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5 Soft Skills of a Top Software Development Firm

So, you want to build an application that accommodates your employees' needs from the ground up.

Where do you go from here? 
Depending on the capabilities of in-house staff and the scale of the project on the agenda, enterprise leaders may seek out professional assistance from software development firms. At this stage of the game, many assumptions about what a software developer should provide as well as how scheduled projects should be tackled are brought into the fold. Not sure where to begin? We've listed five features that differentiate top-of-the-line software development partners from their competitors.

"A true software development firm approaches the client-vendor relationship as a two-way street."

1. They see you as a partner, not just a client 
The process of building a piece of software is inherently collaborative, so it's important for software development teams to get rid of the "outsourcing" mentality. All too often, "outsourcing" can be confused with "removing the client from the process altogether and shutting down communications."

A true software development firm approaches the client-vendor relationship as a two-way street. It's not the time to say "we're the experts, here, move aside," rather, it's an opportunity to ask "How can we support the project? What do you need from us?"

2. They communicate with end-users 
This goes far beyond asking a client's employees (or consumers) a series of questions about which features they want - it involves making a comprehensive assessment of how end-users behave or operate. To deduce what a client needs out of an enterprise application, for example, developers should shadow personnel for a day or two and familiarize themselves with their day-to-day responsibilities. Throughout this "vetting process," developers can answer a number of important questions, such as:

3. They aren't afraid to back up their work 
It's important to collaborate with a software developer that isn't afraid to not only showcase past projects, but elaborate on them. Robert Strohmeyer, a contributor to PCWorld, asserted that top-notch developers don't sweep projects under the rug. In fact, they're proud of the endeavors they've completed successfully.

That being said, there is such a thing as excessive pride. If a prospective software development partner's website is packed with boastful, self-laudatory rhetoric, then move on. The content on the business' website reflects the attitudes of the people who work there. Bottom line: You're looking for confidence and humility.

Go LiveBefore going live, software developers must thoroughly assess their work for bugs.

4. They acknowledge when mistakes are made 
No programmer is perfect - even prodigies are capable of making mistakes. However, if a developer fails to acknowledge a fault he or she made or slyly attempts to place the blame on someone else, the project is going to be hampered by underlying tensions. Not to mention, once the solution is deployed, end-users will most likely notice bugs that are either annoying or downright frustrating.

In contrast, it's incredibly helpful when a developer proactively assesses his or her own work for bugs or vulnerabilities. In addition, projects go quite smoothly when faults are brought to an outsourced developer's attention and he or she works assiduously to find a solution.

"As working with a software developer is a two-way endeavor, that means you still have some responsibilities."

5. They're upfront about their needs 
Because hiring a software development firm for a project incites a partnership, it's important to find a company that isn't afraid to express its needs. The ones who maintain they need nothing from you as a client are lying - they require detailed information regarding the capabilities of your infrastructure, reliable networks to ensure they can connect to development platforms and a list of other necessities.

Just to clarify: This isn't to say software development firms are "needy" - the point of hiring one is to alleviate the stress that comes with creating a sophisticated piece of software. However, as collaborating with one is a two-way endeavor, that means you still have some responsibilities. In a way, you are the "host" of the party.