Signs It’s Time for a Business Process Improvement Software Upgrade

Look for these red flags when deciding whether to invest in better business process improvement software.

It’s all too common for companies to become stuck with an outdated software solution. Whether it’s force of habit, budget constraints, or the lack of time to explore alternatives, you can’t shake the feeling that something has to give. And reliance on obsolete software can lead to serious consequences.

Recognizing the pivotal point is daunting. Switching software solutions requires an investment of time and money, and it’s wise to be cautious about making a significant change prematurely.

To assist you in this decision-making process, we’re presenting a comprehensive guide from the perspective of seasoned software developers. Here, we unveil a few unmistakable signs that indicate it’s time for a new software solution. Discover the red flags that should prompt you to take action and unlock your business’s full potential.

Your current software is dragging rather than streamlining.

Software is a business process optimization tool. We buy coffee machines to save time rather than using the traditional pour-over method. Likewise, we rely on cars, bicycles, and public transportation to cover distances because it’s faster than walking.

However, when your business process software becomes so clunky that it causes workflow inefficiencies, the hindrance factor outweighs the ease of use. It’s a clear indication that an upgrade is not just beneficial but necessary.

Time is the currency of business, and every minute spent grappling with an outdated system translates into lost revenue and missed opportunities.

It’s crucial to think of your software solution as a reliable companion that leverages automation and strong coding to do the work for you. Good software minimizes the need for significant manual input, allowing you to focus on essential tasks and strategic initiatives.

Inefficient systems don’t just waste time, they create hinderances to productivity and impede customer satisfaction. They restrict your ability to innovate, grow, and compete in a fast-paced marketplace. To unlock your business’s true potential, it’s time to consider an upgrade.

Why settle for clunky software when efficient, high-performing solutions are available?

There’s a specific problem your current software can’t solve.

Imagine running an e-commerce business with a software system that handles order processing and inventory management. However, you encounter a recurring challenge in your workflow.

Each time a new order arrives, you have to follow a three-step process: reviewing order details, updating inventory, and generating invoices. While the first and third steps are quick and efficient, the second step—updating inventory—proves to be a time bandit due to software limitations.

You just know there’s a way, with automated tools, to eliminate middle step altogether. And it would free up countless hours of time, making room for other projects. Your scheduling struggles would disappear entirely. It almost seems too good to be true!

And it is. As long as your current software solution doesn’t allow you to skip that second step, there’s no workaround, no alternative method. You’re stuck.

If you find yourself in a situation like this, it’s possible you’ve lost sight of what software is for—to make things better, not hold you back.

Your current “process improvement” software is hindering your growth.

Businesses want to grow. They want to see more sales, add new products, and hire more people. But growth isn’t just about getting bigger. It’s also about getting better.

Growth means improving how you work, coming up with new ideas, making your customers happier, and building a better place for employees to work. Your software should help with all these things. If it doesn’t, it’s time to take stock.

Think of software as extra brainpower for your business. Just as your office needs to get bigger when you hire more people, your software needs to grow with your business.

If your current software is a roadblock to your growth, it’s not just slowing you down—it’s holding you back. It’s a clear sign that it’s time to upgrade to something better.

Your current software doesn’t play well with others.

Many businesses use different types of software for different things. For example, a doctor’s office might use one program for patient records, another for scheduling appointments, one for emails, and another for insurance.

When these programs can talk to each other and share information, everything works smoothly. But it’s a big problem if one of the programs can’t connect with the others, especially if it’s an old one that’s not being updated anymore.

This can happen when the company that made the software stops updating it. And it means you have to do extra work to get systems to talk to each other. If this is happening to you, it’s a sure sign you need a new solution.

Just like a patient could suffer if their doctor’s programs don’t work together properly, your business and your customers could face significant problems if systems aren’t interacting efficiently.

You worry about safety and security.

