October 15, 2020   |   5min read

How to Compare the Offers of Software Development Companies?

To answer the title question we turn to the Polidea’s dream team: CEO Grzegorz, Head of Sales Piotr, and Paweł—Head of Product Development.

What should I know about my project before asking for an offer from a software development company?

Grzegorz: From the point of view of a development company, the more a client knows about their project the better. There’s a big difference between a client who says that they want “an app delivered with Stripe payment processor and use Twilio for a chat feature” and a client who just states “I need a payment function in the app”. We can work with both, but keep in mind that the fewer technical and business details you have the more inconclusive a brief quote can be.

Paweł: Additionally, if you already have part of the product done it will be helpful for us to know how it was made, does it need integrations, can we access the code and so on. Otherwise, we usually ask at what stage of development you are. It’s also crucial to know what your priorities are—is it the deadline for certain deliverables, is it the MVP, fixing the bugs, or maybe staying within the budget?

Pro tip: Make sure you know as much as possible about your project beforehand: your target group, the unique value proposition, what tech you’ve used so far, what integrations are needed etc.

What should I ask a custom software development company to include in my offer?

Paweł: Apart from the price estimation we can suggest the development process and milestones, based on our experience and the information the client provides. We can share our ideas of delivering certain features as well (if the client is not sure how to approach them).

Pro tip: Estimations are a great way for a client to determine if a development company has the right skills for their project.

What criteria should I use to compare the offers?

Grzegorz: The most popular criterion is the price, of course—not only per hour but for the whole project. It shouldn’t be too low or too high—if it’s too low you should worry whether the software development company has valuable expertise. If the price is too high, make sure the price is justified by the level of their service. Additionally, ask the software engineering company what is the probability of delivering the product within the estimated price and time and what are potential risks.

Piotr: Pay attention to the sales process—the communication skills of the people representing the custom software development company, the expertise of the developers, and their past experience in the same technology. However, they don’t have to have case studies in their portfolio in the exact same industry you’re in—unless it’s something that requires certification (like healthcare apps).

Pro tip: Ask a development company to add the probability percentage to the estimations. For example: “there’s a 70 percent chance that task X will take 6-10 days to complete.”

If I don’t have tech expertise, how to successfully determine if the software development company will be the right fit for me?

Grzegorz: Tech expertise helps, of course. If you don’t have it, you can always check the company’s portfolio for similar work. Do they have some recognizable brands in there? Maybe they have a product available on the market you could test out? If I were you, I’d also ask the project manager how they plan to approach the cooperation and lead me throughout the process as a non-tech person.

Paweł: We often get clients with a general technical expertise but not necessarily in the domain they want us to provide support for. When it happens it’s easier to speak the same language and build a fruitful relationship.

Piotr: First and foremost you should be able to trust the team. Are they being transparent with you? If your idea of delivering the project is not going to bring the best results, will they let you know and offer an alternative? Or will they blindly say yes to everything, without adding some constructive criticism that can help you? I talked more about how to approach negotiations with a development company in my previous blog post.

Pro tip: Focus on whether a software engineering company knows how to deliver the product value you’re after.

What usually makes the process of comparing offers the most difficult for clients?

Piotr: It’s hard to determine the offer’s quality based on the price, as it’s usually a rough estimation. Also, more technical clients have their own idea of how the product should be delivered—it might be hard for them to trust the external partners’ expertise. We are, of course, open for those conversations to come up with the best way to deliver a certain task.

Pro tip: Spend extra time on defining your expectations and use a development company‘s help when needed.

Do most clients want Time and Material estimation or a Fixed Price one?

Grzegorz: More and more companies choose T&M, as it’s the most reliable way to develop custom software. There are still a few, especially big clients with more traditional approaches who expect nothing will change as the project goes. However, products made this way have little to no chance of succeeding in the tech-driven, ever-changing market. Overall, T&M is better for both clients and development agencies—it gives flexibility necessary in the software projects.

Pro tip: Maximize the chances for great cooperation by talking to different team members, asking about the processes, and checking their approach to solving problems.

To sum up, what tips do you have for choosing the right tech partner?

Grzegorz: In the end, it’s all about gut feeling. How do you feel during negotiations, do you find common ground, what are their standards of work and communication. Make sure you have time for a video call or a face to face talk—it makes all the difference.

Piotr: If a software engineering company is capable of managing your expectations well, getting to the bottom of your priorities, and accessing potential chances and issues —they are probably able to deliver a “good” product, meaning one that meets your requirements.

Paweł Byszewski

Head of Product Development

Grzegorz Kapusta

CEO, Polidea

Piotr Herstowski

Head of Sales

Ula Rydiger

Content Marketing Manager

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