This is Part 5, of a blog series that details the challenges of outsourcing software development.
Part 5: Stop Paying for Bad Experiences
Back before the internet was a thing (I know, hard to imagine for all you early twenty-somethings), being a consumer meant you had to put up with the occasional bad experience. There was no social media to complain to, and no review platform to warn others. You just put up with it.
Got a bad haircut? Complain to the manager all you want, but you’re still stuck with a bad haircut.
Bought a new car only to find the engine held together with rubber bands? Too bad, you already signed the contract.
Found a hair in your food? You can complain to the manager and warn your friends not to eat there, but the restaurant will continue getting customers.
But then the internet came along and democratized consumer voices. Suddenly, every business on the planet was backed by hundreds if not thousands of customer reviews.
Yelp, Google, Amazon, and other platforms normalized the concept of relying on user-generated reviews to help us make better-informed purchases. We stopped paying for bad experiences.
(Speaking of bad experiences...check out our article about Buyer's Remorse)
Now, the idea of review-driven decisions has extended to the digital outsourcing industry. Go on Freelancer, Upwork, or any other freelance platform and you’ll find endless profiles of ready-to-hire workers all backed with a star rating system and client reviews.
Yet somehow, this review and rating system has not translated gracefully to the software development industry (here’s what we mean). While the above mentioned websites can connect you to individual developers, they don’t work as well for those trying to outsource their software development needs to a fully equipped agency.
The Trouble With Rating Systems
Take Clutch for example, one of the leading platforms for finding B2B development services. Pick any service type and sort the results by rating and you will find that out of the hundreds of search results, the lowest possible ranking is 4 out of 5 stars.
How is it possible that thousands of businesses all have a perfect 5 star rating, with the lowest possible score being 4 stars?
It’s an unrealistic rating system that doesn’t allow for any nuance. When you look up a restaurant on Yelp or Google, notice how they use a decimal point rating system? A restaurant with great food but slow service might hover around a 3.8 rating.
One of my favorite local cafes has a 4.2 rating because, despite their excellent coffee, they don’t seem to care much about keeping the area clean. All this to say that it’s important to allow nuance in a rating system.
So what’s up with everyone on Clutch having a 5 star rating?
- Generally speaking, businesses tend to be more forgiving when rating fellow businesses.
- Since Clutch isn’t anonymous, the person giving the review has their name, business, and address right there next to their review—so they tend to hold back on unfiltered honesty.
Finding a Good Team
To put it simply: it’s highly unlikely that every single one of those companies is perfect in every aspect, with every project. This makes finding a good agency hit-or-miss, with a high risk of paying for a bad experience.
Remember that coffee shop analogy? In the outsourcing world, it means that instead of having to sip and grimace your way through a lousy cup of coffee, you’re out thousands of dollars with a bad software development team.
So when you’re trying to find a good agency for software development, here’s what you as a potential customer can do to mitigate this risk.
- Research. Research. Research. Find out everything you can about different agencies across several review platforms.
- Call them. Ask to talk to someone from the development team, not just a sales representative.
- Ask for referrals. Any agency worth their salt will be delighted to give you referrals.
- Ask for a workshopping session. Once you think you’ve found the perfect match, do a workshop with them (they probably charge for this, but it’s worth it). This gives you the opportunity to really see how their team operates.
- Get a trial phase. Most agencies will offer a trial phase of a couple weeks to a month if you ask. Here at Softup, we even have a completely risk-free development plan.
- Ask around. Ask a friend, partner, or acquaintance who understands the technical part of development for their input.
Finding a reputable, dependable software development company to outsource to shouldn’t be difficult.