With software increasingly impacting almost all areas of our professional and personal lives, more and more companies have started to either look for a chance to extend their offer with software solutions, digitalize their operations, or accelerate already existing development efforts. At the same time, paraphrasing a pop-culture classic, with great opportunities come great risks. Software development is a complex process that requires combining an innovative idea, development capacity and extensive experience to help get you where you want to go, instead of becoming an effective way of burning money.
But we’re not writing this text to scare you, our goal is to set your mind at ease. Your chances of success can be boosted, and potential risk mitigated. How? Through cooperation with a software development services provider that guides you through the process and supports you at all stages. But let’s be more precise. What exactly can software consulting services help you with? Keep reading to find out.
UX and product ideation
Even a perfectly executed idea won’t help your business grow if it doesn’t solve your customers’ needs or deliver a seamless experience. With new apps released every day or even every hour, everyone wants to use software that not only allows them to deal with matters rapidly, but also in an easy and effective way. That’s why user experience (UX) is of utmost importance and dependable software development consulting companies should be able to help you ensure that.
Understanding your business requirements, user journeys and preferences are crucial and should be pillars of all the work related to designing architecture and development. Proven methods like Event Storming can help with that. But making the most of them requires experience – sticking post-it notes to a board is not enough. The most important part is asking the right questions till you see the full picture and plan subsequent work on knowledge, not intuition.
But even that wouldn’t be enough if your innovative product is difficult to use, as that would probably force your potential customers to search for a more user-friendly solution. Once again, battle-tested methodologies like Design Sprint can help make sure that what you plan matches the expectations, and again – maximizing the value generated by this process requires a team of experts who know the ropes to run it effectively, draw meaningful conclusions from feedback and implement it in the final design. That’s why when you consider starting cooperation with a software consulting company, it is worth verifying that their experience covers more than development itself, and their industry experts can support your project every step of the way, so you will obtain all the benefits of this partnership.
Following the steps of the software development process, now that we know what we want to do and why we want to do it, we should focus on how to do it. Tools are meant to work for you, not the other way around. And technologies used in a project are such tools, they are not the end goal itself. Thus, rather than selecting the easiest-to-use tech-stack, a framework that your developers are already familiar with or “the newest and sexiest” technology at a particular moment, you should always consider the true north you’re heading towards – the project requirements. Based on these, and your company’s current business and technological context, you choose tools that are the best fit. We’ve seen projects in which the wrong tech-stack backfired over time when, for example, it turned out to be ill-suited for the product, forcing developers to spend time and money on workarounds, or in the worst-case scenario, rewriting the whole system.
That’s why the time spent on analyzing what’s to be done and then selecting the right tech stack for it should always be treated as an investment, and that is exactly when software consulting services shine. Software consulting experts have vast knowledge of technologies, have worked in diverse environments on a wide range of projects and, using their accumulated experience, can pick a tech stack that suits your needs and enables efficient product development and further scaling.
Software development process implementation
Industry studies and common practices confirm that an agile approach is not a magical pill that, once taken, enables people to instantly work in an agile manner and automatically achieve increased effectiveness. It needs to be successfully implemented and importantly, adapted to your reality, as this term includes a lot of tried and tested methodologies like Scrum, Kanban, Extreme Programming and more.
That’s why analyzing your business case, team preferences and environment is the only way to design an effective, agile development process for your software project. Similarly, to choose the right technologies, the person responsible for selecting the process and adapting it needs to be experienced. This knowledge, combined with a background of working on diverse projects, ensures designing an effective development process resulting in a product that meets the intended goals. At Software Mind, for example, we use our “Agile Toolbox” a set of tools, methodologies and techniques that allow us to design an effective process for the whole software development life cycle. And to illustrate that with a real-life example of how software consultancy facilitates such a process, we encourage you to look at PM confession #1 in which Bartek Pachacz, a PM and Agile Coach, shares a story about how we implemented the agile approach for our client to boost their operational effectiveness and limit silos.
What’s more, we use DevOps practices to increase speed of delivery, stability and integrated security of deployed software. It’s also worth mentioning the collaboration and satisfaction advantages that come from the introduction of this approach, and if you want to learn more about it, check out our article focused on DevOps introduction benefits.
