Choosing a Software Vendor for a Startup: what to consider?

Yana Troianska

September 27, 2017

Choosing a software vendor can be difficult, especially for a startup. In the modern tech era, having a nice, user-friendly, fast app or site is half the success.

You don’t want to start your business with a bad software provider, as it may cost you a lot. You have to be serious about this choice, as serious as choosing a life partner. A good vendor will be with you during the process, after-sales, and in both grief and joy, no matter what happens. We have outlined some things you should consider when it comes to hiring developers for your startup:

Draft your goals/needs

tech partner for startup

Before finding a developers team for your startup, take a minute to consider two important things. You have to be sure about the goals you set for the future project and clearly define your needs and requirements to the vendor. Those two simple things will help you understand whether your goals align with the vendor’s opportunities. At the same time, you are letting the supplier better understand your expectations. Do not be afraid to be too specific. The more detail you provide, the easier it will be to get on the same page.

Ask for more information

tech partner for startup

If you plan to do business with tech companies, you want to know their backgrounds. You can start by finding out some basic information. For example, ask – “How long do they play on the market?” or “Are they growing or staying at the same level?”-  Those questions may seem obvious, but only at first sight. Taking time to answer them will allow you to better understand the vendor’s company and determine its real value. Furthermore, do not hesitate to ask for certificates and credentials. You may want to specify whether your future tech partner has certifications relevant to your project. Avoid software agencies that refuse to provide such important information.

Look at any previous experience and skills

tech partner for startup

After considering general information about the company, it is time to look into the past. Look for a vendor’s previous experience. Do you like its past projects? Do you think they are well done? Finding professional references from past clients would be a good idea. You can email them and ask for insights or read reviews on specialized sites such as Clutch.coUpWork, or even Linkedin. Every respectful company should have a profile on professional platforms. This gives potential clients access to the company’s information, portfolio, and customer feedback.

Check out our article about choosing a tech partner on Upwork

Make sure the tech partner can meet the deadline

tech partner for startup

Software development is quite an unpredictable sphere in which timing is not the category you should rely on. Downtime can happen to any company – even the best ones –  but it should be an exception rather than a rule. However, when you start working with a firm, it is better to make a plan of work with a time estimation because you don’t want a situation when everything is ready for app launching but you still don’t have a finished product. You can consider taking a trial period to understand how fast the developers work and to make sure that the software contains the features and functionality you need.

Look at a project management

tech partner for startup

Project management methodology will affect your choice. You’d prefer to deal with companies applying the Agile approach. It is more flexible and allows developing a product in iterations without tons of documentation. Besides, Agile enables making changes during the development process.

Check for hidden or additional fees

tech partner for startup

Some developers may be tricky to take advantage of you. They can hide in the contract additional payments, such as in-person training, maintenance, or setup fees. Do not let yourself be fooled; read the contract carefully and find out all the important points before signing up the papers. Clear beforehand who gets custody of your data in case your paths diverge. Expect to pay something, especially if the data is encrypted.

Verify whether a tech partner provides after-sales support

tech partner for startup

When choosing a software vendor, don’t forget to clear up all things concerning after-sales support. It’s natural that after release, you may want to make some changes or improvements. Beware vendors who refuse to offer you post-production support.

Pay attention to the details

tech partner for startup

You don’t want a situation where your project – an application or website – is good on the outside but a disaster on the inside. This case is extremely common when you cooperate with design-oriented companies that do not have technically strong teams. It is clear that good-looking front pages and user-friendly interfaces are important, but it’s nothing when you have slow-running pages or crushes all the time. Therefore, you must pay attention to the details and ensure things work right at any stage. 

Protect yourself from unpredictable circumstances

tech partner for startup

Finally, you have to be ready to realize that you and your tech partner may not be a perfect couple. In that case, you naturally would want to go forward and maybe even go to another vendor. That is why – you take time to think everything through in advance. Find out where your source code is. Make sure that the current code matches your site. Take care of creating proper documentation to make a transition easy, but most importantly, have your lawyer check all of your contracts.

tech partner for startup

Time is crucial for a startup, so try to use it wisely. It is better to dedicate time to clarifying important aspects before losing money later. Please remember that startups often have only one shot at getting it right; therefore, consider these important things in advance.


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