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Stage 2. Choosing a Partner
– Mobile & Web App Development Process

Learn how to choose a proper App Development Company for your project. The article covers topics like: Independent Contractor Agreement, Estimation’s credibility, Clutch and other platforms for B2B buying.

If you want to develop your mobile or web app, you will need a team that will create the product according to your vision and expectations. What’s more, I would state that you will even need a partner who will consult your plan and give you a new perspective.

But how do you find this kind of partner? It is not easy and, the more money it costs, the more serious an impact it will have on your final app success. 

There is no such thing as a perfect recipe for choosing a software house. But, in this article, we will give you some essential tips that will help you to find answers to crucial questions, such as:

  1. How can I verify if the company I want to choose is trustworthy? 
  2. How can I find the best companies in one place, compare them and read reviews from their clients?
  3. How can I make sure if an Estimation I get is not trumped up?
  4. What should I check in an Independent Contractor Agreement before I sing it?

If you are considering building your own internal team, instead of hiring an external one, first make sure that you are aware of the costs and time which you will have to invest. In this article, I am not focusing on this topic or which solution is better (for sure – it depends ;)).

This article is a part of the series Mobile & Web App Development – 7 Stages You Need To Know which covers the following topics:

  1. Clarifying the Vision
  2. Choosing a Partner
  3. Wireframes & Design
  4. Project Kick-off & Setup
  5. Development:
    1. Managing development process with Scrum
    2. Quality Assurance
  6. Release Preparation
  7. App Maintenance

1. HOW CAN I FIND THE BEST COMPANIES IN ONE PLACE? – 8 platforms for B2B buying that it’s good to know

For sure, it’s worth starting your search by asking your friends, family, and colleagues if they have any software house they can recommend. The second step, in our opinion, should be looking for a partner (or checking the ones someone recommends to you) on Clutch and other similar platforms.

Below, you can find 8 platforms which aggregate information and reviews about companies offering software development services. They are essential guides for B2B buying and hiring decisions.

One of the most popular is Clutch (the first on the list). This platform connects small and mid-market businesses with the best-fit IT companies, but also covers marketing, advertising, design, development firms. Their methodology considers verified feedback from client references, services offered, work quality and market presence to compare and rank companies in a specific market. You can find a partner for yourself using many of Clutch’s filters. You can sort companies by services, platforms, locations and more.


2. HOW CAN I VERIFY IF THE COMPANY I WANT TO CHOOSE IS TRUSTWORTHY?

  • [MUST HAVE] Check out their portfolio
    • Do they have experience in creating products similar to yours?
    • Did they work with partners from many countries and different industries?
    • Do they work with start-ups, big companies… or both?
    • Do they use new solutions and technology?
  • [MUST HAVE] Check their profile and reviews on Clutch and – optionally – on other similar platforms.
  • [SHOULD HAVE] Get in touch with one or two of their clients.
    Reading reviews is great, but it’s worth having a direct conversation with a client of the company. Look for a contact by yourself. Make sure he or she is satisfied and ask if there is anything you should be warned about.
  • [SHOULD HAVE] Compare the Estimation you get with the Estimation from another company.   
  • [SHOULD HAVE] Make sure the code will be written in English. 
  • [MUST HAVE] Make sure the code will be hosted on Code Repositories Hosts (e.g. Bitbucket, GitHub), so you can have access to the code and be sure that it is safely stored.
  • [COULD HAVE] Learn if the team is office-based and work together in one place, which fosters efficiency.
  • [MUST HAVE] Consult the Independent Contractor Agreement with a lawyer before you sign it. 

The above list is not closed. In our opinion, these checkpoints are one of the most important ones. What’s more, we would recommend meeting the team in person.

Shaking their hands, looking into their eyes, walking through their office and eating lunch together – it is all very helpful if you want to be sure that you can trust these people and treat them as a reliable business partner. After all, you want to entrust the development of your dream app in their hands.


3. HOW CAN I MAKE SURE IF AN ESTIMATION I GET IS NOT TRUMPED UP? – 7 questions that you should ask

If you get two totally different Estimations of your project, it is worth checking how each team made their respective figure. Think about:

  • Did you deliver the same information and documentation to both companies?
  • Did they ask questions to learn more about your project?
  • Ask the companies on which assumptions they based their forecasts. Then compare them. Does the lower estimation contain all the crucial elements included in the higher one?
  • Does the Estimation contain time for team meetings? (which you are usually paying for)
  • Does the Estimation contain time for Quality Assurance (e.g. writing tests)?
  • Did the companies take into account a risk of unforeseen events?
  • If your app’s design demands some non-native solutions, is this considered in the Estimation?
  • If your product is a typical kind of app, like e-commerce or m-commerce, but you want it to have some untypical features, check if they have been considered in the Estimations.

