How to verify the tech skills of a software company?

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Not everybody who needs to outsource software development for their business is tech-savvy. So how can you pick a software house when you have no knowledge of complicated issues and no technological background? Luckily, it’s possible! Follow the steps below, and you’ll be able to decide on your software developers more consciously.

Phase one: before the meeting

You have a shot-list of potential software houses to work on your product. Now, it’s time for good, old online research. There a few things you can very easily check out:

  • Portfolio – first and foremost, check the portfolios on official websites. When you dig into the previous projects, look for the company’s experience – working in certain technologies, industries, countries, and so on. If you find case studies of cooperating with businesses similar to yours, that’s a good sign straight away.
  • References from previous clients – search their websites for any customers’ quotes, interviews, etc. Sometimes it’s a good idea to contact one of them and ask for their straightforward opinion about the cooperation with the software house.
  • Clutch.co – every respectable IT company relies on building a strong profile on Clutch.co. It’s a data-driven business guide where you can find reviews and project descriptions delivered NOT by the software houses but by their clients and later approved by the Clutch admins.
  • Involvement in the IT community – both local and global public presence of the company. It’s good when they are invited to conferences, organize workshops, webinars and meet-ups for developers, create open-source tools, regularly updated the blog, e-books, guides, publications, awards, etc.
  • Using agile processes – agile development process is the modern standard in the IT industry. It’s based on methodologies like Scrum with regular meetings, project updates, communication tools – everything to make sure that the client up-to-date with what’s going on in the project. Always check if the software house of your choosing works in agile.

Bonus: If you have a technical consultant

If you know a person who is a developer or very interested in technology, use them as a consultant. They will be able to give you a tech-person perspective.

  • Github – it’s probably the most popular development platform used by millions of open-sources creators, freelancers and businesses to show off their coding skills, create code repositories and manage their work.
  • Demo – it may be either a practical presentation of a solution previously created by the company or a perfectly polished sample code. The first one shows off skills much more!
  • Own tools / open-sources – research whether the companies you’re verifying contribute to or create their own tools or open sources. You can see the code, updates, documentations…
  • Favorite technologies – the company must keep up-to-date with the latest technology. You don’t want a product built using a so-called legacy version that will soon be left unsupported.

Phase two: during the meeting

When you set up a meeting with the lucky companies, you need to decide whether you want to go to the company’s headquarters (that gives you insight in their day-to-day lives) or invite them over to your office (you’ll see if they are dedicated enough to bother to come).

  • Security – if you work with fragile data (e.g. users’ personal information), don’t forget to ask about quality and security procedures, including GDPR. The company must have all the necessary security measures and a proper policy ready and available for you to go through.
  • Communication – ask how will you be able to control the software house’s work on a daily basis, make sure that the people share your problem-solving skills, values, work ethic and sense of humor.
  • Developers – meet people who are going to work with you and check their work experience, rotation, seniority, training, and working schedule. Just learn as much as possible about people who will be a part of your project in order to build a common trust.
  • Outside of code – ask about Quality Assurance testing, UX and UI design and visuals. All this to make sure that your end-users will be satisfied.

As you can see, verifying the tech skills of software houses without actually having tech skills is absolutely possible. Your business deserves a responsible company that you can trust to deliver your product will as little problems as possible. If you manage to find developers that have their own opinions and are driven by the satisfaction of the end-users, congratulations – you’ve found your software house!