I pay much attention to the methods our wisest clients use to look for their IT providers. Divante is frequently subjected to such a process. Today, I would like to share some information that may help you to find a fine software house in Poland.

References

Effective companies aren’t afraid to provide reference information in their materials. They often quote their clients – it’s important to verify whether they’re real, specific people. Using LinkedIn, you may easily find those people and verify their opinions.

Clients you don’t work with anymore

One of the interesting methods of the reference information verification is to find the clients the given company doesn’t work with anymore. A short conversation with such clients can provide much valuable information. You may ask them for the reasons why the cooperation was terminated or for their feelings about the most recent period of the partnership.

Websites with opinions

There’re some Internet portals that gather opinions about IT companies in an objective manner – for instance through telephone interviews. Cluch is one of such portals, and it gains more and more popularity nowadays – you may check out Divante profile.

Clients

You may also pay special attention to the clients of the company you’re interested in. Germany is the wealthiest neighbor of Poland. There’s not a sufficient amount of programmers in Germany, therefore any proficient Polish company can easily obtain some German clients. However, such clients are very demanding – they expect the highest quality of work being performed on time. If the given company cooperates with German clients for a longer period of time, you may be sure they are trustworthy.

Telco with specialists

In most cases, a short talk with a specialist is enough to verify the level of his or her knowledge. It can be worth your time to persuade your trader to invite one of the potential team members to join the telco. Such people may be ill at ease – it doesn’t matter. What’s important is their experience and whether they would be afraid of communication in the future.

Project estimation

Poles are pessimistic by their nature, but this feature allows us to estimate actual task deadlines better :). A healthy dose of pessimism may help you to discuss the threats and risks related to the project. At the same time, you’ll make sure that people on the other side understand you and treat you seriously.

Visit

My personal experience proves almost 100% correlation between a visit at our office and the commencement of cooperation. Such a visit may take the whole day. During that time, we learn more about our clients’ businesses (we use Business Model Canvas), while they’re acquainted with our key competencies and team members. We show our place to the potential clients, so they could know that we don’t outsource tasks and that we have most of the people we need in one place. Such a visit is a perfect method to create the mutual understanding.

Work model

Good companies have many clients, employ the best specialists and display ambitious approach towards quality. That’s why all good companies I can think of use SCRUM methodology and account their projects in Time&Materials model. This way, they are able to maintain the highest quality. If the company insists on using this accounting method – it’s a good sign.

Sometimes, clients are afraid of Time&Materials accounting. As an alternative, you may propose an indirect solution that will allow you to gain more trust to the provider. My ideas:

  • Sprint 0 for project scheduling and estimation.
  • A small task to test the efficiency of the team – with specified maximum amount of hours to spend.

Location

It’s always a good idea to discuss the issues related to the location. During the performance of a project, there’re some stages at which the physical presence of the team in a single place makes it easier and faster to come up with solutions to various problems. It’s worth asking whether the given company would allow its people to spend a couple of days at your office.

You will also need to learn more about transport between your location and the office of the company you are interested in. In some cases, the reluctance to travel may lead to the reluctance to communicate. Several Polish cities have many air routes (Warsaw, Cracow, Wrocław, Gdańsk), which make it easier to organize a quick meeting and return on the same day. Western Poland cities, such as Wrocław, Poznań, Zielona Góra or Szczecin are also connected with expressways, allowing for cheaper travels of bigger teams.

Structure

You may also ask whether the given software house has separate positions for testers and analysts. At small companies, tests and analyses are performed as an “addition” to the programmers’ or project managers’ work. Unfortunately, such an approach frequently shifts these duties onto the client.

Owner

I’m a co-owner of Divante, therefore I have the possibility to meet most of our clients personally. If every telco is attended by the software house owner, you may be sure that the whole organization of the company you analyze is based on that single person. If such a company acquires a better client or in the case of a serious problem – the owner will disappear from your project. It’s much safer to work with an assigned, experienced project manager, who will devote time and attention to you. Most owners act like sellers. Their presence during a telco may completely change the course of such a meeting. People who talk to you without “supervision” will be more objective and sincere in their opinions.

Size of the company

Small companies pretend they’re big. Big companies pretend they’re small. People think that smaller companies are more flexible. It’s true in most cases, but unfortunately such flexibility is often a result of the lack of knowledge, lack of alternatives or low level of assertiveness. In the course of time, such things may bring about various dangerous situations.

A software house that employs more than 50 workers must have the ability to manage its projects, quality, HR – it’s the smallest size of a team that guarantees the stability of work.

And what about the biggest size? It’s difficult to tell, really. We employ 150 people, but most of our clients work with the assigned teams composed of several people only. Our infrastructure allows us to occassionally employ analysts, UX specialists or testers to work at our projects. We also have the ability to quickly add resources to the given project.

Personally speaking, I would look for companies that employ enough workers to guarantee the feeling of security, but not big enough to block flexible solutions.

Team

Many wise software houses prefer to cooperate with companies that have their own IT departments or at least some IT knowledge. Client’s IT skills are crucial to allow the verification of work quality, estimations and provider’s competencies. They also enable the division of labor, making it possible to use the advantages of both parts of the team. The client is able to introduce quick changes in the project – due to the superb communication with a specialist. Bigger tasks are outsourced – to benefit from the experience of an external provider.

Rotation

Good companies have low employee rotation rate, which possitively affects the quality of cooperation. Unfortunately, this parameter is relatively difficult to assess from the outside. Still, you may try to get some information from the clients and employees of the given company. Low rotation means high motivation and guarantees continuity of the work.

Price – junior / senior

If you’re looking for a Polish IT company, you probably seek for a compromise between price and quality. Polish and Ukrainian companies guarantee favorable rates (usually around EUR 40 per hour) and high quality.  Most companies divide their fixed hour rates into junior / standard / senior. However, some companies don’tt offer junior skills. It’s a mistake. First of all, it may imply that juniors are “smuggled” as seniors. Secondly – “junior” positions are often occupied by highly motivated people, who can quickly cope with simple tasks and are eager to show their skills. Obviously, such people should work in teams with more experienced colleagues.

Simple contracts

Good companies apply simple and clearly composed contracts, based on the common interest of both parties. You should pay close attention not only to the contract itself, but also to the methods of negotiation. In the case of a stalemate, you may put off the contract and perform a small programming task together – it is a simple way to create a bond and it makes it easier to reach an agreement.

You’re thinking about improving your e-business? Let’s talk about it!

Tom Karwatka

CEO at Divante eCommerce Technology Company. Leading industry voice who believes eCommerce can improve our world. Co-founder of Vue Storefront and Open Loyalty, angel investor, and founder of Tech To The Rescue. CEO at Divante eCommerce Technology Company | LinkedIn | Twitter

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    Regards!