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Not asking these 3 questions cost this company $250K!

Peter Tylee · 16 Sept 2022

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This is the next article in our series on the ‘Technical Questions To Ask Your Software Development Partner’. This series of articles is aimed at educating business owners with questions to ask external vendors, internal candidates and external contractors before contracting them to develop software. This article presents a case study of what happens when you DON’T ask technical questions of your software development partner.

This case study is about a company that wanted to have an application developed. Unfortunately, they didn't ask any of these technical questions to the particular overseas software development company that they were going to get to develop their solution:

  • What kind of testing & QA checks do you perform?
  • What DevOps processes do you use?
  • How will you handle hosting, security and maintenance?

That can’t be good…

There were actually a lot of things that went wrong in the project. It wasn't just the lack of technical questions. However, if they HAD asked these technical questions BEFORE they engaged the developer, I believe they would've uncovered the problems that they were going to have down the track.

No automated testing, No DevOps, Non-maintainable

This project had no automated testing. It had no unit tests and no integration tests. It did have manual QA but it failed at audit.

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It had no DevOps which meant that they couldn't easily deliver demonstrations of what they'd been working on.

The project was off track.

It was seriously off track and they didn't really have any observability into why or how or what was going on.

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It was not particularly maintainable, so there was no error capture. There was no observability, there were no notifications and it was hard to support.

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And the result was that the company, for a number of reasons, became concerned that the app that was being developed wasn’t fit for purpose. We were brought into audit this project, and we determined that the code quality was so bad that the code had to be abandoned and the company had a write off of a bit over a quarter of a million Australian dollars ($250,000 AUD).

So that example is the poster child for why it's essential to ask some technical questions and listen for some technical answers.

The Takeaway

When you are hearing the answers that the developers may be giving, they don't necessarily need to answer in a way that is “technical”, but as long as they're covering off on these broad themes that we're talking about (testing, DevOps processes, hosting, security and maintenance), then it should give you confidence (in terms of their understanding of these issues and whether they've got these things in place) and, consequently, whether or not they're likely to have problems on the project.

If you’ve got a software project idea that you’d like to discuss, CLICK HERE to book a time for a scoping call to run through your idea.