7 Key Questions to Ask Your Prospective Tech Agency

by Kate Swanberg
Blog Post

From the moment you decide to move forward with your mobile or web application idea, you’re faced with a tough question:

Should you build the product in-house, or hire an external team (tech agency)?

You want to build your product in the easiest and most cost-efficient way, but It can be exhausting and costly to build an in-house team and it wastes valuable time. If you hire a tech agency, you can have a full, experienced team at your service—ready to create a great digital product for your business. To view our Slideshare version of this blog, click here.

After careful consideration, you decide your best option is to hire a tech agency to build your product. Now it’s time to find and pick the right tech agency. There are thousands of tech agencies out there, so you have a ton of options. This can be a confusing, overwhelming process. Many people are in the dark about what it actually takes to build a mobile or web application. It’s like trying to order a drink for the first time in a foreign country (or a Starbucks, for that matter!).

But if you ask the right questions, you can quickly narrow down your choices and find the best tech agency for your business.

View the Slideshare below, or keep reading on, to discover 7 questions you should be asking your tech agency.

When talking to prospective tech agencies, use these 7 questions to filter your options:

  1. How do you communicate with clients?
    Surprisingly, this is the most important question you’ll ask your prospective tech agencies. If the tech agency can’t update you about the status of the project, no amount of coding skills will matter. What to look for: The tech agency should have an established process for communicating with clients. Transparent communication is essential to execute your vision. Do they use Basecamp, InvisionApp, or Trello for project collaboration? Are they available on Skype during working hours and will respond to you immediately?
    They should be able to communicate clearly and patiently, without loads of tech jargon. Aside from their actual process of communication, also be aware of your instinctual like or dislike of the person/tech agency. If there’s a good, basic level of interaction, you’ll be able to work through misunderstandings easier.
  1. Do you have any case studies of past clients?
    A great tech agency won’t ask you to ‘take their word for it’. They’ll have plenty of successful case studies to back up their claims. You won’t have to guess about the quality and scope of work they’ve done. What to look for: Ideally, the tech agency will list their case studies or portfolio on their website, so you can easily access it. That way, you can check out similar apps, test them out, and see how they perform. Or a Sales rep will be able to put together a one-pager of examples for your industry.
    Consider it a bonus if they have experience in your industry—however, don’t make this the deciding factor.
  1. What is your estimated timeline for finishing the project?
    Mobile and web applications are known to take longer and become more complicated than planned. That’s because small, incremental changes can build up into a mountain of additional work. And this additional work can cost you many thousands of dollars in the end. What to look for: These additional costs can be prevented—or, at least, controlled to a point. Your tech agency should keep up-to-date schedules and specifications. Make sure the tech agency can articulate the repercussions of an additional ask. You may crave an extra feature, but when you see how much it pushes the schedule back, you just might change your tune.
    Most projects can be done in 2-4 month cycles. Having a development agency tell you it will take longer than a year, is taking their time and probably isn’t working with an agile process.
  1. How long have you been in business?
    There’s nothing wrong with choosing a tech agency in its early stages—every agency had to begin somewhere. However, it is a bit of a gamble. There’s no substitute for experience. Older tech agencies have already made most of their costly mistakes and learned from them. They can create better applications for you because of it. What to look for: Ideally, your tech agency will have at least 5 years of experience. They’ve been steadily building, and have a track record of success. Here at Koombea, we pride ourselves in this area. With over 7 years of experience, we’ve clocked more hours than most agencies can imagine!
  1. How many developers do you have?
    The more developers they have, the more resources the tech agency can dedicate to your project. As we mentioned earlier, development projects are often extended beyond their original deadline. With a smaller company, this could mean that new projects can’t start on time. What to look for: Your tech agency should have at least 6 developers. The more, the merrier. Having a developer working on a different project give his two sense, can help give key insight for the other. A bigger firm will have more people to draw on to solve technical problems.
  1. What Development process do you use?
    The Development process refers to how the application is built. Waterfall is the traditional development methodology. It’s a stage by stage approach for building products. While it can help with project and deadline control, it’s a practical impossibility to change the software if a glitch results. You’d have to go back to the beginning and develop new code all over again. What to look for: Unlike Waterfall, Agile methodology cuts down the big picture into puzzle pieces. A tech agency who uses the Agile Development process can adapt to change at the end of each stage, without rewriting the entire application. At Koombea, we use Agile Development. Not only does it save costs, but it streamlines communication. We start the week with a planning meeting and chat briefly each weekday afterward about the status of development. At the end of the week, we review all of the work delivered, and not anything we couldn’t finish. This week of work is called a sprint.
  1. Will you build an MVP?
    When it comes to product development, many businesses make the mistake of waiting too long to take the product to market. And because of this mistake, many products never even launch. Or, if they do launch, the market is already saturated with competitors…and the product usually fails. But you can avoid this costly mistake, and still launch a high-performing product in your niche.
    The secret? A Minimum Viable Product (MVP). What to look for: Your tech agency should build you a Minimum Viable Product. That way, you’ll have just enough of the core of your product so that you can get it to users and collect feedback—and start getting paid.

How’s your tech agency search going? Tweet us out or shoot us an email at mvp@koombea.com!

Koombea is happy to help you figure out which agency is best for you—even if it’s not us.

Should you build a product? Hire an external team, or do the project in-house?

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Author: @keswanberg

by Kate Swanberg
Blog Post