Taking your wonderful product idea and handing it over to agency is a scary prospect in a number of ways.
Firstly, it's time for you to stop hiding behind that nice comfy word 'idea'. Whereas before you had potential, now you have a product that can either be good or bad - a roaring success or a colossal failure. It's the final mark of what you are actually, truly capable of, and it's a lot of pressure.
The idea that the outcome of all that potential is dependant on a handful of strangers is scary thought number two. For most of us, our business is mostly dependent on the outcome of a single product. If the product doesn't work, everything falls apart. We may have to spend hundreds of hours and thousands of pounds getting things back on track, and by the time we do it might be too late.
The importance, then, of working with a quality delivery partner can't be overstated. If this is your first product, or you've had a bad experience in the past and want a new partner, you need to be sure you're taking on the right people.
Take a read through our seven-point checklist to help you decide whether you've found the right delivery partner.
1. Check out live versions of their work
Screenshots simply aren't enough, sorry. Websites and apps are interactive things, and you need to feel how it moves and responds. Either download the examples listed on their site or ask to see a live version of a product.
2. Do they understand what you’re trying to achieve?
It's not just about development quality. A good agency should understand how your app serves a business need and make recommendations to that end. Have they worked on products in your particular industry before? Does the team have a passion for the problem your product looks to solve? In your initial meetings or conversations with them, did they challenge your ideas in productive, constructive ways?
3. Look for testimonials
We're social creatures after all. It seems obvious, but if you're struggling to find people with a good word to say about this agency, or the agency are cagey about putting you in direct contact with existing clients, they're probably not the one to go with.
4. Be critical of their specification phase
An experienced agency that has been around for a few years has probably had its fair share of bad client experiences. This is an important rite of passage for any delivery partner - it helps them bring their briefing and specifications phase up to a professional standard. During this phase, you should get the feeling that the agency is putting in a painstaking - almost pedantic - level of detail into setting the project terms. It's a sign they truly understand what's involved in the actual build.
5. Ask for an explanation of their process
Quality development companies are in a constant state of process review. For them, the efficiency of their systems ultimately dictates how quickly they can turn projects around. If they're worth their salt, they should know these processes inside and out.
6. Expect timely responses
An agency should be on their very best behaviour during the sales phase. If they seem slack here, who knows how bad their unresponsiveness could become in the long term.
7. Talk about documentation
A good agency should have requirements of their own. It's likely that you'll need to provide them with detailed briefs, procurement orders, and business plans. They may also want you to review and confirm specification documents and other collateral. All this is essential project documentation. Without it, there's more and more room for miscommunication and misalignment.
There is, of course, one final piece of the puzzle, and it's the umbrella point that all this is leading up to.
If you don't trust somebody, don't work with them. Even if an agency ticks all of the boxes above, sometimes you simply have to go with your gut.