Software Development Outsourcing Hub

Top 25 Questions to Ask a Software Development Company

January 11, 2024

Ultimately, your IT partner can make or break your project success. Even though 78% of businesses achieve positive outsourcing relationships, it's not foolproof. That's why it's essential to take your time finding the right software company.

As you begin the search process, you’ll be faced with countless choices. To help you out, our experts have put together the most important areas to navigate. Get started by leveraging our 25 questions to ask a software development company. 

Rigorously analyze your top candidates to ensure you make an informed partnership decision. With our insightful questions, you’re sure to set up your IT teams for success from day 1. 

Initial Screening

To start preparing to outsource, ask these initial questions about your partner. You’ll want a real idea of their ability to answer tough questions and convey their company’s processes. 

1. What’s your project management style?

Understanding your partner’s management style will allow you to establish strong processes. Get to know how they run their IT teams, incorporate agile methods and leverage PM tools. Having transparent management is also essential to attain team harmony during the project.

2. How do you estimate project timelines?

Unfortunately, 25% of failed projects are due to inaccurate time estimates. A realistic timeline empowers your business to plan ahead and trust in your partner. Ask how they make good on their outsourcing contract promises, including timing and deliverables. It’s also worth analyzing how they create efficiencies and handle changes to stay on track. 

3. Are contractors used for any of the work?

Ideally, your software partner will utilize their in-house staff to meet your needs. After all, team relationships and knowledge transfer is seamless with established working groups. Find out whether your partner has enough staff to fulfill your requirements. Otherwise they may have to lean on outside contractors. 

Team and Resources

It’s vital to understand your partner’s current team composition, so there are no surprises. Here are questions to ask a software development company about your elite staff.

4. How many developers do you have?

The best IT partners will have a bank of developers available to scale your project up or down as needed. Learn how many developers they have on staff, as well as the range of specializations. This will give you peace of mind that they’re well-equipped to staff your project.

5. Is the team exclusively dedicated to my project?

Having a dedicated team is crucial to avoid friction or delays during your project. Determine whether your experts will be exclusively assigned to you. If not, it's possible you'll have to navigate sharing their time with other clients.

6. How quickly can you recruit specialists if needed?

Typically, you’ll want to choose a software company that’s aligned with your tech stack. However, if your requirements shift, ask how your partner fills any technical gaps.

Project Management and Communication

Project management is at the core of software development success. You’ll want to get info on how they establish supervision, communication, etc.

7. Who will directly manage the team of specialists?

Accountability starts with knowing exactly who will manage your team and relay info. Include the PM in partner interviews, so you get a sense of how project oversight will function.

8. What project management tools do you use?

High-caliber IT partners leverage the latest tools to track projects. Pinpoint which tools will be used and how progress will be communicated. It’s especially important to identify how they will oversee milestones, feedback, etc.

9. Can we use our preferred project management tools?

If you have strong preferences about tools, be sure to inquire if they can implement them. Often IT providers are willing to adapt tooling to meet your optimal work conditions.

Working Environment and Flexibility

Well-organized logistics play a major role in streamlined software development. Get a sense of your partner’s environment, including resources, scheduling and more. Try these office-focused questions to ask a software development company. 

10. What equipment do your employees work with?

Make an inventory of the resources your partner has on hand. Check that developers have access to computer equipment, software, tools and so on. In this way, you’ll be certain of your partner’s ability to carry out the job without extra costs. 

11. How flexible is the working schedule?

Setting expectations will help both you and your partner to plan ahead. You might request coverage during certain hours to streamline meetings, feedback and more. Understand the schedule in advance so that you feel confident in the team’s working methods. 

12. What's the plan for team members taking leave during the project?

Life tends to complicate even the best-laid plans. Don’t forget to ask how your partner will handle shifts in their team members’ availability. Whether a developer leaves for a new job or undertakes medical/parental leave, know the plan. This will ensure that your project doesn’t suffer from unexpected team shortages. 

Cybersecurity Measures

68% of businesses suffer from at least one cyberattack every year. When working with a third-party provider, it’s critical to lock down your security and IP. Feel confident in your partner by asking these key cybersecurity questions. 

13. Will the company sign an NDA with us?

Guarantee your IP remains in your control, especially code ownership and business ideas. An unwillingness to sign an NDA may be a red flag that your partner has other intentions for your IP. 

