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How to Choose a Reliable Tech Partner for Your Startup

March 11, 2019
ALEX SLOBOZHAN
When you choose a preschool for your kids, you want the best teachers, equipment, and methodology. Your startup is no different from a child. It requires professional development and nurturing to reach its full potential. That's why the choice of a technical partner can make or break your project. An experienced technical consultant will immerse the team into your idea, think the development process through, suggest sustainable solutions, and prevent future problems. Today we'll take you through the selection process.

How to Find a Tech Partner. First Steps

Follow our reliable algorithm to speed up your research and make an educated decision:

1. Visit specialized websites and platforms, such as Clutch.co, and develop a preliminary list of 15 to 20 companies that:

  • Provide technical services you require. Some vendors specialize in Mobile or Web development while others offer a full range of software development services.
  • Have detailed positive reviews focused on solving the client's problems. An abundance of reviews does not reflect the high-quality of the development, so concentrate on the content of the reviews rather than their numbers.

2. Review the website and the portfolio of every software company on your list, eliminate all but 5 or 6 vendors that meet these requirements:

  • The site provides all data necessary for you to make a decision, such as the fields of expertise, the number of completed projects, industries, contacts, and more.
  • The portfolio includes case studies of the projects that solve problems similar to yours or work in the same niche. Having worked on such projects, the company will suggest the best technology stack and solutions for your small business challenges.

3. Reach out to the vendors on your shortlist with a brief description of the project and request a quote with a suggested budget, technical solutions, and methodologies. Once the replies come in, pay attention to:

  • The promptness of the response. The sooner the web development company replies, the more interested it is in doing business with you;
  • The email content. Lengthy and useless messages are less helpful than short and to the points emails;
  • The answers to your questions. The vendor's message should be useful and suggest specific solutions.
  • The follow-up communication. Instead of replying to the emails, wait for follow-up messages. If the vendor is excited about your project, they will continue to reach out to you. Otherwise, they might demonstrate the same neglect when working on your project, and you don't want that.

4. Reply to the second follow-up emails of the 2 to 3 companies you like most. Set up an interview, a test task, or a trial period. At this stage, you should:

  • Make a list of critical questions to ask during an interview with the vendor. The list may vary depending on the prior research you have conducted.
  • Ask uncomfortable questions about the commercial and technical side of the project. Assess the answers and draw conclusions.
  • Try to bargain and pay attention to the arguments the vendor provides for the budget suggested. Do not fall for inconsequential evidence and reasons.
  • Go through the project management process. Ask the IT project manager on the team to walk you through every hour you pay for and establish the ways for you to control the real-time progress of individual tasks and the project.
  • Assess the tech lead's expertise and skills by asking technical questions. Even if you are not an expert, you might learn something new and get to know the potential team working on your project.

After these touch points, you will have a full picture and will choose the right vendor for your startup.

How to Deal with a Partner during the Trial Period

Even if you follow our advice to a T, there is no guarantee the development will go smoothly. For this reason, the first few months of your cooperation with the offshore company are critical. Do not let the development run its course or neglect the meetings. Pay attention to the methodology and the deadlines to ensure the development goes as agreed.

If you are not happy with the progress and can't establish a rapport with a web developer, designer, or the whole team, dissolve the contract as soon as possible. You need to save your budget and time and reduce the amount of damage done to the project that will need to be repaired by the next team.

For a startup entrepreneur, finding the right tech consulting and development team is a life-or-death matter. However, if you know where to look, which questions to ask, and how to succeed during a trial period, you will eliminate most risks. We have lots more actionable tips like this on FreshCode blog. Sign up for updates, and you'll get the fresh batch of IT advice in your Inbox.
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