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What Do Custom Development Shops Look For in Clients?


The agency-client relationship is a two-way street.

While there are certain things that you as a non-technical founder should look for in a development agency, it’s important to remember that great agencies also look for specific characteristics in prospective clients.

Outstanding development teams aren’t willing to work with just anyone. If you want to hire the best team for your project, you’ve got to prepare accordingly.

In this article, we'll explore the three things an excellent custom development team looks for in potential clients, and how you can prepare yourself to have the most successful and profitable relationship.


A Partnership, Not a Dictatorship

Agencies value clients who understand a working relationship is most effective when both sides consider it a partnership — not one side dictating the terms.

This a particular problem in the world of custom software development, says Kingsmen Software CEO and partner Bill Clerici. Most founders don’t understand what it takes to deliver custom software and are shocked when we go through the process in detail.

If clients aren’t able to take expert advice on board and reframe their expectations, then they won’t be the right fit for most agencies.


Solid Internal Processes

Solid internal processes, particularly concerning communication and stakeholder sign-off, are crucial for a successful development project.

An effective process is required to produce great work, says Polly Yakovich, cofounder of the marketing agency A Brave New. “The client-agency collaboration involves a lot of communication—not only in the planning stage but also when it comes to review and feedback.”

That’s why her agency stresses that clients be honest about their bandwidth and availability. “When these parameters are clear, it’s much easier for us to all work together effectively,” she writes.

In our experience, a dedicated and engaged product owner is the No. 1 indicator of whether a project will go well, says Bill Clerici.

Ideally, that person should have the authority to approve and sign off work. Most agencies will want to be in touch with a decision-maker as much as possible, and Kevin Kohlert, CEO of Borealis Digital Marketing, is no different.

“Whenever I’ve taken on a project where requests have to go through a multi-layer approval process, it’s been cumbersome and inefficient,” he says. “Communication is paramount for success, so it’s important to communicate directly with someone capable of making high-level decisions at their company.”


Realistic Expectations

Agencies love to see informed clients with realistic expectations. When it comes to software development, the work is always bigger and more expensive than you would think it is. Small budgets with no scope for improvement don’t cut it.

At the same time, even the most capable developers aren’t magicians. Some features won’t be possible in a tight timeline. Other capabilities may not be possible at all.

This is why Lysa Miller, founder and CEO of Boston-based digital agency Ladybugz, recommends every agency ensure their clients' expectations are aligned with their capabilities.

“As soon as you feel like a potential client’s expectations are too high and unrealistic, that is a sign things could get difficult,” Miller writes. “If they are more open-minded to listening and aligning expectations, typically that is the kind of client they will turn out to be. Reasonable.”


Consult Kingsmen Software on Your Custom Dev Project

The right custom dev shop can make your ideas a reality. By understanding what the agency looks for in potential clients and preparing accordingly, you’ll be well on your way to a productive and successful relationship.

We’re no different at Kingsmen Software. Our end-to-end custom software development solutions are ideal for non-technical founders who meet the criteria above.

Find out whether we’re a good fit by booking an initial consultation today.


Images used under license from Shutterstock.com.


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