Skip to main content

So you’ve decided to hire a development firm: that’s awesome! A lot of work had to be done to get to this point, and we’re so proud of you. 

The patting on the back will have to wait, however; there’s still a lot of work to be done. How exactly are you going to narrow down over 5,000 Software Development firms in the US to one perfect match? We’re glad you asked. 

Today we’ll tackle things you need to consider before searching for a development team, and give some tips on how to make sure the one you’ve chosen is the right one. 

So you’ve decided to hire a development firm: that’s awesome! A lot of work had to be done to get to this point, and we’re so proud of you. 

The patting on the back will have to wait, however; there’s still a lot of work to be done. How exactly are you going to narrow down over 5,000 Software Development firms in the US to one perfect match? We’re glad you asked. 

Today we’ll tackle things you need to consider before searching for a development team, and give some tips on how to make sure the one you’ve chosen is the right one. 


  • Budget, timeline, communication, and culture are some of the business-side aspects to consider when narrowing down development teams.  On the more technical side, you’ll also want to evaluate the methodology, technology, and support structure. 
  • Once you have a list of potential teams, you should read verified reviews (we recommend Clutch), check on their problem-solving experience, ask questions when needed, and analyze the contract. 

What to Consider When Choosing a Development Shop

The most important part of this process is the last two words of our title: for you! When choosing the best development shop, the final decision won’t come down to who has the most years of experience or the most awards. 

You should be choosing a development shop that fits what you need. How do you figure that out? Think through the below factors, and what criteria you feel need to be met for a dev shop to be the best one for you.


Let’s get this one out of the way; cost is one of the most important things to consider when picking a dev shop. If you’re looking to develop tech, chances are you already have an idea of how much you’re willing to invest. And with all development projects, you’re going to be getting a lot of estimates to review. 

Remember though that initial estimates are always just that: an estimate. You have a  lot of questions you’ll need to ask yourself to see how accurate an estimate is:

  • How much thought went into the estimate?
  • Do you have a general idea of the team and timeline?
  • How often will you be updated regarding actual spend vs your budget? 
  • Will you have advanced knowledge of budget issues? 
  • What levers can you pull if necessary to reduce the overall cost?

The best summary we can give you is to look for a dev shop with a reasonable rate, a process that keeps you informed on actual spending vs the original budget, and a team that reduces your investment risk. This is unlikely to be the cheapest dev shop, but keep in mind, you often get what you pay for. 


We mentioned it in our Agile vs Lean blog, but there are about 12 different methodologies of how you can build software. A lot of them share similar principles, but some don’t. Your best option when narrowing down based on methodology depends on one thing: do you have a development team already?

If you already have a development team in place, they need to be involved in the selection process. Grab some leaders from the team, and get their opinion. This is because having the same or similar methodologies does not mean the development processes will be the same. You want to make sure your teams mesh on a ‘how-to-do-things’ side. Culture is also important, but we’ll talk about that in a second. 

If you don’t have a development team, look for a dev shop that believes in, and can clearly articulate its methodology. Ask for examples of apps built using the method. If you’re designing and building a new app, you’ll want a shop that has a methodology capable of taking an idea from design through development.


Timeline is similar to budget in that you probably already have one in mind for your project. And no, the correct answer is not “We want it done yesterday.” 

Speed is the name of the game, but you also want to be realistic about when a task can be completed. If you’re looking at multiple dev shops, you want to make sure they’re not skipping out on important steps to get the project done faster. One example may be that some testing is being underestimated to shorten the timeline.  Fastest doesn’t always mean best…est. 

Process Timeline - Average vs Slingshot

Once in the build phase, there should be a well-thought-out backlog of tasks for the developers and testers to tackle. Ask to find out what visibility you’ll have into said backlog. Make sure you’re at least getting up-to-date information; you’ll want to know if a task is taking longer than expected. Transparency is essential here. 

Communication Style

Communication is a big factor in whether a project will be successful or not, but it usually isn’t brought up until after contracts are signed. Some dev shops like to meet on a weekly basis, while others may not reach out until the project is completely done (avoid these). Figure out what cadence works best for you, and ask if the development team can accommodate that. 

Another important piece of communication is how you’re communicating. Does your team send frequent messages in slack? Have an in-person meeting to catch up? Prefer to contact each other via email? As we mentioned earlier, you want a team that either meshes with how you work or is able to adapt to what you need. 

A typical agile team will have a daily 15-minute standup meeting. If possible, we suggest having someone from your team attend these. If everyone’s already got a full plate and no one can make it every day, you should at least sync up weekly to stay informed.


We’ve mentioned it several times, but finding a dev shop that blends well with you and your team isn’t as easy as you may think. While communication style is a part of this, culture itself is a major factor to consider when choosing a dev shop. 

Nailing down a culture fit is tricky, since there isn’t a number or word that can easily define a company’s true culture. Think about your team: how do they treat each other? What is their management style? What motivates them? What do they care about?

