Estimations: How to pick the right one?
Finding the right software provider can be a choice as difficult as picking the right cheese in your local grocery store. There are so many options available that it becomes challenging just to pick one. Picking the best fit should not be hard, and it can be achieved with careful planning beforehand by asking yourself: what do I really need?
In order to make a conscious choice of which software house proposal you should choose to go with, you need to consider several factors:
be careful with the total project cost - the cheapest offer may not be the right one for you. The proposal should include an hourly rate per developer and total project cost. Don't get surprised if you are quoted from $10k or EUR to 99k for a project, they cost that much. Simpler tasks are less than $10k. Proposals tend to include some room for error in case of problems along the way during a project and possible delays in the timeline which convert to a higher cost.
As our PM, Cezary Kałandyk comments:
There is also the "unknown" element, and differences in quotes (estimations).
Sometimes big differences may suggest that the software house does not correctly
understand what is needed (and not always the one who gave the lowest price is
the best solution for you).
A good question: does the software house understand what your long-term business vision is and what is the goal you want to achieve according to what you want to build and why do you want to build it?
how long does the software house expect to complete the first version of your MVP (average time is 3 months)? Is there a big difference between timelines of different proposals or is there a week or two or a day or two difference? It should be still just fine.
Continuing this point: What is the MVP? MVP stands for a minimum viable product which is the simplest working prototype or first demo version of the product which you want to sell to the public, which you can show to your potential customers for feedback or to some investors).
What kind of developers are included in the proposal (juniors, regular, seniors), what about PMs, QAs? They are also a vital part of your project as QAs make sure your software is free of bugs. PM leads the development team and makes sure your project is on time and all the developers know what they must code per sprint.
After the MVP has been completed successfully, what about a full production application: Does it make sense to scale it up to a full production version and release it to the market? The question is: does the market need this solution at this moment, or is it based on one’s assumptions rather than data-driven findings and should be published later?
In addition to the factors listed above, it's important to make sure the company has:
Case studies: make sure the proposal(s) is from a company that has done projects in the industry your company represents because the likelihood of a successful project increases then.
Reviews: Check Clutch (or other B2B/tech international platform) for reviews. Read them and see why clients chose certain software houses to work with. Clutch has price, quality, timeline factors included in the reviews which makes them quite a good comparison.
What is Clutch?
Clutch.co is an unbiased portal for the best software providers around the world. Clutch reviews are hosted by the Clutch team. All the reviews are conducted with the client and a Clutch analyst (or via an online form that should be confirmed by the Clutch team). The analyst asks the client company questions about their latest projects, software houses have no control over the discussion, they only see the published review of the conversation after it has been completed and published on the Clutch site. If the software house doesn't like the review, they can appeal it then the Clutch analyst can review the published review and edit it after consulting with both parties. Simply said, you can trust Clutch, their reviews include both finished and ongoing projects.
For many software houses, it's one of the best ways in receiving quality inbound leads as it is used for benchmarking. Just remember to have a proper budget available for your project as often those companies deal with project sizes of $10k EUR and up. Otherwise, it may be not the best fit for your project and you might want to consider other options as well (freelancers) in order to save your time for benchmarking.
There are two ways you can make your shortlisting work easier for you with Clutch:
Schedule a call with a Clutch analyst who will gather your project details and give you a shortlist of three companies to reach out to (it's a free and nonbinding choice).
Read the reviews by yourself and decide to whom you want to reach out for a consultation.
Some other options to consider:
You can also check Pangea.ai and Digital Knights (they are both shortlisting portals).
Referral/recommendation: you can talk to one of the company's clients first to see if they actually like the provider and had a good experience with them. Best software houses are happy to connect you with one of their existing clients so that they can explain how they did good projects with them.
It's always better to pick a bit more expensive proposal than to choose the cheapest one as you may run into problems with the cheapest software provider later on, and solving those problems may cost the project much more than anticipated. Make sure it’s the right fit in terms of communication with the team, case studies, and experience in your field rather than the price. On the other hand, the most expensive options might mean that the software house does not understand your business vision as well as you thought it would.