Software development partner: criteria of choice, responsibilities, documents to sign

When you decide to start a software development partnership to develop a software solution, a tough choice appears. It would be best if you found a reliable software development partner and, at the same time, meet the business and financial requirements of this collaboration. 

Software development partner definition

A software development partner is a software company or an individual software developer whose main responsibility in a software project is to deliver a technical part of software requirements specification on time and budget. 

In case technical work includes leveraging the functional possibilities of existing software solutions and embedding them into existing software tools or business processes, we call such software companies integration partners.

Even though the software development partner definition is short and clear, it is still challenging to understand the best and optimal way of working with it. 

Knowing more about criteria of choice, areas of responsibilities and tasks, preferred documentation and other small things should make it easier. 


Software development partner: criteria of choice

0. Availability: current load and earliest time to start working

This criterion is not obvious but important quite often. Usually, software development partners or integration partners do not emphasize their available production powers. 

If a software development project should start soon, it is the first question to clarify with a software house you are considering for cooperation. 


1. Expertise: technology, software types, industries and solution niches

It is possible to determine a compliance of a software development partner with software project's requirements by checking out its expertise in these main areas: technology expertise, types of software solutions it built, industries it worked with and software solutions it developed for specific niches. 


If a software project requires an integration partner or a software engineering team that needs to be skilled at a particular technology, e.g. SAS, Salesforce or PHP Laravel, JavaScript Angular, then it is the next thing to confirm before discussing anything further. Not to forget to check the team's availability. 


Sometimes a project requires a very narrow niche-specific expertise, e.g. building financial systems, open banking solutions, or e-learning systems. Needless to say, a software development partner should know niche-specific challenges when building custom software in this case. 


2. Experience: time on the market, average experience level of key engineers, 

Software development company's experience contains at least two dimensions: 

  • company's time in business, which indirectly characterizes how reliable its business model and processes( including production ) were until now
  • software engineering team's experience, which in majority cases can be called a technical and production matureness of a software development partner; it is important to work with integration partners who have at least 50% of senior engineers in a team

3. Relevant Case Studies: technology-wise, scale-wise, industry-wise

Undoubtedly the best specialist is the one who already did similar work in the past. In the case of software development partners, the situation is the same. 


Checking previous software development projects, a potential company partner has in the portfolio is an important step. We can find a match at one or several levels if a software development partner completed a project based on the technology you want to use or already using for your software system. 

If on integration partners projects' list, there is a solution of similar scale( in terms of work scope, planned usage load or team size). And of course, if a potential partner did something in the same industry, you operate in.


4. Location: time-zones for work, quality of local education, local work ethics and foundations

Working with a software development partner from a different country has never been so beneficial. Yet to keep your project on track all the time, you have to be sure that geographical differences won't harm it. 

The most important is the way your partner handles time differences if they exist. It is crucial to ensure an acceptable communication time gap. In the case of bigger time difference values, it is better to gather multiple project objectives and solve many of them during an extended meeting.


Do not forget to explore the average level of local education quality. Software engineering is a powerful tool in the hands of well-educated professionals with good academic foundations.

When evaluating potential software development partnerships, check if local work principles, bank holidays, and typical work-day routine are acceptable for your future project's pace.


5. Size of a Team and its Geography: in which company branch team members work and how good is communication 

Bigger integration partners have multiple branches, so your project could be assigned to a distributed team. Evaluate how the communication and production risks are handled in this case.

The same thing is relevant for the software teams that operate fully remotely.


6. Price Range and Minimum Terms of Engagement: hourly rate depending on the project type and scale, type of a cooperation format  

Knowing the price range at which potential integration partners deliver their services allows us to understand if the budget is good. Some companies have a minimum threshold of engagement, so if your project is too small for them, it is better to start looking for other candidates. 


The pricing varies depending on the project setup: it's scope, deadline, deliverables and payments format. Worth checking. 


7. Payment Schedule and Forms: project format( fixed-price or time and material development), pre-payments, risk buffers and insurances

Many software development partners work with payments after delivery. But as with any business, financial liquidity and risk management are very important for IT integration companies. A good win-win solution is to pay in parts for the delivered functionally finite project modules. 


For bigger open-ended software projects, it is usual to work on a time and material basis. It is when remuneration is calculated from reported work hours and paid regularly( usually monthly).


Software development partner: areas of responsibilities 

0. Software product discovery, UX software product prototyping, preparing SRS and sometimes UI design

Most often, a software development partner has a business analyst on the team. This specialist is worth his weight in gold because he ensures how good the business needs are translated into technical requirements and how much more innovative the product can become after product discovery sessions with him. 


Software system UX prototyping is also on a list of partner's responsibilities. A good clickable prototype saves time for preparing SRS ( software requirements specification) and clarifies what features your software product should have and how users will be able to use it.


1. Software architecture design

That is a must. Even if you develop agile, it is important to design every functional module. A well-versed software development partner can suggest a proper architecture based on business goals and growth strategy. 


2. Planning the software development road map

The software development plan is prepared in collaboration with stakeholders, yet the main part of planning is on the partner's shoulders.


3. Forming a software engineering team and managers

A company that owns a software product should not be involved in gathering a project team unless it wants to. A software development partner's responsibility is to provide services with a proficient team of experts. 


4. Suggesting or choosing management and communication channels, and reporting flow

How team members interact with each other, e.g. its meetings schedules, should be determined by software company management. Of course, the product owner is in the right to request his own meeting time. 


5. Choosing development, testing and integration software tools relevant to the software development project's business assumptions and requirements

Every task from the technical area, including choosing IDE, CI/CD tools, server providers, is something your software partner should be responsible for. But it is always good to know what tools they use for a bigger picture.


6. Software development, quality assurance and maintenance tasks

The majority of integration partners and software development partners have their QA departments. It is important to perform proper QA work before software release. 


Obligatory documents to sign with a software development partner: before, during, after cooperation

0. NDA: non-disclosure agreement

Every software development partnership starts with signing an NDA. Almost always, the process of creating a new software product includes many know-hows, trading secrets or sensitive business information. It is the first step.

1. NSA: the non-solicitation agreement

Taking care of a company's assets, including employees and clients, is an important practice. Software engineers, analysts are the core of your development partner's business. During the collaboration, your integration partner may need to interact with the clients, which are the core of your business sustainability. 

A mutual non-solicitation agreement is not just a rule of etiquette.

2. Consulting agreement

It is better to split a specific project's agreement and a general one. A general consulting agreement with your software partner will cover all general terms of your cooperation and can be active for a longer period.

3. Statement of work

Statement of work is a formal extension to a consulting agreement that you can sign each time you initiate a finite project, sub-project or want a standalone integration or development service from your partner. 

4. Acceptance of work

This document should settle all matters related to a software project: IP rights transfer( btw it is better to do it at earlier stages connecting intellectual property rights transfer with a moment of payment for services rendered by a partner), 'closing' the statement of work, adding maintenance notes, etc.

Integration partners and software development partners are the best option when your business needs custom software development, custom integration or consulting in these matters. Using the information above can save you time and money when choosing the right partner.


If you need any help with the notions above or would like to receive an NDA write to us. 

Much success to You!

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