Some people are natural programming wizards. Consider the best: Steve Jobs stole the idea for a graphic user interface from Xerox.. Bill Gates bought DOS from a Seattle developer for $65,000. Mark Zuckerberg stole the idea of Facebook from the Winklevoss brothers. OK, maybe these kind of “wizards” are not what you need at the moment.
When you are hiring a company to develop bespoke software, you are not looking for the next Bill Gates. You don’t want someone who wants to work 7 days per week, sleep at their desk, and live on pizza and Coke. That’s the Silicon-Valley-startup mindset suitable for businessmen (kids) in their 20s. Most businesses just want a software vendor who is innovative, dependable, has a solid track record, and understands their needs. Pizza is O.K. too, but middle-aged guys with a bulging middles should not drink Coke.
Here is a minimum buying guide to selecting a vendor for your next software project.
Write Down RequirementsThe formal procedure to solicit a bid for a new project is to write and send out a “Request for Proposal” (RFP). This spells out in broad terms what the system is supposed to do for the business. Vendors respond to the RFP with proposals that outline how each vendor would address the requirements in the RFP. The more complete the RFP, the easier each candidate vendor will find it to write a proposal that addresses the company’s needs. One way to write a complete RFP is to bring in an outside business consultant who specializes in defining the system requirements and can help you choose suppliers to send it to.
Vet the CandidatesBefore selecting the system integrator (called “vendor”), the client should check that the vendor has the necessary expertise and can be trusted to complete the project. There are several items to check:
References. The company should list testimonials on their web site. Ask if you can call a couple of their clients.
Partners and certification. The vendor can list, for example, “Microsoft Partner” if they have completed a certificate process--usually that means they have sent their developers for training at the company. The ISO 9000 certification is geared more toward compliance with best business practices and quality control procedures.
Stability and Size. Small companies, economists say, power the economy, because most new jobs come from small companies. But don’t pick someone too small, they could run out of cash before the project is done or, worse, pay scant attention to your project when they land another, more lucrative contract and spread their resources thinly.
Review the Contract CarefullyOnce you have picked ACME Software Developers, it is time to put pen to paper and spell out what is required. The contract should contain at least these items:
Scope. Software developers say “scope” when they mean the requirement boundaries. There is a need to document scope, because a project can find itself working beyond the approved scope. This, of course, could lead to the client not wanting to pay the bill and the vendor working on something peripheral to the project. It might be impressive to put bells-and-whistles on the finished product, but ordinary levers and handles were written into the proposal.
Price. A contract can be “time and materials” (hourly rate) or “fixed price”. Because of the risk to the vendor arising from the difficulty of making accurate time estimates, the vendor will probably prefer an hourly rate. For smaller companies this helps with them their cash flow and does not require them to work for free. You could meet them in the middle regarding billing and offer a fixed-price contract with payments made at each milestone: design, prototype, development, testing, deployment, ... , disaster, lawsuit, bankruptcy.
Support. When the vendor walks out the door at the end of the project that does not mean the end of the client-vendor relationship. There should be a support agreement in place. This specifies the hours of support and turn around time. For example, it could say “7am to 10pm support Monday to Saturday, calls to be returned within 30 minutes.”
Due diligence, writing clear requirements, and a agreeing a contract are important tools for establishing a good relationship with the client and clarifying what is expected from both parties, so that the finished project meets the needs of the company and all parties are happy.
About Geeks Ltd
Our passion is business efficiency enhancement for our clients via smart application of automation techniques.We are winners of international awards for our innovations in business productivity.
We have attained Gold Certified Microsoft Partnership level which represents our highest level of competence and expertise with Microsoft technologies as well as our close working relationship with Microsoft.At this level we have been granted access to exclusive Microsoft resources and support, access to the Partner Knowledge Base, and many other advantages which contribute to our capacity to meet our clients needs.