Using a partner that’s up-to-date on modern technology is important. Using tech that will be around for the long-haul will greatly extend the life of your application.

2. A thorough discovery process

The right partner will take the time to get to know your company, your objectives, and your technical requirements before starting work on your custom software. Custom software development firms typically call this their discovery process. You should be an active part of this process, sharing information about your company, your customers, and your team’s operational workflows with the developers as they design a solution for your project. The discovery process also lets you get to know more about the software consultancy before you dive into a business-critical project together.

Talk to potential custom software development partners about their process. A detailed discovery lowers your initial investment, ensuring that both partners fully understand the requirements, scope, and costs of your project before you get started.

3. Agile execution

Agile development is an iterative software development methodology designed to deliver high-quality software quickly and adapt to changing requirements throughout the development process.

For the client, the key benefit of agile is its ability to deliver value quickly. You probably have a long-term vision for all the wonderful features your software could have. But you want it to start providing value to your business now, not after years of work.

In our agile process at Emergent Software, we use the discovery phase to plan an initial release that benefits your organization as soon as possible. After the initial release, we continue to iterate on the software, expanding on its value. The agile process allows us to incorporate feedback quickly, so we’re always working on your most current needs.

4. Quality assurance (QA)

Quality assurance is the process of making sure an application works well and aligns with the needs of the customer.

Many companies don’t have an adequate QA process. For example, they may get QA involved too late in the game, although ideally it should be part of the development process from the start. Some firms don’t even have a dedicated QA team. Instead, they leave the testing to the software developers.

At Emergent Software, we know that QA is its own specialty and we put skilled QA professionals on our client projects. Check with your potential partner—they should be able to detail exactly how they approach quality assurance.

5. A good reputation

Look into the firm’s past work. Any talented custom software developer should be able to offer a number of case studies and testimonials from satisfied customers. Read reviews and choose a company with glowing recommendations. A few good places to start looking for reviews are Google and Clutch.

6. Regular communication

Before you get started with a partner, talk to them about what engagement will look like. How often will you meet to review progress? How easily can you get in touch to ask questions and address concerns?

The best software development partners prioritize regular communication and will make their experts accessible to you. This ensures that the team stays on the right path and continues to focus on your top priorities, especially as your priorities inevitably change over time.

7. Metrics for success

The point of working with a custom software development firm isn’t to receive a flashy piece of software, it’s to achieve your specific business goals. The right partner will be focused on bringing value to your business from start to finish.

That means setting measurable goals, tracking them, and adjusting the software until it meets your objectives.  As you evaluate partners, be sure to ask them how they’ll define success for your project and what their plan is for sharing progress towards the project’s objectives.

8. The opportunity for a long-term relationship

Software is a living thing. It requires regular attention through system updates and adjustments to fit your ever-changing business. But after the initial release, many software development companies move on to their next client. They'll continue to work with you if you're ready to invest in another big project, but they won't stick around to help you manage or enhance your new custom solution. That leaves you to figure out how you’re going to maintain this new tool – which your business may depend on – alone.

It's much more valuable to find a partner that will be with you throughout the life of your software. They can continue to make routine updates and bug fixes, resolve potential security issues, develop new functionality, and respond to emergencies like software downtime.

Work with us

Emergent Software is a boutique custom software development company with years of experience and a reputation for excellent customer service. We employ top experts in the latest technologies and offer a detailed discovery process, agile execution, and thorough QA. We have many customers that have worked with us for years, including some who also take advantage of our other services, like cloud migration and data engineering.

We’re transparent about our software development process. Get in touch to ask us more about how we work or to talk about your project.