What Should I Prepare Before Starting To Work With A Software House?
So, you need a product, which requires IT services. Finding the right company which will help you achieve your goals is not an easy task. However, it’s always great to prepare yourself and some data before looking for your future software house. There are a few key facts that you’re going to need to know to start a cooperation with a software house. In this article, you will find a description of the information that every good software house will ask for before starting the works. Being aware of these facts gives you an advantage when it comes to saving money and time. So if you think of building a product seriously, put this information all together and prepare an insightful brief.
A General Overview Of Your Project
Let’s start with your business goals first. Shortly describe your company, what it’s all about and what market you’re operating on. This overview will help your software house to understand better your goals and how you’re aiming to achieve them. A good software house not only has technical expertise but also knows and understands the business side of it. If you find the right software house, you’ll be working with a company that truly understands your key needs. Isn’t that what you’re really looking for?
Now let’s define your scope a little. Are you looking to hire on-demand developers? Are you going to need a mobile app? Maybe a web platform? Or maybe you just need a functional landing page to enhance your business’ look? Explain it in the brief. Second of all, specify what your project is really for. Don’t just describe it in a few words and write something like: “I need a mobile app for booking barber services”. Believe me, when it comes to working with an experienced software house, it is very likely that having only a short description of a product, a developer will be able to understand the required scope. So instead of being laconic, summarize your vision. You may write: “I need a platform both for barbershops and their clients that will let barbers manage the bookings, payments, announce available services, describe them, put available slots in the calendar and correspond with clients using internal messages. Clients will be able to pick the barbershop, see available services, pricing, description, photos and book a service in the calendar, have the option to change the reservation, pay in the app and write to the barbershop using inside messages”. This way, it will be clearer what you want to create.
Introduce An Agency To Your Audience And The Market
What a good project brief also includes, is the description of the target users of the product. The image of the end-user will have a huge impact on how your product will look. After all, your application must answer your customers’ needs, right? Well, this is where user experience steps in. It’s always good to have established user personas – not only for product development but also for your marketing campaign. If you don’t know how to create a user persona, you can check out our article on how to use the User Persona Canvas. Don’t forget that if you collect data about your current clients’ behavior, their characteristics, what motivates them and so on, include them in your brief for the software house. This data will come in pretty handy when it comes to creating a custom user experience.
Where is your business based? Indicate this information, especially when you are aiming for outstanding UX/UI design. Knowing the region will help understand your audience better and enable the software house to include any cultural references and insights.
Why would a software house be interested in your competitors? Simply because it’s an obvious thing that you want to be a key player on the market, so knowing your competitors’ solutions helps the software house team define and emphasize things that will distinguish you.
Define Your Project
Okay, we have the basics out of the way. Now let’s talk about some specifics regarding the project’s scope. This is the very essence when it comes to outsourcing product development. Without it, it’s very hard to estimate the time and cost of building your product. Many clients ask me during our first meeting how much the project will cost, even if I didn’t have a chance to examine the specification. It’s as if somebody asked you how much a flat costs in the centre of Warsaw. First thought: it depends. Especially on the average costs per square meter in the area, the size of the flat, the condition, is it fully-furnished or not etc. So I could tell you, but the spread would be huge. Do you see where I am going with this? The same thing goes for software development.
How To Write A Product Specification?
There are many different ways to prepare the specification. The most common way is to just divide the vision of the product into sections which are divided into different subsections and so on. This way, you build a hierarchical structure of the works. Think of a tree which spreads its branches in the upper level. Try to structure your idea this way, then add the requirements to each section as well as a description of them. The tool is not important, it may be a simple document or a spreadsheet. However, it is crucial to keep it clear, structured and specific. Another (and in my opinion- the most fun) way to build a specification is to create a product mockup. A mockup is a visualization of the product’s functionalities. For example, if you’re going to create a mobile app, you mockup might present the screens of the desired outcomes. It doesn’t have to have a design or even structured screens. The important thing is the flow. However, remember to indicate required functionalities with a short description on each screen. A well-prepared and detailed specification helps the development team estimate the costs more accurately and start the process much faster.
Give Some Info About Your Resources
So we have your idea and the scope already settled. That’s a lot, but still, a couple of things need to be established. First of all…
To prepare carefully for the entire process, a brief should also include information about timelines. Ask yourself a question: “Do I have a specific release date of my product that cannot be exceeded? “. If yes, the software house has to include this fact in their estimation. Moreover, if there is a need to divide a project into phases related to your strategy (for instance, you need only design first to acquire investors, coding comes later), you should also inform the team about it at the very beginning, as it will impact the planning phase.
Of course, you’d like to know the price range at the beginning. But please note that providing information about your financial resources will help the software house team to create a tailored plan according to your budget. If the scope of the work exceeds the budget, your contractor will be able to adjust the approach, prioritize the work and focus of the most important functionalities at first.
In a brief, you should also indicate who’s the Product Owner. A PO is a very crucial role in the development team. They define the vision and business objectives of the project, indicate the requirements, take a part in the product backlog preparation and connect all the stakeholders with the development team. Do you have any other in-house teammates, who will be involved in the development process? Or maybe some other agency or subcontractor? This kind of information every brief should include.
Project’s Current Status
Is this some concept which is going to be developed from scratch? Or maybe you have some work done already? In this case, you should describe the existing components and the technology used to create them. If you don’t have the expertise to describe it, you should hand the existing components to your software house team to examine it. It may cost you extra, but believe me, no agency would start a process without such information.
Okay, you may think that this a lot to ask at the beginning of cooperation. But here, at INVO, these are the topics that eventually we’re going to ask about! And believe me or not, every good software house would like to know those answers, too. Transparency is very crucial, especially at the beginning. A vague brief will eventually lead to frustration, misconception and delays. As Benjamin Franklin once said:
“By failing to prepare you are preparing for failure”
We always keep that in mind.
To recap this article, here’s a checklist of what every brief should include:
- Business Overview
- Market & Target User Insights
- Product Specification
- Deadlines, Budget, Stakeholders
- Project’s Current Status
Last but not least, I truly understand that creating a detailed document initiating the entire process is not an easy task, especially when you are about to start a new business venture. In the beginning, many things tend to be blurred. In this case, don’t hesitate to contact us, even if you don’t have everything established. We’re happy to help you anytime!