Before starting the search for the right partner for your custom project, you should identify the type of project as clearly as possible. Different projects require different skill sets, so it’s important to map this out to know what you need, both in terms of in-house experience, and what you need from a partner. The following five questions help to nail down the type of project you have.
1. A big project or a small project?
Is it something that a single freelancer could do in a couple of weeks or months, or does it require a larger team? This can be hard to gauge accurately if you have limited IT-knowledge yourself, but at this point, it only requires a ballpark estimate.
2. Does it have a clear end-point, or will it continue to grow and evolve?
Some applications, once built, will barely change post-launch. Others can be expected to change and evolve based on practical experience as it is used. The cost of most custom projects actually lies mainly in maintenance and follow-up development, yet a lot of partner selection and negotiation happens purely based on the “initial” project development.
3. Are the requirements clear or not?
Do you know the exact specifications of the application you wish to develop, or do you need a partner that helps you define the requirements? Could the requirements change along the way (they usually do) and if so, are you aware and prepared to deal with the impact of that.
Unclear or changing requirements can be a big source of stress for both parties if the expectations do not match.
4. Should it scale?
Is it a small application, or an application that starts small but goes big in the foreseeable future? This is perhaps more of a technical aspect, but in the latter case, it is important to select a partner that will be able to support the upscaling, both with technical expertise and human capital.
5. Is it a standalone project, or will it be the first of many?
When planning multiple projects, are you looking for a preferred partner for all those projects, or do you want to start a separate selection process every time? The latter will obviously put a higher workload on your own organization, but it might allow you to tailor your choice to each specific project.
Knowing follow-up projects can also be very important for the early architectural and technical decisions.
Looking at the project from all angles and in a wider scope can help get things into focus and create a better level of transparency. These questions should be a starting point, the basis of the entire process of selecting a development partner.
To efficiently execute the identified project, you need to know the level of expertise you are looking for as well. To be able to do this, it is important to first determine the expertise within your own company. Our next blog in this series focuses on just that.