Scaling up your product and choice of architecture
For many companies, the moment they plan to start scaling their product is almost a moment of truth – regardless of whether the plan is to further develop a successful MVP (Minimum Viable Product) or to transform a custom system created for a specific customer into a generic solution offered widely on the market. Designing software architecture that allows the addition of new features and performs well under a much bigger load or infrastructure that facilitates the development on a bigger scale without costing a fortune are only some examples of decisions that may make or break the potential of the product you’re trying to scale. Thus, when you have any doubts it’s best to reach for support, rather than base your decision on a gut-feeling, hoping that “it will somehow be ok”.
It’s obvious that if development relies on outdated infrastructure, mismatched technologies, a lack of test automation or manual tests that are insufficient, at a certain point it will stop being effective – and more expensive to add new features as well as fix issues. What’s more, the costs are not only related to investments in development. Maybe your MVP delivered a flawless user experience, but after upscaling and delivering the product to a larger customer base the performance dropped and people stopped using your service since no one wants to deal with a slow and buggy system.
It’s a completely different task to design the architecture of an MVP compared to a solution used widely by numerous users. This is because MVPs are products designed to be launched quickly, in order to verify an up-front hypothesis. A widely used solution needs to be optimized for resilience, security and scalability.
All the decisions you make matter, especially in the long term. That’s why reaching for support from a software development consulting company is a great way to make sure that while your product grows it will provide you with value, rather than a growing list of problems and extensive costs of repairs. As we mentioned, consultants have seen a lot, know what to look for and can help you deal with potential difficulties even before they occur.
Software and process audit
While the previously described areas demonstrate how software development consultancy helps in situations when the project is starting from scratch or is facing a significant change, such support can be invaluable at all stages of the software development lifecycle.
As already emphasized, the company providing software consulting services should be built around A-players who are experienced and knowledgeable enough to deliver more than development capabilities (if you want to learn how to find a suitable partner be sure to check our ultimate outsourcing checklist). That’s why it’s quite common to initiate outsourcing cooperation with audits, especially if the goal is to not only boost your development capacity but also solve a particular challenge you’re facing or get advice on which direction to take. The cumulated experience combined with a fresh, unbiased perspective of what you do, means software consultants can locate bottlenecks, their root causes and propose improvements that will help your company become more competitive.
What kind of problems? The list of potential challenges is almost limitless, but let’s go through some real-life examples. Maybe when your client base grew, or you witnessed disturbing security incidents. Or when the system was expanded, the test runs started to take extremely long, or availability issues began to occur due to insufficient infrastructure. Maybe the process you followed stopped being effective when your team doubled in size? These are only some examples, but the sooner you locate and deal with a problem, the cheaper it will be. That’s why when you see project is going sideways, and you’re not sure how to fix it, you shouldn’t wait until the problems grow, but rather reach for the help of a software development company and don’t give the problem a chance to put your whole operation in danger.
But as prevention is better than the cure, teaming up with a seasoned development partner can provide you with guidance when you’re facing challenges, verify if you are heading in the right direction and mitigate risks before they materialize and turn into problems. For example, you can undergo an audit to confirm your tech roadmap or to help you decide if a change in the business context that you are undergoing should not result in a change in the tech direction you are currently following. Additionally, during quiet times drawing from external experts’ experience can boost efficiency, save costs and find opportunities that you may have overlooked.
Software development consulting: learning from the mistakes and successes of others
Experience comes with time and unfortunately, there are no shortcuts. The more projects delivered, and challenges overcome, the bigger the chances of successful delivery. Thus, rather than trying to handle everything on your own, employing a software development consulting company is a great way to reduce risks, make use of opportunities and increase the chances of success at almost every stage of the software development lifecycle.
What’s more, at Software Mind we focus on providing comprehensive support, with consulting services a key part of our offer. This way, apart from the elements described in this text, we can provide you with additional benefits that make the most out of software development. If you want to learn more about how we can support you, or simply discuss your situation, just fill out the form at the bottom of this page – our experts are always eager to share their knowledge and are ready to help you find the answers you’re looking for.
About the authorKamil Piekarz
Software Delivery Director
A Software Delivery Director with over 10 years' experience in IT management, Kamil has led international development teams for clients across sectors. Beyond building and nurturing client and partner relations, Kamil oversees all stages of software production and delivery. A firm believer in continuous improvement and an agile approach, Kamil is committed to building working environments where customers gain value and development team members achieve fulfillment.