When it comes to software services, there are a number of factors that differentiate agencies from each other. While cost is one of those factors, it’s unwise to emphasise cost in your decision-making process. Too often this results in poor quality software that has been rushed out the door.
I recommend that any company doing its due diligence into custom software development companies focuses on three key factors: people, processes and tools. After spending a number of years at WorkingMouse, a software services company, I’ve discovered the importance of each of these factors. For any large-scale development project to succeed, it is critical to have all three. Let’s take a deeper dive into what to look for in each of these factors.
Companies don’t build software, people do. There are two questions to ask yourself here; firstly, does the development company have the right skill set for the project? Secondly, do I trust the people to deliver a quality software application?
On the first question, WorkingMouse ensures every project has access to multiple developers, a scrum master and a user experience designer. We’ve found that every project needs the skills and experience of those three domain experts. Don’t overemphasise whether the developers or scrum masters have experience in your industry. There are patterns that exist when building software that aren’t contingent on industry or company size.
Take this example, Developer A may have just finished building an app for the property industry that shares none of the same features or technical requirements as your app in the same industry. Meanwhile, Developer B may have experience with a project in the construction industry that shares the same integration your project requires.
On the second question, there are so many variables that you take into account before ultimately deciding whether you trust someone. Don’t overcomplicate it. The biggest contributor is often the team’s communication style. If they communicate well during initial discussions and while scoping the project, chances are the trend will continue into development and support. At WorkingMouse, we emphasise frequent and productive communication with our clients, with a preference for face-to-face interactions to build initial relationships.
Software development is prone to plenty of risks. Without a strong process, one or more of those risks are likely to derail a project. There are plenty of frameworks around the agile methodology – scrum, kanban, lean, kaizen, you name it. The issue is that they’re just that, frameworks. We found that while they acted as a good starting point, they weren’t comprehensive enough to mitigate some risks. That’s when we decided to create our own process.
The Way of Working is based on the scrum framework and steps through the four stages shared by any software project. I’ll give you the summarised version and hopefully that’ll inspire you to download the full Way of Working.
Every project starts somewhere. Rather than diving into a solution-based mindset, the Brief stage takes a step back in order to analyse the underlying problem. By articulating a problem statement, it allows the entire team to be creative in finding one (or more) solutions.
Scope is focused on preparing the project for development. It’s critical to have a well-documented backlog with acceptance criteria, so that developers and the client are aligned on exactly what is being built. Other important artefacts completed during a scope include a prototype, application architecture and estimations.
Development is broken down into multiple iterations. Each iteration has a structure with internal and external ceremonies throughout. The Way of Working stresses the importance of constant releases in order to showcase the product to the client, confirming that it’s going in the right direction as well as testing the product with users. Those learnings are then fed back into future iterations.
No application is ever finished. Support is critical to ensure the application continues to work the way you expect it to. It can also be leveraged to make small, incremental improvements based on your user feedback.
WorkingMouse is a part of the Codebots Partner Program. Codebots is the primary tool our development teams use when building applications. By utilsing the Codebots technology, our developers are able to deliver projects faster and better than traditional software development. Codebots perfectly matches our preferred technology sets with bots that can generate server side and client side code, helping our teams focus on your core business problem.
If you are based within Australia and are looking for a software agency, WorkingMouse is a Codebots Partner. We are experts in bot technology and can utilise the Codebots platform to its fullest extent. Simply head here to get in contact today.