4. WHAT SHOULD I CHECK IN AN INDEPENDENT CONTRACTOR AGREEMENT BEFORE I SIGN IT?

Below, we’ve listed for you a few important elements that – in our opinion – should be included in a contract. We are not writing about some obvious elements, like personal data of parties, but rather factors more specific to software houses.

✔ Services coverage

(e.g. app development / design / quality assurance / project management / project maintenance)

✔ Intellectual property

This is a very important part of the contract, which secures your interests. You should have the rights to everything the software house produces. Below, you can find an example of how it can be written:

Except as otherwise set forth herein, the entire right, title and interest in and to deliverables that are developed as part of the Services (“Deliverables”) including, without limitation, the software, documentation, source code and all intellectual property rights to such Deliverables shall be assigned in whole to the Company.

Contractor shall execute and deliver such further instrument(s) and take such action(s) as may reasonably be required to complete the assignment of intellectual property rights in the Deliverables to Company’s sole and exclusive ownership.

✔ Confidentiality

Make sure that the contract contains a clause about confidential information. Your partner should commit himself or herself to not disclosing any information about your project that is not public yet. It can sound like this:

Each party will, except as permitted under this Agreement, maintain as confidential and will not make any unauthorized use of any ” Confidential Information” of the other party. “Confidential Information” shall include any information written or otherwise disclosed in any medium, by a party to the other under this Agreement that is marked of otherwise designated as confidential and any proprietary information of a party including without limitation, information relating to technology, know-how, products, specifications, patents, patent applications, trademarks, trade names and concepts; as well as information of business and commercial nature; in any tangible form being clearly designated, labeled or marked as confidential.

✔ Choice of Law

The contract should indicate a dispute resolution place. That is especially important if the software house is from another country. Probably, your partner will want to choose the judiciary of his country. We would recommend to compromise and choose the laws of another country, with the jurisdiction you know, e.g. the United Kingdom. How it can be written:

The laws of _________________________ shall govern this Agreement, including but not limited to the validity of this Agreement, the construction of its terms, and the interpretation and enforcement of the rights and duties of the parties hereto.

✔ Advance payment

We recommend that the advance payment should not exceed the cost of the team’s work for one month. In case a contractor must incur significant expenditure (e.g. for hardware or licenses) at the beginning of the project, a higher advance payment can be reasonable.

✔ Payment deadline

The contract should regulate the consequences of delay in payments. What is the acceptable delay? After how many days will interest be charged? After how many days can the development team stop work?

Contrary to appearances, such a clause secures you. Let’s say that, due to random reasons, your payment is delayed 2 days. If you the above-mentioned rules are not set, the contractor may even suspend development or charge you disproportionately large interest.

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✔ Conditions for terminating the contract

It is safe to set a notice period of about 15-20 days.

✔ Deadlines

  • Time & Material – in this type of contract, there is no need to specify an exact deadline. You decide when the app is ready. Your Feedback after each iteration is implemented up to date.
  • Fixed Price – the contract contains a schedule of partial deliverables. What is more, it is worth setting the time for you to give feedback for every iteration, as well as for the team for implementing that feedback.

At the end of this list, we want to name the elements which are specific for two kinds of contracts – Time & Material contract and Fixed Price contract.

 📌 If you have a Time & Material contract, it should also regulate

  • What are the hourly rates for each project’s role?
  • How the Contractor (software house) will provide information about the project status and time spent on the project
  • On what basis will invoices be issued?
  • What about the costs of possible travel for the Contractor’s Representatives to attend meetings with you? Who will cover that?
  • A bequest that determines that all possible additional costs must be approved by you

📌 If you have a Fixed Price contract, it should also regulate:

  • Price
  • Delivery schedule
  • Prices for each stage of the project

WRAP UP

I hope that the above tips will help you to choose the best Partner for your project.
To sum up:

  • Ask around: maybe someone from your community has a company to recommend
  • Use Clutch or other platforms that will help you to make an initial selection of companies you are interested in
  • Analyze pre-selected companies – check opinions about them, as well as their portfolio, and talk to one of their clients
  • Analyze the Estimations you will receive, compare each with an Estimation from another company and ask questions
  • Verify the contract carefully and make sure to consult with a lawyer about it

Good luck! 💪

This article is a part of the series Mobile & Web App Development – 7 Stages You Need To Know which covers the following topics:

  1. Clarifying the Vision
  2. Choosing a Partner
  3. Wireframes & Design
  4. Project Kick-off & Setup
  5. Development:
    1. Managing development process with Scrum
    2. Quality Assurance
  6. Release Preparation
  7. App Maintenance

This article was published also on Medium.

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