14. How does the agency handle intellectual property rights?

Your IP rights should always remain in your hands. Ask your partner how they handle IP, including clauses, agreements, copyrights and protocols. For an overview of best practices for IP, be sure to check out our in-depth guide here

15. What security measures are in place for project information access?

At 88%, human error is the main reason behind data breaches. Find out how your partner will reduce security liability. Some areas may include access controls, file sharing limits, device policies and more. All these measures will ensure that your project code and information is well-protected.

16. Does your company have a data disaster recovery plan?

Your IT partner should have a well-outlined recovery plan in case of emergency. Get to know their plan for any unexpected events, especially areas such as:

•    Backup schedules

•    Cloud storage

•    Disaster procedures

•    Communication plan for stakeholders

Identifying the full recovery plan details will give you confidence when disaster strikes.

Previous Projects and Success Metrics

Dive into track records with these questions to ask a software development company. Discuss how they measure success for every unique project, so that yours stays on track. 

17. Can you provide examples of successful projects?

Get some real evidence of your partner’s past projects. Ask for portfolio links to software and/or apps that they’ve worked on. If possible, try out the product yourself. You might also find reviews on third-party platforms or sites such as the Google Play Store.  

18. Can we speak with references from previous clients?

Previous clients are your best bet for getting real feedback about your partner. Ask for a list of references and actually call them. Know your partner’s strengths/weaknesses, so you’re fully informed on their abilities.

Financial Considerations

Cost is a major factor when undergoing software development outsourcing. Get a full accounting of your partner’s rates, pricing terms and more.

19. What are the developers' hourly rates?

Don’t just ask – get your partner’s pricing rates clearly set out in writing. The hourly rate is perhaps the #1 cost area, as it determines your ongoing manpower costs. Be sure to check the rates for different specialists, too. 

20. What is the minimum engagement period for hiring a developer?

Consistent collaboration with experts helps streamline development. Ask if there are any minimum terms for hiring developers via your partner. For example, some agencies require staff to stay onboard with a client for at least six months. Knowing the minimum period will help you plan ahead as project dynamics fluctuate.

21. Can rates change over time, and what factors influence them?

You should feel 100% confident in your partner’s pricing transparency. Discuss the fine print of the developer rates. Understand how they may change over time and under what circumstances. Make sure the reasons behind any pricing hikes are clear in your contract.

22. What are the payment terms and mechanisms?

Establish exactly how and when you need to pay for completed work. Ideally, your partner will have several payment methods, schedules and currencies available. Get all the financial terms square so there are no misunderstandings during development.

Change Management and Adaptability

During the product life cycle, you’ll face unforeseen changes. Gauge how your partner will handle unplanned challenges. Use these change-themed questions to ask a software development company.

23. How do you handle changes in project scope or requirements?

Software development is highly dynamic and requires changing directions and making modifications. Find out your partner’s change procedures and any limitations on project shifts. It’s worth asking for a sample change request form, too.

24. What happens if there are unforeseen challenges during development?

One in six IT projects suffer from a cost overrun of 200%, as well as a schedule overrun of 70%. While every project has its challenges, the main issue is how your partner responds. Learn how the agency manages unexpected circumstances, especially negative ones. In particular, ask how issues will be communicated and resolved in a timely manner.

25. Will my software be thoroughly tested before launch?

Finally, your software should be rigorously tested to avoid bugs and low-quality code. Make certain that QA testing is included within your timeline and feedback process. Often you’ll have vital changes to make before your product is launched.

Leverage Top Questions to Ask a Software Development Company

Thorough questioning of your candidates is critical to making the right partnership decision. Leverage our 25 questions to ask a software development company to ensure a best choice.

As you kick off your partner search, get in touch with us. At Netcorp, we build industry-leading rapport through transparency and technical expertise. We’re laser-focused on creating high-caliber products that meet your requirements. Start discussing your project vision with our specialized teams today!

Paavo Pauklin
Executive Board Member

Paavo Pauklin is a renowned consultant and thought leader in software development outsourcing with a decade of experience. Authoring dozens of insightful blog posts and the guidebook "How to Succeed with Software Development Outsourcing," he is a frequent speaker at industry conferences. Paavo hosts two influential video podcasts: “Everybody needs developers” and “Tech explained to managers in 3 minutes.” Through his extensive training sessions with organizations such as the Finnish Association of Software Companies and Estonian IT Companies Association, he's helped numerous businesses strategize, train internal teams, and find dependable outsourcing partners. His expertise offers a reliable compass for anyone navigating the world of software outsourcing.

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