Finding the Right Programmer for your Custom Software Project
Whether you are a new or established business, investing in a custom software project is a huge undertaking. And for small businesses, having a full-time developer on staff is sometimes a luxury you can’t afford for occasional software development projects. High-quality programming doesn’t include just programming, but a multi-stage process, including understanding the work effort, determining the best tools to use, system architecture, development, user interface design and detailed quality assurance testing. Great communication between the client and the development agency is key for a successful result.
There’s no one size fits all approach when it comes to software development. Therefore, it’s important to review an agency’s technology expertise and process before you begin. Here are some tips to consider when choosing a custom software programmer for your custom software project:
1. How experienced are they in developing custom software?
When selecting a programmer, you need to see what experience they have in programming languages, frameworks, platforms, operating systems and technologies. Based on your project requirements, you may want to look for a programmer with experience with a specific language.
Also, you will want to consider their previous software development work and development in your industry. A programmer with experience in your industry can help identify processes and workflows that your custom software project may need that you may not be unaware of.
Security is another area of experience you will want to ask a potential software programmer. Do they properly check and fix report errors, properly code and document code in their work? How to they handle future programming language changes?
2. What software, technology or programming solutions do they recommend?
At Courtland, we evaluate every project before selecting software, technology or programming solutions. Our first and foremost concern is delivering a solution that meets your needs and budget. This means that we may not always recommend custom programming when there is a solution on the market. Out-of-the-box software solutions can be game-changers when money and time is limited.
Alternatively, a programmer may use existing APIs to help your business get the most from current programs.
If possible, allow the programmer to review your existing databases, applications and workflows before the work begins. This can help the programmer provide an in-depth assessment, identify problems and propose the best solution.
When the time comes that custom software development is the best option for your business, keep in mind can be expensive to develop and maintain. You’ll be assuming upfront development costs and all long-term maintenance, so make sure you have stakeholder support, a planned budget and the proper support in place to handle development and maintenance.
3. Is the budget flexible and suitable for the project build and maintenance?
Custom software project pricing comes in all shapes and sizes, based on project requirements. Factors may include complexity, design, testing, integration and migration. Each of these factors impacts the overall estimate and development phases. These factors should be clearly detailed in any proposal.
Custom programmers make programming look easy, but it’s far more complicated than that. A function may appear simple but is often the result of hours upon hours of coding work. In addition, user interface design, testing and security add complexity and additional time in any custom software development project.
Be aware that when it comes to custom software development, agencies may only provide fixed quotes for one phase at a time and a cost range for future phases. Or ballpark estimate upfront and refine costs after learning more about your business goals, expectations and requirements.
Fixed budgets and scope may appear to give you better control, but it will greatly limit the development work that can be accomplished. Also, it can’t account for issues or new requests that may and will arise. Flexible budgets and scopes are the smartest route to guarantee product satisfaction.
One thing that most people forget is that custom software work means a long-term commitment to ongoing maintenance, plus future feature upgrades or development work. Be clear with the agency and ask how they handle feature upgrades. If they don’t suggest future software maintenance, you could be left in a risky and frustrating situation down the road. Consider an additional 20% of the total development costs for future maintenance and software support.
4. Are they testing, tracking bugs and assuring quality?
Truthfully, it’s nearly impossible to avoid bugs or write error free code. As more features and functionality are added to any piece of software, the complexities increase, and the glitches increase as well.
That is why testing is so important in any custom software project. Programmers should be conducting performance and regression testing during development. This helps resolve glitches, maintain security and ensure an optimal user experience. In addition, quality assurance and user interface testers should test any new development after each phase or whenever there are any changes to the code. Testers should be testing to make sure requirements are met, the interface is easy for users and overall compatibility.
Documentation should be kept on all discovered issues and prioritized accordingly. It’s essential to test and iron out all kinks before releasing a software product to end users. In addition, the client should perform quality assurance testing and sign off on any project phases before deployment.
Finding the Right Custom Programming Partner
If your business has a custom software project, linking existing legacy systems, or any API development, contact us.
Courtland’s highly-recommended programmers can help with these and many other types of programming projects. Courtland employs certified PHP Developers who are programming architects that deliver search engine optimized content management systems (CMS), system integration programming, and application development.
Other application programming experience that the Courtland team has includes: e-commerce, payment gateways, client portals, custom CMS plugins, learning management systems, client relationship management system, system integration, database development and data mapping and conversion.