Most small business owners don’t have the finances to keep a stable of app developers on their payroll full time. In fact, that’s too much even for some giant multinational companies. The good news though, is that you don’t have to.

There are a number of exceptional independent software development companies serving the needs of businesses of all shapes and sizes but finding the right one for your company in particular can be a tricky and often daunting task.

How do you know which company is the best fit for your business? How do you know which one will best serve your needs? This article will attempt to take some of the mystery out of that process. Here are the top tips to help you find the perfect software development partner for you:

References Are A Must

If a company isn’t willing to put you in touch with other companies who have used their services, that’s an enormous red flag. If a company hasn’t rolled out a new project recently, that’s another huge red flag. This is pretty straightforward. Success breeds further success, and development companies that are good at what they do will have no problems giving you references.

When they do, it’s incumbent on you to check them. Do your due diligence. Dig deep and find out how the company you’re considering working with solved the biggest technical challenges they faced on former projects and how they communicated with previous clients has been.

Experts vs. Jacks of All Trades

In addition to the above, the ideal company to work with is the company that has expertise in using the tools and programming language you mean to use to develop your own program or application.

If you see a company that lists a dozen different languages and claims to have expertise in all of them, give them a pass. You want a company that focuses only on a few languages and tools, which is an indication that they have a broad and deep understanding of those tools.

Avoid Yes Men

This is a big issue, and you’ve probably heard at least one application development horror story. If you hire a company that says yes to absolutely everything you propose, be wary. A good development partner will have the courage to say no, and when they say no, you should listen to them. They are, after all, experts in developing applications in the language you plan to use.

The danger of Yes Men is that they’ll agree to your every proposal and every feature on your Blue Sky wish list, promising that they can get the work done on time and on, or under budget, even if some of the features on your Blue Sky list aren’t practical and may have unintended consequences with the functioning of the application you’re trying to develop.

A good partner will spot these kinds of issues when you start talking about the feature set you want included, and be quick to say, ‘No…that’s not workable.’ Or, ‘No, that’s not a good fit for what you’re trying to do.’

In addition to that, a true development partner will go further and tell you why a given feature won’t work or is impractical and propose alternatives for your consideration. That’s the kind of company you want to work with. A group that just says yes to everything is more interested in selling you something than they are in developing a quality product for your company.

Integration PLUS Communication

We mentioned communication earlier, and it’s a crucial component of any successful partnership, but when it comes to software development, it’s not the only element that matters. Seamless integration is a very big deal.

It doesn’t really matter what project tools you use, but your ideal software development partner will use those same tools. The reasons are simple: It puts everyone on the same page from day one. It makes communication easier, more seamless, and ultimately more effective and efficient. Those are all good things.

No Language Barriers

This ties in with communication, which we talked about above, but is a separate point to consider. Given the realities of today’s digital environment, it doesn’t really matter where in the world your code team lives, but what does matter is that there’s not a significant language barrier to overcome.

After all, if you can’t understand each other without translators, then it’s extremely likely that something is going to be missed when communicating your expectations, or when cross-communication occurs between members of your team and theirs.

In addition to that, having a common language will allow you to solicit and get advice from your code partners, and you want that. You should definitely be looking for more than just code work. You want your outsourced development team to be able to guide and advise you at every step along the way.

Frequent Incremental Project Deployments

This is an important one. You don’t want to find yourself in a situation where you hand your requirements to the development team, then wait several months until you see something tangible from them. Ideally, you’ll want to see something every week.

There are a number of reasons for this, but the two biggest are these: First is that it speeds the overall development process and infuses the project with a sense of urgency that would otherwise be absent.

Second, and every bit as important is the fact that when you can see the prototype coming to life before your eyes week after week, you can very quickly spot problems or potential weaknesses in the design, and can course correct mid-stream.

It also allows you to spot potential miscommunications if the team delivers something during one of the weekly deployments that you had not expected to see. In both cases, the act of seeing tangible progress on a regular and ongoing basis makes the problem easy to fix.

As we said at the outset, finding the right business partner to help meet your application development needs can be a daunting task, but it’s well worth spending the time before the onset of your project to avoid disappointments down the road.