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How do you choose the software development partner that suits your business?

I have a potentially lucrative software-based business idea, I've been talking about it with industry thought leaders for quote some time now, I consider it as validated. However, I am still to build the MVP. Which takes me to the question: what's the right software development partner? I want to better understand the process of going from having the initial idea to selecting from a shortlist of the right people/agencies.

25 Replies

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1
X
Entrepreneur
Hi, I run an offshore development center, I can help you with developing your MVP. Contact me at [removed to protect privacy] if you require help.

thanks

Shihab
Sreekumar Koickal
0
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Sreekumar Koickal Entrepreneur • Advisor
Business analyst - Commercially aware, open minded and forward thinking
Hi,

My team had the pleasure of working with few startups to turn their dreams into reality. We worked with these teams with brilliant ideas, on their MVP and eventually delivered their complete product. I am delighted to inform you that we also have constructively contributed in improving the product to make it market ready and to improve it technology wise. I also helped them to create a good business case.

We are keen to offer you the same quality service.

Looking forward to hearing from you and working together.

Best regards
Sree



Peter Johnston
9
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Peter Johnston Advisor
Businesses are composed of pixels, bytes & atoms. All 3 change constantly. I make that change +ve.
Start with this thought...http://dilbert.com/strip/2015-09-11
Then read The Lean Startup by Eric Ries.

What you will begin to realise is that an idea is only part of making a business work. That creating too much is just as bad as creating too little. And, most importantly, that a business is more than a piece of technology - it is a living thing which will change continually. As Steve Blank put it... "No Business Plan survives first contact with the customers".

So if your idea will undoubtedly change, what do you do? Tie yourself into someone contracted to design what you have specified, leaving you with a fixed first iteration you cannot change? Of course not.

What you do is find someone else (or people) with a similar vision to you, just as much intellect but the skills you lack. You and he/she can pool your respective skills and hopefully create a whole bigger than the parts, with their skills helping you see better and your skills helping them see better.

Whether they work for you or someone else, by the way, is irrelevant at this stage. But buy the person, not the company. And when the opportunity becomes real, be ready to welcome them on board.
Guntis Urtans
1
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Guntis Urtans Entrepreneur
Managing Partner at Colabpro
I do not think there is no single recipe for this.
Long term you will be willing to keep core expertise in-house, therefore you may want to find and hire somebody who could then build the team around.

However for MVP it might be overkill - so outsource development could be option as well (may not work however if development contains significant R&D component).

As for outsourcing - wide selection and no single recipe again :)
As it was pointed out in some other discussions - good references will reduce risks, while may not give you awareness that you have picked the best available option, so consider few alternatives might be good idea.

If you will decide to evaluate outsourcing option - my company actually provides services of selection of right team from pool of 40+ companies whom we have selected on basis of earlier assessment and/or previous project experience.


Steve Owens
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Steve Owens Entrepreneur • Advisor
Finish Line - A Better Way for Small Companies to Develop Products
I would recommend having someone who has done it before help you. It's not an easy processes, and having someone who has made the mistakes already will help a lot. You can find more tips on this subject at www.FinishLinePDS.com.
Andreas Ehrencrona
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Andreas Ehrencrona Entrepreneur
Founder at Morpheem.com
I very much agree with Peter's advice above. It is extremely likely that your idea will go through significant changes as it develops and as you learn more. Whatever setup you have needs to accommodate that.

Outsourcing is a good option if (and only if) you are building something rather small that is only intended as a learning opportunity or perhaps as something only intended to be demoed for potential stakeholders. In this case, the risks (=budget) is so low that if one supplier fails it's not a big deal.

If you want to build an MVP that you intend should grow into the final product you need someone with a strong technical background who can help you evaluate and select developers / developing firms and manage the development process. Just sending over a specification and expecting a remote team to develop something good is highly unlikely to work. For finding that person I think you will have to rely on recommendations.

