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May 2, 2017

5 Questions a Custom Software Shop Will Ask You

Thinking about talking with a custom software development shop about a potential mobile application or web-based app? Here are five questions a custom software company will ask you in your first meeting.

Knowing your answers going in will not only help with your overall project goals, it will keep the dialogue on-point and result in a successful game plan for your idea or vision.

What’s the “Elevator Pitch?”  What is this thing you want built supposed to do?

As a custom software development company, our strengths lie in being able to visualize a system that you are describing. A short, concise version of the website or application will immediately let us know the general scope of the application, what we might build it in and the various moving parts. We’ll absolutely drill down deeper, but be able to explain the app in 30 seconds or less, in a way that makes the goal crystal clear.

Do you want a website or an app?

A website is accessed through the web browser and a native application is downloaded through an app store. Native apps will allow you access to things like the device’s hardware – like GPS or Bluetooth, where web apps are a little bit more limited in terms of accessing those types of device hardware. Websites can also be built to be responsive, meaning they will look good on a variety of different screen resolutions, which can be less expensive that native application development.

Does your application need to integrate with any other services?

Often times, your idea may be a better way of managing disparate data sources. In these cases, it’s good to not only identify the third parties with which you want to integrate, but HOW you integrate with them. Many modern software applications will offer an API (Application Programming Interface) as a means by which you can push and pull data from. To be clear, you don’t have to do this research yourself; we do this all the time, but if you’re aware of various API’s with which you’d like to integrate, it will cut down the research time while we determine how we connect with those API’s.

How involved can you be in the development process?

Shift3 operates with an agile-like process for software development. That means that we develop in sprints or phases, where our focus is typically on one piece of the project. We develop first, then have our clients come back in to see what we’ve done and evaluate if it’s on the right track.

This does two things: 1) It allows our clients to see progress being made in almost real time. 2) It allows us to course-correct sooner if something isn’t the way you had envisioned it in your head. We would rather catch issues when they are little, rather than three months down the line when it’s a much harder thing to fix.

What is your timeline?

Timelines are often times the one surprising factor when we are pricing out and scoping a project. Large projects can range anywhere from six months to a year depending on the size and complexity, and some small websites can be done in a week or two.

If you’re able to answer some of the questions in this list before an initial meeting with a custom software company, they’re going to have a much better idea of what that timeline looks like. Make sure that you’re planning well in advance of when you need the software to be up and running, so we have the requisite amount of time to build it correctly.

Have an Idea?

If you have an idea for a mobile application or web-based app, contact us. Consultations are completely free and we can help you sort through your idea, strategize and price out what you want to build.

Credit: Greg D. Goforth, Executive Director of Development, Shift3 Technologies

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