Is your business growing? If so, congratulations! You and your staff have no doubt done a tremendous amount of hard work to get where you are today. But, now that you’ve reached a certain level of success, it’s time to set new goals and that includes setting yourself up for additional success in the future.

New goals might include finding a certain number of additional employees, purchasing needed equipment, or replacing off-the-shelf applications with custom-designed software to improve your operations. That last one might be especially critical if you struggle with inefficient operations or are still using Excel to keep track of important data.

Custom software may sound like an unnecessary expense but using software development services to create applications specifically designed for your company can actually help you save by improving productivity and customer service. If you decide to research and take advantage of these services, avoid the following common pitfalls.

Not Knowing Who’s in Charge

One person in your company should oversee your custom software development project. This person should assemble a team, if needed, to work with them to ensure it’s completed satisfactorily. Perhaps more importantly, this person should be the liaison with the development agency. Similarly, you should request that there be one point person on the developer’s side as well.

If more than one person from your team or theirs is “the leader,” messages back and forth can get confused, resulting in mix-ups that could hold up production. The person involved on your side should ideally have a good understanding of both technical issues and higher-level business concerns.

Not Setting Up Goals in Advance

Know what you want to accomplish. Do you have customer complaints? What could fix the problems they’re identifying? Do you have employees not using certain programs because they’re too complex? How could they be simplified? Do you use manual processes that could be automated? Which processes, and what would be the ideal-case scenario?

These are the types of questions you should answer before approaching service providers. If you don’t, you could end up with a scattershot project that doesn’t improve your company’s operations in the ways you had expected.

Hiring a Company That Doesn’t Communicate Well

Say you’re looking for a software development provider and you interview five of them. You think Company A has the best experience because it’s completed many other projects like the one you have in mind. Yet, when you ask questions, the developers’ responses are vague or difficult to understand. You ignore the problems you have in communicating with them because you know they’re really good at what they do.

If you move forward, you may end up with a situation that makes it very hard to complete your project. With poor communication, it’s difficult to collaborate and make important decisions together. Furthermore, after your software is completed, your employees may have a hard time learning how to use it, and you may have challenges getting problems solved. Additional problems may occur if you partner with a company in a different country or time zone.

Therefore, look for a team that demonstrates both technical expertise and excellent communication skills. That means they answer your questions quickly and directly, they walk you through the process every step of the way, they provide you with regular updates, they’re available to provide training to your staff, and they’re responsive when you have a question or issue.

Not Understanding What You’re Getting Into

When you know who’s overseeing the project and what you need, and you have a clear communication channel open with a selected software development firm, you can move on to the contract phase. You and the provider should start by identifying all critical project elements, including requirements and deliverables, a timeline, what’s included in the development and what isn’t, and, of course, price.

Not having these factors spelled out can result in many unwanted consequences, including scope creep, overpaying, and not getting the end product you want.

Ignoring Contract Loopholes

After you create the project parameters, as described in the previous section, it’s time to sign on the dotted line. But, wait! Be sure you carefully review the document first and run it by your company’s attorney. Don’t ignore any clauses that you’re uncomfortable with. Instead, be sure you fully understand them and have them changed if necessary.

Otherwise, you could get stuck with a project that goes on indefinitely, charges for things you never authorized, or a level of quality well below what you expected.

In Summary

If your business is growing and, as a result, you require custom software, that’s wonderful. But, before you move forward in hiring a software development firm to help, it’s important to know what pitfalls to avoid so you can get a great product with excellent support and enjoy even greater future success.