What is a Software Development House?

Filip Stopa
08 September 2021
6 min read

A software development house is a business that provides digital products and services to fulfil a client's software product and/or project requirements. These requirements will vary according to market sector, customer type and business model.

Products and services may be delivered on a paid-license or subscription basis - commonly referred to as 'Software as a Service' (SaaS) - or made to facilitate a custom software platform.

What does a software house do?


Aside from its more common duties of coding and development in a given project, a software house can adopt a broader spectrum of responsibilities and obligations depending upon its experience and level of clientele relationships.

Typically, more mature companies will offer wider, more standardized services, whereas a younger business with limited staff will focus primarily on quality and prompt turnaround time.

Additional Services

Those software houses with sufficient experience will often include value-adding development services either prior to, during or subsequent to the coding stage:  

  • Design creation

  • Works scope analysis

  • Planning/conducting exercise chains

  • Research for correct assumption validation

  • Maintenance & support

  • Product market-fit research

  • Market strategy validation

These added development services can be crucial when it comes to choosing the right partnership for your software development project.

Choosing the right software house

With over half a million IT companies in the US alone (let alone the rest of the world), it's difficult to categorize these companies or to formulate a blanket definition for each group. As the IT sector by its very nature is about improvement through innovation, it is perpetually evolving, looking always to enhance the services that transform our working lives.

Define your software needs

Initial advice to business and project owners is to start by clearly defining your needs. This is not to suggest technical documentation, but to have your expectations strongly articulated and agreed upon among all stakeholders.  As previously mentioned, the type of IT software you intend on is a good point to start, whereby a reverse-engineering of sorts will be the process employed.

Survey their portfolio

If your goal is to land with a modern, traffic-driven online store, you should look for a company with eCommerce experience. In the case where you need a system to store and manage information about your accounts, CRM expertise will be more relevant.

Where business finances and administration of resources are concerned, either ERP or accounting systems will need implementation.

And if you’re a startup and are looking to create a tool that is the first of its kind... Well, custom software development requires much technical skill driven by an unbiased and dynamic set of people who can easily pivot when initial ideas require modification. 

Reach out to the company's clients

At this juncture, it's a good idea to narrow your search down to those software houses that have had experience with partners in your market and country. A basic awareness of your day-to-day challenges and legalities can play a significant role in further project communication.

So pro-tip, then: should the company you approach for feedback decline to respond to your query or discourage you from connecting with other clients working with the software development house in question, you'll know it's time to move on.

Trustful Communication

Notwithstanding, it's still important you don't hold back from initializing conversations with a software house. Firstly, this will enable you to recognize what level of communication and mutual understanding of challenges you will enjoy with the software house, and secondly, how readily available they will be to engage your project.

As software development is such a rapidly growing sector, there is an increasing strain on resources among software houses which in many cases can affect project lead times.

In-house software development

You may feel it easier to simply hire developers internally and although some will dispute this, it remains an option you can always review.  Big-player companies like Uber or Facebook routinely hire their own engineers who often comprise a majority of their total headcount.

Scaling up

However, there also remains the problem of scalability. Often, a company's growth can reach a critical mass for which no software house can offer sufficient resources or services. Only at this point should it be necessary to begin hiring devs. Otherwise, if your business is just starting out and your vision is not one of achieving international status, it’s important to know the pros of outsourcing digital projects to software companies.

Managing your software development team

Perhaps the most fundamental guidance you can get from a complementary software house is in the management of a software development team. With little or no prior experience, attempting to lead a devs group through the development process is not a risk worth taking.

Relationships are also crucial.  It is vital that you cultivate a frank and flexible relationship with the assigned project manager to ensure you are receptive to any technical/project obstacles as they are reported and in a language you understand. This will better enable you to address any issues from the perspective of your business.

Time is Money

And there are more advantages of good development management skills: an in-house team of engineers or contracted freelancers can turn out to be cheaper per hired unit. And when managed well, this will avoid the lengthening of project delivery time (or project cancellation) that is otherwise the common result of a lack of knowledge and experience in IT/team management.

Partial outsourcing

There is a still more popular option, particularly for companies and startups well-versed in software development, which is to partially outsource services that work in tandem with the company's internal resources. 

Often in such a scenario, both teams are considered as one with the internal team routinely delegating certain tasks or backlogged items to the external resource. Progress is then reported regarding a given scrum (or any other) framework, with secured daily communication. This can be a highly effective, low-risk approach, especially when a quick turnaround time is required.

The Startup Approach

Although the term startup was initially introduced in the 90s, it's only in the last few years that its formalized meaning has emerged.  More mature startups have since enabled a better understanding of how disruptive technologies develop and grow, thereby providing through their approach a clearer recognition of what ideal opportunities exist. 

In doing so, they have dissolved the perception of high-budget requirements, replacing it with an efficient facility for bringing individuals' ideas to the world.

At Startup Development House, we believe that following this startup approach is applicable to any type of new, disruptive business. We believe it encourages great ideas and rewards both hard work and the inquiring mind. 

Startup Development House is a European software house with its headquarters in Warsaw, Poland. Since our establishment in 2015, our mission has always been to evolve our custom software services to the utmost for helping startups bring their ideas to life.

If you have any such ideas and need guidance on how to best develop and deliver them, don't hesitate to reach out to us at hello@start-up.house

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