Keeping data safe is a must for many businesses, especially in industries like healthcare and banking. If data leaks, it can harm a company’s reputation and cost a lot of money. Some old software systems can still keep data safe, but others struggle against new threats.

If you think your current process improvement software might not be secure enough, it could be time for an upgrade. There’s no room for mistakes when it comes to safety and security. If a data breach happens because your software is outdated, the fallout could be serious.

A clear example of this is the case of Target. Back in 2013, Target suffered a massive data breach when hackers broke into their system and stole credit card data from about 40 million customers. This breach was traced back to outdated security software, and the consequences were severe. Besides the legal issues and significant fines, Target’s reputation took a big hit.

This true story doesn’t just underline the importance of keeping your software up-to-date. It’s also a reminder that data breaches don’t just expose private information; they break the trust between a business and its customers. So, when you upgrade your software to a more secure system, you’re not just protecting your data; you’re protecting the relationships you’ve built with your customers.

It’s getting harder to teach new people to use your systems.

When someone starts a new job, they have to learn how the job’s systems and processes work. It may take days or weeks for them to get up to speed, depending on what the new person’s job is.

But, there comes a point when it’s just too hard to teach someone how to use an old system. It’s one thing to learn a new, complicated software system. It’s a whole other thing to have to learn a bunch of weird tricks just to make the system do basic stuff. Pay attention to these phrases (that sound like excuses) during training:

Okay, this may seem strange, but…

It’s supposed to work another way, but…

To make this feature work, you have to…

I know it seems confusing, but trust me, it works.

If you keep hearing these phrases, it might be time to think about getting new software.After all, wouldn’t it be better if your new hires spent more time learning how to add value to your business and improve customer service, rather than trying to decipher a convoluted system?”

Ready for a Better Business Software Experience?

Did any of these signs make you pause? If you’re starting to think that it’s time for an upgrade, don’t worry, you’re in the right place.

Harmonic is a leading software developer specializing in bespoke business solutions. We believe in understanding our clients’ needs thoroughly. When we sit down with you, we’ll explore:

The software systems you’re currently using.
The problems and limitations these systems pose.
The specific challenge you’re trying to overcome or the goal you’re trying to achieve.
Any unique needs, like stringent security measures or advanced integration with other software.

Armed with this understanding, we design a custom solution that ticks all your boxes and propels your business forward.

At Harmonic, our goal is to create software that empowers you to do business better, leaving you with more time to foster meaningful business relationships. If you’re ready to unlock your full potential with a software upgrade, we’re here to help.

Reach out to our team, and let’s start a conversation about how we can elevate your business processes today.

Let's Chat

Are you ready to write the next chapter of your story? We're ready to help you tell it.

Get in Touch

Navigating the Custom Software Decision Jungle

What to think about before you make a custom software decision.

Assuming your business is at least moderately successful, the odds are good you’ve learned to navigate feelings of uncertainty. And uncertainty can certainly be an obstacle when you’re deciding whether to invest in a new solution. Because big software decisions often involve change and money, they can feel risky.

But fear not; we wrote this article to help you dispel the doubt by focusing on what you do know in order to traverse the treachorous terrain. We’ve got some key criteria to consider when hunting for the ideal software solution. We’ll cover everything from budget to business goals so you’re equipped to make a confident, successful decision.

Here are five things to keep in mind as you begin exploring your software solution options:

1. Resource reality check—know your constraints

Very few people will name “the budget” among their favorite conversation topics. In fact, it’s all too easy to postpone the conversation in favor of more exciting details. But an honest assessment of your budget and your resources is critical from the very beginning of the software solution decision process. Otherwise, you can spend weeks imagining your dream software solution, with all the bells and whistles—only to be disappointed when you realize you can’t afford it.

It also helps to understand your limits in other areas, such as timeline and technical expertise. When you understand and embrace these constraints, you can focus on finding creative and innovative solutions that suit your unique situation.

