5 Crucial Yet [Often] Overlooked Capabilities for A Web Application Development Partner
For busy product & engineering executives, it’s hard work to ensure continuous delivery of value while juggling existing infrastructure, persistent staffing shortages, and customer and business demands. Outsourcing web application development is one powerful tool leaders use to overcome many of these challenges. But modern web applications are complex, and it’s crucial to choose a partner that goes beyond simple technical requirements to align with your business vision, technology strategy, and organizational culture.
In this article, we’ll consider five often overlooked capabilities of outsourcing partners that you should add to your selection criteria to ensure you choose a partner that goes beyond the basic requirements to exceed your expectations.
1: Breadth plus depth of skills
From simple single-page and static web applications, to dynamic web apps that fetch data in real time; from integrated backend systems, to progressive web apps (PWAs) that look and feel like native mobile apps–web applications deliver widely varied experiences. They also require a breadth of design and development capabilities coupled with deep experience and expertise.
To evaluate whether your partner has both a broad range of skills and deep experience building elegant products that delight users, commit time to discussing these questions with prospective partners:
- How does the partner explore the vision for your web application, including its users and use cases, your team’s operating rhythm, your stakeholders’ perspectives, and your business requirements?
- How does the partner and its teams stay current with evolving and emerging technologies? How do they leverage new technologies and approaches into client projects?
- Does the partner provide end-to-end product development from concept through delivery or does it focus on one part of the software development lifecycle?
- What level of expertise does the partner have with Agile and scaled Agile methodologies? How effectively can the partner adapt Agile practices to your organization’s needs?
- Can the partner provide the full breadth of Agile expertise, including Scrum Master, Product Owner, Agile Coach, and Agile Release Train Engineer?
- Does the team include full-stack developers with both front-end and backend expertise?
- What technology stacks does the partner work with? Common tech stacks include:
- Rails or Ruby on Rails: Ruby, PHP, and MySQL
- LAMP: Linux, Apache, MySQL, and PHP
- MEAN: MongoDB, Express, AngularJS, and Node.js
- MERN: MongoDB, Express, ReactJS, and Node.js
- Django: Django, Python, and MySQL
- What testing and quality assurance (QA) capabilities does the partner provide, including automated testing, behavior-driven or feature-driven development? What certifications does the testing team have?
- What experience does the partner have with DevOps and DevSecOps for continuous delivery of value?
2: Prioritized soft skills
On web application development teams, soft skills like effective written and verbal communication, leadership, participatory teamwork problem-solving, time-management, and emotional self-regulation all are as important as technical skills and experience. Teams and team members must be able to navigate competing stakeholder needs, adjusted project requirements, unexpected issues, and more. Individual team members must be able to work with a variety of personalities and points of views to work effectively together towards the end goal.
Ask these questions to learn more about how your partner prioritizes and develops the soft skills needed to ensure the smoothest journey from idea to launch:
- How are soft skills evaluated? What soft skills are prioritized?
- How are soft skills developed?
- If the teams are in another country, how are verbal and non-verbal language skills assessed? How are team members supported in improving?
- How have the teams navigated complex organizational challenges in the past? What lessons were learned that may help avoid issues in the future?
- How are resilience and adaptability modeled and encouraged?
- How are creativity and problem-solving encouraged? Ask for examples.
- Are teams encouraged to work together as well as independently? How are conflicts resolved within and between teams?
3: Commitment to continuous improvement and learning
In technology, as in business, change is constant. Existing tools and frameworks advance. New technologies emerge. Users expect ever-more advanced capabilities. Keeping pace requires a strong commitment to continuous improvement and continuous learning, both of which are core values in Agile development.
To make sure you’re getting all the benefits of continuous improvement and learning, future-proof your applications, ask these questions:
- Does the partner demonstrate a commitment to sharing successes as well as failures, and learning from both?
- What tools and processes help make sure that everyone on the team can ask questions, share ideas, and solve problems together in real-time? How are miscommunication and misunderstandings tackled?
- How does the partner seek continuous feedback? How does the partner incorporate feedback into the project and how do their teams work? How are efforts to improve monitored and measured over time?
- How does the partner ensure psychological safety on the team so that candid feedback can be shared and responded to?
- How are individual team members encouraged to learn? What investments are being made in professional development?
4: Security-first approach
While the functional aspects of your web application may attract the most attention, security should also be a primary consideration. The partner you choose should bring a security-first approach to product development, ensuring that you protect your application and data, improve your ability to efficiently achieve compliance with the standards and regulations that apply, reduce risk from cyber threats, and build greater resilience to meet evolving and newly emerging threats over time.
Thoroughly assess a partner’s security program by getting answers to these questions:
- What security frameworks are followed?
- What security certifications does the company hold?
- What experience does the company have working with clients in highly regulated industries?
- Where is project code stored and maintained?
- How prepared, secure, and professional is the company/s work environment?
- Does the company perform background checks, and provide cybersecurity training to its employees? Does it require all contractors to undergo/follow the same policies and procedures as full-time staff?
5: Focus on speed to value
For business-critical software builds, you need a team of skilled professionals and a robust, scalable development process that accelerates the delivery of value. Speed to value is as much about preparation upfront as it is about execution speed, so it’s important to understand how your partner’s processes contribute to speed and value.
These questions can help you discover more about how your potential partner approaches a project to swiftly move from concept to code:
- Does the partner undertake a thorough, structured discovery process to uncover dependencies, understand your development approach, and learn how your teams function so that they can start quickly?
- Does the teamwork in the same or adjacent time zones so that meetings can happen and questions get answered in real-time?
- What is the partner’s process to identify gaps and make plans to mitigate and minimize any issues that may come up throughout the project?
- What is the partner’s onboarding process? How quickly can they build a team custom-fit to your requirements?
- How does the partner work with you to define the development process, deliverables, and outcomes?
Choosing the best web application development partner
To achieve business outcomes faster for your business-critical web applications, you need a development partner who complements and strengthens your team. Taking the time to ask the right questions can help you uncover how well a partner fits with your project, team, and business.
As a leading nearshore web application development partner, Gorilla Logic
partners with hundreds of leading businesses in many different industries to build their enterprise-grade web applications. With experienced Agile teams, we partner closely with you to provide end-to-end services for custom, complex web and mobile development projects.