3. Similar Working Patterns
In addition to similar communication styles, you should also look for IoT partners that work in the same way that your company does. For example, what is the typical length of a sprint during their software development process? Does the team practice continuous delivery, or do they follow long release cycles like in the traditional waterfall model?
The term “continuous delivery” means that the product is essentially always in production; any changes are immediately committed, and the software is continuously evolving gradually. Continuous delivery is a trendy practice among many development firms, and has been associated with benefits including faster time to market and higher-quality software.
Nevertheless, some clients prefer to have a more traditional development process, where features are developed in sprints that are several weeks long and then added to the product all at once.
4. Strong Testing Culture
No matter who you select as an IoT partner, they should have a strong culture built up around automated testing and software quality. This often goes hand-in-hand with continuous delivery.
As your application grows and becomes more complex, it becomes increasingly difficult to tell whether you’ll break something when changing even a single line of code. At Very, we build in-depth automated testing suites that are run whenever we make changes to the software. The outcomes of these tests let us know immediately if we’ve inadvertently introduced a bug or error.
Both the client and the development partner need to be flexible and open to potential changes throughout the product life cycle. In particular, clients should understand the difference between product features that they want and product features that they need.
The“planning fallacy” is a well-known concept in software development: people tend to be optimistic about the time and effort required for a future project, causing them to lowball their estimates. Knowing exactly what you’ll need 6 months ahead of time is nearly impossible for a complex IoT project involving hardware and software.
Practitioners of the agile methodology often refer to the“last responsible moment” to make a choice. By putting off the decision-making process until the very last second, you can collect more information about what exactly the right solution will be.
For example, having explicit advance requirements for the databases and software tools that will be used during the project is often a bad practice. Instead, it usually makes sense to map out high-level goals and features, and then discuss the details when it makes sense to do so during the project.
6. Full-Stack Capabilities
The bulk of an IoT solution will be software, and the majority of that software will be web software. When looking for an IoT partner, you should prioritize firms who are strong in web development and web security. Hardware engineering firms aren’t usually prepared to build a secure and scalable infrastructure for your IoT data, which is something that you need if you want a full-stack solution.
Full-stack companies are able to develop an all-in-one solution that handles the hardware, web interface, and mobile interface within a single project. If you’re not certain whether you require a full-stack product, then picking a firm that does have those development capabilities is a safer bet. For more information about IoT development, download our Guide to IoT Development: What You Need to Know, From Frameworks to Best Practices.