2. Features and functionality wish list

In the immortal words of the Rolling Stones, you can’t always get what you want—or at least not everything you want. But if you know what’s most important to you, you can get pretty close.

Take some time to identify which software features and functions are most important to you. If necessary, make it a group effort, so everyone can advocate for what they need. And get clear on the difference between “necessary” and “nice to have.” You can use those lists to guide your decision-making and, if you hire a software developer, communicate your top priorities. When everyone knows what’s most important, you can find a solution that is realistic, practical, and effective.

3. A you-first user experience

Are you choosing a software solution that will affect your customers’ experience? It’s important to understand what your customers need from your software and how it will serve them. This is even more important when that software solution is customer-facing. A frustrating or difficult interface can reflect poorly on your organization.

Consider the situation from your customer’s perspective. Who are they? What’s important to them? What are they looking for when they come to you? How can you advocate for their needs, expectations, and experience when choosing a software solution? How can you go above and beyond for them?

While we’re on the topic of user experience, be sure to think about customer support, too. If one of your users, whether it’s an employee or a customer, runs into trouble with your software, who will help them? Do you need a solution with baked-in customer support? Or are you willing to hire a support person yourself?

4. The off-the-shelf software versus custom software conundrum

There are countless software options on the market, from free programs to expensive, high-tech solutions. There’s probably at least one off-the-shelf option that might do a “good enough” job. And if you’re working on a tight budget, you might decide you’re perfectly happy with that route.

This is where it helps to retake a look at your priorities. If an off-the-shelf software program checks all those boxes, then you’re in luck! But if you can’t find anything that meets your most critical needs, custom software may be a better option.

5. Embrace the unexpected adventure

Don’t assume that the path ahead of you is linear. In fact, be glad it isn’t! There’s probably a software solution or idea out there that you’ve never even considered. Be open-minded about your options, and think twice before shooting down unusual ideas. You may be surprised—and delighted—to discover that your best case scenario comes from an unexpected source.

This is especially true if you work with a custom software developer. Experienced software developers can make recommendations based on what they’ve learned from other projects. You may be able to borrow features and workflows from totally unrelated industries. And that cross-disciplinary experience may lead to excellent results.

The final frontier: Making the right choice

Finding the ideal software solution is no small feat, and the process can be anything but predictable. However, if you define your priorities and resources from the get-go, you’ll save yourself a lot of heartache and dead ends.

Stay focused on what’s most important, and be open to new possibilities. With the right mindset and a clear vision of your goals, you’ll eventually find the perfect software solution – or a developer whose expertise aligns with your vision.

Remember, navigating the software jungle can be a daunting task, but it’s not impossible. By following this guide, you’ll be well on your way to making a confident, successful decision that benefits your business, your team, and your customers.

In the end, the ultimate goal is to find a software solution that suits your unique needs, budget, and objectives. So, take a deep breath, embrace the journey, and may the software force be with you!

Let's Chat

Are you ready to write the next chapter of your story? We're ready to help you tell it.

Get in Touch

Custom Business Software: A Worthwhile Investment for Your Company?

When it comes to software, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution. Every business is going to need something a little different.

If your company is looking for a custom business software solution, you may be investigating both off-the-shelf programs and custom software. Many excellent software solutions are available, with countless happy customers. However, even the most versatile off-the-shelf program may not meet the unique needs of your business. But with a budget, timeline, security, and other factors to consider, the choice between standard and custom software is far from simple.

In this post, we’ll break down the benefits and drawbacks of investing in custom software and offer a few alternatives, so you can make an informed decision about what’s suitable for your organization.

Benefits of Custom Software Development

The single most significant benefit of custom software development is in the name: Complete customization. Excellent software developers can build an original solution from scratch that includes every tool, feature, and functionality your company could dream of. This might include:

  • Specialized functionality that supports your mission and value proposition.
  • A user-friendly interface that both your employees and your customers like interacting with.
  • Seamless integration with other programs your company relies on.

