6 Success factors when choosing software company in Canada to implement your Startup idea
The best solution for most Canadian start-ups in their initial phase is to cooperate with a reliable medium-sized software house. The pros definitely outweigh the cons, with the main arguments being flexibility, proper processes in place, cost-effectiveness and good quality (a.k.a. the bang for your buck). In this article I’m going to drill into the factors that you as a business owner looking for a software house should consider.
Choosing the right technical partner is key to every comapny. For a start-up it’s actually critical to it’s existence. More often than not, wasting time and money in the very beginning by chosing the wrong software house, lead to the failure of the entire idea. Thus, as a business owner, you should pay particular attention to this decision making process and pick the optimum solution.Bare in mind Warren Buffet’s words:
Having his words in mind, take the following under consideration:
You should only hire a software company that you can contact easily and in your timezone. Use cases and requirements are not always complete in the initial stage of your comapny’s existence. You should pay extra attention to having the ability to oversee and participate in the project lifecycle as well as have a quick and easy way to react and apply corrections to initial requirement set. Following CIO magazine project failures are very often associated with chosing an overseas company due to:
- lack of understanding of the wants and needs of yours
- creating the wrong thing
“Due to the lack of face-to-face communication, cultural differences and time zone issues, the developers start to misunderstand requirements. In an attempt to close the communication gap, the product owner starts to use more written communication, which causes more misunderstandings.” (CIO magazine)
Thus it is absolutely imperative that you pick a company with Project Manager who is available in your timezone and who clearly understands the local reality. Just by following this one rule, you will remove any potential obstacles before they even have a chance to turn up.
Communication is a key success factor for project management. Lack of it very often ends up in project failure. Projects based on Agile Methodology, which is heavily based on communication and even at it’s very core values “Customer collaboration over contract negotiation” have three times higher level of success ratio than projects run using other methodologies.
You can’t predict everything, and because of that fact, the software company of your choice should be flexible in applying changes to your project.
Often there are discrepancies between time allocated and time worked when delivering components. Moreover, be prepared to face miscommunication challenges between the business people and the technology folks. Believe it or not, but there are companies that are going to strictly follow your instruction, close the rpoject and issue an invoice. You can only image what the consequences are of such approach – they will leave you with a broken product and a dent in your bank account. Not mentioning the frustration.
How to not go down this rabbit hole?
From the very beginning you should ask and understand the details of the development process to be used to deliver your project. As I mentioned before, I highly recommend Agile Methodologies, since they provide full transparency between the development team and the customer a.k.a. the Product Owner.
Other advantages of implementing Agile are as follows:
Remember that requiring Agile Methods of development from a freelancer might not bring the intended result. One person has limited capabilities in that manner. In case of a need of more horsepower or what’s even worse, with needs that fluctuate, one person stands a losing battle. Medium-sized team can guarantee best cooperation and project delivery, which brings us to the next point.
As a start-up you should aim to work with companies of 5-30 teammembers. It will be good for both your costs and small team flexibility. It will also be an ideal compromise between a one-man shop and a large software company Canada with high cost all the processes in place.
Why you shouldn’t hire freelancers, even if you are looking to reduce costs?
Out of the gate you limit the flexibility. Freelancers work according to their own rules and often don’t keep deadlines. In the worst case they can just disappear and leave you holding the bag. Netguru blog collected 5 cautionary tales showing drawbacks of working with freelancers. Here’s one of them:
What started nice and cost-effective, quickly turned into a nightmare of delays, divided by problems putting the entire project at risk. I don’t recommend going down this path. Tim Bray puts it perfectly:
It’s like this: The time between having an idea and its public launch is measured in days not months, weeks not years.
Why not use a big corporation?
Suppose your budget allows to go to town on project implementation. You’re not worried about cost and you only care about the best quality and in the shortest amount of time? Doesn’t picking the most expensive option seem like the right choice? Large corporations can assign as many team members as needed to a project, every step of the process is formalized.
Unfortunately high price does not guarantee the best quality. For a company providing services for other large corporations (i.e. banks or insurance companies) your start-up project will rarely be a priority. Most likely the least-experienced team members will be assigned to this project and your project will become a perfect science experiment and a stepping stone in the beginning of their career path.
This is why I recommend choosing a small to medium-sized company for which you will be a valued customer and that has the right resources in place to successfully deliver your project. This type of companies also allow for non-standard requests like for example their availability when you unexpectedly are offered to present your project at a trade show. In such case it is very important to know if you can count on your software house to be available to support you, maybe even delegate someone to go with you and make killer sales.
Communicating in your language
A good software house will speak your language both figuratively and literally.
Very important fact. While everyone agrees that hiring someone from China, India or any other country far far away is a bad idea (if not go back to pt 1 regarding Availability), not everyone understands how important it is to hire someone who actually understands your needs. At Astra Software, for example, we pay particular attention to customer’s needs and instead of just capturing the requirements, we created a requirements elicitation step.
Clients often have ideas about what features they would like in a product and what these features should look like. Many clients, however, have limited knowledge of how software is built and vague ideas regarding what makes a project successful. It can be difficult then for clients to understand what they truly require in a product. It is the role of the software product manager to help the client figure out what they “want” and what they “need.”
A good software developer won’t just listen to what you’re saying – they will also listen to what you’re trying to say and incorporate this into your planning.
This is the main reason why I discourage you from choosing a large corporation, whose employees have to adhere to strict processed, guidelines and timetables. Medium-sized companies will care about the relationship between them and you. Those companies are the go-to solution providers for start-up companies and thus naturally they understand the specifics of this ecosystem much better.
I couldn’t put it in better words than NZ Entrepreneur.
Ideally your developer will also have an appreciation of the non-technical parts of your business, such as sales, and advise on how your product can be built to complement these. Remember that they’ve been building software for a long time and have seen a lot of successes and failures so their experience is a valuable resource. Make sure you listen when they speak up – good communication is a two-way street.
If the representative of your potential software partner doesn’t understand the specifics of your situation, simply find another one. Don’t waste your precious time to educate people right off the bat. And this leads us to asking if”
You like how and where the communication is going
Trust your instinct during the first contact. Best if it was an in-person meeting or at least a phone call. Ask basic questions ans see how convinving the answers are. Don’t trust just words, have metrics and checks in place.
If you’d like to see how we work with our customers, don’t hesitate to click on “Contact” tab. At Astra Software, we focus on and enjoy working with start-ups and small to medium-sized companies. Don’t just take our word for it, check us out.
Summary – how to choose Software Company Canada?
Choosing the right company for your project might seem overwhelming. We created a simple checklist to make this job easier for you. Don’t bother with the companies that don’t fulfill all the requirements, contact only the best ones. From those, pick the one that makes the best impression on you during the meeting. Good luck!