Will you marry me? – Selecting a mobile/web app development company – Score card!

Let’s say you’ve decided that working with an external team to build your product, is the way forward. You’d send a few emails, ask a few friends for references and you’ve signaled that you are evaluating vendors. [tweetherder]Vendor selection is not a serial process. You have to clear the list in parallel.[/tweetherder] What does that mean?

You cannot start the conversation with one vendor, take it to a close and start the next. You lose time, reference data points and negotiation power. Above all you come out as indecisive. But too many conversations at the same time could be overwhelming and too often you may not remember what happened with whom!

Finally, you’d end up selecting a vendor that you, for some fuzzy reason,  ‘like’! [tweetherder]While vendor likability is a key decision factor, it can’t be the only deciding factor. [/tweetherder]While we may not agree, often we rationalize vendor decisions post-facto (or) even unwittingly aid a vendor through the selection process, so that they get an undue space, attention and often guidance on what would tip the scale in their favor. No, we are not talking about frivolous procurement processes here. We are talking about the conflicts inside your mind, which has to play the dual roles of gate keeper and the sponsor of the project. In the anxiety to select the right vendor, we often select the vendor we like than the vendor we must!

The next time you are talking to multiple development service firms, keep a score card handy. It need not be sophisticated. It need not stand the scrutiny of a pin-stripped analyst from a big advisory firm. It is what suits you and what you think are the important parameters for you to take a call. Here’s how a sample ‘Agency Selection Scorecard’ looks like:

Agency Selection ScorecardThere is nothing in the score card that you already don’t know. You have a few parameters that are important for you. Simply list them and assign scores to it after each conversation with a vendor. Add new parameters as you go. In the end of a long evaluation cycle, your reference point could be this score card that brings the much needed objectivity into your decision making. It’s hard to recall who said what, after weeks. [tweetherder]The score card helps you convert your first hand impressions into an actionable metric.[/tweetherder]

There is always room to build a sophisticated dashboard out if it. You could add relative weight-ages and alter the score card based on the type of the project and add 20 other parameters to make it all comprehensive. But the point is not about arriving at the best score card, but one that helps you document your selection history and make a selection that’s both objective and inclusive of all aspects that matter to you!

What has been your experience with selecting software development teams? What are the criteria you’ve used to select?


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