When you’re not confined to a pre-existing software’s design, function, or integration limitations, there is virtually no limit to what you can ask for. So if there’s a feature you’ve always dreamed of, it could very well be a viable option with the support of a top-notch custom software developer.

Custom Software Boosts Operational Efficiency

With custom software, you don’t have to jury-rig a mediocre workflow based on the limitations of an off-the-shelf solution. Instead, a custom program allows you to have the various tasks and functions determine the design rather than dealing with a program’s design constraints. As a result, your business can regain countless hours of lost time when you begin using a system designed to support your exact workflow.

Due to the incredible flexibility of custom software, many people may be surprised to find that custom software can be more cost-effective than an on-the-shelf solution. Because off-the-shelf software is designed to serve the interests of as many businesses as possible, it often does a decent job for most things but doesn’t deliver the same experience you want.

This can mean spending more on custom integrations, middleware, and other workarounds to meet the user’s unique needs. And trying to fit square pegs into round holes can become very expensive.

When investing in custom software, you only pay for the specifications you need and want. There’s no need to budget for unnecessary functions or endless modifications to make them meet your needs. Instead, every dollar goes toward a custom program designed around your business needs, with nothing wasted on features that don’t support your mission.

Challenges of Custom Software Development

While the benefits of custom software are tremendous, there’s a potential drawback: Time.

Every project differs, but developing custom software may require a significant time investment—perhaps weeks or even months, depending on the size and scope of the project.

Plus, genuinely effective custom software is the product of a deep understanding of your company’s needs. Therefore, the software developer will likely spend significant time with your team members to learn as much as possible about existing programs, frustrations, desired outcomes, and special considerations. In short, companies hoping to receive a game-changing custom software program must prepare to invest significant time in the process.

That being said, any time spent on the development process will likely be earned back once the software is being used. The goal of custom software is to streamline processes and improve operations. Meetings can be a small price to pay for the hours upon hours you’ll regain once you’re using a software program that eliminates unnecessary steps.

Key Takeaway: Custom software development offers many advantages for small businesses, but reaping those benefits requires a meaningful investment of time and energy.

Alternatives to Custom Business Software Development

Off-the-Shelf Solutions:

Off-the-shelf software is a prebuilt application that you can be implement quickly and, if you’re lucky, without extensive customization or development work.

A few of the more common examples include companies like QuickBooks or If no customization is necessary, these can be quicker and more cost-effective than custom software. Additionally, some off-the-shelf software companies place a premium on customer service experience and have a strong commitment to optimizing the customer’s investment.

Open Source Solutions:

Open-source solutions offer free access to code that can be modified as necessary by businesses looking for an alternative to off-the-shelf software but don’t need a custom developer. Popular open-source tools include WordPress, Apache Tomcat, and MySQL. Open-source projects allow a great deal of freedom when creating new features or adapting existing ones to meet specific requirements. And there’s no need to start from scratch each time a change is becomes necessary.

Of course, deploying an open-source solution requires some technical know-how. But if you have a team member with the right skill set, it can be a great alternative to a custom software program.


Custom software can be an excellent solution for companies of any size looking to solve challenging business problems. Custom software is incredibly flexible and surprisingly cost-effective, but exceptional software requires a meaningful time commitment. 

Companies looking for a faster fix might succeed with off-the-shelf or open-source solutions. But for companies willing to invest the time, custom software can have a massive impact on operations and help them achieve their goals faster.

If you’re considering an investment in custom software, don’t be afraid to ask questions. Then, do your research to find the right solution for your unique situation.

We mean that. If you’re considering custom software and have questions, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us.

Let's Chat

Are you ready to write the next chapter of your story? We're ready to help you tell it.

Get in Touch

Why software development companies choose mastery—and you should too

A business case for mastery.

Everyone has heard the expression “jack of all trades, master of none.” But there’s a second part to this famous 16th-century quote most haven’t heard. Here’s the full expression:

“A jack of all trades is a master of none, but oftentimes better than a master of one.”

