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Building Trust and Transparency in Software Development

With so many custom software development companies on the market, it’s not unusual that looking for the ideal partner is a long-lasting process that can be tricky. How could it not be – you’re choosing an external vendor to bring your product to life or outsourcing a team that should integrate into your existing team with no hiccups!

Your checklist for an ideal software development partner is probably extensive but includes points like: 

  • The know-how of the technology you need
  • The price-to-seniority ratio is acceptable 
  • Experience within your industry
  • Proven work in your industry and understanding of business processes within it

A software development company can tick all the boxes on your checklist, but you still have one big question: How can I trust them to deliver the best digital product?

Trust Comes After Transparency 

The first step to building trust is transparency, which means clear and open communication from the get-go.

From a client’s perspective, this means communicating project goals early on and then continuously communicating all changes and updates to key stakeholders as soon as possible. It allows outsourcing partners to truly function as a part of your team, provide solutions, and respond more quickly to any changes or challenges. 

On the other hand, as a software development company, the transparency lies in managing clients’ expectations from day one, communicating expertise and what can really be done (FOMO shouldn’t rule decisions in software development!).

A green flag is if the outsourcing partner involves key project stakeholders early on, like the Head of Engineering, Business Analyst, Project Manager, and key developers, to show that all hands are on deck. 

“Whether we integrate our dedicated team into the client’s existing team or the client’s product is just an idea on paper, our experts are included almost immediately in the conversations. We want to understand clients’ pain points and goals and align with their expectations. Involving our experts at the start shows our potential clients exactly that. ”, said Hrvoje Fijucek, Chief Customer Officer at Notch. 

Hrvoje Fijucek CCO Notch

Transparent Communication from Both Sides

But transparency is so much more than initial alignment. Transparent daily communication and continuous insight into the software development process are important steps to building mutual trust. 

For example, Agile development and Scrum ceremonies, like spring planning, provide the methodology for building transparent partnerships and tools for delivering and showcasing results in two weeks.

“I think the short feedback loop is crucial for building trust with the client. They can see that the process is completely transparent, that everything is done in agreement with them, and, most importantly, they see the outcome of their decisions after only two weeks. It’s even better if the product is live – it means that their customers can immediately experience the changes”, explained Lucija Ratković Mikšić, Project Manager at Notch. 

Lucija Ratković Mikšić Project Manager Notch

But Scrum and Agile are not the only paths to transparency. All companies have different communication preferences, so both parties should discuss what suits them and the project early. 

“Nothing changes much, we’re flexible. Being transparent means keeping the client informed and up-to-date on any changes, and we do that through a channel that best suits that client,” stated Lucija. 

Trustworthy Partners Question the Brief 

Every client is unique, with its own needs and goals. Discovering them is the first task for a software development company, preferably a Business Analyst in the team, even if they have already worked in the same industry or for a similar client. 

The next step to building trust is discovering the client’s pain points, optimizing their solution, and offering expertise to improve it. That will distinguish the trusted partner from purely transactional engineers who just “do the job” they were told to and move on. 

“We are not the vendors that will do anything a client wants without questioning what and why we are doing it. We’ll never just do the job and move on. Their product becomes our own. We care for it, question it, propose better, quicker, simpler solutions, and optimize the process. In the end, we want our clients to get the best possible solution”, highlighted Martina Margitić, Head of Service Delivery Office and Business Analyst.

Understanding the “Why” in Software Development

A successful project doesn’t mean more hours, money, or longer projects; it means understanding what and why is developed. 

“An engineering team that asks and understands why we’re doing something is a good measure of how much they are engaged in the development process. The how is what they have to do. The what, we agree on: this is the what, and this is the when. But understanding why – indicates to me a high degree of the teams’ ownership and engagement, which leads to the success of the product.” said Murali Mazhavanchery, VP of Product at Beeline, after working with Notch for over three years on their Workforce Management solution. 

Murali Maravanchery VP of Product Beeline Notch

But to understand that “why” and to create a successful partnership and build trust, Martina explained that the clients have a crucial role in the process. 

“Their role is not just to wait for the final result but to actively participate in the development. An appointed person should have the right qualifications and decision-making responsibilities or have supporting mechanisms and processes that lead to quick decision-making. Custom software development shouldn’t be “giving the key” to us. It should be making quick decisions together almost daily.”

Trust: A Key to Successful Long-Distance Partnerships

Romcoms have taught us that long-distance relationships are complicated and rarely end well. That’s why you may be looking nearshore, missing the experience and opportunities of the offshore partners that tick all your boxes. 

“Although we work 100% remote and as a distributed team, communication has never been an issue, and we were able to introduce a very effective workflow that we keep on improving”, wrote a Product Owner in a review for Notch on Clutch

6 Elements of Developing and Maintaining Trust 

As a trusted advisor to many clients from Croatia, Austria, Netherlands, Ireland, Australia, the USA… we can conclude that these are the elements that helped to build that trust: 

  1. Transparency – At all points in time, a client should have an insight into the ins and outs of the development. The same goes for outsourcing partners, they should have insight into any changes and decisions that affect the project.
  2. Delivery – Delivery should always be within the communicated timeline, but that doesn’t mean quality should be an afterthought, which brings us to the next point…
  3. Quality—If you order something as simple as pizza and are unsatisfied, you won’t be coming back. Custom software digital products are (at least) six-figure pizzas, and you need to be sure they taste amazing from start to finish. 
  4. Proactivity – Being a partner means thinking a few steps ahead and exceeding expectations in all stages of development. From BA’s continuously thinking about improving the product to developers thinking of better ways of addressing challenges.
  5. Open to feedback – Being open to feedback and encouraging the expression of opinions is essential for continuous product improvement and an important element of building trust between a client and a software development company. 
  6. Meeting in person – Although long-distance partnerships are not a problem if you have covered the above points, meeting in person significantly enhances communication dynamics. After all, there is nothing better for a product’s success and great teamwork than a relaxed environment. 

Notch Road To Trust

From day one, at the core was building trust through transparency, feedback, quality delivery, and proactivity in all our collaborations and teams. It showed us that a partnership approach built on trust and transparency not only leads to product and project success but also opens doors to other projects and opportunities, as many of our clients come through referrals. Trust is hard to acquire but easy to lose, so these six elements should be at the heart of every project and team.  

Looking for a trustworthy partner for your project? Contact us.

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