Questions You Should Ask a Software Development Agency Before Hiring Them

From researching vendors’ performance and reviews to signing a contract, hiring an agency requires a lot of steps. However, there’s a step you should take before officially hiring an agency: asking a lot of pointed questions to understand the process and approach.

Have a clear expectation of the development agency’s communication methods and processes.

1. What does the end process look like: from initial contact to launch?

Having a solid understanding of the end-to-end process will ensure there are clear expectations for how the project will run and what deliverables will be completed. Our complete process begins with a site analysis, a benchmark analysis, user personas, a site map and user flows. During the UI/UX phrase, we deliver low-fidelity mockups, a style guide, high-fidelity mockups, a clickable prototype, documentation of product requirements, development estimates and an admin dashboard. A crucial step that we take during this phase is ensuring that all of our UI/UX work is technically feasible. When you hire an agency, make sure the design work is technically feasible or you’ll encounter delays and issues in the development phase. We wrap up with development, testing and quality assurance.

2. What process do you use for quality assurance?

Ask prospective software development agencies about their quality assurance (QA) process so you can feel confident that your SaaS product will have a smooth, issue-free launch. To ensure that an app doesn’t have bugs when launched, we use continuous integration and continuous delivery (CI/CD) to streamline our QA process. This minimizes manual QA and allows for a sustainable codebase. By automating the quality assurance process, we’re able to ensure everything is running smoothly while also saving time.

3. Can you help inform the launch strategy?

Whether you’re an entrepreneur launching your first SaaS tool or an enterprise working on optimizing and elevating an existing product, choosing a partner that can offer more than just the skillset to develop your SaaS product is incredibly beneficial. Picking a software development agency that can support you through the launch of your SaaS product, application or software solution will ensure that your company gets off to the right start. At Geekbears, we submit mobile apps to the appropriate app store to get apps listed as available for download or purchase. We conduct thorough quality assurance to ensure that the product launches without any major bugs, and we often install analytics to track user traffic and engagement to help inform future decisions.

4. Who will be my main point of contact?

Understand who you’ll be working with before you sign a contract. Having a clearly defined point of contact will ensure that you’re always communicating with the right person to keep your project on track. At Geekbears, we take a hands-on approach. Our co-founders are often highly involved with each project. Being able to rely on our expertise significantly helps our clients. Not only do we help them launch elevated products that gain traction, but we also help them focus on other aspects of their startup, such as marketing, finance and legal, by taking proactive measures and offering our industry insights at every step.

5. How will we communicate?

Communication is the key to any successful project, so it’s important that you ask prospective agencies about their process for coordinating and providing updates on the project. We understand the importance of this, so we coordinate with our clients often. We tend to use Slack to give updates and conduct video meetings to share everything from comps to the final product from our screens. We also use Figma to collaborate quickly and efficiently on the product’s UI/UX design. Additionally, the entirety of a project’s tasks are hosted and tracked in Jira, and we happily grant all clients access to their project in Jira to ensure they’re able to keep tabs on their SaaS product’s progress.

6. Will you involve any third-parties in the development process?

Ensure that you know exactly who will be involved in the project by asking a potential agency if any third-party development partners will be a part of the team. With multiple teams working on a project, things can get lost in translation if communication breakdowns occur between the teams. With a firm commitment to our clients’ success, we do everything in-house and don’t involve third-party vendors in the development phase. However, like many other agencies, we do use third-party tools and APIs, including Amazon Web Services and Stripe Payment Gateway.

7. How will we incorporate feedback along the way?

You’re going to want to ensure that you’re able to weigh in on everything from the UI/UX designs to the working product, so it’s critical that you understand the software development agency’s process for collecting and addressing feedback. We use Figma to help collect your thoughts and questions, and then address them within the platform. Meetings are also leveraged to understand the client’s vision and discuss feedback that pertains to their insights into the industry.

8. What research do you do to ensure that the product is successful?

Understanding the steps prospective agencies take to develop and launch successful SaaS products will give you a better sense of the company’s performance and process. We ensure that the interface aligns with behavioral patterns to deliver a product that’s intuitive for users. We also focus on understanding and leveraging insights from user research throughout all phases of the project. By developing technical specifications for the SaaS product, we also work to execute a product that functions seamlessly.

Know how much you’ll be investing and understand other terms.

1. What are your fees and payment terms?

Avoid the surprise of finding out about additional fees or stringent payment terms by the time you receive a contract by being sure to ask for a detailed estimate or proposal that outlines all of the fees and payment terms. This will ensure that you understand how much it will cost to develop a SaaS product for your business. During initial conversations, you may want to ask about price ranges for specific services to ensure that you consider a partner that can also work within your budget.

2. How can we avoid scope creep?

Typically, contracts will have a clearly defined scope that aligns with the set fees for the SaaS product. It’s important to ask prospective software development agencies how they handle additional needs and requests, so you don’t wind up feeling surprised by being notified that you’ll need to pay more for something you thought was included. Our approach to avoiding scope creep is that we ask our clients for their total budget, and we’ll let them know if it’s sufficient or not to work with us before we even begin to discuss contracts. During the UI/UX phase, we provide line-itemed development estimates with a breakdown of all the features and their costs. That way, it allows everyone to make an informed decision on what features need to be prioritized, if applicable, and that we can create a final product that fits within the budget.

3. Who will own the rights and source code of the SaaS product?

You may not think to ask this, but it’s an important question to present to a potential partner in the event that you get to the contract phase and find out that the terms of ownership don’t meet your needs. We take the stance that it’s your product and your idea, so clients who work with us own all the design and codebase of our work. You should also ask about the technologies the agency will use. Legacy technologies or rare programming languages can be a hindrance, as it creates challenges in finding software engineers that can work with the technology or language, or you may need to start again from scratch. At Geekbears, we use open source technologies such as Angular and Flutter to ensure that your team can work with the source code.

Gain insights into a software development agency’s experience.

1. Have you worked with clients in the industry before?

It’s always a good idea to look at a prospective software development agency’s portfolio to get a better sense of the work they’ve done and for whom they’ve done work. Understanding their past industry experience will help you select a partner that can offer insights specific to your product and customer base. However, it’s also important that you ask about experience with any direct competitors, as there could be a conflict of interest, especially if they are currently working with one of those companies.

2. What is the best SaaS product that you have developed, and why?

Asking a potential vendor this question will allow you to see their best work, but you’ll also get an insider’s perspective into what was done by asking them to explain why it was such a successful project to determine if that’s replicable in your circumstances.

3. Do you have any client references you can share with me?

One of the best indicators of a vendor’s fit for your startup or company is the feedback that they’ve received from their former clients. Ask potential agencies for references and speak with or email some of their clients to get a better sense of their approach, process and performance. In addition to asking them for references, it’s important to research their reviews to see if others’ experiences with the agency match the experiences of the references. You can use these nine tools to research software development agencies to ensure that you select the right partner to develop your SaaS product.

Working with Geekbears

It’s important to ask these specific questions to ensure that you select the right partner to design and build your SaaS product. At Geekbears, we work as a true partner to your business, offering strategic advice and taking action based on set expectations and lots of insight. We work proactively to ensure that you can focus on other aspects of your business.