Referring to someone as a “jack of all trades and master of none” isn’t necessarily an insult, more often it’s a suggestion that a person has no real expertise. But the original saying is more complimentary. It refers to those with a more varied skillset as being more valuable in some situations than those who master a single focus..

Many career paths are better suited to the “jack of all trades.” For example, Virtual Assistants who balance a variety of tasks at once and adapt quickly as the situation changes. Or teachers who apply administrative, classroom management, and emotional intelligence skills, along with mastery of their subject matter.

However, note the words oftentimes as opposed to “always” in the quote above. In many situations, there is simply no substitute for true, focused mastery.

Mastery stands out.

Masters make their mark in virtually every field:

  • Danielle Steel rarely writes anything other than romance novels, and she’s sold over 800 million copies of them.
  • Amaury Guichon is a pastry chef whose obsession with chocolate sculpting made him a viral internet sensation and landed him his own Netflix show at 30 years old.
  • Undoubtedly, the best athletes could perform well in just about any athletic activity—some experts even believe James could have had an equally successful career in the NFL—but they have become legends by focusing on their sport of choice.

This same principle applies to software development mastery. There’s always a need for the jack-of-all-trades developers who happily take on just about any project. And many of these companies do great work. Some might argue that it’s less risky to say yes to a variety of opportunities.

But the truly great software developers—the ones that change the face of the industry—are the masters of their craft. They are the thought leaders, the experts, and the headline makers who don’t get distracted by shiny, new moneymakers—they stay the course.

Two paths to software development mastery

One path to mastering software development is focusing on a particular platform or technology. For example, a developer who focuses on mastering a platform like Filemaker can become the go-to resource for those solutions.

There are advantages to learning the platform’s ins and outs and optimizing its features to create effective solutions. This can lead to higher quality work, faster delivery times, and a reputation as a go-to expert for that particular platform.

Another path to software development mastery is to develop expertise with a specific solution type, like healthcare field record management. In this case, the developer may or may not use a specific platform such as Filemaker. Their advantage is the deep understanding of the industry and the specific problems that need to be solved and the ability to create custom solutions from scratch.

Both paths can lead to software development mastery, but each requires a different approach.

Your path should be based on market demand, long-term prospects, and your strengths and interests. Consider what kind of company you need to become to serve your ideal customers.

How to leverage mastery to grow your business.

Of course, the first step to mastery is to draw on a body of masterful work. That means years of under-the-radar work before anyone knows who you are. You don’t get to claim the title until you’re the best. But once you’ve done the work, you can position yourself or your company as a leader.

Some may discover you by chance, but if you want to rise above the competition, you must market your wares.

Think about ways you can showcase your expertise. How can you get your company in front of the right people and show them what you can do?

Here are a few ideas:

  • Submit papers and articles to magazines and publications.
  • Give presentations and join panels at conferences.
  • Lead free webinars.

Remember, basic marketing isn’t enough to establish yourself as a thought leader. You need to be delivering value based on what you’ve mastered. Pay attention to where your target customers are and who they’re listening to. Find a way to insert yourself into that space and be present. Seek to understand what’s on their mind, what worries them, and what they dream about. You can use that knowledge to craft a message—and a product—that speaks to them directly.


At Harmonic, we’re not content to do decent work. We choose mastery, so if you’re weary of mediocre software and ready to invest in something exceptional, let’s talk.

Let's Chat

Are you ready to write the next chapter of your story? We're ready to help you tell it.

Get in Touch

Three perspectives on a people first software development culture.

People first software development businesses know their value proposal is about much more than code.

No matter what business you’re in, a half-baked approach to talent management and product development gets you nowhere.

This wisdom comes from a surprising source: software developers. Many people associate software development with banks of computers and line after line of code. But software exists to serve people. And great software development teams are built around an appreciation for people.

