Choose a custom business software service provider

David Wippel

David Wippel



software development

Given that you don't have the software skills in-house, you will have to go about finding a service provider you can work with. You'll be working exceptionally close together, which is why you should not take choosing the right partner lightly.

There are a few factors to consider and weigh up:

  • Competent employees & relevant expertise
  • Good price-performance ratio
  • Transparency
  • Customer-oriented, committed
  • Innovative, future-oriented
  • Flexible in contract negotiations
  • Good reputation
  • Good sector-specific expertise
  • International, global presence vs regional

Competent employees

It is essential to get an overall impression. Social media profiles, publicly available presentations and articles can be helpful here. It's not about understanding everything, especially if the content is very technical; but, did you get a first good impression? Does their approach align with yours? Also, listen to your gut feeling here.

Good value for money

Will I be offered a fixed price, or will the risk be passed on to me by means of T&M (Time & Material; charging an hourly rate)? We'd also recommend getting a couple of quotations (note that if the project has a large scope, it's industry standard that there will be a charge for a quote — you should, however, be informed if that's the case).

Talking and exchanging experience parameters with other business owners and partners is also helpful. Perhaps someone in your network has experience with this particular service provider? Overall, it's important to feel you are making the right decision with this investment, otherwise, you'll always ask yourself - “could I have gotten a better service somewhere else?” - during implementation and that's not helpful for anyone involved.


Is the service provider meeting you at eye level, or do they make you feel like you don't know what you're talking about? Is communication transparent or is there an attempt to withhold information e.g. to achieve a higher price.

Client-oriented & committed

Does the service provider focus on the customer or on the technology? Do you get the impression that they really want to solve your problem? Or do they just implement the same standard software solution for every client (e.g. an ERP kit)?

The real question, in that case, is, will you get what you really need and is it a sustainable solution for years to come?

Innovative, future-oriented

Does the proposed solution — the proposed way of solving the problem you have at hand seem modern and future-oriented? It's a good idea to talk to an experienced person you can trust who can help you evaluate. Get a list of the technologies used and look into them by simply Googling the technology, search through forums or LinkedIn groups to figure out whether this technological solution is bound to stand the test of time.

Flexible in contract negotiations

Did you just receive a 12.384-page contract that you just can't wrap your head around? Has everything been explained to you in detail? Have your individual needs and wants been taken into consideration? Negotiations are always a great indication of what you can expect.

Good reputation

Are there successful reference projects I can look at? Happy client referrals that I have things in common with? These can also be a great indicator of whom to go with.

Solid industry know-how

Another aspect to consider is how well does the service provider already know my industry and business sector? Are there already projects in my field? Is there perhaps a conflict of interest with my competitors?

International, global presence vs. regional

Does the company fit my location? Do I operate internationally or regionally? Does it understand the market and the framework conditions? Does it produce locally or outsource? ⇒ will a decision be made with my best interests in mind?

You can weigh up these different factors using a Cost-utility-analysis, that way you can compare each option in an objective manner.

You can download a template here.

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