5 Tips for Finding the Right Software Development Company

In a market where off-the-shelf software systems can be found for any imaginable niche, do you still need to hire specialised software development companies to create bespoke software?

The fact is, one-size-fits-all software packages mean one thing – compromise. In other words, you will get some features you don’t need, some features won’t work exactly how you need them to, and there will be features you need which the software doesn’t have.

Therefore, the best approach is often to hire a software development company to create a bespoke, scalable software solution that will fit all your needs, both now and in the future.

Once you reach this conclusion, the next step is to find a reliable software development company to work on your project.

Here are some tips to ensure you make the right choice.

#1: Shortlist the Best Candidates

To narrow down the list of software development companies, consider these criteria:

  • Geographic location – do you want a local team or are you comfortable working with a remote team? Before deciding on a remote team, consider time zone and cultural differences. This is particularly important for effective communication. After all, it’s very different working with US or European developers than it is working with Australian or New Zealand developers simply because of the time differences involved.
  • Level of experience – experience is crucial in software development. After all, you don’t want the developers to be learning on the job, i.e. learning at your expense.
  • Technology stack – not all development platforms, approaches, or languages are a good fit for a project. Knowing what you want and the best way to achieve this will help you narrow down your options to software development companies that have the right skills.
  • Check out reviews and testimonials – this is not the stage for a thorough background check, but you should read reviews, testimonials, case studies, and any other information you can get on past projects or clients.

#2: Meet the Developers

Once you have your shortlist, it’s time to get in contact with each of them. This is the only way you can determine if your future business partner has the capabilities you need.

Ideally, you should meet the people who will be actually working on your project, rather than simply the sales and marketing people. This will help you get an understanding of their technical capabilities, their experience, and whether they understand your business.

Plus, it’s also important you like them, as you will have to work with them closely.

In practical terms, a good software development team will be able to outline the proposed functionality and flow of the software, based on your initial idea. They should also be able to provide advice and recommendations on how the software can be improved – or how it can be developed within your budget.

Finally, it also helps if they have certifications from any of the big names in the tech industry such as Google or Microsoft.

#3: Choose a Company that Follows the Agile Methodology

It’s important to understand that a development project rarely remains the same from start to finish. As you move on with the features, you may have new demands, or the team may recommend a different approach. Regardless, the final product will be different than what you initially had in mind – this is more common than you think.

Therefore, the software development team you choose should be capable of integrating your business’s future growth into the project without getting into a negotiation for every new change.

This is why we recommend selecting a company that follows the Agile methodology. It is also important to get a company who bases their work on open cooperation. According to the Agile methodology, a project can easily evolve through the collaborative effort of several teams. It is also a methodology that offers the project owner more control over the management of the project.

Put plainly, this is the only way to make sure the resulting software product delivers according to your requirements.

#4: Set a Budget

In an ideal world, budgets should not influence your decision. However, in the real world, you must be aware of your financial limitations. Setting a budget will let you know who you can afford, what you can afford, and where to make compromises.

One important point, however, is you should never go with the cheapest company. Skimping on quality usually means the final product will cost more than it would have with a more expensive developer. In other words, going for the cheapest option is a false economy.

#5: Test for Transparency and Communication

A professional software development company is a lot more than a team of programmers ready to start coding. The company should also have project managers who know how to communicate openly and transparently. This ensures you are always kept in the loop, so you know what is going on.

Furthermore, a project manager should establish priorities, monitor the quality of work produced, set deadlines, and control the entire process. He/she will also often be the intermediary between you and the development team, so they must have a thorough understanding of your requirements.

If you select a remote software development company, make sure they have suitable means of communication (phone, email, VoIP tools, and more). Ideally, though, we’d recommend choosing a team in the same location as you, so you can have meetings and brainstorming sessions without sacrificing your free time.

Wrap Up

Of course, there are many other features to consider in your search for the best software development company. Regardless, the ones mentioned above are crucial and will give you a good foundation for a successful search.

If you can tick all these checkboxes, you can be sure the company will go above and beyond to create the best bespoke software solution for your needs. They will also do their best to create a product that improves your business processes to make it easier for you to grow.

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10 Reasons to Outsource Software Development

You have two main choices when developing new software for your business: develop the software in-house or outsource the development. When you develop in-house, you can use employees or temporary contractors, while outsourcing means using a third-party company. For the vast majority of businesses, the best option is to outsource software development.