An internal development team would of course be the best option, but it takes a lot of time and resources to build one you would still first need that one tech guy you really trust who can help you build one and set up the structures for it work well.
Anton Yakovlev
0
0
Anton Yakovlev Entrepreneur
Founder of four successful businesses on two continents who can help you do the same
First what you need starting building a product is trust. As an outsourcing partner I'm always looking for a customer that not only knows what he or she wants, but also is able to leave us the responsibility of creating the process of creating the product you need. The truth is that you cannot just create an mvp and stop. You'll have to constantly improve your product, even if your basic business idea is 100% validated (which is not usually possible until you have a working business). This means that your trip together with your partner (whether outsourcing or not) will be long, and full of unexpected.

My point is that unless you're ready to trust your partner (just like in marriage), your mutual trip along this project wouldn't be happy.


Zhenya Rozinskiy
0
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Partner at Agile Fuel
Find a partner that has ability to deliver for you and feels right to you. Never underestimate the value of 'gut feeling'.

I am a consultant helping local companies setup their process for work with globally distributed teams. Contact me and I'll be happy to share with you what I find working and where the challenges are. I can also help you with the development portion if needed.
Shardul Mehta
0
0
Shardul Mehta Advisor
Serial Product Guy, Entrepreneur, Product Management Executive
Let's consider some variables first.

You said you need to build your MVP -- your minimum viable product. So this would mean that you're running an experiment to validate your solution hypothesis and potentially other aspects of your business model. If this is true, then you're still well before tackling scale problems.

Another variable is the nature of the solution you need to deliver/test. In other words, in your MVP what's the minimum needed to make it viable in the eyes of your target customers? If robust onboarding process is needed, or if you're building a complex data processing intensive app, then that increases the scope of your development. If not, and you just need to test the primary set of use cases, you may be looking at a smaller scope.

The other question is how much cash you have to burn. A software dev partner even with a "skinny" team could cost low to mid five figures per month.

Given these variables, there are a couple of ways you can go.

One is to use freelancers. I've done this in the past. Pros are they can be cheaper and faster, with less overhead to the process. Cons are they're not suitable if your MVP needs a robust system design or architecture from the start or if the scope is necessarily large. You also have to be prepared to be heavily involved in the design and development, and you will be required to make every technical decision, no matter how minor.

When we pursued this option, we did it strictly to validate our MVP, knowing there would be large chunks of code (if not almost all of it) that would have to be re-done once we decided to build our GA (generally available) version.

A second option is to use a development partner. I've done this as well. When we pursued this option, we used a US based company with offshore resources. (We're based on the US.) The offshore resources were cheaper relative to US based ones, and the US HQ meant our main POC was domestic, which facilitated communication. It still meant getting on daily calls with the offshore team.

The right partner could advise you on a proper technology infrastructure, architecture and system design. But that expertise costs more money, so again, you need to decide whether those are important considerations at the MVP stage.

Also, my experience has been most software dev vendors want continuity. That makes sense for them as they can then dedicate resources for the long-term. But if you're in a situation where you only need dev resources for, say, 3 months, and then can't sanction further development until additional cash comes in (either from revenue or investment), and at that time need to either scale down or shut down dev resources,then that may not appeal to many such vendors, and also that vendor and/or the same resources may not be available when you spin back up.

A third option is to find a technical co-founder, convince them to join you. He or she would then be responsible for solving this problem for you. But finding a technical co-founder is a whole other set of challenges.

Hope this helps. Best of luck!
Ajay Agrawal
0
0
Ajay Agrawal Entrepreneur
CEO, N K Technologies

I fully agree with Peter.

To me, choosing a software development partner is just a shade lower than choosing your life partner. There has to be that chemistry between the two of you for the partnership to work.

It does not matter that the chosen partner has never done what you want (though mind you, it certainly helps if they have done some thing SIMILAR).

After all, you have a unique idea, so the possibilities of any one having delivered an identical project would be remote. If during discussions the prospective partner claims to have delivered a clone to your idea, re-look at your business idea to see how unique it is. If you still find it unique enough, simply drop the prospective partner. Obviously, they are lying.

The potential partner should agree with your vision and be willing to back you fully to the extent share part of your financial pain even if it is in the form of partial sweat equity. If the partner is willing to do that, go with them.

Remember, you are looking to choose a PARTNER and not just a freelance coder. A freelance coder may come cheap, but then, without a stake in your success, the partnership will not work.

To gain that credence in the life sentence "Till Death Do Us Apart" giving a small part of your success is a small price to pay.

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