How to Set up a Truly Successful Software Development Partnership

There are 3 key areas to nurture in each software development partnership. Neglecting them undermines collaboration towards a common goal. Learn how to take care of these 3 crucial areas.

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TL;DR

Key areas to nurture in a software development partnership

Key areas to nurture in a software development partnership: communication, trust and common success.

Communication

Communicate openly, maintain a successful flow, and ensure the agility of communication.

Trust

Believe in each others professionalism, be transparent.

Common goal, vision & success

Be clear about your common goals to build the best strategy and reach for success, together.

To fully understand each area and learn how to look after it, proceed to the main section of this article.

How to identify reliable software development partners?

  • A reliable partner succeeded in previous projects and gathered multiple positive reviews from past clients.
  • Good development partner is not afraid to take ownership, challenge your vision, and advise solutions that are better from the business perspective.
  • Best software development companies offer cross-functional teams of engaged individuals who focus on the business success of a client.
  • A trusted software development company can be found on various rankings.

Introduction

Software development partnership is seen as an opportunity to cut costs, focus on core projects, solve issues, and enhance quality.

Unfortunately, approximately every fifth organization that decides to start collaboration with a software house fails to build a successful relationship with its partner. Which, in turn, leads to millions of dollars being wasted and the contract ending up in failure.

It doesn't have to look that way.

If you're considering the partnership with an agency that builds digital products, make sure you're entering the one where both parties are 100% involved.

How to make sure everyone's engaged? By improving the three key areas of cooperation.

Three key areas to nurture in a software development partnership

A skilled, experienced development team will work on a code together with your developers by improving a product and forging good business relations.

A successful software development partnership means integration (when it comes to both subject matter, people, and business) and collaboration to solve problems, finding solutions and discovering possibilities.

Building long-term software development partnerships in the key. Close collaboration, full understanding of the vision, needs, and objectives, leads to creating successful products tailored for the business' and users' needs.

To achieve that kind of partnership, focus on improving communication, trust, and common goals & success.

1. Communication

Key point

You are never too busy to say what you need – there are no excuses for poor communication.

A client’s team can benefit from a good software development partnership in many ways – by getting a new perspective on a project or discovering other attitudes and communication standards.

Nevertheless, such benefits are just one element – that can be inefficient in a situation where partners do not communicate what they expect from one another.

<span class="colorbox1" fs-test-element="box1"><p>Open, transparent communication is essential when it comes to partnership between a client and software development company.</p></span>

What must be stated clearly?

Surely, the team’s responsibilities responding to the client’s requirements and goals are the key messages. Such arrangements can be broken down into smaller sections of information and declared in many shorter meetings and video-calls.

The challenge is to create a flawless understanding of every party from a technological, logical, and business point of view.

<span class="colorbox1" fs-test-element="box1"><p>Everybody in an organization is responsible for communication effectiveness and the way our thoughts are expressed. </p></span>

A good example, of course, comes from those who manage, or have direct contact with partners or their representatives.

Quick tips about communication with a software development company

Tips on improving communication in a software development partnership.

When it comes to communication in a software development partnership, remember about a few things.

Introduction is the key – who am I talking to?

Everybody needs to know who's responsible for what, and the development team has to know the key stakeholders.

It helps to solve many complex issues during cooperation and choose the right tone. Different tone and the needs of your audiences ought to be treated with respect during every communication.

Start with meeting in person or during a longer video call

It is recommended that at the very beginning of the project partners and their representatives meet in person and talk, preferably live. Although in the era of technological development, a longer video conference will be equally authentic, binding and relevant.

Thanks to this kind of introduction, members of a vendor's team will feel more at ease with your PO or other representatives. On the other hand, it will be easier for you to talk to the members of the remote development team, who may ask for advice, opinions or raise concerns.

<span class="colorbox1" fs-test-element="box1"><p>TIP: Communication is better when we talk to Janek, who is a developer willing to help, not to Resource X, who has not reached the requirements. Besides, if you have met someone before, the resistance to speaking in a foreign language decreases dramatically, at the same time the freedom and clarity of communication increase.</p></span>

Maintain a successful flow of communication

Often organizations designate a representative, usually a Project Manager, responsible for setting monthly or weekly meetings to inform partners about work progress, changes and updates in projects. In a situation when you outsource to a different country, tools such as Slack, Zoom, or Appear will support the quick exchange of information.