In fact, it is often beneficial to outsource software development when you have programmers on your payroll.

If you don’t employ programmers, outsourcing is not only the most efficient and effective approach, it is also often the only viable approach.

Here are ten reasons you should outsource software development.

You Will Save Money

There is a misconception that you will save money by keeping software development in-house. This is rarely the case, however, for a range of different reasons, not least because there are costs you will incur when developing software in-house that are above the basic salaries of programmers.

For example, as you will see in the point below, outsourcing software development is the fastest way to complete your project. This time saving will also save you money.

Generally, outsourcing is usually the most cost-effective option.

You Will Save Time

Outsourcing software development projects is faster than completing them in-house because an outside developer can usually assign more programmers to the project than you can. Also, you may have to recruit talent into your business which is also time-consuming.

It is important to consider quality, too. While bugs occur in all software development projects, the more you have the longer the project will take to conclude. So long as you choose the right outsourcing partner, you should get skills and experience that will keep errors to a minimum.

You Can Stay Focused on Your Business

When you develop software in-house, you have to allocate management resources to the project. You may also need to assign other resources as well, all of which takes the focus away from your business.

When you outsource software development, however, you can concentrate on what you do best – running your business and serving your clients.

The Software Development Company Will Share the Risk

Risk is another thing you should consider when developing new software. This is the risk of the software not working as planned as well as the risk of the development running over budget and/or over the deadline.

When you develop software in-house, all this risk falls on your business. When you outsource, though, your software development partner shares some of that risk.

You can build this into the contract. An example of this is stipulating a project delivery deadline. However, there is more to it than this – reputation is just as important as contracts.

In other words, the company you outsource the software development to will want to protect its reputation so will do everything it can to ensure the project goes smoothly and meets your expectations. A by-product of this reputation protection is shared risk.

You Will Benefit from a More Experienced Team

One of the main things you get when you work with a third-party software developer is experience. This includes experience of different types of software projects. It can also include specific experience such as experience of the type of software you want to develop or experience of your industry.

In most software development projects, this experience is invaluable.

You Can Expect a Smoother Project Delivery Process

Following on from the previous point, the additional experience you get when you outsource software development will lead to a smoother project delivery process. An experienced software development company will understand the problems that can occur with projects like yours, so can take mitigation action against them.

There will also be fewer errors plus when bugs do occur, they will get fixed faster. Overall, this leads to a smoother, hassle-free experience.

You Will Get Access to a Wider Pool of Talent

This is one of the most important points as most software development projects require different skills to complete. You are unlikely to have the same range of skillsets in your business that an experienced software developer will have.

Not only that, you get access to this wide range of skills immediately with no lead-in time for recruitment or upskilling. This saves you time and money.

You Will Also Get Access to Highly Skilled Programmers

Third-party software developers will also have highly skilled and experienced programmers on their team. These skills and experience improve the quality of work and also helps with a point mentioned above – ensuring the project runs smoothly.

Productivity in Your Business Will Improve

You will also benefit from productivity gains when you outsource software development. There are many reasons for this including:

  • The software will be completed faster so you can implement it sooner
  • You don’t have to allocate internal resources to the project
  • You don’t have to spend time managing the project or recruiting programmers
  • There will be fewer bugs in the software or problems with the project, reducing the administrative and management resources required

You Can Expect a Better-Quality Result

The nine points previous to this mean you will get a better-quality result. In other words, the software is more likely to deliver on your requirements and meet your objectives.

Final Thoughts

There is one caveat to all the above – you must select the right outsourcing partner. After all, not all software development companies are the same. If you get it wrong, one or more of the above will fail to materialise.

The best approach, therefore, is to spend time selecting the right outsourcing provider. Key to that is checking the experience of the company as well as the skills and experience of the individuals who will be working on your project. If you identify skills or experience gaps, you should reconsider.

However, when you get a software development company with the right skills and experience, you can expect all the benefits above.

Developing software requires well-established procedures and work processes in addition to skills and experience. Leaving it to the professionals is, therefore, the best course of action in the vast majority of situations.

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11 Essential Things to do at the Start of a Mobile App Development Project

You have a fantastic idea for an app, so the next step must be to find a mobile app developer to build it for you, right? Well, not necessarily.

In fact, there are 11 things you should do before you appoint a developer that will not only make the development process go smoother but will also set the foundations for making your app a success.

