Qualities of a great custom software development company

11 min read
November 16, 2022

If you’re looking for that essential element that could help your business grow, it’s custom software.

Using custom software is like wearing a bespoke suit—everything just fits your operations to a tee.

That allows you to focus on delivering great products and services, serving your customers, and improving revenue.

Of course, you’ll only reap these benefits if your custom software is built properly.

And that starts with hiring the right software development team.

In this article, we’ll discuss the most important qualities that you should consider when scouting a potential team.

Excellent communication skills

Effective communication can make or break a custom software project, especially when working remotely.

Thus, it should be at the top of your criteria list when hiring a software development company.

Even the best app idea can’t come to fruition without clear communication. It’s the only way you and your team can fix issues and brainstorm innovative features.

A lack of it can lead to missed deadlines, extended budgets, and lower quality output.

At worst, it can cause the entire project to fail.

why software outsourcing projects fail chart

Source: Amplifyre

The best software development teams should be adept in two aspects of communication—namely, the content and the process.

In a remote environment where everyone is busy, the content of any act of communication matters.

After all, back-and-forth information exchanges through email are time-consuming, unlike face-to-face interactions.

Good teams understand this, so they ensure that every message they send is relevant, complete, and clear.

Team communication

Source: Science for Work

The process of communicating is just as important. Contacting someone at the wrong time or in the wrong way can dilute even the most well-crafted message.

For example, communicating an urgent update via email or Zoom might not be optimal because the other party might not be available.

A better option would be to send an instant message or to call the person directly.

To this end, great teams have a well-oiled communication system with clear rules and protocols.

They recognize that team communication has many forms and know the right synchronous and asynchronous tools to use in each situation.

Comparison Examples of Asynchronous vs. Synchronous communication 1

Source: Nextiva

Effective teams also know the importance of a capable project manager or lead.

He or she is the point of contact between the client and the rest of the team, ensuring that all relevant updates are relayed to everyone.

Dedicated Team Model Detailed Architecture

Source: Cubet

For an example of how a capable development team handles communication, let’s look at how the DECODE team handles it.

DECODE takes communication seriously. That’s why we schedule regular calls (preferably daily) to update clients on their projects.

We want to keep them in the loop, even when they’re miles away.


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We also have our communication tools established.

For general communication, we use Slack, Google Meet is our preferred mode for meetings or live sessions, whereas for project coordination, we use Jira.

However, we’re also flexible in using any tool the client prefers. For us, that’s effective communication—ensuring that everyone communicates comfortably with each other.

Advanced problem-solving skills

Problem-solving skills are essential for any great software development team.

See, every project is unique. Developers will inevitably face problems and challenges that they’ve never encountered before.

However, the best teams are adaptable and creative enough to solve whatever comes their way.

Here’s an example of how we did just that when we created an app for Royal Caribbean.

royal caribbean crew app

Source: DECODE

The cruise line brand wanted an app that would allow their 70,000 staff working across a fleet of 40 ships to communicate seamlessly with each other.

That was quite an undertaking.

On top of the usual challenges of developing an app of this magnitude, the biggest hurdle was that these ships were usually in the middle of the ocean.

That meant we needed to find a way for them to send and receive messages without an Internet connection.

We relied on our know-how and experience in developing communication apps to solve these obstacles.

But we also had to think outside the box—because this was something we hadn’t tackled before.

In the end, we managed to make it all come together.

The result was CrewApp, an exceptional mobile platform that enabled effective ship-to-ship and ship-to-shore communication.

Our success was in part due to the fact that we had a cross-functional team— the hallmark of any good development company.

Functional and cross functional team

Source: Cleveroad

A cross-functional team comprises members with skills and experience in various domains.

For example, a good fintech team should have members that are well-versed in cybersecurity and compliance, in addition to regular developers.

It allows them to foresee and tackle the inevitable regulatory challenges that will come their way.

Having a variety of skills in a team gives the software development company a wider pool of knowledge to draw from.

It also facilitates combining different expertise in order to solve unique challenges.

Experience in software development

Experience is perhaps at the top of many clients’ criteria when hiring development teams.

No surprise there, as experienced teams can work faster, spot more errors, and deliver a more stable product.

Taking on a software development team with no experience is akin to hiring a junior developer to lead your project. At worst, they’ll struggle to find the best solution for your project’s problems.

developers facing problems infographic

Source: Medium

Experience is important because it enables teams to make the right choices.

For instance, they would know the best tech stack to use for a specific project, depending on its requirements.

Experience will have taught them that certain programming languages are better suited to specific niches.

Experienced development teams will also have perfected the right methodologies to support their work.

For instance, at DECODE, we use the Agile methodology to enable us to create, test, and review software projects much faster. It also makes us more adaptable to changing demands.

Agile methodology 1

Source: DECODE

But how do you gauge a team’s experience before hiring them?

The best way is to look at their portfolio and case studies. This can give you a glimpse of a team’s experience and expertise, especially how they solve problems and develop innovations.

