Seven Hard Questions To Ask Your Software Developer

If you’re going to have the best chance of success with your software project, you need to have some idea of how to choose the best coding team. There’s no way for developers to know if they are right for you if you don’t know the questions to ask. Watch this video and you’ll discover our suggestions for the most important questions to ask potential developers to help you select the right team.

Video Transcript:

7 Questions to Ask your Software Developer

1. How do you handle the IP? There are two forms of IP, there is the background IP which is as simple as things like password recovery. It’s not that important to you and is used over several other websites. Then there is your own IP that is specific to your project and that gives you your competitive advantage over your competitors. It is that IP you wish to secure and you may wish to speak to your lawyers about the contracts presented in front of you to ensure your IP is reserved in that space.

2. Can you give me three references of comparable budgets? Get an idea of what type of projects the company has worked with over the last three years to get a feel for the type of projects they’re engaged in.

3. How many types of staff do you have in your firm? This is an indicator for what they’re experts at. Those that are in the design agency have more designers. A format like Alliance will have 60% engineers and then the support staff around that.

4. What are the ongoing maintenance fees and structure? Some software developers will back-end their projects. In other words they will put up what looks like an extremely good price at the start, but they will lock you into a long term maintenance agreement. So be wary that whatever maintenance agreement you’re engaging in doesn’t bind you to that developer long term.

5. Is automated testing a part of, or an option for, my project and continuous integration? Once again, we’ve touched on this a lot today. It’s a sign of quality. One of the biggest differences between overseas development or any development is when it arrives to you for your testing is it actually performing the functions that you need it to.

6. Talk me through the processes of delivering a project. How are you going to do it? What are we going to do? Are we going to sit down once a week? Are you going to go away and build it and I don’t have to talk to you for a month? What is the process that you’re going to go through? Are there going to be short sprints, are there going to be long sprints? Are you going to give me time, because I have to run a business, to stop and think? Maybe you want to divide your development time over a two week sprint: so a week of development, then a week of absorbing that and reviewing that and then thinking about another development sprint after that.

7. How will you protect me from the risk of staff turnover? Obviously the fewer people within the firm or individuals that you’re dealing with, the higher the risk. In terms of Alliance or in terms of larger firms, there is a process of handover. How handover between staff is delivered as well is important. Should a developer leave, there is someone else who can pick up your project.

Ben (Alliance Software, CEO & Founder): Most of you in the room are actually pretty close friends. As Scott was speaking, I squirmed. I’ll tell you the reason. We have made all the mistakes he referenced. And I wanted someone who had the experience of going overseas. Who else has done an offshore development? Scott has done them, a lot of people in the room have.

So I would encourage you, because a lot of people in the room have multiple projects going on and we do bits and pieces and I wanted to give people a good sense of that. But as Scott was going through some of the faults that he has experienced, and he’s experienced them regularly and at scale, I thought everyone in the room, you could pick any of those faults and I could find anyone in the room who would say say you’re over time, you’re over budget, you didn’t present your project early on. I thought, are we throwing rocks in glass houses? I suppose I’m just confessing my sins.

I wanted someone who had done it to stand up. I thought if I spoke about offshore development, I would be telling you stories that I had heard. I wanted someone who had done it forty times.

You will be better armed for success now that you know some of the right questions to ask when putting together a team for your software project. You want to be certain you have a plan for protecting your intellectual property and you want to be certain you can verify the team’s success with others in your price range. From testing to other important parts of procedure, the more you know, the more you can gauge how to organise your team and what you can expect from them.

Are you looking for the right group of people to code your next project? We’re interested in hearing about your goals and needs. Get in touch with us today.

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