Guide to Form a Relevant Software Development Request

Code Inspiration

Important questions which should be asked before the start of any development project.

Today in our article we decided to discuss important questions that should be asked before the start of any development project. This article would be helpful for young entrepreneurs, freelancers operating on different freelance platforms, and of course, for customers. Entrepreneurs and freelancers may use this guide for future conversations with their clients. Any individual who is acting as the customer can check which questions in the software development request are important.

Here, at Code Inspiration, we usually say: if there are no questions it is bad. There are always questions that help to provide better consulting and understand better the initial requirements. Software development is something about details. The more questions — the more details you get.

To proceed with a list of questions let’s imagine a user case when a customer has a development request. Usually, before sending over the request itself customers explore the market, review multiple candidates, and only then send their requests to a number of companies they have shortlisted. Sometimes the requests are rather detailed, but very often we receive requests like this one:

“Hello, my name is John, and I am CEO of XXX company. We have 2 restaurants and want to have software developed. We need a website and 2 mobile applications to be developed for our company. I have a basic list of features. The design is not ready yet, but I have in mind what we are looking for. Please, let me know which food and delivery apps have you done previously and what would be the price.”

We get a lot of requests similar to this example. While at first glance the request seems ok it has a number of missing details, which makes it impossible to give even approximate estimation. Here is the list of questions which the client would receive from Code Inspiration in response to the development request:

  1. Please, clarify if you are willing to proceed with Native apps or with cross platforming. Or if in the first phase, a mobile responsive website would be enough.
  2. Most likely, you will require an admin panel for the app, could you mention the list of functionality which should be in the admin panel or you prefer to start with a CRUD one?
  3. Have you already selected the tech stack for the project or are you open to our recommendations?
  4. Please, feel free to share the list of features, for us to proceed with estimation. If signing NDA is required to proceed — please, send it over for signature.
  5. Would there be any third-party services that you expect to be integrated?
  6. Would you prefer to use our in-house designer or you already have selected one?
  7. Please, provide examples of competitors’ websites, and specify what exactly seems appealing to you there.
  8. Please, share expected timelines for the delivery.

The main aim is to find some points to proceed to establish steps forward.

Steps forward for the software development company:

  1. Establish long-term and short term expectations of the client.
  2. Clarify the budget range to provide appropriate consulting for the development strategy.
  3. As a first stage, we recommend developing a specification guide which will consist of the screen by screen instruction with lo-fi mock-ups.
  4. We suggest proceeding with Agile, doing sprint iterations of 3 weeks.
  5. If the design should be done by Code Inspiration — we would suggest starting with a design sprint. After this, we will provide a customer with a detailed estimation for the development and further proceed with development sprint iterations.

Of course, the request we have provided is a “general” one, however, very close to the real requests which we get. The main idea is to show that it is IMPOSSIBLE to estimate the software even roughly which has no details. And it makes sense to pay special attention to the vendor profile if you get an exact price and timeline to the request similar to this one.

To save your time providing answers to the questions, it makes sense to spend a couple of hours forming a detailed cover letter, to expect detailed answers then.

Food and delivery apps, like clothes and cars, can have VERY different prices and serve different purposes. When you ask for examples of apps  — please, provide basic requirements that you are willing to see. Also, keep in mind, then when talking about development, it is not always about the same idea. More likely it is about functionality. And no matter where the developer integrated PayPal or created the registration process, be it food and delivery or social network or retail. So, it is better to talk about the functionality and the main problems your software is aiming to solve.

Finally, always keep in mind, if you need software like UBER, it cannot cost 5k. This is the same as you cannot buy Bentley for 5k. If some software development company offers you to do an UBER for a price which seems too low, pay attention, as most likely it will be a fraud or you will finally receive a fake, similar to the functionality you need, but with plenty of bugs.