How To Find a Software Product Development Partner
IoT projects are not planned well. As a result, it creates a chain reaction of inconsistencies throughout the product development. Let's learn how to avoid it.
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Great fortunes are built on greater products and IoT is the testimony we all need. Despite a rapidly growing digital space, it is impossible for any company to resist the internet of things, as it can have a direct impact on the end consumer experience with the company’s products. However, I know for sure that there is a surprising reality to how things work behind producing these systems. The development process is long, uncertain, and not everyone is skilled at it.
Most IoT ideas that appear to be ‘groundbreaking’ on paper don’t often work well when it comes to reality. A comprehensive report from Beecham Research has outlined the key factors, including lack of development expertise. In most cases, IoT projects are not planned well. As a result, it creates a chain reaction of inconsistencies throughout the product development including the expectation management with the partner.
Writing Down a Document
By this time, I expect that you have brainstormed and arrived at the business requirement. This means writing the problem statement which includes the market gap you are addressing, the business model and roadmap, the value proposition of the product to the current consumer, and the services that will be provided. Before finding the product development partner, I suggest you ensure that all the stakeholders involved are duly informed on the details of the vision, expected outcomes, expenses, profits, and all KPIs (Key Performance Indicator). Put together the information into a comprehensive whitepaper document.
Whitepapers are great tools to convey your vision to development companies. Besides laying the standards, the document should provide sufficient details about the product specs and the scope.
Complete Profiling of the Vendor
Based on the analysis done, the type of development partner that you need for the company could be chosen. As there could be companies like start-ups that have 10 employees or corporations with hundreds of employees, enough time should be invested in selecting the right partner. No matter how long it takes, I strongly recommend that you never do this in a hurry.
While profiling your vendor, make sure that:
- There is minimum operational experience.
- They have the number of resources required for the task.
- You know which engagement models are preferred, i.e. offshore, onsite.
- You know the cost of every resource.
The objective is to list out all the skills you look for in a development partner. Furthermore, this exercise will lay the foundation for the partner’s KPIs.
After inviting proposals, try reaching out directly to reputable development companies. It can be done through various communities that are dedicated to the IoT community. For instance, LinkedIn is a great medium to directly connect with IoT professionals. The network is huge and shows results as soon as the requirement of the development company is put up.
Alternatively, there are multiple digital marketplaces that connect IoT project owners with vendors. The remarkable feature of such a platform is the degree of segmentation that allows the project owners to narrow down the list of the most appropriate vendors quickly. From professionals to development companies, this is considered to be one of the best ways to quicken the partner selection process.
Ask for Case Studies That Help Achieve KPIs
If the vendor offers literature on-demand, always ask for case studies that have actual project information including the problem statement, the roadmap, product development timelines, and the KPIs achieved. However, as far as I know, most vendors don’t disclose the name of the customer for security purposes as it puts the accountability of the case study to question. In that case, insisting upon meeting the development team personally would be a better option.
Testimonials on professional review sites or public forums can be helpful as additional parameters but not as the core differentiator. Regardless of how a profile looks online, real interaction can help in changing the opinion. So always have that scope in mind.
Look for Full-Stack Product Development Expertise
Development is just one major phase that a product goes through. I think it is wise to say that a product is never complete, as it requires consistent upgrades as per changing trends and customer expectations. However, frequent upgrades, scalability, UI structure, a completely new version for new geography, a full-stack service, or the product lifecycle are uncertain.
While evaluating the proposals, evaluate the end-to-end lifecycle expertise wherein multiple products are associated with one another. This means that there are multiple different product life cycles in one system. Also, verify if the proposed vendor has skilled proficiency for each of the following stages of IoT product development:
- Design—UI, Hardware, Backend
- Development—Embedded Systems, Communications, UI, Backend, wireless networks
- Sourcing, Mass production, and Commoditization
In addition to the above, regulatory compliance assistance will add greater value to the partner profile. The partner chosen from a development team should be able to manage offshore resources and also have skills like:
- product development as an integral node in their COE
- the ability to perform complex cross-platform development
- technological expertise throughout the IoT stack
- expertise in executing and managing multiple release cycles
I suggest that, as a client, you always have to be prepared for situations where changing requirements based on new or evolving information can lead to costly or time-consuming change requests.
Hire a Full-Time Security Expert
Since 20% of IoT implementations face cyber-attacks, security is the most critical factor while handpicking the right partner. There’s no shortage of expert hardware and software engineers. It is the security practice that’ll attest to the true potential of the proposed partner.
Without question, the vendor has to come out strong in their approach towards security implementation across every element of the system. I think it is advisable to hire a full-time security expert in the process of selecting the best company for the project. The professional would also ensure accurate implementation of security protocols in network connectivity, data encryption, device-to-cloud network security, End-User interface to wireless network security, and also cloud security.
Requesting for a Prototype
I know for a fact that communications in the digital spectrum are often deceptive and it is crucial to maintain them as relevant as possible. In most cases, multiple vendors are not able to keep up with the contract. So, to resolve the deadlock between two or more vendors who appear equally proficient, request for a small prototype.
Investing in prototyping is better than losing millions in the long run. As a mock version of the product, prototyping can be a real decider since it reflects the design thinking and technical understanding of the developers. If the timelines permit, I recommend that you conduct a paid PoC (Proof of Concept) project as it helps you in analyzing whether the product needs any further development.
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