Ensure the agility of communication

Both parties should feel listened to – it is important to keep effective communication on both sides. Meaning: every question receives an answer as soon as possible.

It does not need to be written in great detail. Often, short feedback is enough, for example: “Thanks for the message. I understand your question but we are already finishing work. When I come to the office in the morning, I will answer more comprehensively.”

It helps to maintain a smooth flow of information despite the time zone differences.

Write a Communication Policy

Before both teams start to communicate, it is a good idea to create a Communication Policy. The issues raised have to be: true, reliable, timely and well-balanced. The policy states what issues should be discussed first during every introduction, in what manner, and what topics are unacceptable.

Try to create an office environment online

Seamless communication in software development partnership in any project is about expressing ideas, issues, and concerns precisely and using terms and words known and understandable for the interlocutor.

Use as many tools as possible: calls, voice chats, video calls, screen sharing, presentations, and emails, depending on the topic’s complexity.

2. Trust

Key point

Software development partnership works only if it’s built on trust.

Initially, take some time to get to know the members of the vendor's team. Put faces to names and treat them like the partner you expect them to be. Ask them to divide the whole project into certain milestones so that you have full visibility about the progress and health of the project and there is no negative surprise during project delivery.

By treating your outsourcing provider as a partner, you will cultivate a relationship of mutual respect that incentivizes the outside team to bring their best work to help your company. Your outsourcing provider has unique experiences and capacities that could make them a significant asset to your company beyond just completing required tasks.

If appropriate, you could invite your provider to contribute to business decisions. To establish trust, give them the space to work without excessive supervision from your team. Accept that your provider may not solve a problem exactly the same way you would; however, they might bring a solution to the table that exceeds your expectations.

<span class="colorbox1" fs-test-element="box1"><p>Trust will allow both parties to work freely and collaboratively as partners rather than as clients.</p></span>

Tips about trust between software development partners

Tips on building trust in software development partnership.

When it comes to trust in software development partnership, there are four aspects to focus on.

Everyone needs to be transparent

Neither side should hide relevant information. It should work quite oppositely – both ought to be focused on building and maintaining mutual trust.

When the partnership does not go as expected, great partners try to solve problems together.

Avoid looking for someone to blame or giving unreasonable warnings to cut off the cooperation. The fact is that many issues can be solved smoothly at the early stages.

<span class="colorbox1" fs-test-element="box1"><p>Transparency saves everyone a lot of frustrating complications.</p></span>

Both sides should believe in each other’s professionalism

When deciding to cooperate, you should know the prices of the software development provider and be informed about any possible deviation in the final price relating to the original estimations.

Once a client agrees on the prices and conditions, they shouldn't assume later that estimation was exaggerated. Such suspicions may significantly affect trust between partners and undermine the success of every cooperation.

<span class="colorbox1" fs-test-element="box1"><p>Thanks to openness in financial matters, in case of doubts, both parties can discuss them together without concerns.</p></span>

Nobody corrupts reality

Professional development teams do not try to present an incremental demo to make it look ready (knowing that the outcome is far from expected).

Teams should transparently share what they managed to work out – the real results of their work.

Nobody is afraid to admit that they do not know something

Do not avoid answering difficult questions. Guide the team to have the courage to admit mistakes or lack of knowledge, or delay and be ready to discuss them to find a solution, not a scapegoat.

3. Common goal, vision & success

Key point

Be clear about your common goals to build the best strategy and reach for success, together.

Everyone – both software development provider and a partner – create one collaborative team.

Both parties should know and understand the product’s goal and vision and strive toward them. Such unanimity is a very strong motivation for achieving mutual success.

The other party should not be treated as strangers, but as collaborators (customer and supplier) for the common gain. This is facilitated by conducting regular meetings, e.g. demos, planning, retros, but also the time devoted to dailies – all this will pay off.

Long-term goal(s)

Goals give priority to the direction of a partnership. Together, a partner and provider define: why they cooperate, what their common aim is and when will they get there. The visions have to be consistent, innovative, and predict a real impact.

Many lasting partnerships that identified and developed shared goals found ways to serve one another and at the same time be closer to fulfilling individual missions – together. It can work out perfectly even though the long term goals are different.