Then, ask someone (that’s not your sales contact) what it’s like to work at that specific dev shop. Based on their response, you should be able to get a feel for what their culture is like. If it seems to match up with yours, great! 


Duh, right? If you need your project written in a specific language or to run on a certain platform, the team you bring in needs to have that experience. You wouldn’t want to bring in a native-only mobile app company to build a web-based order processing system. 

Technical Fit for a Development Shop

The good news is twofold! Most development teams are full-stack and can tackle a wide variety of projects and industries. But even if the company you want isn’t exactly a fit, a lot of languages ‘rhyme’ with each other. What that means is learning a coding language similar to something you already know is easier than learning one from scratch. So if you’re willing to let a company learn on your dime, you could go that route. 

A huge bonus for you is to partner with a dev shop that has a wide range of language and architecture experience. With more hands-on knowledge on what’s available for you to use, they can suggest technologies that best position you for the future.


Sometimes when trying to start a project, we lose sight of what happens when it’s all said and done. Where will the app be hosted? Who will be in charge of routine updates? Will someone need to be working on app maintenance full-time? What will it cost to maintain in the future?  

You’ll want to have some idea as to the post-release care that could be required before getting started. An experienced partner will be able to provide valuable insights on what it will cost to run on a monthly basis, what skills you’ll need to maintain, and if that dev shop even provides that type or service. 

Tips on Choosing a Good Development Shop

So good news: you know the kind of company you’re looking for! Bad news: just because they meet all your criteria doesn’t mean they’re actually great at what they do. They could perfectly match your timeline and budget, have a great culture, and have a great methodology. But all of those things will not guarantee a successful project. 

How do you make sure your development soulmate is truly the one? Here are some tips and tricks to verify you’ve found the perfect match.


Nothing says ‘Don’t work with this company’ like an overwhelming amount of negative reviews. The issue with some review sites, though, is that there’s no verification process. You could be reading reviews from the company rather than from actual customers.

But how can you be sure the reviews you’re reading are real? Start with a reputable source. Clutch is one of the largest online review platforms for B2B service companies. And for good reason: they interview past clients to verify the reviews are accurate. The ratings you see on a company’s clutch profile are the closest thing to getting a referral. You know, without actually getting a referral. 


Having experience is a big deal when it comes to writing software. But it isn’t limited to just experience with specific tools and architectures. Explore the dev shop’s problem-solving skills. You want someone that’s going to think outside the box. Cheesy, we know, but it’s true. If a team doesn’t have creative or exciting work in their portfolio, you can’t expect them to be able to provide that for you.  


You could probably tell this was coming thanks to all the questions above, but make sure you ask lots of questions. And if you’re a non-technical person, these can be intimidating to ask. But it’s important to get all the information you can to ensure you’re making the right choice. We suggest creating an interview guide beforehand so that you make certain that all of your most important questions get answered. That way, you can easily compare how each development firm answered each question. 

Speaking of answering, the dev shop that you want to work with will be excited to answer your questions and talk about their past experiences. If a company isn’t transparent and open during the sales phase, imagine what they’ll be like during challenging times. Not fun!


This is a big one, especially for companies that handle sensitive data. You want to make sure the dev shop that you choose always has security in mind. Ask about security practices within the organization. The dev shop should be able to discuss various approaches that they’ll take to ensure the creation of a secure app. 

Check if they have any form of security certification. One example is SOC, or Systems and Organization Controls, compliance. It’s a report created by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) to showcase how a service provider handles sensitive information. When a company becomes SOC 2 type 2 compliant, they’ve proved via a 3rd party audit that they can keep your data safe. This kind of certification is expensive and painful to obtain, so if a dev team has it, it’s a good sign of a security-focused organization.

You’ll also want to consider any special security and data privacy needs that your app requires. For example, if your app will manage any kind of patient information, look for a dev shop with HIPAA experience. If it’ll be used worldwide, experience with GDPR would be beneficial.  

Partner Article: How to Choose a Mobile App Development Company



This is when the fun begins. After rounds of searching, talking, and reviewing, you think you’ve finally found the one! You accept a development company’s proposal and ask when you can get started. Before anything can happen, though, a contract usually has to be signed. 

The red flag here is not that they’re asking you to sign a contract; it’s signed as a way to protect both parties. Make sure you clarify any vagueness within the contract. Don’t be afraid to push back and ask questions about the contract! Tackling something at the beginning will be much less painful than if you’re in the throws of development.


When it comes to choosing the best dev shop, you first have to decide what that means to you and your company. After you’ve pinpointed the business and technical qualities you’re looking for, the search gets much less stressful. 

Now that you’ve added some tools to your dev-shop-hiring toolbox, we think you deserve that pat on the back, now!


Savannah is our one-woman marketing department. She posts, writes, and creates all things Slingshot. While she may not be making software for you, she does have a minor in Computer Information Systems. We’d call her the opposite of a procrastinator: she can’t rest until all her work is done. She loves playing her switch and meal-prepping.