Here it is: our own practical guide on how to start a collaboration with a software development company and make the most of it!

If you already have some experience in such collaborations, all this may come as no surprise. Rather, it could use it as a good checklist of meetings for you to compare with your previous experiences. However, if it is the first time you are working with a software development company, you might find this article quite useful.

Find out what type of client you are

When dealing with the progress of client company-software vendor relationship, two scenarios unfold. According to your previous experiences, you, as a client, might find yourself in the one of the following positions: A) a brand new client to a software vendor, or B) an existing client of a software vendor, contemplating the possibility of a new project.

Regardless of where exactly you’re standing, one thing is certain: you got to the point of seeking out a software company because you’ve noticed a set of needs which will be expressed as business requirements. So yes, it is actually true: every effort must start with you, the client, who needs to have an internal assessment of the opportunity of such a project.

Let’s take the first scenario: new client company. Chances are you have already come into contact with a software provider at one point in your company’s history, so you know the course of action for the start of a collaboration. Just as well, you may have never worked with software providers before, so you’re about to find out what this course of action involves. No matter your degree of knowledge in this particular sense, you’re practically organising a selection process in which multiple companies engage and you need to choose your software product or services provider.

Now let’s assume you have a spot in scenario B: existing client company. Given that you’ve been working with a software company for some time now, your are probably familiar with the course of action and your aim is to renew your existing partnership with a fresh project.

We’ve listed below the types of meetings a company will take part in after deciding to start a partnership with a software provider and how these meetings differ from one scenario to the other:

New client company Existing client company
Small series of workshops (optional) Requirements clarification
Business proposal Costs and timeline evaluation (via email)
Contract negotiation and sign-off Go decision or Evaluation approval
Project initiation Project initiation
Kick-off Kick

Choosing the best software product or service

The selection process starts off with a sales meeting. For the best outcome, the people who should take part in this initial meeting on behalf of your company are: a procurement specialist, the business owner and possibly an IT specialist. Most likely, the people who’ll be joining you on behalf of your software-provider-to-be are a sales specialist and an account manager.

If everything goes well and you’ve made the choice that this company is the one for you, the next step to follow is the presales meeting. Expect to see a subject matter expert. Whereas the sales meeting does not require the presence of an IT specialist, the presales meeting cannot do without one.

Workshops are optional. They come in handy when your requirements are not very well defined yet.

Next up: the business proposal. This step is also carried out by the sales specialist. Ideally, your new software provider will present you the timeline, budget and resources allocated to your project. In addition to this, both of you will settle on a project methodology (e.g. Waterfall or Agile) in a discussion that will ensure you have a thorough understanding of how the project will be carried out. You also need to establish what internal resources you need to mobilise – which will allow for smoother planning and elaboration of costs estimates.

Once the business proposal has been agreed upon, your procurement specialist negotiates the terms of the contract and the proposal itself. What follows is the contract sign-off.

The project initiation meeting that comes after signing the contract is mainly concerned with making sure everything is set and both parties are aligned for the start. The start of the project bears the name kick-off and follows through by means of the agreed methodology.

Eager for more details on the two scenarios? Episode two of our practical guide is on the way! If you’re too eager to wait, send us an email!