Define What the Mobile App Will Do

The first step is to define what your mobile app will do. The best way to do this is to write down a description of your app in as few sentences/words as possible.

You might find this process difficult as condensing the idea in your head into a succinct explanation is often not as easy as it sounds. It is an essential step in the process, though.

When doing this, remember this is not a final description or a features list. A features list comes later, plus your app can – and probably will – change as you go through the development process. All you need to do now is write down your idea in its current form.

Define the Target Audience

Next, you must define the audience for your app, making that definition as specific as possible. Think about things like age, gender, location, the type of job they have, and their interests.

Understand Why Your Target Audience Will Want/Need Your App

Following on from the last point, you must also identify and understand a reason why the audience you create in the step above will want or need your app. Obviously, the more compelling this reason is, the more likely your app will be a success.

Identify Methods of Reaching Your Target Audience

You will also need a plan for marketing your app to your target audience. You don’t need any detail and you don’t need to draft a full marketing plan, but you must have an idea of how you will get people to find out about, download, and use your app. Simply putting it on the app store and hoping for success will get you nowhere.

If your app is for existing customers, users, or readers, you can consider using current communication methods to reach them. If your app is for a new audience, however, you will probably need a website and a social media presence, and you may need to advertise.

Research the Competition

You should also do thorough market research to find out more about your competition. Go through this step even if you have a unique idea that doesn’t have a direct competitor. You can do this by identifying other apps your target audience uses that are in a similar category to yours.

Find out as much as you can about the app including how many downloads it has, what do people say in the reviews, does the app get updated regularly (if it doesn’t it may indicate the developer isn’t allocating resources to it), what features does it have, etc.

Finding out this information may change, enhance, or improve the idea you have for your app.

Decide the Platforms You Want

You will also need to decide on the platforms you want the mobile app to be available on. The most popular in New Zealand are iOS (for iPhones) and Android. Remember, your mobile app developer will go through a separate build process for each platform you choose.

Decide Your Initial Build Budget

The next step is deciding the budget you have for the initial build. This will cover all elements of the build include the app design, coding, and testing, as well as app store fees (you will need to pay for developer accounts on both the App Store for iOS apps and the Google Play Store for Android apps).

Decide on an Ongoing Maintenance Budget

Apps are not a build and forget task. Instead, they require regular maintenance and updating so you will need to allocate an ongoing maintenance budget. This may also include hosting fees depending on the type of app you are building and the features it has.

You should also remember that an ongoing maintenance budget is separate to a marketing budget, which you will probably also need.

Map Out a Timeline

You should then decide when you would like to release the app. When do this, make sure you factor in that it will take several months to complete the build process. Of course, this depends on the features you need but even a simple app can take a month per platform to complete.

Write Down All the Features You Would Like the App to Have

All the above steps will probably have refined the idea you have for your app. The next stage is to write down all the features you would like the app to have. Add as many features and functions to this list as you think your target audience will need or like. You don’t have to be cautious at this stage – that comes next.

Write Down All the Features the App Must Have

The final step you should take at the start of a mobile app development project is to use the list created in the previous step, stripping out everything except for the core and essential features. There are several reasons for doing this:

  • You may not be able to get all the features you want because of your budget
  • Developing all the features might increase the development time beyond your planned timeline
  • You might want to test the idea in the market before you invest in getting the full app developed
  • Developing the essential features and releasing the app lets you start building a user base sooner rather than later

The Next Stage

Once you have completed the 11 steps above, you will be ready to find and hire a mobile app developer to start working on your app. Not only that, the process of getting the development started will be easier because you have done the work above. This is because the developer will have a clear understanding of what you want and expect, so can get on with the work quickly.

This will let you concentrate on the next stages which include developing and implementing an app marketing plan.

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Pros and Cons of Web Apps and Desktop Apps

In a world where new apps are created every day, it can be confusing to choose just one. In fact, scientists have proven that the more information we have when making a choice, the tougher it is to make a decision.

When it comes to apps, however, users have the benefit of choosing between several well-defined categories. The first is mobile apps, the biggest category. In fact, on Google Play in March 2018, there were 3.6m apps available. That’s excluding apps on Apple’s App Store.

The other categories of apps available are web apps and desktop apps.

