10 Questions You Should Ask Before Hiring a Software Development Team

In order to ensure that you’re putting forth the best products, you’ll need to have top talent on the case. Here’s how you can do that.
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Innovation is critical for your business. Often, that means creating new products — many of which involve software development these days. 

In order to ensure that you’re putting forth the best products, you’ll need to have top talent on the case. But how exactly do you thoroughly vet developers and teams to maximize quality? Start with these 10 questions.

1. How Do You Vet and Hire Your Developers?

It’s your decision to hire a specific team, but the company itself hires the developers who work there. So, it’s important for you to know how they find and vet their inside talent. More than likely, you’re looking for certain skills and qualifications — perhaps ones that are lacking within your own company — so ask them how they make sure their employees have those competencies and qualities.

You should also look into how they train their employees to ensure that their philosophy is consistent with your own and that your outsourced team has the right training to complete your project successfully.

2. Which Programming Languages Do You Predominantly Use?

Different programming languages and tools lend themselves better or worse to different types of projects. To ensure that your outsourced development team has languages in their stacks that will help you create successful products, ask them about their tools. 

This will also give your prospective partner an opportunity to demonstrate their experience and competence. By hearing them discuss the technologies in which they’re versed, you can get a sense of their work style, abilities, and strengths.

3. What Methodology or Approach Do You Use?

This question is helpful in determining whether or not your partner is compatible with your business. Perhaps you use the Agile method, for example. If the development outsourcing team also embraces Agile, then you’ll know what to expect from the partnership and process.

Even if your business doesn’t use a specific approach — perhaps, for instance, software development isn’t a huge part of the company, so you haven’t standardized the process — the methodology or approach the firm uses can inform you about its development procedures. You can learn about the feedback instances available to you, how the developers will adapt the project to your needs, and so on.

4. What’s Your Experience Like in This Niche?

Whether your business is in the education, healthcare, finance, arts, or entertainment sector, you need a software development partner that knows the ins and outs of your industry. This will allow them to better understand what you’re looking for, as well as problem-solve if and when issues occur. That’s why you should seek out firms that have plenty of experience creating products in your niche.

Niche experience isn’t just limited to the industry — it also concerns factors like the size and status of the company. If you’re an early-stage startup, for example, you’ll want a partner who has worked with other startups. If you’re a large corporation, you should seek out a partner with experience with other large corporations.

5. How Much Experience Do You Have Working with Businesses in My Region?

This is a critical question to ask if you’re outsourcing software development to a team in another country. Many nearshore companies, such as those in Latin America, work with businesses in the United States frequently and have bilingual developers and other professionals on staff, but that’s not always the case.

You should learn about how the team members have worked with businesses and people in your region in the past, in terms of communication, scheduling, and more. How do they deal with time zone challenges? What systems do they have in place to ensure coverage during off-hours?

6. What Does the QA Process Look Like?

Quality assurance is a pivotal part of the software development lifecycle (SDLC). QA engineers have different skillsets and talents from those of developers, so when you’re vetting a new team, make sure they have both types of professionals on staff. This will demonstrate that they take the QA process seriously and give it as much attention as they do the software development process itself.

In addition to finding out about the professionals, inquire about what’s involved in the testing process and how they approach it. Also, try to learn how the developers and QA specialists work together to ensure the product’s quality and minimize the presence of bugs.

7. How Much Involvement or Oversight Do You Expect from Your Partner?

How involved do you want to be in the development process? For the sake of compatibility, it’s important to establish this up front. Many outsourced teams work independently, with minimal oversight or interference from the business. But they should still keep you informed about progress toward your goals and benchmarks. 

Be sure to establish expectations for how much involvement you and your in-house team want to have in the project to avoid having the outsourced team feel micromanaged or other issues from occurring.

8. How Do You Communicate with Your Partners?

Communication goes hand-in-hand with effective collaboration, no matter who your partner is or where they’re located. You need to look for an outsourcing team that has established, effective channels of communication to keep you apprised of their efforts and progress. Discuss how they expect to touch base and the frequency of these check-ins.

For example, do they use project management tools to which you’ll have access? Will you have weekly meetings? Is there a designated point person?

9. Could You Show Me a Portfolio and Testimonials from Previous Clients?

The prospective partner should be able to point to previous work and referrals from clients to provide evidence of their success with projects. If they’re unable or unwilling to furnish them, this should raise red flags for you since it suggests that they either lack experience or have had issues with clients in the past, which indicates that they might not be the right development team for your project.

In addition to reading testimonials, ask for contact information for these previous clients so you can pick their brain further and find out more about the working relationship and end results.

10. What Sets You Apart from Other Development Teams?

Here’s a more general question that can apply to interviews in any number of industries, but it’s an important one nonetheless. Given that you probably have a choice of software development firms, it’s important for you to know why you should go with them over another option. 

Perhaps they only hire the top talent in the region, or maybe they specifically have extensive experience in your niche. Whatever it is, you should know about their particular strengths so you have all the information at your disposal. Coupled with the other questions on this list, it will help you make an informed decision about the direction of your product and business.

This questionnaire should allow you to assess your potential software development partners, as it encompasses the most important aspects of a development team vetting process. Naturally, it’s only a first approach that you should use as a guideline and on which you should definitely expand upon. 

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