IEEE and the Standish group have both reported that less than fifty percent of software projects are actually completely successfully. This has to do with the way that both customers and vendors approach going into software projects and structure their relationships. Custom software development projects are challenging to structure because they are well…  custom and no two projects are ever completely the same and there are many different vendors who vary wildly in terms of cost, process and quality. There are a number of things that you’ll want to consider before selecting a vendor

Document & Discover: Software development projects are complex and it’s impossible to accurately gauge everything that needs to be developed, what tools or frameworks might be the most appropriate and what the level of effort / cost for the overall project is likely to be without taking a deep dive into the domain space. Different vendors will have different solutions to this problem. At The Mad Botter we have a formal Documentation and Discovery process that provides formal documentation, a firm estimate on the level of effort required given a defined scope and insight into potential open-source libraries / frameworks that might be used. Green-lighting a project without going through this kind of process is likely to greatly increase your project’s odds of failing.

Know Your Vendor: There are a lot of software development vendors in the market today and it’s important to find one that appropriately suits your needs. For instance, has the prospective vendor developed software in your vertical before, do they have an relevant certifications or other credentials that are relevant to your industry or the software stack you’re interested in, do they have any publicly available projects or products of their own that they can show you, do they handle all of their development work in hours or do they outsource or offshore? It’s not to say that there are necessarily any right or wrong answers to these questions, though we at The Mad Botter are committed to being 100% US based for our development, so it’s important to know what you are looking for in a vendor before beginning this conversation.

No Fixed Bids: The temptation to get a fixed-price quote price on your software development project is incredibly understandable. Unfortunately, it’s just a bad idea for all parties involved including your project. The problem is that no matter how thorough your Documentation and Discovery process is, there are always going to be a few additional features / functionality you’re going to want added to your project once it goes into user testing. When those items start to pop up, a fixed-bid process can make that an adversarial process. No software project was ever completed successfully when the customer development firm were not operating as partners. If you’re not on board with full agile on a time and materials basis, then at least consider agile to a cap with a per-determined process for handling change orders and additional scope.

Having a custom piece of software development can be a confusing road, but hopefully these tips make selecting the right software vendor a little easier. If you’re interested in having your software development project developed in partnership with The Mad Botter, fill out our contact form or drop a line at our chat icon on this page. Either way, take a look at how we developed the world’s first iPhone Rear Warning Radar to ever fly in modern US-made military fighters.