Most users are accustomed to mobile apps as it’s easy to associate them with mobile devices (phones and tablets). However, web and desktop apps can be a bit confusing to users, particularly to users that are not tech savvy. However, the difference is easy to understand:

  • You don’t need to install web apps locally as they usually run in a browser and can be accessed online from any device
  • Desktop apps must be installed locally on a computer or laptop and tend to store most of the information they need locally

Before the internet became such a dominant feature in our lives, desktop apps were the most popular, and often the only, option. Nowadays, web apps are taking over.

A good example of this shift from desktop apps to web apps comes from Microsoft Office. It used to be only a desktop app, but the software is now available as both a desktop app and a web app. Granted, the web version is lighter in features and functionality, but it is great for users who only need the basics. Plus, it’s free!

So, which should you choose – a desktop app, a web app, or both? Here are the pros and cons.

Pros and Cons of Web Apps

Now, there are some who consider web apps the next logical step in tech evolution. After all, there are web alternatives to almost everything! So, unless you’re working as a graphic designer or you need a proprietary desktop app, there should be no reason to continue using them.

Still, web apps have their shortcomings. For example, some things just don’t work online, even in the era of fast internet and powerful browsers.

Let’s have a closer look at the pros and cons of web apps to help you decide which works for you.

Pros of Web Apps:

  • Highly portable – as data is stored in the cloud rather than your device, you’ll have access to the app wherever you are without the need for synchronisation. You only need a device and a reliable internet connection.
  • Gives you a subscription model option – most web apps work on a subscription basis. This means customers subscribe for access to the app rather than purchasing it, which is common with desktop apps. If you plan to sell your app, the subscription model can be a real benefit.
  • Fewer hardware and software compatibility issues – so long as the internet connection is decent, and the user has a relatively up-to-date web browser, your app should run fine.
  • Users can access on all their devices – the days of being tied to a computer are over. With a web app, you can give your users or team members access to information or systems from any device, including their phones.
  • You can give an offline option – while web apps usually run when the user is online, it is possible to build in functionality that gives the user offline access too. This increases the flexibility of your app.

Cons:

  • Performance is internet connection dependent – if a user has a slow internet connection, they may face performance issues. This reduces the effectiveness of your app, but it can also impact the apps reputation and rating.
  • Functionality limitations – you can add complex and powerful functions to a web app, but you can’t do as much as you can with a desktop app. To understand this, look back at the Microsoft Office example – the web app version of the software is a slimmed down version. In other words, you might have to compromise on some features.
  • Spend on security – your users/customers will expect you to put sufficient security measures in place to protect your app and, crucially, any data that users store in it. This increases your level of risk and means you will need to invest in security.

Pros and Cons of Desktop Apps

In a world where everything moves towards light and portable, desktop apps still make sense in some situations. This is because they can support advanced features in highly-specialised situations.

Also, your business may not want an app holding sensitive data in the cloud.

Here is a closer look at the pros and cons of desktop apps.

Pros:

  • Functionality options – you can add just about any feature you want to a desktop app because the app runs locally rather than in the cloud.
  • Easier to work with offline – while you can add offline functionality to a web app, there will be limitations. You can design a desktop app, however, to work exactly the same offline as it does online.
  • Suitable in situations where the cloud is not wanted – there are some situations where the cloud is deemed unsuitable. In these situations, desktop apps are a viable and effective solution.

Cons:

  • Not portable – once installed on a computer, the app will work only on that computer. You can add synchronisation functionality so users can switch between their devices, but this is a less reliable option than a web app.
  • Maintenance is the responsibility of the end user – as the owner of a desktop app, you will be responsible for updating it, developing patches, and upgrading. You will then send these to end users and/or make them available, but you can’t force those end users to run the updates. This can create stability, usability, and security problems.
  • Cross-platform functionality – if you want your app to work on different operating systems, you’ll need to develop different versions.

Which is Best?

The truth is, there is no right or wrong answer as which is best for you depends on your circumstances. You need to look at what you want to achieve, who your users are, and your priorities.

A good web app and desktop app developer will guide you through this process, ensuring you make the right decision.

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Progressive Web Apps Explained

Progressive web apps are often misunderstood, but they are very powerful tools when deployed in the right circumstances. What are progressive web apps, though?

You will know what a website is, plus you know what an app is, i.e. the apps you download from Google Play or the Apple App Store onto your mobile phone. These apps are called native apps as they are native to the development platform. So, an app on the App Store is native to Apple’s app development platform.

Progressive web apps, however, are a middle ground between websites and native apps.

