Choosing a development support in e-commerce is one of the most important steps, that you should be taking care of. Proper support company will save your money and time, will provide technical and market expertise, best SEO, UX, Operations decisions, based on data from all its projects. In comparison, a wrong agency will request 3 times more of your time, will do what you ask for and will blame you for the mistakes. It’s like getting married: it’s better to be slow at the beginning to make your future life happy rather than lose your had and rush into promises.
You can meet a lot of articles and blog posts on how to choose Magento Development Company in order to get your project done. But most of them provide general advice, and don’t get the answer to the question HOW? The latest post from AionHill made me write this note.
Here is the list of most recommended questions and … turned out to be most useless:
- How long have the team been working with the Magento platform?
- Do you get a support?
- Who will you be communicating with?
- How many certified developers does the team have?
- Will the team teach you how to use the system?
Who will you be communicating with?
These questions only pretend to be important or informative. Even though you will get a specific answer, it won’t help you to get the idea of your future work with this team. Magento is too complex and has so many tricks that even some 2-3 year Magento pro might not have an experience of working with specific tasks (for example hard API integrations, taxes calculation, price rules). Knowing the names or positions of people that you will be communicating with won’t give you anything at all. It can be a PM, a developer, a Team Lead but a position won’t show you the effectiveness of this person’s communication skills.
How many certified developers does the team have?
There were a lot of discussions on Magento Certification. It is a pretty tough test that puts anyone under stress. Yes, it’s still a test and it shows if a person has skills for passing exams and tests but doesn’t show at all if a person can communicate well, understand the business logic of new features and find a balance between costs, timeframe, and features.
Instead of trying to guess if the agency is good or not, you should actually feel and see the way the team works. And the easiest way to do it is to switch your perception from a Project-like team to a Support-like team. It is pretty difficult to maintain high-quality service in Magento support sphere because the development team has to:
- get all necessary information in a timely manner;
- understand the business problem;
- find a proper solution for the short term and long term;
- present solution and get feedback;
- deploy the fix and let all the team know about it.
When you choose a support team, communication is the core of this process:
- How does the team approach your business?
- Does the team understand you on the first try?
- Does the team advise on SEO, UX?
- How does the team react to the feedbacks?
Communication is a bottleneck for most e-commerce development companies. Even a top-notch Magento support team will perform bad and provide poor solutions if communication is done badly.
All that can be tested with a minor 1-3 days feature request. The most important here is to see the dynamic of your relationships, as with time developers should get deeper and deeper into your business, the market, and operations, It will help them to make proper decisions without your permanent participation in the process.
Will the team teach you how to use the system?
A good support team will never start doing the job without understanding new features’ impact on the business. When the team is highly experienced, every interaction (emails, calls, meetings) will shape the solution better and better, so that you and your team will be able to imagine the way you will work with it even before it’s done. Ideally, with a 1-2 days project you will have 3 interactions:
- 1st to provide initial request and reply the questions right away.
- 2nd – during development when new ideas, impediments, questions arise.
- 3rd – when the job is done and you need to provide feedback.
When choosing Magento support company be prepared for the job of Product Owner
It means that you have to reply to any question about the problem, future solution, and operations that will be connected to the product. You will need to have 1-hour conversation with the development team every 2-3 days. More than that, you will need to demand daily updates on what was done, what problems did they have and what’s the plan for the next 2 days. It will help you to resolve some problems right away and refocus developers when needed.
You have to consider who of your team will handle a project and will be available for interactions with developers. It should be a person, who can make decisions based on your customers’ data, market, and operations, combining provided development expertise. And you need to have a clear understanding of what business problem you are trying to resolve. Good Magento support company will shape that wish into a Magento UX, SEO optimized feature.
All that will give you understanding if the company really fits you and will be able to become a long-term partner.
Yet, if you don’t have time to provide minor tasks for all candidates, you may consider screening several parameters, that may help you understand what kind of company will you get:
- Ask for references and ask other customers for negative experience with the company. If you are ready to deal with those negative effects and work them over – that’s your company.
- Ask for the similar tasks that company did. More than that, ask for problems that they met and how exactly their implementation works (where are the settings in admin area, based on what core code it was built on). You will be able to see how well they understand it. And you will be able to see, how deep communication guy (PM, TeamLead) understands it. If they can describe it, it means they understand it and will be able to implement really well for any company.
- Pay attention to community life. Magento community is one of the strongest communities among any e-commerce platforms. If you google the company or its core team, you will see its interactions with other community members. Don’t pay attention to number of posts, instead review the likes, shares, replies to post. Most of Magento Developers are using twitter, But you may also find them in Facebook, Linkedin.