Need to develop a software application? Working with a development agency is your best bet. But how can you select one that meets your needs? You can't just pick a random shop, sign a contract, sit on your hands, and hope for magic.
We have worked with many clients, and those who take the time to understand what we do and what to expect are best positioned to work with us collaboratively to achieve their goals. Here's what you need to know:
The software development process involves multiple steps. They include ideation, research, strategy development, feature specification, UX design, prototyping, programming, documentation, quality assurance (QA) and testing, bug fixing, and ongoing updates and maintenance. Here are the key activities you can expect from a development agency:
Building bells and whistles is easy, but actually solving business problems is hard. A reputable agency starts with understanding your challenges and objectives to define what success will look like for the project. It'll help you develop a product strategy and prioritize features based on your budget to build the right thing, in the right way, at the right time.
Then, the agency will create a project plan based on the strategy and requirements. One that follows the agile methodology will orchestrate the development process in phases to deliver value early and often (like our skateboard method.) It may also recommend adjustments to the strategy based on user feedback and expectation as market conditions evolve.
Based on the strategy and project plan, your development team will map out the user flow and create a series of wireframes to visualize how users will interact with the final product. User experience (UX) design ensures that your application is intuitive and easy to use, which is critical to the success of any digital product.
Your development agency will also create prototypes for testing to gather user feedback and ensure you're investing in features relevant to your target audience. Rapid prototyping can help you identify what works and what doesn't early on so you can shorten your time to market and avoid spending time and money on the wrong things.
Most software and app development companies use the agile methodology, which breaks up the process into 2-4 week chunks called sprints. The iterative approach allows the development team to continuously gather user feedback, adapt to shifting market demand, incorporate new technologies, and ensure that the product meets your evolving business requirements.
At the start of each sprint, the team will conduct a planning session to identify the features (also called user stories) to develop and estimate the time and effort required to complete the iteration. Then, in the end, they'll present the final deliverables in a sprint review meeting to ensure they meet your expectations.
Your software development team will test the features at the end of each sprint before releasing the new version to users. The agency should have a test plan and dedicated QA resources to ensure that nothing falls through the cracks. They'll also perform regression testing to verify that new code changes don't impact existing functionalities.
Besides confirming that everything works as intended, your agency will ensure the software's reliability. An app prone to crashing and causing excessive downtime will lead to a frustrating user experience. Plus, you'd likely accumulate a lot of technical debt that'll require costly fixes down the line.
Building the software is just the first step. Your development agency will execute a deployment plan to distribute the product to users via the appropriate channels (e.g., the app store.) It should also support the release with an audience and revenue strategy to ensure a successful launch.
Additionally, your agency will provide ongoing maintenance support to ensure that the software keeps working for as long as it's in the market. For example, if a third-party integration has an update, you may need to make adjustments so it continues to work seamlessly with the rest of the software. Or, you may need to release security patches to respond to new cyber threats.
The software development process isn't just about putting a few developers in a room and hoping that something awesome will come out of the black box a month later. A successful project requires coordinating various experts, such as project managers, strategists, UX designers, graphic designers, engineering, QA specialists, etc. — and a software agency can help you put all the pieces together.
Consider these criteria when selecting a software development agency:
Partnering with a development agency that provides end-to-end services is your best bet in ensuring all the moving pieces work together to achieve your business objectives. They should take the time to understand your business needs, craft a product strategy, build and test prototypes, develop go-to-market tactics, implement an audience and revenue model, and pivot when necessary to ensure that the product meets your users' needs.
Here at Camber, we not only build high-quality software but also consider every stage of the product lifecycle to ensure your app's ongoing success. Get in touch to see how we can support your development project.