How Do I Choose a Software Development Company?

Software is fundamental to how companies operate, not to mention a major competitive advantage. The mass adoption of software-driven solutions over the last few decades has pushed businesses to prioritize digital experiences - for both their internal teams and customers. Custom software is a smart, and sometimes vital, investment for...

Software is fundamental to how companies operate, not to mention a major competitive advantage. The mass adoption of software-driven solutions over the last few decades has pushed businesses to prioritize digital experiences - for both their internal teams and customers. Custom software is a smart, and sometimes vital, investment for the success and growth of a business.

While the problem and product solution may seem simple, building the right solution with the right team can prove challenging. Developing software often takes dedicated resources and experienced teams. That’s where software development companies enter, to see your digital product through from ideation to execution. Here are some tips to find the dev shop that’s the perfect fit for your product journey.

What Does a Dev Shop Do?

First, let’s break down the basics. A software development company, development agency, dev shop, or whatever you prefer to call it, is a company that partners with you to build a digital product or improve an existing one.

Behind a typical dev shop are product developers, designers, and directors that makeup product development teams. Each model varies, but often dev shops are handed over the problem to solve, an idea of a solution (however, not always), the timeline for the project, and financial bounds to stay within. Dev shops own the end-to-end development of the product, with the final deliverable a ready-to-go software solution.

Advantages of Partnering with a Dev Shop

If you seek reassurance about partnering with a dev shop or are considering whether your in-house developers should take on the project, we pose a few key factors to consider before building your digital product. Dev shops free up internal resources, expose you to outside perspectives, and bring along specialized skills in software development.

Optimize Resources

When you partner with a dev shop, you’re hiring the entire team and the right people at once. In comparison to hiring freelancers or bringing on internal team members, it cuts out the time needed to hire and onboard developers, designers, and managers individually. Finding people with the appropriate experiences and qualifications can be difficult work, and you may not even know what roles would best serve the project.

Based on a research study from Zippia conducted in the US, the average cost per hire is $4,700, takes an average of 36-42 days to fill a position, and on average takes 12 weeks for a new hire to become fully productive at work. Dev shops have already curated talented teams, reducing the upfront work and cost to you.

Access Expertise

Partnering with dev shops gives you access to professional service providers experienced in software development. Development teams are made up of dedicated, high-end employees who choose an agency setting for the challenge and excitement of new projects. In addition, specialists can hit the ground running with very little effort on your part.

The dev shop setting exposes teams to the latest technologies, new programming tools and languages, and skills to efficiently build digital products. You’ll receive the latest and greatest in software development.

Expand Your Perspective

​​Leaders may be too close or too far from key issues to make objective decisions. Erik Larson, co-founder and CPO of Cloverpop, wrote in Forbes: “Our study of 500 managers and executives found 98% fail to apply best practices when making decisions.” So, who are these 2%, and can we talk to them?

We can combat this astonishing stat by involving more people in the decision-making process, internally and externally. Looking outside of your company for a new perspective may be the key to successful problem-solving. A dev shop can help you sort out the clear problem and solution from an unbiased point-of-view to propel the project forward.

Selecting the Right Dev Shop

Partnering with software development companies helps businesses make clearer decisions and produce valuable digital products with access to creative thinkers, designers, and developers. Here are our tips to find the right dev shop for your team.

Check Agency Lists and Testimonials

Researching online is a good starting point to find dev shops in a certain geographic region or who offer a specific service you’re looking for. For example, searching “software development companies in Cincinnati” or “top app development companies.”

Browse through company websites and agency lists to help you build a sense of the company culture, how the team works, and their previous projects. We recommend searching agency lists such as Clutch, UpCity, and TechReviewer that connect B2B services.

Read through testimonials from real clients to better understand the level of work a software development company provides. You want to work with experts, so make sure the company has the experience to back up its services. If you like a company you land on, reach out to their previous clients or personally explore the digital products the dev shop developed. At Differential, we are happy to connect you with our clients for a first-hand look at the results of our work. Many other dev shops are happy to extend this as well - just ask!

Referrals From Your Network

Reach out to professionals in your network who you know have previously worked with software development companies to ask about their experiences. If you are unaware of colleagues who may be connected to a dev shop, crowdsource via platforms such as LinkedIn to build a list of recommendations. LinkedIn shares with “friends of friends” on the platform, allowing people outside of your immediate circle to weigh in.

Referrals are credible and backed by someone you hopefully know more about than just a name on the internet. Don’t hesitate to tap into your network to find software development company leads.

Set Up Consultations

After researching companies and sourcing leads from your network, hopefully, you’ve narrowed down a list of potential partners. The best way to select a top company is to schedule a consultation.

It’s important to think through your needs before entering the conversation. Knowing what you can and can’t compromise on, both from a product and business standpoint, will help you pick a dev shop that will best serve your needs.

Here is a list of questions to consider asking when meeting with a dev shop team:

  • What is their design and development process?
  • What technology expertise does the company have?
  • Have they worked on any similar projects in the past?
  • Do they understand your business goals?
  • What resources will they need from you?
  • How will the team communicate with you?
  • What kind of long-term support do they offer?
  • Can they provide references?

Developing Software for a Start-Up vs an Enterprise

Let’s be real: If you are a startup that just began chasing your big idea but are a bit short on funds, it isn’t feasible to devote your life savings to a dev shop for app development. But that’s okay because dev shops can still be of great help. Early on, you probably won’t need an advanced app that can do everything imaginable. Dev shops can assist in building a lightweight version of your ultimate vision. Over time, as validation (and profit!) starts to flow, you can iterate your app so it scales with your company. Depending on your business model, an advanced website or web app might be the best option from the outset. Dev shops can help you assess your current situation and find a lower-cost, but still highly effective, solution.

Even the biggest companies, though, need a technology partner at times. The well-established enterprises will need new tech tools - apps, dashboards, data systems, etc. - that help them at their advanced levels of business. Such things are large-scale projects needed by companies that have a lot of moving parts so that they can always know what’s going on and how to best serve customers.

No matter what the state of your business and its financial situation, dev shops are here to help build what you need to spur future growth and give you the tools to help you reach, serve, and delight your customers.

Connect with the Differential Team

If you have any questions about partnering with a development team or building a digital product, contact us at We're always happy to chat.

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