Communication is critical to custom software development project success. For the duration of the project, you and the vendor are a team.
Effective, honest communication depends primarily on the personalities of the stakeholders and developers involved, and can be far more critical than the particular custom software development philosophies, methodologies, and technologies used.
Here are the top ten questions to ask any potential custom software development firm:
1. Are you associated with certain technologies or vendors?
It’s unfortunate, but some custom software development companies favor certain technologies, vendors, or solutions, even when they may not be right for your project.
2. Have you done something like this before?
If they have, great – but make sure it really was similar, and was done well. Do not hesitate to ask for references, call prior customers, and do the usual due diligence you would with any new vendor.
3. Do you guarantee your work? If so, how, and for how long?
4. Have you ever read the licensing agreement for a piece of commercial software?
Most of them amount to: no warranty expressed or implied. This is unacceptable for custom software development projects.
5. Who will do the work? Can I meet them?
If you’re going to have to interact with the project team significantly, it’s important to know who they are and how well you get along. Communication is key, and the longer the project, the more these relationships will matter.
6. How Much?
What is the total cost – no hidden costs! Expect the answer to be a range.
7. How long is the project going to take?
How long will the project take, in calendar time? How often will they report progress and what intermediate results will you be able to see/approve?
8. What type of Security will be in place?
Who will have access to your data and systems, and why? What steps will be taken to protect proprietary, personal, secret, and/or vital data and systems? What are the repercussions for violations?
9. What Happens Afterwards?
Will they train your users? What will they charge for bug fixes (past the guarantee period) or minor enhancements?
10. Will your system use or depend on third-party libraries or systems?
Here is a bonus question to ask yourself… Are you excited about working with them?