As a client, you might have a lot of questions about managing remote developers, work processes, and team collaboration. How can I be confident I picked the right outsourcing vendor? Where can I go for information? Who’s working on what? These are just a few of the questions you’ll probably want to ask during the first calls. But you’ll definitely have more.
For a software product, the path from idea to market is challenging. It involves a great deal of meetings, decisions, planning, and budgeting, which can be both exciting and nerve-racking depending on the competence of your development team.
To avoid ambiguity concerning our processes, policies, and procedures, we communicate and clear things up early on. Here’s how things go from when we first meet a client:
Stage #1 Request for proposal
If you’re planning to start a conversation with us via email or messaging, consider submitting a request for proposal (RFP). A well-designed RFP allows you to:
- Communicate your requirements clearly and concisely
- Save time on presenting your project idea
- Simplify and speed up negotiations
For us, a request for proposal is an opportunity to look at your business niche, project description, and specific needs before we get on our first call. With an RFP in hand, we’ll be able to get prepared and come up with technical solutions, development and deployment choices, and rough estimates.
What does an effective request for proposal look like? The most crucial components are your:
- Business description
- Problem/market demand
- Ideas for how to solve the problem
- Crucial features (outline with no details)
- Constraints (budget, time, legal, or technological)
- Specific requirements, if any
If you choose to do without an RFP but rather a quick request, you can use the contact form on the Steelkiwi website by clicking the bright blue Get in Touch button in the top right corner. This form will ask for your name, email, and a message.
We usually reply to messages sent through this form in just under a day. In our reply, we’ll ask you to fill out a Google Form with information about your location, role, experience, and technical background as well as your project type, budget, timeline, and industry. This will help us know more about you and your business needs before we meet so our first call can be more productive.
During our first introductory call, we will:
- Go over your main project ideas
- Analyze your existing materials
- Discuss the technology stack, project budget, and timeline to see if we fit the project
- If we don’t fit your project, we will go our separate ways. We care about bringing results and real value, not just making money.
- If we’re a match, we’ll proceed to the next stage. Based on your existing materials, we’ll decide if your project needs pre-discovery and product discovery stages. If so, we will move to them. If there’s no need for discovery, we’ll go directly to the inception stage.
Steelkiwi’s advice: To get the most out of our first call, have all your materials and concepts on hand.
NOTE: If you want a business analyst, designer, or developer to participate in our first call, tell us in advance so we can coordinate everybody’s schedules.
Stage #2 Pre-discovery
Our next stage is pre-discovery, during which we:
- Set up a video meeting with the tech team to provide a more accurate estimate in terms of the time, money, and people necessary to finish your project within the defined scope
- Do market research to make sure the right product gets built for the right audience
- Make an offer for the product discovery stage
Do you want to extend your development team? We got you! Read more about our staff augmentation services.
Stage #3 Product discovery
Product discovery is a crucial stage, as it allows for higher confidence in our path forward and is the foundation of a successful implementation and launch. During this stage, we:
- Look into all materials we have on hand
- Absorb as much information about users’ needs and pain points as possible
- Do user research and analyze the competitive landscape
- Create functional and non-functional product requirements
Preparing project requirements
Functional project requirements are typically created before or at the same time as the design. It’s crucial to have project requirements outlined fully and properly before development. To accomplish this, our designers, developers, and project managers have a number of meetings with the client to figure out what the exact features of the product are going to look like.
At this stage, it’s important to outline on paper everything that needs to be part of the product, even if it’s something seemingly obvious. The less ambiguity in the project requirements, the less chance of something going wrong with development. The level of detail of the requirements also affects the precision of time estimates. More details can help us identify logical flaws at the earliest stages, saving time and money in the long run.
NOTE: Have your project requirements ready? Good! We’ll just have to audit them to make sure they’re clear, complete, and feasible.
Crafting the product design
Some clients come with their design concept ready, which is okay. But we still audit it to make sure the:
- UX is consistent (there are no missing elements or flaws in the logic)
- Interface is user-friendly and focuses on the target audience
- Technical execution of design files is okay so our designers and developers can effectively do their jobs
For clients that don’t have a design on hand, we provide custom UI/UX design services, creating a logo, brand identity, wireframes, prototypes, user interface, and user experience. To optimize efficiency, we conduct client and user interviews and use design briefs to help us figure out your product’s design specifications.
User experience brief
Wireframes are the beginning of all products. They’re page-by-page prototypes outlining a product in terms of the user experience (UX). In other words, they show the path users take from logging in to achieving a goal such as booking an appointment, scheduling a training, or buying a product.
This animation represents the booking flow for Your Living-room Trainer, an online personal training platform. To create something like it for your platform, we would ask you to fill out our General Wireframing Brief. It contains questions about your product vision, target audience, what competitors you’re looking to outdo, and so on.
Answers to these questions will allow us to start working on the aesthetic aspects of your design.
Compelling design is the key to success. Users are more likely to continue using your product if it’s beautiful, and we work hard to make sure it is. Let’s look at the Your Living-room Trainer project again, but this time from the design perspective.
To get an understanding of your design expectations, we ask you to fill out the General UI Brief. It contains questions about your preferences in terms of style, colors, brand guidelines, and more.
Among these questions is one asking whether you want our designers to develop a logo for your product.
Logos can be used to create a new brand identity, just as they can help reinvent an existing one. Our Steelkiwi designers know the importance of a good logo, especially since a couple of months ago we created a new one for ourselves. Let’s take a look at the process.
You can see how our designer played around with different graphics and typography, figuring out the best way to translate our company’s goals and aspirations. We ended up using logo 2.4, as it embodies our company’s values: minimalist yet bold and powerful.
Here’s another example of our logo work for Hashtag Hound, an app that finds apt Instagram hashtags to promote your business.
You can see how our designer fiddled with different concepts, combining graphical and typographical elements. In the end, our client chose logo number 15, as it combines a hashtag (#) and an H, making it a graphical representation of Hashtag Hound.
To create a logo for your company, we need to ask a few questions about what you want it to look like. For this purpose, we’ll ask you to fill out the Logo Design Brief.
In this brief, we ask a variety of business and marketing-related questions to understand the goals and values you want your logo to convey. There are also questions about the logo’s structure and elements you would like it to include.
Estimating the development time
To estimate how much time your project will take, we have developers look at the scope of work and then estimate how much time each feature, button, interface, or other element will take to develop.
Then we have the project manager take a look at these estimates and add the time necessary for management and communication: meetings, sprints, presentations, and so on. The project manager also counts on the possibility of something going wrong, be it a technical complication or a human-caused issue. These risks always need to be taken into account and discussed beforehand.
Stage #4 Inception
During the inception stage, we:
- Create a prototype to demonstrate your ideas and bring them to life
- Draw up final estimates and develop a project proposal
- Build your development team
- Create a product roadmap and agree on deadlines
Stage #5 Contract
After a long planning and preparation process, we prepare a software development agreement that outlines all development details and the legal basis of our further cooperation.
Before signing, we negotiate the contract terms. Only when all parties are satisfied with the agreement do we sign it and start developing your product. This concludes the long yet exciting journey from request to agreement.
We sign and manage contracts using PandaDoc, as we’re minimizing paper use. But we’re ready to sign and post a traditional paper contract if you need.
Want to start a conversation today?
If you have an incredible project idea and are looking for a no-less-incredible development team in Ukraine, don’t hesitate to contact our sales team to start a conversation today.