If you have a custom software project in mind for your business, one of the biggest challenges in finding the right developer to turn that idea into a real, working software tool. Here are a few tips to keep in mind when looking for a developer for your custom software project so that it’s not just a roll of the dice.


1. Get Referrals From People in Your Network

As with most specialty services, it’s helpful to talk to other folks in your network to see if you can get referrals for providers they’ve used in the past. This can be a great way to fast-track the vetting of potential developers for your project. The only problem with this is that it relies on other people in your network having had software development services in the past, which may or may not be the case for people in your network.

2. Choose a Professional Software Developer

When choosing someone to take on your custom software project, especially if it’s a project that will be part of your business, you should choose someone that is a professional software developer as opposed to someone who is “good with computers” or who “knows a little bit about the Internet”.

For business-focused applications, you want to make sure you’re dealing with someone who can help with all of the nuances of launching a new application. For example, your developer should build your application while thinking through all of the edge cases that might come up. They should insist on including automated tests. They should also build it with best practices in mind so that can be scaled up or modified over time, or so that any other knowledgable developer can pick up where they left off.

You won’t get the same level of professionalism (and quality) if you’re dealing with someone who simply writes code as a hobby.

3. Set a Reasonable Budget and Choose a Developer Who Can Work Within Your Budget

You should set a reasonable budget for having your application developed and then focus on finding someone to build your app within that budget.

Software development is one of those specialties where you can find pricing for development services that are all over the map. You can find some low-cost providers on many of the freelance websites. And there are high-end, boutique development firms that charge hundreds of dollars per hour for projects that could span the better part of a year. And of course, you can find a range of offerings in the middle.

It’s important to find a developer that can offer you the quality you’re looking for while being able to work within the budget you have in mind. This means that a smaller development team, or even a single developer, might be a better option for you project since they will have lower overhead and likely lower fees. Your project will need to produce a certain return on investment and sticking to your budget is the best way to ensure you get the ROI you’re looking for.

4. Choose Someone Focused on Your Business Needs, Not the Latest Technology

Because software development is such a technical field, and because many developers are passionate about what they do, it’s easy to get drawn in to the technology aspects of the project versus keeping your business needs front and center. So you should find someone who is able to avoid getting excited about how some “latest, greatest technology” could be applied to your project. Instead, your developer should be primarily focused on building an application that meets your business goals.

That’s not to say that your developer should stick with older technologies, which may actually be outdated and difficult to support. In fact, newer technologies might be better suited to your needs (e.g., building a web-based application to replace older desktop software).

But the main driver for your project should be your business goals and how your application needs to support them, not the technology that’s used in order to get you there.

5. Choose Someone With Good Communication Skills

When most people think of software developers, they think of introverted geeks, sitting in a dark room, headphones on and completely isolated from other people. This is definitely not the person you want building your custom business application.

Like most things in business, developing business-focused software requires good communication and collaboration between you (the client) and your developer. So you want to choose someone who not only had the technical skills to build your application, but who also has the personal and communication skills to make the project run as smoothly as possible.

You should expect frequent updates, questions and discussions to ensure the features for your application are being developed in such a way that they meet your business goals. This requires continuous communication from your developer and can’t be done by someone who just wants to go off for weeks at a time with their head down writing code.