How to find the right software development partner
April 5, 2019
The process of finding and vetting the right software development outsourcing partner involves a good amount of research and assessment. And when it comes to Latin America, there is no shortage of quality destinations and companies you can choose from, each with their own pros and cons.
With so many options available to those looking for the perfect fit to match their needs, what are the most reliable ways to look for a partner, and what are the best sites that can aid your search process?
The three main sources companies use to connect with potential nearshore vendors are direct referrals, organic search, and ratings and review sites. All three are suitable search methods which can provide you with valuable insights. However, depending on how thoroughly you conduct your search, results may vary significantly for each of them. Let’s dive deeper into them one by one to see why we advocate for a mix of all three.
The most common partner search method are direct referrals. Asking around for a recommendation from an industry peer who can vouch for a specific vendor’s performance is difficult to match, which also makes this the most reliable method. That said, a single referral might not be enough to convince you, and it will only be useful when it comes from a trustworthy source who you know is not biased. Having a potential vendor provide several referrals from clients might help reduce that risk. But what are the alternatives when you don’t have a referral from your network?
Organic search through Google or similar search engines seems to be the next best option. In theory, Google’s keyword search results should provide you with the most reputable firms in the industry you’re looking into. The problem with this method is that a company’s marketing and SEO strategy (or lack thereof) has the ability to influence their standing in those search results. This means that you might miss out on high quality vendors whose SEO efforts or marketing budget is not enough to make them rank for your specific search terms. And the opposite also holds true: you’re likely to encounter some lower quality vendors who depend entirely on their SEO strategy for getting new clients. This is why, in our opinion, organic search by itself is not enough when conducting such an important search.
A third and widely used method are ratings and review sites, whose whole business model depends on their reputation for being unbiased in the information they provide. Within the software development industry there are a great number of these sites, but from our direct experience Clutch.co stands out as the most reliable one.
How Clutch helps businesses find the right software development vendors
A B2B ratings and reviews firm based out of Washington, D.C., Clutch connects businesses with the best-fit agencies or consultants they need to tackle their next big business challenge. Clutch covers hundreds of different services from IT to advertising and marketing, and ranks service providers based on a range of factors including past clients and experience, verified client reviews, and market presence.
The biggest advantage of using a directory like Clutch to find a partner is that they only feature reviews which have been verified via direct contact with the end client. This way, you get access to first-hand accounts from industry peers who share both their positive and negative feedback on their vendor’s performance. It’s like getting multiple referrals for any vendor you’re trying to vet.
Clutch as the great industry equalizer
As Clutch does not charge companies for their reviewing services (it does offer paid sponsoring), any business can create their account and request client reviews be carried out free of charge. In our opinion, this effort by Clutch has given them an advantage over organic search in the software development sector, given that positive reviews, as opposed to marketing spend, will most likely be the decisive factor at the time of ranking firms.
Moreover, with the goal of providing buyers better, more up-to-date information to conduct their searches, Clutch has announced an update to their ranking criteria starting March 2019, which will now give more weight to the most recent client reviews. Reviews which are older than three years will therefore receive less weight, which should help buyers find the most relevant vendors for their current needs.
Every year, Clutch releases a report based on their research that features the top companies by their specific sector. For example, in 2018, VAIRIX was featured by Clutch as a top custom software development firm in both Latin America and Uruguay.
Leverage your peer network and industry directories to optimize your search
All things considered, in order to find the right fit for your needs, we suggest using a mix of the three search methods discussed above. If you have a solid direct referral, that’s a great place to start. From there, you can evaluate your picks further by reading each company’s reviews on directories like Clutch, and measure them against other potential vendors you may find in their site or through organic search.
Let’s imagine the following scenario as an example: You are part of a consulting firm or digital agency, and are looking to partner with a nearshore team outside the USA that can help you service more client accounts by increasing production capacity. Your ideal team of developers should be skilled in Agile development, proficient in your future project’s technology stack, and have proven experience working remotely for US businesses.
So to start off your search, you might know some peers in your industry who have had a positive experience with one or more specific firms from different parts of the world. For the purpose of our example, let’s say you receive two direct referrals in this way.
As a next step, you decide to go to Clutch and research each of those firms’ profiles, looking for additional reviewers of their work and further proof that they fit your specific needs.
Here are some of the key questions you should be looking to get answered:
Where is the vendor’s team located? Will time zone differences be an issue on your end?
Do the vendors have reviews from companies similar to your own?
Do they have proven experience working for the USA?
Do they have reviews for projects that use your chosen technology stack?
What are the qualities that are most valued by reviewers for each of the vendors? Are these in alignment with your ideal fit?
How long did the partnership last and what was the total investment? Was it a single, short engagement, or has the vendor become a reliable go-to partner for the client?
That last question would be a crucial one to ask for this example scenario. Knowing that a vendor has been delivering consistent results to their client for a long period of time, as opposed to a one-off project engagement, can make a huge difference.
A key point to keep in mind in this sense is that vendors having a lower number of total reviews might not mean they have less project work experience.
For example, our latest Clutch review at VAIRIX is from one of our main partners in the USA, a software development company that we have been working with for the last three years. In that time frame, we have collaborated on a great number of projects together, but we don’t feature a review for each one of those projects. All our work for this specific client is encompassed in one single review. So if you’re looking for vendors who have proven experience delivering results in the long term, be mindful that the quality of reviews might be as important as their total quantity.
Moving forward with our scenario, if you like what you see from your initial search, you might decide to go a step further and setup calls with each of the vendors who look like promising fits and ask some additional questions:
How long have they been in business?
How long have they been working for the US market?
What is their team size and composition?
What are their processes and workflow like?
How do they handle communication with their clients?
Will they have the capacity to meet your project needs in terms of resource availability, skills and time frame?
Is the company providing any value upfront and showing genuine interest in your project?
These are just some of the most frequent questions to ask a potential vendor during a first conversation. Hopefully these will help you flesh out each of your picks and come to a decision.
But what if you aren’t satisfied at all with your initial potential vendors and want to consider other options? Well, Clutch’s interface makes it super easy to start a search and narrow down your new picks from a pool of 7000 listed agencies.
If you’re conducting your search across different countries or even continents, the search bar tool in Clutch will prove the most helpful for finding the top vendors in each region. Just type a country or region name into the search bar (e.g. “Latin America”), and you will be directed to a group of lists featuring the top vendors for a number of services, such as custom software development, mobile app development, and web development.
Another way to start your search is by using the Browse Categories tool. Both intuitive and very detailed, this section will help you browse by service, location, and even technologies or platforms.
All things considered, there is no one perfect approach to conducting a partner search, but we strongly believe anyone who isn’t leveraging directories like Clutch is missing or on an immensely valuable tool to make that job easier.
We hope this article has provided some insight into the best ways of finding and vetting firms. If you’re currently looking for a partner to help with your development efforts, feel free to get in touch to meet our team and talk some shop.