Finding a software soulmate

Nick Thompson, managing director of DCSL Software, looks at the ways a start-up can map out the process for successful software development.

For many start-ups and smaller businesses, software development is an essential part of the success journey. And although a wide range of new companies rely on having the right software in place to take to market as fast as possible, it is a process that can come with its own special challenges.

For example, keeping realistic expectations regarding the requirements and timescales of developing software is so important. This element is the backbone of the digital functionality so it’s vital that businesses take a good look at their individual needs and do their research when it comes to partnering up to get the work done.

So how do you find your software soulmate? Nick Thompson, managing director of DCSL Software gives his insight.

Analyse requirements

The first – and most important – stage of development is defining the problem/s that needs to be addressed. Which processes should be introduced or transformed? What is the achievement aim for this software? Even though these questions can seem like a challenge, getting them answered at the outset can help analyse the issues and offer clear directions with realistic timescales to deliver.

Shortlist suitable software development partners

A typical start-up doesn’t have the resources to carry out the necessary in-house developments while also focusing on strategy and management, so an external solution provider can often be a smarter option.

Previously defining the software needs, enables companies to build a relevant shortlist of providers. But before you approach them look for indicators that they have the credentials expected of a professional service provider such as case studies, client references, certifications and awards.

The golden gains

Before confirming your partnership make sure the software development partner can do the following;

Create a minimum viable product

This will prove that the commercial and technical model will work. Once the market has been tested the next phase of complete feature development can be implemented.

Leverage any work already completed

A good provider will be able to help turn an ugly duckling into a swan. They should be able to take a simple test version of the software already developed, even if written quickly with limited resource, and turn it into a solid, reliable product.

Provide financial solutions

If external funding or own funding isn’t available for a development project, a partner should be able to provide financial solutions for kick-starting and maintaining the project.

Utilising a software development partner

Once a business has found their perfect partner they need to utilise them. Three top tips for doing this are:

Plan, plan, plan

Planning never truly stops. All the way throughout the project, a business should keep planning the next phase – in terms of development as well as implementation – with constant feedback and improvements. The developers should also be able to provide suggestions as they listen and understand your requirements.


Communication is a fundamental element of any software development project. Businesses need to know what goes on between meetings – and the developers need them to communicate clear direction. There should be progress updates and feedback loops built into the development model, to make sure there is transparency throughout.

Often timescales are critical for start-ups, which means that the software team must keep them informed of any unexpected issues or delays – while escalating the problems effectively for discussion and resolution.


Developers should be able to prove prototypes early on in the project, to encourage experimentation, testing and discussion. Testing obviously not only helps with the development of new features, but also helps ensure the end product is reliable and free from bugs and faults. Even after implementation, testing is a useful tool – particularly for a white label solution which will depend heavily on market success.

A Long-term Relationship

Discovering the right software development partner does take a little time and effort, but once a business has found and worked with a company they should easily be able to tell if this is a relationship they want to invest in long-term. A good partner should support a business not only through the project development and completion stages, but also after the programme has been built.

Partnering with a developer that will support and maintain software throughout its lifecycle is the only way users and businesses can continue to gain maximum functionality, so choose a developer that will be committed to the business, not just the project, and it’s a recipe for success.

Further reading on software development

Nominations are now open for the British Small Business Awards, the leading event celebrating the brightest stars in the SME sector. Click here to enter, and make sure you get involved today using the hashtag #BSBAwards. Good luck!

Owen Gough, SmallBusiness UK

Owen Gough

Owen was a reporter for Bonhill Group plc writing across the and titles before moving on to be a Digital Technology reporter for the

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