5 signs that show your software development partner is innovative | 4i

5 signs that show your software development partner is innovative

22 June 2018 ‐ 2 min read

Renier Kriel, CEO of 4i, shares 5 signs that help identify if software development partners are innovative.

One of the primary benefits of outsourcing your software development is to harness the creative power of an independent team that have broad experience working on various different products. However, when it comes to selecting a software development partner, unfortunately not all of them offer the same level of value and creative contribution that will lead to product success.

Having been involved in building innovative digital solutions since 2008, we have identified 5 signs that show if your software development partner is innovative.

You get a team, not individuals.

When it comes to innovative thinking, there is no difference between hiring a company which supplies you with single developers or hiring a freelancer. In fact, if anything, a freelancer would almost always be cheaper. The most innovate software development agencies leverage the advantage of collective thinking, from multiple disciplines, to come up with innovative, high value solutions.

When companies are innovating, they are expecting their teams to do an array of things which the company has not traditionally done. This means, chances are that if you use your own, inhouse developers, there will be a steep learning curve and a lot of time wasted on building the product in a non-optimal way. In a similar way, it’s unusual to find a freelancer or stand-alone developer that has experience in all the different areas that are required to build your innovative product. Highly innovative digital teams understand the value in teamwork and letting experience and passion dictate who works on which parts. This not only optimizes time spent, but improves quality, performance and value.

Mature process

Every single software company I have met has claimed they use Agile, Scrum or Lean methodologies. In fact these terms are used so loosely, that saying it means absolutely nothing. However, in my view, these methodologies are far more impactful as principles backed by processes and a culture of working iteratively. If your prospective partner drops a list of ceremonies they perform (standups, planning, retros, etc.) but fails to show you any practical examples of how the methodology help them perform better, warning signs should go off.

You meet the developers and you meet them early in the process

Unfortunately, most companies try to hide developers from client interactions. The typical stereotype that developers should not speak to clients mostly leads to one thing - boring and predictable products.

Having worked with developers for more than 10 years myself, I can tell you that not only are the vast majority of developers extremely intelligent (stating the obvious here), they are very practical thinkers and great problem solvers too. These are qualities that are crucial in building something innovative and a truly innovative software house understands that. Although it is natural to initially deal with business developers, analysts and designers, the sooner developers are introduced into the process, the better (and I am not talking about arms length, I am talking about workshop with the stakeholders).

They ask a lot of questions

The biggest risk associated with working alongside a novice software development partner is that they don’t know, what they don’t know. As such the beginning of the project might seem like smooth sailing and moving quickly only because the development partner is not fully comprehending that which needs to be done.

Experienced software development agencies ask a lot of questions, almost to the point that it can become annoying. And, it is by asking these questions that they obtain a comprehensive understanding of the requirements in order to build something truly innovating.

They challenge your thinking

An innovative idea is never perfect. In fact it is in the crafting process with a team of experienced team members that the idea gets better and better as they unpack it and learn more along the way. As such it is quite normal for an innovative software partner to challenge your thinking along the way, and failing to do this is not a good sign. As with the above, we believe that by asking too many questions rather than too little, often creates a space for our clients to rethink much of the purpose and logic, leading to higher value solutions.

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