3 tips when seeking a development partner for your SaaS product idea

Markus Manninen | 30.10.2015
Reading time 3 min

The trend of today is that SaaS founders are more often people that are not software development professionals or even IT professionals. This is a great and desirable progression which in the same time causes all new requirements for software development firms.

Here are 3 tips for a SaaS founder who already has a vision of his or her SaaS product and who is looking for a skilled product development partner to help in designing and developing the app.

Tip 1. Modern software products are built with agile development methods – do not think about options

You have a vision about your product. You know why you want to build it, which problem it solves and for whom.
But you don´t have specific details how the product is going to work.
You naturally want to build the product for your customers and not for yourself.
Then you face the fact that your customers cannot give you concrete feedback until they have tested the first version in practise.
The iterative development is hereby your only choice.

Tip 2. Forget the idea of wanting to get a fixed price tag for the development of your vision

If some partner candidate is willing to develop your still rather foggy vision with a fixed price you might want to be careful. In that situation please evaluate these two risks:

  1. Is this partner a duffer or
  2. is there a big risk premium in the fixed price tag?

When you get over the shock of not having a fixed price it gets easier soon after couple of successful sprints.
Suddenly you realize that your app is making progress fast and the amount of work estimates are holding true.
In agile development your risk is that you partner is lousy or slow.
This is going to cost you if you let this situation go on.
The upside is however that you will find this out during the first couple of weeks as long as you actively take part.
Then you can change the partner early on with very little damages since you have made an agile contract.

Tip 3. Ask your partner candidate this question: What is my role and my responsibilities in this project if I choose you as my development partner?

In the old times the roles and responsibilities of the customer and the vendor were defined carefully in the traditional project plan.
But in agile development people have slipped from defining these things accurately.
There is actually no good reason for this slip.
Rather understanding the roles and responsibilities mutually is even more important in agile development than in the old waterfall project model.
Therefore this last tip is the most important one.
When you ask this question you will find out things about the partner candidate that will most probably have a major effect on you partner choice.

Product Owner is a demanding role and a critical role for the success of the product development project.

When it comes to product development partners the wheat from the chaff are separated in how the partner supports and coaches the client so that he or she succeeds as a Product Owner whether he or she is a first-timer or a veteran.

Bonus technology tip

Choose a global public cloud application platform i.e. public PaaS such as Microsoft Azure if you want to have cost-efficient global scalability and if you want to focus only on your application and your business.
Leave IaaS for those who need it for their special requirements and who are able spend their time on infrastructure upkeep.
Leave private PaaS for those who need it for their special requirements and who can afford it, typically enterprises.