Before you contract with any custom solution developer, have them demonstrate these essential characteristics to you.


Happy clients

Preferably, the firm has developed the same or very similar software to yours, for those happy clients. Look for detailed case studies or “success stories” similar to the services you need.


The ability to give you a fixed price

Inability to deliver a firm estimate indicates that the company has insufficient experience in developing the kind of software you need. If the scope and requirements do not change, you should be guaranteed that the project will be delivered at the set price agreed upon at the outset. Word to the wise: It is unusual to find a development firm with a good track record that is willing to give you a fixed bid in less than six figures.


Microsoft certification

It should be an absolute requirement that your developer hold certification in the software being used as the platform for your solution.


A solid history and promising future

Obviously, you do not want to enter into an application development project with a company that appears unstable or shady. Look for signs that the company has excellent financial health, and never leaves customers in the lurch.


A team development approach

Good development groups will at least pair developers to share responsibility for a project. This ensures continuity, project completion, and higher final quality.


A process of constant improvement by quality control

Mature, forward-thinking organizations have deliberate and disciplined processes for tracking and improving product quality. Ask the application development firm you are considering how it handles quality control.


Access to a tested, proven set of re-usable application features

The best application development companies will have pre-built and pre-tested modules for high-value requirements such as security and user access management that are nearly always must-haves. These libraries of modules are not only tried-and-true, to guarantee high quality, but are also tremendous time-savers in development, which will significantly reduce client costs.


Full product support

As a baseline, you need an application development firm that can deliver your application on time and on budget. Consider as well the critical nature of ongoing support and maintenance, after your database application is delivered. The best application development companies will be able to provide a wide range of services, from simple product support and updates to minor modifications to adding features up to and including significant expansion to cloud migration and hosting services.


Extensibility and scalability

Make sure your database application can grow with your organization. Hopefully, the day will come when your database needs have outgrown the capabilities of Access. Your application development firm should be able to plan and execute your migration to an enterprise database platform. This is not an absolute requirement, but your future migration project will be smoother and more affordable if it designed into your database application as an initial design requirement.