There’s no magic bullet when it comes to choosing the right application development partner for your business. However, we know companies looking to partner with an app development firm generally look for two main capabilities. The first is related to skills and expertise, whether they are looking for skills that fit well with in-house systems, or a whole new set of complementary skills. The second is execution time. If faster time-to-market is a priority, as it often is, partnering with an app development firm can be a great way of achieving this.
Should you follow a specific framework to ensure you select the right partner for you? You bet. It doesn’t have to be complex or time-consuming, but your selection process should cover these four bases.
What’s on your list?
Cross-platform? Multi-architecture? Off-line support? Support across the whole lifecycle of an app? How about integration into your back-end systems? There is undoubtedly a lot to consider and prioritize. It’s also important to appreciate how such decisions impact the look, feel and functionality of the finished product. In fact, the answers to these questions often guide the decision whether to build a mobile app versus a mobile website.
But wait, our laundry list of requirements isn’t done yet! Then there are the rapid mobile app development (RMAD) tools that will need to be used by your team. Next, check the standards used (HTML5, CSS3, etc.), and think about cloud services for some elements of delivery; e.g. integration, notifications, data analysis, etc. Finally, you may want to think beyond the confines of your own organization and consider how your app development partner works with others in the ecosystem. Strong relationships with third-parties can bolster an app developer’s capabilities.
Once you know what you need, you can keep this list of requirements top of mind. Or even better – share it to ensure any prospective app development partner can demonstrate expertise in the areas that matter most to you.
It sounds simple, but can they prove they can do what they say they can? Checking up on references is a must, but before you get to that stage, evaluate the type of expertise you prize most highly. For instance, sector experience is normally a good guide, but it may not be as relevant to some companies. If you’re attempting a really unusual or ground-breaking project, there may be very few case studies to use for benchmarks. Instead, a partner with a proven track record of handling projects of a similar size or complexity may be a better indicator of success. For instance, if rapid delivery is a key challenge for you, then regardless of what industry you’re in, you may find it useful to look at, say, the work we’ve done with Proteus Digital Healthcare or Globe One.
Don’t be afraid to dig deep to find the right experience. Beyond the initial credentials a company presents, try to find out what level of enterprise-grade, back-end expertise is available.
People and skills
It’s worth investigating the people issue at an early stage in the selection process to avoid costly errors, such as realizing that the skills you thought were available were not quite as developed as you anticipated. For example, you may be in search of capabilities like Selenium or Jenkins and CI/CD. But take the time to evaluate how the people who’ll work on the project will mesh with the existing agile development team, and how the application will be integrated in the wider portfolio.
Likewise, continuous UX design skills may be desirable, but consider how they will fit into your team and wider business. Frequent updates at speed are just one element to consider when dealing with integration issues. Another is security: ensure your app dev partner understands the impact of synchronizing vast quantities of data and how these requests will affect your systems.
Finally, here are two further people-related factors to weigh:
- Take a view on how seriously your prospective partner takes skills acquisition. Do they support the latest devices or OS versions? Do they use the latest toolsets?
- We’ve talked about a skills match, but is there any chemistry? Getting along with your app dev team might not be your first priority, although it’s always a bonus, but being able to communicate clearly (and be understood) is essential.
Does your app development partner really understand your goals? Do you see eye-to-eye, or will they be able to challenge you to achieve greater results? While you can use an evidence-based approach to check that a partner has the skills or experience they say they have, evaluating a company based on its ability to share your vision can be a challenge and you may need to go with your gut. The bottom line is that your app development partner needs to be able to go beyond the technical specifications and envision your concept based on outcomes.
If your existing app development partner is lacking, or if you’re still seeking the right partner and you want to find out how we compare, contact us. We’re ready to help you find the right fit.