So if you want to truly stand out, think like a software developer: Put people at the center of everything you do.

Start with the customer perspective.

We’ve all had that awkward moment of repeatedly and fruitlessly pushing a door, only to be told, “Pull” This is called a Norman door: It’s a “pull” door that looks like a “push” door, or vice versa. According to design experts, you, as the user, aren’t the one who should be embarrassed for getting it wrong. It’s the designer’s fault.

After all, humans design doors for humans, and designers shouldn’t be creating simple products that people don’t readily understand how to use. Prioritizing aesthetics, for example, over functionality simply misses the point of a door.

This same principle applies to software—great developers know writing good code isn’t good enough. Having a basic understanding of basic human psychology is essential to developing killer software. A user-friendly interface is more important than the very best bells and whistles ever devised.

Never sacrifice the user experience in favor of virtual party tricks.

No matter what you’re creating, never forget who it’s for. If you don’t keep the human in mind, you’re going to end up with a product they can’t use.

Strike a balanced talent perspective.

It’s easy to understand the allure of recruiting fresh college grads. They’re young, eager to prove themselves, and know just enough to get started. Plus, they’re much cheaper—and arguably easier—to hire than experienced, senior-level employees.

In fact, most software developers have a deep bench of recent grads working for them. After all,
nearly 20% of software developers are under 25 years old. But relying too heavily on junior talent is unsustainable.

Leaders know they need a blend of experience, wisdom, and fresh energy to set themselves apart. Highly strategic, custom work that solves unique problems is the path to profitability. And it’s the kind of work that requires experience. So developers are mindful about developing senior experts for challenging projects and for development of juniors.

One of your most important strategic levers is to develop the optimal ratio of senior and junior

The happy employee/happy customer perspective.

This philosophy is simple: If you treat your employees well, they’ll treat customers well. As a result, your company will grow. Pro tip: it also happens to be the basis for an extraordinary marketing strategy.

Look no further than the world of kibble and catnip for the perfect case study. Chewy, the e-commerce pet supply giant, has a reputation for providing incredible customer service. It’s no coincidence that it’s also ranked #12 among big companies with the happiest employees.

Chewy treats its employees with respect and compassion, which motivates them to extend that same kindness to every customer. Their strategy has paid off: The company has seen dramatic growth since its inception in 2011.

Even with Chewy’s roaring success on the national stage, many leaders refuse to follow in their footsteps. There are plenty of companies who still use fear and draconian tactics to motivate their workers. It’s a sad reality for those beleaguered employees. And it gives you a clear shot at a competitive edge.

Create a people first software development culture

The best technology in the world won’t help produce happy, satisfied, motivated employees without the right company culture. Effective software development leadership places high priority on creating an environment where team members are encouraged to contribute ideas.

And a lackluster response to suggestions can quickly derail the brainstorming process.

Show them you’re always open to ideas. Forgive failure quickly and inspire their people to dust
themselves off and try again.

In this type of environment, employees don’t make choices based on fear or self preservation. They can bring their best selves to the table. The result is truly high-quality software—and highly satisfied customers.

No matter what business you’re in, you can emulate this same approach. Fearful employees will simply fly under the radar. Employees who feel trusted and respected soar higher than you could imagine.

Software excellence begins with excellent people.

At Harmonic, we understand that when a company hires us for a software development project it’s an act of trust. It means trusting us to prioritize needs, think about the client’s customers, and put our best people on the job.

We’re incredibly proud of the people working here. We put a lot of energy into hiring the best and creating a space where they can flourish. The result is excellent software that makes your life easier and helps you fulfill your mission.

If you’re looking for a people-centered software developer, look no further.

Let's Chat

Are you ready to write the next chapter of your story? We're ready to help you tell it.

Get in Touch

Interview questions for hiring a software development company

You don’t need a degree in computer science when hiring a software development company. It’s simply a matter of asking the right questions—and paying close attention to the answers.

