5 Answers to Know Before Seeking Custom Development Services
As companies embrace custom development services to get the most out of their tasks, teams, and technology, we realize just how unique bespoke development can be – and even ways it shows similarities no matter the service provider or client involved. Are you considering finding that perfect consulting company to help you take your project to the next level? Still weighing the benefits of customized applications? We are here to help, starting with providing insights into questions the provider you choose will likely throw your way in the initial stages of scoping out the project.
1. What is this? Let's hear the elevator pitch.
Brief and to the point, being able to sum up what you want built helps everyone involved – you to truly vocalize what it is you want to accomplish, us to understand what the scope of this development will entail, and even stakeholders to be informed of what they are investing in. While this “pitch” can be as long as you need, a good rule of thumb is to keep it down to two minutes at most when speaking or no more than two or three paragraphs written. The pitch itself should try to hit as many highlights as possible, including why you want/need this, what this will do (or not do), what specific technology it will need to interact with, etc. This pitch is typically what we use to get things in motion, laying out a preliminary scope until more information is provided.
2. How do you want to access this solution?
Discovering what it is a client wants developed is important, but finding out how the client plans to interact with it? Well, that might actually be more important – and we promise, there is a difference. The way you plan for end-users to access this solution has everything to do with the infrastructure you have in place as well as the experience of those who will be working with it. You could be looking to create a website accessed through a web browser like Google Chrome. You could be looking to create a desktop application which is hosted on your machine and launched through an executable (.exe) file. You could be looking to create an application for mobile devices. You could be looking to create an Add-In toolkit for platforms like Esri’s ArcGIS. You could be looking to create just about anything.
All of the above are possible, and each has its own time and place. Ideas outlined in your general pitch can be realized any number of ways, which is why this particular question is so important.
3. What applications and/or system infrastructure will this need to integrate with?
While our team is skilled in discerning how to get systems and services to play nice, we need to know upfront if there are any applications, third-party services, and/or infrastructure that will require integration with this new software. This could come in multiple forms and will be entirely dependent on your project and environment. For example, we have seen companies who boast a standard module for User Interface (UI) design, meaning that any application that is developed for them must use this package for styling elements like color, text, etc. This is something that has to be taken into account at the beginning of the project. Another example is implementing Single Sign-On Authentication (SSO) across multiple platforms, like ArcGIS, Tableau, and server-based resources. When faced with a task like this, we must know what solutions and infrastructure will be involved before we can determine the proper methods for implementation.
4. What is your deadline? What about the timeline?
There are two small – actually, rather large – pieces of information every custom development service needs to know when considering when you expect to have this new solution up and running. First, what is the deadline? It is important to know the date or even just the quarter you expect to have this on your system. This way it can be factored into the scope of the project, determining if the time required for research, development, and testing matches the time allowed – and if any adjustments need to be made along the way.
Second, it is essential to know the timeline with which we will be working. When we talk about timeline, we are referring to any intermittent deliverables you may be anticipating throughout the lifespan of the project prior to reaching the final deadline. Small projects can typically be completed in a matter of weeks while large projects can range anywhere from six months to a year depending on size, complexity, and all the other moving pieces involved. Many companies who are backing a large, lengthy project find comfort – and even necessity – in instituting intermittent deliverables and progress reports every couple of weeks, once a month, or once per quarter. We encourage this approach as it ensures that the product being created aligns with what is expected, developers can get any feedback necessary from the client, testing can be initiated, and all parties have the peace of mind that things are on track.
5. What deliverables do you expect?
This may sound silly – especially when you are paying a provider to develop a product for you – but what exactly do you need them to deliver to you the day the deadline (or intermittent deadlines) hits? Do you need full product documentation in addition to the product? Should we also provide training materials for internal education? Should we expect to schedule training sessions alongside you and your team when the solution is deployed? While we automatically include user manuals unless the client specifies otherwise, we encourage you to begin looking forward to deployment even before the project has launched to ensure end-users receive proper instruction if needed.
Another important deliverable for companies to consider is the process of handing off development. Businesses typically seek custom development because they do not have the time and/or resources in-house to tackle such a project. Because of this, we provide the option to help you maintain your project throughout its lifecycle. We also are able to completely relinquish it to your own developers should you desire it to be maintained internally. Again, these are important topics to consider as they impact both the service provider’s hand-off processes and your own preparations for bringing the solution onboard.
What are you waiting for?
Finding a custom development service that fits your needs is actually the easiest part of building a unique, robust, and overall compatible solution. The challenging part is taking the wealth of ideas you and your team have for the solution and communicating it clearly to the development team with which you are working. Our team at Integrated tries to make this process as easy and efficient as possible. Find out more about the solutions we provide and the ways we can help your team.