In the second article of our practical guide for clients, we bring you an explanatory list of the meetings that comprise the process leading up to hiring a software provider for the very first time.

Let’s start right away. From the moment you pick a software company to the point of signing a contract with it for a new project, you will have to establish and attend a series of meetings:

New client company
Small series of workshops (optional)
Business proposal
Contract negotiation and sign-off
Project initiation

Establishing sales meetings

This first meeting should be a joyful, get-to-know-each-other-better business meeting. That being said, keep in mind that no tough decisions have to be made during this encounter. Your potential software provider will do most of the work, consisting essentially of its company and products presentations.

Given that your software providers will also want to know you better, they are likely to ask about your business needs and how you envision the application you’re thinking about.

There are two paths you can go down at this point:

  1. Your company’s business need may be fulfilled by an existing product found in the portfolio of the software provider. If this proves to be the case, then the following talks will focus on pinpointing the implementation details. For example, if the software company determines that esFields is the application perfectly suited to your company’s needs, they will next try to extract from the info you provide, implementation details such as: number of users, number of locations, types of forms required, so as to integrate them in a demo . These are also the main concepts of the application.
  2. The desired solution for the expressed business need can be achieved through custom development. One way of going about it is elaborating a document of business requirements specification – a very detailed analysis that allows both parties to foresee with fairly high precision the end result, estimate costs, deadline etc. This can be done by you, the client, if your company has its own business analyst, or, if not, by your software providers. Another way to do it is organising a few more meetings (or workshops). This is a more flexible alternative, suitable if your business needs are not yet very well defined. The software company will now take charge of elaborating a brief version of the mentioned document, rather an overview of the upcoming steps, which also allows for a clear forecast of costs and time.

For a smoother process, it is recommended to separate the two meetings described above into two distinct events. Thus, drawing a high-level outline of your business need should be the final point included in the sales meeting. A more thorough detailing of this need (points a. and b.) should take place during the presales stage. Bear in mind, though, the “agendas” of the two talks can very well merge, depending on how your company works.

*A small tip: to make sure that your business is safe and to make the most of your information exchange, don’t forget to sign a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) before starting the discussions above! Do you have a standardised one? If you don’t, ask your software company to provide you with one.

Making a business proposal

During the proposal stage you have to establish the resources involved, the estimated time of execution, the projection of the end result, the forecasted costs. From this point on, the decision is in your hands. Once the client gives their approval, what follows closely is the contract negotiation and sign-off, then a project initiation meeting as an ultimate preparation of the project kick-off.

Now, what you must not forget is that no matter what, every project involves risks. To give you a small heads up, here is a brief list of the greatest threats:

  1. The project is not completed within the agreed time frame and/or exceeds the allocated budget. You do have an avoidance strategy at your disposal and it must start at the analysis phase. Be sure your business requirements are clearly defined and keep a tight control over how they are technically applied by the development team. Also, ask for intermediate releases!
  2. The new software application is met with resistance by its users. This one is rather an internal challenge, but with lower chances of occurring if the client company is able to manage the transition and the software provider has worked towards a smooth running, innovative and genuinely helpful application.

Left with questions after reading this article? Get in touch with us!