How to Choose a Custom Software Development Partner

custom software development UK

Custom software development is a rapidly expanding market. Recent estimates predict accelerated growth over the first half of this decade to reach $26.7 billion in 2024.

graph showing expansion of custom software development
Graph Showing Expansion of Custom Software Development.
(Image source:

It’s easy to see why this is the case. Increases in connectivity over the past 20 years have made cost savings through outsourcing to developing markets significantly more workable. Organisations are prioritising digital development, particularly in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In the right circumstances, custom software development can offer a significantly better return than investing in an off-the-shelf solution – as long as you find the right development partner to work with. 

The benefits of outsourcing software development, however, are only realised if you choose the right software provider – one that suits your needs and ways of working.

Finding the best-fit outsourcing partner for your software project is all about knowing your requirements inside out and finding an organisation that can meet them. 


Below, we outline a few specific areas you should focus on to find the best custom software development partner for your needs.

Look for Compatibility in Service Provision and Method of Working

You might require a full, end-to-end build of a brand new app, and so are seeking services that include everything from initial user research through to development, testing and revising, with project management included. Or, you might simply want to expand an existing software product’s functionality as part of an internally managed project at your business. 

Most likely, your requirements fall somewhere in between.

To choose a custom software partner that works for you, you need to be clear on what your own requirements and key business goals are:

  • Do you want your custom software partners to project manage every aspect of your application build, or do you envisage them working with your internal teams to some degree?
  • What is the scope of the project you would like your custom software developers to work on? You might want full-scale development, app re-engineering or fast-turnaround MVP (Minimum Viable Product) creation, for example.
  • Do you have a certain development methodology that you would like your partners to work with? For example, if you have a clear vision of what the scope of your project is, you could save money by opting for Waterfall or hybrid Waterfall/Agile development. If your project is time-sensitive and requires a degree of flexibility, Agile might be a better choice.
  • Are there any associated services you would like to use alongside custom development, for example, technical or strategic consultancy?

Once you have established how you would like to work with your custom software development partner, you can start looking for development companies who can work with these requirements. Different outsourcing companies work differently. They work with different development models, vary in the range and scope of services they offer, and have different preferences with regards to working alongside internal teams.

Check out: Software Development Outsourcing for Startups: a Guide to Successful Partnerships

Knowing how you’d like to work with your software partner, regardless of technical expertise required, is the first step towards finding one that best suits your needs. Consider it a base requirement before even considering the technical aspects of your project.

Establish the Technical Expertise a Custom Software Development Partner Can Offer

Different software development agencies have different areas of expertise. Some specialise in specific coding languages or development frameworks – it’s not uncommon for agencies to be exclusively a Django or Rails shop, for example. Others might focus in on a particular technology like AI or augmented reality.

There are also software development agencies that take a more open-ended approach by swiftly assembling teams of contractors as and when they are required.

It’s possible that you don’t have any specific preferences about how your product is built (and that the reason you want to outsource your software development is so the experts can figure that out for you!). Before committing completely to a “let the experts handle it” approach, however, you could consider:

  • Where your internal development team’s strengths lie. If you’d like them to be involved in maintaining the app long-term and it’s coded in a language they don’t work with, you will run into roadblocks.  
  • What you’d like to prioritise in your app’s design and whether choice of programming language could influence this. For example, many people choose Java for coding apps with major security requirements, or C++ for those where high performance is essential.
  • Whether you need your app to be compatible with the latest technology or on-the-horizon developments like AI and augmented reality.

The right custom software development partner for you will be able to match their expertise to your needs – either because that’s their house specialty or through hiring a team of talented contractors. 

Don’t be afraid to ask potential partners questions that delve deep into their technical offering. Establish how they scale their teams, the flexibility on offer, and how they would use the technical skills they have to address your major requirements for the software project.



Ask Potential Custom Software Partners for Case Studies and References

Of course, as well as offering the right services and technical expertise for your project, your ideal software development partner should be reliable, trustworthy and an all-round pleasure to work with.

Depending on your needs, you might also want to look for specific experience in developing software for your industry. If you work in healthcare, for example, you may have concerns about your app hitting compliance and data privacy requirements. 

The best way to gauge a potential outsourcing company’s suitability on both fronts is by looking at their work for previous clients and asking for references. Any good software development company will be happy to provide you with references (and contact details to follow these up) and should also be happy to let their work speak for itself.

Does your potential custom software partner have a track record of delivering to deadline, keeping to budget, and building productive, professional relationships with clients? If not, it’s your money, your business and your personal reputation on the line. So, do your homework, and explore their client testimonials thoroughly. 

Evolve: A Custom Software Development Company that Works for You

At Evolve, we build software solutions for a variety of companies where off-the-shelf solutions are not a good fit.

With both a UK-based consulting team and a highly experienced development team to draw on, we build apps based entirely around your business needs – whether you require a specific development model, integration of new technologies like AI, Big Data and mobile app development, or access to value-added services like consultancy to ensure your custom-built app has the long-term impact you desire.

Take a look at our previous work and check out our clients’ testimonials here.



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