A high-quality software solution can make a tremendous difference in the way your business operates. Good software erases inefficiencies by creating better solutions to daily frustrations. It also frees up time, so you have the space to explore new ideas and initiatives for your business. In short, the right custom software solution opens up huge new possibilities for success.

IF you choose the right development team

Here are several questions to ask when interviewing companies for your next custom software development project.

Tell us about your project management philosophy.

Custom software development projects are complex and rarely unfold exactly according to plan. Timelines and budgets can change. Unexpected slowdowns or hiccups can occur at a moment’s notice. Good project management is vital to maintain progress and strong communication, even when the unexpected occurs.

But project management is not simply a matter of getting things done. It’s an incredibly nuanced and valuable skill that takes time to develop. Good project managers are masters of finding and defining clarity, even amid chaos. Project management is about staying nimble and finding creative solutions to maintain momentum. It requires strong leadership and communication skills and a team PM culture that embraces fresh thinking and flexibility.

Ideally, you want someone who is passionate about good project management and has a clear strategy in place. They should talk about how they stay focused and help you keep a clear head when things change unexpectedly. If they seem disinterested or directionless when talking about project management, reevaluate.

Also, listen carefully for signs that the whole team is on board with their approach. In some cases, that enthusiasm doesn’t extend any farther than the leadership team. Look for a software developer whose entire staff cares deeply about good work, strong collaboration, and the end user experience.

What’s your approach to problem solving?

For millennia, the horse-drawn carriage was a perfectly satisfactory vehicle for moving people and cargo from one place to another.

Of course, horse-drawn carriages were not without their problems. Horses are living creatures that need to eat and sleep. Navigating a carriage over certain types of terrain was cumbersome and risky. The ride was bumpy, but it was the best system available. Manufacturers only sought to mitigate these “systemic” issues.

We needed a better system.

If humans only thought about problem solving on a small scale like this, we’d still be riding around in horse-drawn carriages. But someone had the audacity to dream bigger and look beyond the problem to the opportunity.

Today, we drive comfortable, climate-controlled cars to the store and back in minutes. And we have those big dreamers to thank.

This opportunistic approach to problem solving is what you should look for in a software development company. Any development team can make software, but the best are creating elegant solutions to business process problems.

Truly exceptional software development companies will work with you to dig deeper into your business. They dig into the details—even some that may seem irrelevant—in order to map out a solution that delights.

Listen carefully when you talk to potential software development partners about problem solving. If they just fixate on running bug reports and the like, they probably don’t have the capacity to think bigger. You want someone who sees problems as possibilities, not just a series of milestones.

What’s your process for understanding business models?

A flair for problem solving often goes hand-in-hand with strong business acumen. In other words, you want a software development company that understands how your business works.

Here’s an example. Your business may process massive quantities of inventory on a daily basis. You’re primarily looking for a better inventory management system, but you’re also on the hook to send daily inventory reports to regulatory agency for compliance.

A run-of-the-mill software development company will just build you a generic inventory management system. Whereas a great software development company will ask you questions about those compliance requirements, such as, what the reports look like, what data you need, and why.

They will then build a system with a turnkey reporting function that will create those reports for you in a few clicks. A developer who understands your business model will address issues adjacent to compliance reporting, as they strive to make things easier and faster.

Every business has its own challenges, but the punchline remains the same: You want a software development partner that will learn the ins and outs of your business model before they start writing code.

Tell us about the people you work with.

It’s hard to fake a healthy culture.

When you hire a software development company, you are at the mercy of their commitment to investing in and developing their talent.

A good software development company understands the importance of hiring great team members and invests accordingly. Get them to describe how they find and develop the right people. Allow for a little humble bragging when they describe how they work to keep their people engaged and happy.

Of course, “company culture” can be a nebulous concept. Some companies think it’s just a matter of free snacks and foosball. Employee satisfaction is the product of respect, flexibility, encouragement, and other concepts that are much harder to quantify than salary.

