With so many software development companies in the UK to choose from, it's vital you narrow down the initial choices to a more manageable selection.
This means taking into account some common aspects of software development companies and finding which offer services that meet your company's requirements.
Here are some thoughts to consider:
1. Commercial or Bespoke?
Do you want an off-the-shelf product, or a customised software solution?
This is one of the first things a company needs to consider. Off-the-shelf software has the advantage that it's often less expensive and is available immediately, but then the issues of licence fees comes into play, and there is a concern that some companies may be settling for a product that won't benefit them to the same extent that a customised product would.
Bespoke products, on the other hand, can perform the exact tasks that a specific company requires, but costs are usually higher and a tailored solution could take weeks, even months, to prepare.
2. Experienced Professionals
It's always best to look for a company with industry professionals rather than entry level employees, but budget restraints mean this isn't always possible.
If cost is a concern, it's best to look for a software development company that offers customers a choice on the skill level of their staff, much like a hairdressers would.
Good software development companies will usually offer the choice of a developer, manager, or consultant.
If this is the case, even when choosing a developer you can be sure their work will be overseen by a higher authority, reducing any risks.
If you are unsure of an individual's qualifications, have a chat with them.
What you're looking for is a developer that can make beneficial suggestions as to what the package should include, rather than a developer who requires a set in stone list of instructions to work from.
The reputation of a company is a very important consideration, not only in terms of determining the quality of the software, but also in terms of future support.
A struggling company may offer low prices, but if problems arise with the product in the future, or if changes need to be made to accommodate changes in the business, such as wider product or service ranges, or staff expansion, will that company still be around to make the amendments?
It's easy to overlook future considerations, but it's very important, as having changes made by a software development company that did not complete the original work could be quite a costly endeavour.
Whether you choose a small, independent software development company, or a large corporation with multiple offices throughout the world, should depend upon the type of requirements you have.
If you have small, low value needs, it's best to look for a smaller sized company to carry out the tasks.
The reason for this is that larger companies often do not accept low value jobs, and may instead choose to overcharge for work to meet the lower threshold.
Of course, minimum costs will vary between supplier, with some accepting all work, and others suggesting minimum rates of £6,000 or even £25,000.
5. Supporting Staff
While it's important to consider the types of developers that will be working on your project, you should also think about what other staff will be involved.
When asking about this, the answer you specifically want to hear is that all aspects of the software will be passed through an in house quality assurance, or QA, team, before the final product is shipped.
If the company do not have a QA team, or use contractors whose qualifications cannot be determined, there is an increased risk of the software package being full of bugs that render the software useless.