In my previous article, I decided not to focus on the evaluation of the external team’s performance during a scoping session and instead concentrated on how you should prepare your part. Now, it’s time to go back to the omitted subject.
They understand your business
Before you agreed to join an external scoping session, I assume you have had at least one call with the selected team and briefly explained what your project is about, what are the goals and objectives and whether there are any particular challenges in front of you. Based on that information, the scoping team sits down and prepares a plan for product. They also decide on who’ll join the session from their side, i.e. which dev, designer, PM/PO etc.
Next, they instruct the chosen team and share with them the information about your business that you provided beforehand. This allows all the team members to analyse it as much as possible from their respective fields of expertise. As a result, when you meet during the session, no one in the team should be clueless of what’s going on.
Obviously, you’ll be asked to present to the team the idea you have, explain what you want to achieve and whether you see any particular obstacles, be it from technological perspective, legal or simply the quirks of your industry.
One of the main benefits that come from using an external team is their extensive experience with a wide range of businesses, which means they might not only understand your business, but also know the mistakes you should avoid making and will be able to pinpoint them to you during the scoping session.
They understand your vision
Being on the same page when it comes to the current state of your business is important, but it is also important for your chosen team to understand where you want to get. This will allow them not only to properly estimate the software development process, but also help you prioritize and align it with your business vision.
A couple of years ago, I did an interview with one of our clients (he’s still with us, by the way) and here’s what he had to say:
‘When we worked on mobile apps for InfoGym MVP, there were multiple occasions when their [Software Brothers’] Project Manager that was coordinating our project would call us and ask if we really needed that feature in the MVP, were we sure etc. We ended up listening to them and removing those features was indeed a great decision. Otherwise, we’d still be developing the MVP.’
— Tor Ivar Våge, founder of InfoGym
This is an example of what a good external team should do. We’re not here to squeeze our clients dry, we’re here to help them build successful tech companies, and I’m sure we’re not a single company with such a mindset.
Another reason for you to make sure the scoping team clearly understands your vision is that, if you decide to proceed with them, you’ll have developers that aren’t “just coding” but they understand business goals that need to be addressed.
They understand your users
Now, here comes the UX designer. Usually, they are the one responsible for the majority of the scoping workshop and will be leading the way through the discovery stage of the session.
If you already defined your user personas, they’ll verify them and provide additional information if needed. If you don’t have a selected target audience, it is up to them to help you define them for your business and then build various user journey flows, user scenarios and other tools in order to provide you with an extended understanding of your core audience.
According to a Localytics’ study, 25% of users abandon an app after just one launch. Which means having designed an app that your users understand and are keen to keep on their phones is crucial for the success of your application. Considering roughly 100k new apps are released each month for Android only, getting through the saturation of the market is incredibly difficult.
An experienced UX designer is also the one who will be able to show you things you most likely never thought of. I was dumbfounded when during one of the workshops we did with our Indonesian client who wanted to develop an Uber-like bus hailing app, our senior designer pulled up a simulation of various colour-blindness scenarios to show why a selected at a time background colour of a payment confirmation screen would be problematic for a chunk of app’s user base.
They provide you with required business tools
To make sure that all the above is possible, your external scoping team should provide you with the right set of tools. Here at Software Brothers we use a plethora of available instruments, such as Business Model Canvas (BMC), Value Proposition Canvas (VPC), story- and roadmapping, sketching, card sorting and more.
Not all of them are used every single time as we tailor our approach to the clients’ needs, but knowing that you have access to various discovery tools should show that your development partner knows what they are doing.
They have the necessary tech expertise
If you have a CTO in your company, or you have enough understanding of technology yourself, it is also important to evaluate the external team’s tech expertise.
We usually invite senior developers and a solution architect to the scoping session, even though it could’ve been done without them, in order to discover potential tech challenges and brainstorm the ways we can either avoid or solve.
It is also important to the success of the project that the developers undergo constant business training and are able to find better solutions not only from the technical point of view, but a business one as well.
Because picking the right company to take care of your software development is an extremely important decision, often it's best to opt-in for a scoping session and see whether they are as good as they claim to be.
Hopefully, this list will make the above at least slightly easier.
And like always, if you have any questions, feel free to drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.