Business, MVP, Startup, Top Rules

How to “buy”​ software development services like a car?

Software development is like a road trip, those things matter — your skill, your ride, and all the other circumstances.

This is a multi-dimensional topic and the points I am mentioning here are just some of the general ones regarding starting and continuing work with a software development company. They are coming from over 6 years of my strict tech product development experience — and of course, are limited to the area I was mainly involved in. However, it’s pretty diversified [the experience] as I’ve worked for different industries, with different responsibilities, and different roles, but always in the middle of the action.

Still, I don’t want to give you straight or detailed guidelines on ‘how to’, as it would take a lot of time. I can plan to do it later if you want. My intention here is more anecdotical, and to perhaps open your eyes a little bit on some of the issues in the overall software development deals.

3 TOP ISSUES TO COMPLICATE IT ALL

What in my opinions are areas that make software development deals problematic? This is my top 3 issues list:

#1 Budget,
#2 Lack of knowledge and skill,
#3 Expectations.

It is hard to separate those and to prioritize which one is the most problematic. Those three combined in a bad way and you have all the jokes about how unpredictable and risky software development is. To explain shortly and figuratively what I mean I will use “car use” metaphor.

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Budget — should be fuel. Knowledge and Skill — is your driving experience and partner’s experience expertise and maturity. Expectations — are your goals towards the ride, and a realistic approach to risks, limits, and opportunities.

DRIVING TO THE PRODUCT

Let say that you’re the driver, car and its systems are the software house partner, and circumstances you’re working in are conditions of the ride that can change any minute.

Now, I can give you a few examples of how is it problematic to reach your goal — to travel from point A to B (the distance you’ll make is your product goal).

Bad car, good driving skills, short distance— you’re pretty good, you can control the car more or less, some issues along the road are easy to fix without overusing resources.

Bad car, good driving skills, long distance — more demanding from you, definitely more focus you should put along the road and make careful decisions as a use of resources accumulate.

Bad car, bad driving skills, short distance — if you’re lucky and the circumstances are good, you’ll somehow get there. Fingers crossed!

Bad car, bad driving skills, long distance — oh, man… there is a very small chance that you’ll get anywhere. The good thing is that if you’ll survive somehow, you will be enough experienced to become a good driver next time, or… become anxious and depressive.

Good car, good driving skills, short distance — Excellent! Perfect fuel economy, nice road, bumps are hard to feel, and you’ll enjoy the ride listening to your favorite music.

Good car, good driving skills, long distance — Still good, even better because it will be like an adventure. However, you have to conserve some stamina and be driven to reach the goal, especially when it is far behind the horizon. Good car with its systems will find the best route, respect resources, even inform you about brakes and pauses to take, and will be like a second home. It is good to have someone to change you behind the wheel from time to time, eventually.

Good car, bad driving skills, short distance — As an inexperienced driver you’re in good hands of a machine. It will help you find good routes, make the ride as pleasant as it can be, and will protect you with safety systems — unless you’ll decide to ride over a cliff — don’t do that.

Good car, bad driving skills, long distance — Eventually, bad decisions can accumulate bad consequences and you won’t reach the destination even in the best vehicle. Of course, some modern cars won’t allow you to do anything drastically bad or at least will limit the outcome of bad decisions — I’ve heard that Volvo won’t allow you to hurt yourself. ;) However, you will probably learn a lot from the ride itself, and the car will help you forgive some mistakes you’ll do at the very beginning. You should become an excellent driver at the end of the road.

 

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To perhaps explain some metaphors: good and bad driving skills are your experience, good or bad car is the partner’s experience, maturity and work methods, short or long distance is your product maturity goal.

SO, HOW TO BUY A GOOD CAR THAT WILL TAKE YOU WHERE YOU WANT?

My subjective, and humble suggestions are (sticking to car metaphor):

  • it is worth the time to look and research,
  • don’t trust sales people,
  • talk with the mechanics and servicemen — let them show you what is under the hood and explain, ask them about details and listen,
  • learn at least to the degree you’ll understand basic mechanics and servicemen jargon,
  • do not trust the glitter, read about it, ask people around, find references,
  • take the test drive, challenge it!
  • for most of the cases fuel economy is not the most important, don’t make it your first prerequisite,
  • use your common sense, emotions are a bad advisor,
  • be realistic.

CONCLUSION

I hope that the issues with budget, lack of knowledge and skills, and expectations can be seen here. Software development team definitely won’t do magic for you if you have a limited budget and lack of knowledge. You won’t save your budget if you choose cheap body lease without a knowledge on how to control the development. And even the biggest money won’t buy you expertise unless you’ll be learning along the development (and surely even on RFP stage).

 

Thanks for reading!

Author


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Rafał Maliszewski

Business Analyst, Project Manager, and Business Development Manager. Strongly connected to new product development, business development in all areas of technology. Great passionate to create better processes for new technology development.