You can also look at testimonials to view the team’s performance from a client’s perspective.

Decode client review

Source: DECODE

Now, it’s important that the development team has relevant experience in your niche.

For instance, let’s say you need to create a fintech app. Hiring the best development agency in your city isn’t ideal if they don’t have any experience developing financial apps.

It’s possible that they could still deliver a good output, but an experienced fintech developer will be able to do it faster and better.

Continuous testing practices

The best software development teams are devoted to testing.

Why? Because it’s the only way to develop software aligned as closely as possible to the project’s requirements.

That means it’s bug-free, has great UX, and sufficiently addresses the user’s needs.

The best teams use the software testing life cycle (STLC), a framework for systematically and consistently testing software throughout development.

This allows developers to catch as many bugs as possible early on when they’re still cheap and easy to fix.

This is what the process looks like:

software testing life cycle framework

Source: DECODE

Good teams also have a dedicated quality assurance (QA) sub-group composed of analysts and testers.

They are responsible for designing and running numerous testing methods to evaluate the software in different areas, thus ensuring that all potential issues are found.

Here are some of the common testing procedures every project should follow:

test Types

Source: Facile.IT Engineering

Good teams also have a rich knowledge of various testing tools.

They also know when it’s best to automate testing using platforms like Katalon and Selenium, or when a manual approach is better.

An experienced team is important, but a dedication to proper testing is arguably more important.

Knowledge of information security

Cyber attacks are becoming an increasingly serious threat every year. Thus, any good development team should have a rich knowledge of information security.

The statistics are harrowing. 2021 alone saw several breaches on major corporations, compromising over 12 billion data records.

biggest data breaches of 2021

Source: TechTarget

Great teams are well-versed in cybersecurity technologies like encryption and authentication.

Not only does this allow them to create safe and reliable apps, but it also means they can safeguard your data from theft.

For example, DECODE has ISO/IEC 27001 certification, which means we have the proven capability to keep client data secure.

DECODE screenshot 1

Source: DECODE

DECODE is also located in the EU, which means we’re bound by the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) to safeguard your data at the risk of hefty fines.

However, information security should go beyond digital threats. Any good team should also have the appropriate legal agreements to protect both parties in case of disagreements.

One good example is a Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA).

This contract prevents the client or service provider from disclosing sensitive project information to the public, thus protecting trade secrets.

Commitment to honesty

Technical skills and experience matter in a development team, but they alone won’t guarantee a successful app project. Honesty is just as important.

Honesty builds trust, which is essential in any working relationship. It means the team is invested in the success of your project just as much as you and will never compromise that.

tech CEO 1

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For example, let’s say your team realized that the feature you agreed to actually harms your app more than it benefits it.

An honest team won’t be afraid to tell you this immediately, so you can quickly find alternatives.

That’s why you should look at hard and soft skills when evaluating your team for hire.

hard and soft skills when evaluating your team for hire

Source: G2

Hard skills refer to the ability to perform a job, such as coding or design. Soft skills, on the other hand, refer to how someone performs their job.

Crucial soft skills to look out for include accountability, integrity, dedication, and reliability.

The bottom line is that honesty and communication should go hand-in-hand. That gives you peace of mind knowing that your project is in the right hands.

Transparent pricing structure

Part of a team’s commitment to honesty is having a transparent pricing structure.

A good team will let you know the cost of a project before you even start, with absolutely no hidden fees.

They also won’t overcharge you or deliberately omit pricing information until the last minute.

For instance, if you want to add a certain feature midway through development, an honest team will inform you how much more it would cost to develop.

Good teams should also allow you to pick between two pricing models—fixed and time and material.

Compare Fix Bid Software Project to Time and Materials

Source: Bay Tech Consulting

In the fixed price model, both parties agree on a set price at the beginning of the project, regardless of any changes during development.

Because of this, there’s a tendency to underpay or overcharge.

In the time and materials model, you only pay for the development team’s actual work. This model is preferred for most software projects because it’s fairer than charging a fixed price.

Regardless of which model you choose, it will only work if the team is committed to pricing transparency and honesty.

Ready to look for a custom software development company?

We hope this article has given you a blueprint for scouting a potential custom software development company.

And if you try to compare this list to what DECODE offers, you’ll find that it checks all the boxes.

We have an impressive portfolio of successful projects showing our experience and advanced problem-solving skills.

We also use the latest security protocols and technologies to help keep our client’s data secure.

Best of all, we’re great communicators!

So, if you need help with your custom software project, why not get in touch today? Let’s talk about how we can bring your idea to life.

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Written by

Marko Strizic

Co-founder and CEO

Marko started DECODE with co-founders Peter and Mario, and a decade later, leads the company as CEO. His role is now almost entirely centred around business strategy, though his extensive background in software engineering makes sure he sees the future of the company from every angle. A graduate of the University of Zagreb’s Faculty of Electrical Engineering and Computing, he’s fascinated by the architecture of mobile apps and reactive programming, and a strong believer in life-long learning. Always ready for action. Or an impromptu skiing trip.

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