<span class="colorbox1" fs-test-element="box1"><p>Good partners will always find a way to take a turn in to be closer to each other on the path of business and development to win on the market.</p></span>

Shared vision where both partners succeed

Visions are the final expected future conditions that companies endeavour to reach, defining where they plan to be within a given time.

It is said that shared visions are more profitable in a wider sense than shared goals in the long run.

Why?

Shared visions facilitate cooperation much better – the closer the mindset, the policies, and beliefs are, the easier the performance.

Imagine that your company cares about being environmentally responsible and eco-friendly – if your partner also goes “green”, the enthusiasm to work together will grow. It is also a good idea to think about a workable business model where partners’ roles are taken into account and defined.

Identifying a reliable software development partner

Qualities of a company that can form a strong software development partnership

A good software development partnership can be formed only with a great company.

To identify a trustworthy software development partner, analyze their experience and reviews, and talk to previous clients. There are also a few aspects that make a solid software development team, mentioned above.

What makes a good software development partner?

  • Technical expertise.
  • Experience in a field that's close to your case.
  • Willingness to take ownership.
  • Ability to form a strong partnership with clients.
  • Engagement and transparency.
  • Well-crafted software development process and project management in line with Agile methodology.
  • Forming cross-functional teams (software developers, designers, tech advisors, business analysts, project managers).
  • Challenging your vision.
  • Understanding of the business perspective.
  • Quick time to impact.
  • Willingness to share knowledge, help your team improve their tech skills and processes.

How do you evaluate a software development company?

You make the first evaluation during your research, and the second - during discovery calls with potential software partners.

During research, pay attention to projects in portfolio, analyze previous projects, testimonials and reviews from clients, and credibility of the website.

During a meeting, ask how your collaboration will look like and talk about the company's attitude towards testing and deployments. You can ask for contacts to previous clients.

Find more questions to ask and tips to follow in this guidebook about choosing a software development firm.

Choosing a software development company

Let's start with the fact, that there is no universally best choice when it comes to choosing the right software development partner. There is only the best choice for a particular case.

To form a long-term partnership with a technology partner, analyze your needs and look for a trustworthy company that fulfills your requirements.

Where do I look for software development companies?

How do I choose a software development partner?

  • Start with identifying the requirements for your project.
  • Look at the resources mentioned in the previous paragraph and create a list of 10-20 companies that perform great in those rankings, have excellent reviews, and experience in a chosen field.
  • While researching the companies, check their websites, read testimonials, and analyze portfolios - look for legitimate evidence of their skills and expertise.
  • Create your shortlist of 8-10 companies.
  • Prepare at least a short version of a Request for Proposal to send it easily to chosen vendors.
  • Schedule quick calls with all chosen companies.
  • Then, compare and analyze the bids you receive. Look for a golden mean between the offer and cost. Pay attention to the cultural fit and mutual understanding. The team should be easy to communicate with, engaged, proposing solutions, and challenging your vision (yep, that's a good sign).

What you can gain – reasons why companies look for a software development partnership

Many enterprises tend to outsource software development project to a partner for several needs and reasons:

  • they need to find and hire professional and experienced software development teams while the employment market is harsh and tight,
  • the business landscape is inevitably moving fast, so companies need a trusted partner to accelerate time to launch an innovative product,
  • software development outsourcing is sought due to cost reduction and increasing demands from technology professionals who tend to have higher needs when having them in house.

Both the outsourcing provider and the partner’s team have to set their minds on achieving the best possible outcome out of the software development partnership. Only a close and transparent relationship guarantees that high standards will be met and innovative solutions for today’s environment will be created.

Time to build a reliable software development partnership

Dave Walker, director of technology at pay-as-you-go storage company Lovespace is quite experienced when it comes to outsourcing projects. He often comments on satisfied and dissatisfied cooperations, highlighting the unexpected character of such projects where you embrace both risk and great success.

Walker gave an almost perfect definition of a good partnership:

“[i]t is a relationship which needs open and constant communication to build the trust needed that both sides are looking out for each other’s best interests.”

We hope that any business relationship will bring you profits, satisfaction and great experiences.

If you have any inquiries about software development partnership or you are looking for an experienced and proven partner in building your product – send us a message.

Matt Warcholinski
github
COO & Co-Founder

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