Creative and marketing teams can sometimes struggle to keep up with rapid technology changes since their focuses and skillsets are often elsewhere. Almost half of the creative professional respondents to a recent global staffing firm survey reported a level of difficulty associated with adapting to advancements in technology. Whether your company is a startup or performs like a well-oiled machine, you may be losing clients due to technical obstacles and skill gaps.
However, hiring a few people internally may not cover it or be affordable and the whole process of finding a partnering development agency can be overwhelming, but it doesn’t need to be. We’ll share some tips on preparing your project needs, and what questions you should be asking when searching for your next technical partner.
7 Things to Consider When Comparing Development Partners
1. Take Your Time
We get it. You have a lot of projects piling up, new client calls, and deadlines around the corner. You need developers, designers, or any executer to support your marketing projects and at this point, you would take anyone who is affordable. As tempting as this may be, don’t do it. It will cost you in the long run in the form of financial loss, time, and employee morale. Developers who are not properly vetted can create more frustration and additional obstacles.
Even if the developers are top-notch in some areas, it’s essential to have an outline of exactly what you need before you onboard them. It’s vital that their expertise and technologies match your current workload but you should also have the foresight to hire a partner who can scale with your future/aspirational clients. Take your time to write these needs down and interview multiple companies before making a decision. It’s helpful to bring employees who would be working with the developers directly in on the calls/meetings to aid with the decision making as well.
2. Break Down Both Your Short And Long Term Goals
Outlining a business plan and overall needs is probably a never ending task but when hiring a development agency it can be simplified by a few questions.
- What are my immediate business goals?
- What are the crucial technology skills I’m currently missing?
- What type of clients do I serve and are the technologies they utilize similar or varied? To put it more simply, are you looking for specialists or a jack of all trades?
- What additional skill sets would support my 5-10 year business plan?
Along with these questions, take time to identify daily tasks that need to be offloaded from you and your team to a technical expert who could either help increase output or allow you to pursue areas of your current market that you’ve otherwise avoided.
3. Don’t Make Assumptions About Pricing
You may find pricing to be all over the board after you have interviewed a few companies. We’ve heard both of these contradictory statements:
1) Your price is much lower than my competitor, does that mean the quality is not as good?
2) Why should I pay more with you all when company X’s price is lower for the same services/product?
If you’re in the marketing industry, you’ve probably heard something along the same lines from your own leads or clients so you realize that both those statements can be wrong assumptions. The same applies when shopping for development partners. Cheaper developers do not always mean lower quality nor do they always offer the “same services/products” as a higher-priced company (even if they say they do).
First, the price is relative to your company’s budget. Sometimes what is more expensive for you is the right fit for a larger corporation since they may utilize services offered that you would never use. (Hence, why outlining your business needs are essential). Second, the price can vary by specific technologies needed. If it’s a proprietary technology, you can expect the pricing to be higher but that doesn’t necessarily mean every high-priced company in the market is high-quality. And lastly, pricing can vary because of experience in the industry. Sometimes the young and hungry can provide some of the best services. Often they are open and adaptable to the growing technology demand and have the flexibility to support your clients’ various requests.
4. Onshore vs. Offshore
Another critical element to hiring and pricing is whether you are willing to work with offshore companies, meaning outside of your country. The well-known pros of offshore developers are cost and timeline. It is usually much cheaper to work with overseas companies or even a hybrid such as working with a local company that utilizes offshore developers versus onshore developers. Also, because labor costs are low, companies overseas have teams on standby to support quick turnarounds on projects.
However, these companies require very detailed project requirements and hands-on project management for there to be a cost-saving benefit. Due to cultural differences and language barriers, you may find some offshore teams struggle with understanding project requirements, capturing design goals, or user experience. In addition, the time zone difference can be a struggle as clients often need quick turnaround times for ad-hoc requests.
5. Research, Review, and Talk to Previous Clients
Get to know the companies you are interviewing, not only by what they say but what other people say. Check out their social media pages like Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram, and other profile/directory sites such as Google My Business, UpCity, etc., as well as their company website. Find out who their current clients are and how long they’ve been with them. Don’t be afraid to reach out and ask someone directly about the pros and cons of working with this specific agency or ask the agency if any clients have left the company and why. Remember, not every development partner is perfect, but the key is that whoever you decide to work with meets your highest priority goals.
6. Ask About Industry and Technology Experiences
Many marketing and creative agencies sometimes forget to give more weight to the advantages that come with a technology partner who has experience in the primary industries they serve. Don’t forget to ask for samples of previous projects related to the industries you are expecting the team to support. Working with developers who have worked on similar business models helps reduce the errors that come up from misunderstood project requirements.
7. Project Workflow
Another essential part of choosing a partner is to understand how your creative and marketing teams function day-to-day and to find a technical team that can support the workflow. If you have clients who have incoming requests that need quick responses and turnaround, make sure your development agency has a support team that is nimble and responsive. Ask questions about the overall process from discovery to deliverables and final product. Some helpful questions can include:
- How do you manage your projects?
- How quickly can we expect responses to emails and phone calls?
- How do you handle changes in scope and requirements?
Knowing this information can help determine if it’s the right fit for your current team and demand. There is no reason to pay top dollar for a partner that won’t fit in with your workflow and company culture.
The Right Fit Is Out There
In the end, you will have to spend the time to find the right partner for you. There are many quality software teams that each have unique traits that fit specific clients and teams. Take your time and do your research, and you will find the best team for you.