So how do you evaluate the culture of a software development company? Here are some clues:

  • Do team members seem like they really care about your project? Are they asking thoughtful questions that indicate depth of thought about your situation?
  • Do they seem like the kind of people who are pleasant to work with?
  • What’s their body language like? Are they leaning forward, looking you in the eye, and responding with nods and gestures when you speak?

Paying attention to the verbal and nonverbal signs, will give you a good sense of others’ engagement level: at least, enough to trust your gut.

How do you handle security concerns?

You’d be surprised how often companies don’t think about security until the project is nearly complete. They end up treating it like an add-on feature at the last minute. This causes major problems in the final stages of the project, from user interface disruptions to security gaps.

Security should be part of the conversation from Day 1, so those features are fully incorporated into the final product. This ensures seamless integration of every feature and a truly secure product. Don’t be afraid to ask direct questions about how—and when—they handle security concerns.

Once you trust that the company takes security as seriously as you do, ask about security testing. A good software development company will have a plan in place to test every feature of your software for vulnerabilities. They should use a combination of manual methods and automated tools to ensure a comprehensive sweep.

When in doubt, remember this: Be wary of a company that brushes off your concerns about security. If they treat it like an issue easily addressed at the last minute, they may not be the right match.

Do you consider yourself a leader in the software development industry?

It’s one thing to be a great developer, but it’s another to be a leader.

Serena Williams is considered one of the greatest athletes of all time. She didn’t earn that title by learning to play every sport. She mastered the art and science of tennis.

There are plenty of athletes who can jump into a pickup game and do great. But they can’t compare to Williams, Michael Phelps, and other genuine leaders in sports.

Similarly, there are thousands of companies making software—even good software! However, truly great software is the product of a clear vision and mastery of a handful of markets. A jack-of-all-trades software development company will always struggle to get up to speed with unfamiliar industries and applications.

These companies—the ones that stick to a clear path—are the true leaders. They’re the ones paving the way forward and setting the example for the industry. If you want excellent software, created by the best of the best, you want these guys.

Of course, excellence and humility often go hand in hand, so you’ll need to read between the lines when asking this question.

Some companies will be open about their thought leadership activities, while others will be a bit more bashful. Pay attention to whether they come across as generalists or demonstrate specifically what they do best.

You might also check their website and social media platforms to see if they’re sharing thought leadership content. What they say publicly can tell you a lot about their values.

How fast can we turn this around?

This question is a little sneaky, but the point is critical: have a conversation about quality.

There’s a common quip in the business world that asks: “Fast, cheap, or good? Pick two.” This is true of restaurant meals, home improvement work, or hiring a software development company.

In simple terms, quality takes time. Great software companies know that quality suffers when things move faster than adequate care and attention allow for. Cutting corners or skipping steps always comes back to bite you.

Hire a company that’s in it for the long haul, and strives for mastery of their craft. Look for a commitment to next-level quality.

There’s another layer to this: Great software companies aren’t ashamed to ask for more time. Some are so fearful of losing leads or clients they’ll promise the moon—and fail to deliver. But the leaders know their best clients will wait for a truly great product.

The above question—“How fast can we turn this around?”—can tell you a lot about a company’s philosophy. If the timeline sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Listen for a bias toward quality over speed.

The question behind all the questions when hiring a software development company

Even if the initial project only takes a few months, you want a company you can turn to again and again. Plus, you’ll likely need their help to refine your software over time as you make adjustments to your processes and business model.

So treat it like any other hiring process. This means:

  • Spending time with those who will be directly involved so you can gage aptitude and personality fit.
  • Asking for references from their current customers.
  • Talking openly about the budget to ensure financial compatibility.

Due diligence is key to ensuring the right match from the beginning. By taking the time to find the right match, you’ll have years of successful collaboration ahead of you.

Let's Chat

Are you ready to write the next chapter of your story? We're ready to help you tell it.

Get in Touch