In simple terms, they offer similar functionality and a similar user experience to a native app. However, they are delivered – or accessed – over the internet using a web browser, just like you access a website.

Why would you choose to get a progressive web app rather than choosing to go down the native app or website route?

The Advantages of Progressive Web Apps

There are advantages to native apps and to developing a responsive website that works well on mobile devices. That said, there are benefits to progressive web apps that make them the ideal solution in a range of situations.

App-Like Functionality

One of the reasons why people like using apps is because of the functionality they offer. You get much of this functionality with progressive web apps too.

This includes navigation that is similar to the navigation experience of native apps. In addition, the look and feel of a progressive web app is like an app rather viewing a website on a mobile browser.

These things combined make using progressive web apps as familiar as using native apps.

In addition, you can add push notification functionality to progressive web apps to increase engagement with your app, plus users can add an icon to their home screen to make opening the app just as easy as opening any other type of app.

Fast, Regardless of the Quality of the Internet Connection

One of the main differences between a progressive web app and a responsive website is the fact you don’t need a reliable internet connection. This is because it is possible to set elements to pre-cache on the user’s device, so they appear on the screen instantly.

In fact, users will still be able to access your progressive web app when they have no internet connection.

No Need to Download the App

Users don’t need to download the app to their device in order to be able to access it.

Inexpensive to Build

Progressive web apps are much less costly, time-consuming, or complex to build than native apps.

Not only that, but you only need to build one app rather than, for example, developing one app for your iPhone users and another for your Android users. In this situation, a single progressive web app will work on both types of device.

This reduces the cost of getting an app developed even further. Plus, developing a native app is usually a staged process where you build for one platform before moving to the next. This is not necessary with progressive web apps.

As you only have one app and the platform is a less complex development tool, maintaining your app is cheaper and easier than maintaining native apps.

Should You Get a Progressive Web App?

Progressive web apps are not the solution in all situations, but they are very effective in the right circumstances. The best advice is to speak to an expert app developer in Auckland with progressive web app development experience.

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6 Main Mobile App Monetisation Strategies

Many businesses like the idea of having an app. There are also a lot of entrepreneurs who would like to start a business based on a mobile app. In both situations, you need a clear reason for going through the process of developing and then marketing a mobile app.

Some companies, particularly large companies, use mobile apps to build a base of users or for branding purposes.

However, it is usually more important that the app itself makes money. This requires a monetisation strategy. Here are six of the most common.

1. Advertising

If you have good content on your app and lots of people use it, advertising could be a viable option.

There are two main ways you generate money from ads:

  • Creating advertising space on your app and then charging businesses and brands to run ads in that space
  • Using affiliate marketing where you don’t charge upfront for the ad, but instead get paid whenever someone clicks on your ad and then goes onto make a purchase at the merchant

There are two main types of ad on mobile apps:

  • Banner ads – where the ad appears as a small banner, usually at the bottom of the screen
  • Interstitial ads – where the ad takes over the entire screen, hiding the content

2. E-Commerce

If you sell products online, you can create a mobile app to give you another sales channel, selling products directly through the app.

3. Freemium Model

The freemium model is one of the most common app monetisation strategies. It involves developing two different versions of your app:

  • A slimmed down version which you offer to users for free
  • A full version which users have to pay for

The idea is to get people to download and use the slimmed down version. If they like it, they will then upgrade to get the additional features offered on the full version.

This can be a tricky model to get right as you want to make sure people like the free version. There are lots of examples of apps who try this strategy but make the free version so frustrating to use (because they want people to upgrade) that it gets lots of bad reviews.

You need to strike the right balance between leaving enough features that people will think it is worthwhile upgrading, but also ensuring the free version experience is satisfying.

4. Premium Model

The premium model skips over offering users a free version of your app and instead involves having one version that you charge for.

This monetisation strategy sometimes works well when combined with the next one on this list – in-app purchases.

5. In-App Purchases

In-app purchases are when you offer additional features that users have to pay to access. It is a very common strategy in mobile games.

It’s a strategy that can work with a paid-for app (as mentioned above), but it is more common on apps that users can download for free.

6. Subscription

The subscription model, where you charge users to access the features or content of your app, is popular with a range of different types of app, from dating apps to newspapers. For it to work, you need content or features that users will want to access regularly.

Choosing the Right Monetisation Strategy

Each of the monetisation strategies outlined above is best used in certain situations. Finding the right one for your business is an essential part of the development planning process.

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