What to expect when starting a project with Groove Technology (Part 1: The Presales Process)7 min read
Part 1: The Presales Process
Kicking off a Software project with an external Software Development vendor can be a risky endeavor. How will you know if their idea of quality is aligned with your standard concept and can deliver their commitment within the timeframes they’ve committed? How will you know if they understand your vision and will provide a result that meets it?
Luckily some key processes will help you differentiate a high-quality Software vendor from the tens of thousands of low- quality vendors filling up your inbox daily with cold emails.
In this series of articles, we will walk you through the series of steps we take with our prospective customers to align ourselves on their vision and to show them that we are a trustable, dependable partner.
The first step is presales, this occurs before any engagement or commitment on behalf of either party. The primary goal of the presales process is to establish the idea and vision of our customer, the viability and potential approaches we could take aligned to the expected budget.
This process is essential in establishing what it is the customer needs. Still, we need to verify if the customer aligns with our internal values and standards for quality and creativity. One of the most common reasons a software project fails is a misalignment of expectations for what can realistically be achieved within a budget. This process allows us to set reasonable expectations upfront so that we don’t get too far down the line and waste everyone’s time.
What exactly is presales in outsource Software Development?
Presales emerged due to the complexity of selling technical solutions, be it an off-the-shelf system or bespoke software.
On the Software vendor’s part, a presales team is assigned to establish and manage the vision and expectations of the customer’s stakeholders. Their primary task is to ask probing questions, flush out any blind spots the customer has not considered and establish all the essential details before signing a contract. This ensures that the vendor’s solution proposal meets the requirements of the customer.
In comparison to sales, presales process focuses on the technical terms of approach and challenges rather than the commercial side. The Presales team is most often made up of engineers and business analysts as the idea’s viability from a technical and business perspective need to be assessed. Moreover, the customer’s expectations need to be managed in line with the viability, approach and technical challenges for what they are trying to achieve.
How we go through presales process at Groove Technology
At Groove Technology, the presales process starts with the first conversation. All our contacts come from a technical or business analysis background. So, you will not have to worry about wasting your time explaining technical concepts to non-technical people or business concepts to someone who has no interest or experience in your business domain. In our first conversation, you will understand who we are and how we operate, and we will seek to understand what it is you are trying to achieve at a high level.
The follow-up actions to the first meeting will typically be executing an NDA so we can begin to talk frankly, and we will ask you to provide us with a one-pager that describes your goals, requirements, constraints and expectations at a high level. Depending on the nature of the project, we will likely provide you with some questions to get you started.
Once we’ve had our first conversation and had time to digest your one-pager, we will then set up a second meeting that may include a business analyst, software architect or both. In this meeting, we will get into the lower levels of what you are trying to achieve, discuss approaches we can take technically, what we can reasonably achieve within your budget. We may also ask you to demonstrate any current software, competitor software you may be using, or the current process for how you achieve this goal if relevant.
Key points we will seek to establish
The goals of the presales process are not only to establish the technical and financial viability of your project but also to establish that our values are aligned. Furthermore, we have the chemistry to work successfully together. Therefore, it is paramount that we seek to understand some baseline information about your project, which you should have clear in your mind before speaking with us. The key points we will seek to understand at a minimum:
- What problem does your project solve?
- How is this problem currently being solved?
- What are the alternate solutions?
- Is your project a competitor to the alternatives or a disrupter?
- Who are your users?
- Are they technical people, business people, etc.?
- What is their motivation for using your solution?
- What is your budget?
- Do you have a realistic expectation of the ongoing hosting, support and maintenance costs software platforms incur?
- What is the minimum set of features required to solve your problem for your users?
- Who are the stakeholders on the customers side?
- What role do they play?
- Who is the primary point of contact?
- Who is the primary decision maker?
And on our side, armed with the information we have established above we will then define:
- What is the technical approach that will most efficiently solve your problem and meet your requirements within the budget you have set?
- What open source or off the shelf solutions, platforms or components can we leverage to create efficiencies in the development process?
- Are there any technical challenges or risks that may impact our ability to successfully deliver this project?
- Are there any misalignments in values, expectations or anything else that may impact our ability to successfully deliver this project?
Once we have been through the pre-sales process, both parties will have a reasonable idea of if they can successfully work together to achieve the goals of the customer. If both parties are confident to go ahead, then the next steps are to go through the business analysis phase, which we call the discovery and scoping phase. This phase aims to perfectly align both parties on what will be delivered to a much more acceptable level of detail so that there are no misunderstandings and no surprises in the development phase.
The output of the discovery and scoping phase is a set of very detailed functional specification documents which will include (but not limited to) user stories, wireframes, acceptance criteria, states and behavior and many others We will explain this process in more detail in the following article. To proceed to this step, the customer must engage Groove Technology to carry out this exercise, the cost of which will typically be about 5% to 10% of what you would expect to pay for the project. The functional documents will be used as the basis for costing the build of the entire project.
Pitfalls in the Presales Process
It is not uncommon for the vendor to pull out or decide not to go any further with a project due to what is learned in the presales process. If the vendor is not confident that they can deliver successfully within the expectations and constraints of the customer, then taking on the project will most often end up costing the vendor money. So, it’s bad business to go ahead when these concerns are present.
Some common concerns a vendor might have which may prevent them from going any further include:
- No clearly defined problem to be solved.
- No monetization returns on investment strategy or a poorly thought-through strategy.
- No idea or a vague idea of who the users are, what motivates them or how the currently solve the problem.
- Attempting to be too many things to too many types of users
- Not being realistic about the ongoing support and maintenance requirements software platforms incur.
- No concept of what the must- have features and nice to have features are.
- No resources available to invest time to support the project on the customer’s side.
- No interest in being involved in the process from the customer’s side.
Any of these concerns may prevent a vendor from going ahead with your project. At Groove Technology, we want to work with businesses with a focused vision and strong potential for growth because those are the companies to whom we can contribute the most value. Our presales process allows us to identify those kinds of opportunities and demonstrate our value to those types of customers.
Suppose that you are going through the process of engaging an outsource Software Vendor for your project, and the things detailed in this article are not established as part of the process or don’t appear to be a concern for your vendor. In that case chances are you will end up with misaligned expectations later down the track, which may manifest as budget blowout. Furthermore, these features don’t solve your problem or problems in development quality and speed, communication and stability.