How Startups Reduce Risk of Hiring a Web Development Company

You finally secured the funding you need to start work on your brand-new business. But once the euphoria of jumping that first big hurdle wears off a little, you’re confronted with a daunting list of things that must get done–and right now! Setting up a company isn’t for the faint of heart, and you gladly wear a dozen hats. That’s what early-stage founders do.

Soon, however, you find that you and your mighty team can’t possibly do everything. There are some tasks that require specific expertise your team doesn’t possess, and it would take too much trial and error to learn what you need to know. Since your company’s future depends on your digital assets, you’ll need to engage with a professional software and web development company to make sure it gets done right.

But you’ve heard the horror stories of other startups who contracted a development company that over-promised and under-delivered. The risks are real, and failure can have grave consequences to your fledgling business. And as you know, the best way to mitigate risk is to create a plan to deal with the ones you can’t escape and avoid the ones you can.

So, what are the risks a startup may encounter when hiring a software, mobile, or web development company, and how can you prepare to prevent the worst from happening?

What if the Web Development Company Can’t Deliver?

If you’re opening a new coffee shop on the corner of Thomson and Third, you’ll probably create the website you need using free, online tools. And you’re probably not reading this. If you’re reading this, it’s more likely you’re starting a new technology-based company or a company that has a more complex coding challenge. Maybe your startup needs a mobile app, or a SaaS platform, or a robust e-commerce solution. Or, perhaps you need all of these things.

Many software and web development companies specialize. When you’re talking to a development company, maybe you feel like they’re pushing you to develop your project in WordPress, or Drupal, or some other content management system. Or maybe you need a mobile app and the company tells you that you just have to write it in React Native since a single code base works across device types. And that sounds really awesome (it is pretty awesome, actually), but what if your app has features that require coding in Objective-C for iOS or Java for Android?

There’s an old saying, “To a hammer, every problem is a nail,” and some software, mobile, and web application development companies only know how to use very specific technologies. To get the most out of your project, don’t partner with a company that’s going to shoehorn it into a problem their tools can fix. A better solution is to find a company that’s an expert with many modern development tools, is technology-agnostic, and will choose the best tools for the job.

What if the Web Development Company Takes Too Long?

Starting a company means that you have to rely on your team, no matter how small or large that team is, to do the things they say they’ll do when they say they’ll do it. There’s simply no room to carry anyone; there’s no time for slack. And that goes for the software and web development company you contract. When they start, they need to be able to hit the ground running, just like the rest of you.

Of course, every software project involves requirements gathering as a necessary first step. During this phase, the company you hired should be fully engaged, bringing fresh ideas and offering advice to avoid the most common pitfalls. Additionally, they should provide you a deliverables timeline of working code to give you tangible proof of progress. Because you’re getting regular, working updates, you’ll know within a few weeks whether the company you hired will miss deadlines or deliver buggy code, and you can adjust accordingly. All too often, startup founders don’t know to ask for these development sprints, nor do they know what to expect to see at each sprint milestone. Choose a software and web development company who explains exactly how it’s going to show you incremental progress every step of the way.

What if the Web Development Company Goes Over Budget?

The two most precious things to a startup are time and money. And, it feels like there’s never enough of either. When deadlines are missed and budgets are blown, your company risks folding completely.

Most software and web development projects have ambiguity hidden within them. An experienced development company, however, should know how to uncover lurking uncertainty to bring a higher level of clarity to the project.

Typically, budgets get blown for the simple reason that the project was poorly planned. That’s why the most important part of any project is the upfront architecture phase, often called the Discovery and Definition phase. During this phase, functional requirements are gathered and documented. No matter what your building, whether a software platform, a website or web app, or a mobile app, the platform architecture and technical specifications need to be formalized, or you run the risk of costly miscalculations later on during the development phase.

Think of the Discovery and Definition phase the same way you think of the architecture phase when building a house. You’d never just start building; you need an architecture firm to create blueprints before your contractor starts construction. And then, the contractor builds to the exact specifications laid out in the blueprints. A website, mobile app, or software application is no different. You need that underlying architecture phase to be rigorous, or you risk potentially expensive surprises.

An expert software and web development company can mitigate these risks upfront, by following a tried and true process for the Discovery and Definition phase of the project. When interviewing software, mobile, and web development companies, ask them to thoroughly outline their process for phase one of the project.

How to Avoid These Risks

You’ll always have some risks, and you should run from a company that tries to tell you your project will be completely risk-free. What you need to look for is a track record of successful delivery and long-standing partnerships.

At StudioLabs, we’re expert with many modern development tools and are technology-agnostic, so we’ll choose the best tech for the job. Because of this, you can be sure you’re project gets the custom attention it deserves. We’ve built SaaS platforms from the ground up that are the startup’s product, like MouthWatch, as well as websites and apps for live streaming and video on demand, such as obe’. And in the 16 years, we’ve been in business, we’ve learned what it takes to keep a project on budget and deliver on time.

To find out more about how StudioLabs can help your startup, just send us a note!