From this article, you'll learn what BANT qualification method is, how it works and what benefits it brings to the table.
The question that software development partners’ clients are asking most often is “How much will it cost for us to build custom software?”, hoping they will hear an exact price range in response. Estimating the budget required for a project takes time, though. While it would surely be incredibly convenient for businesses if developers could give a fixed price or at least a range straight away, the final costs of a custom product depend on several factors that need to be discussed beforehand. Without a few meetings with the client to gauge their needs and expectations, it’s simply impossible for software development agencies to even give an estimated budget.
That’s why during their first meetings, many experienced software development companies use the BANT qualification method to learn about and evaluate the needs and expectations of their clients. How does it work, what does it mean, and what does it bring to businesses? We’ll cover all of those questions right now.
What is BANT, actually?
What exactly is BANT? It is a type of sales lead qualification tool through which software development companies can assess whether it is possible to complete a given project under the time and budget conditions set out by their clients.
With BANT, software development companies can minimize some of the software development risks that might occur during the development stages - for example, finding out that a project is far more complex than expected will require more time and a larger budget. A potential client may also find it helpful to evaluate whether or not they are ready for and fully aware of the project requirements.
The BANT method consists of four parts:
B - Budget
A - Authority
N - Needs
T - Timeline
Let’s take a look at them in detail.
B for Budget
The budget of a project is often the first topic to be mentioned during meetings. But for businesses that have little to no experience with the software development industry, estimating a budget for custom software or a mobile app is often a challenging task, so they come to software development partners with a vague or unrealistic budget for their project. This also means that they are quite often surprised at how many people will be needed to create their custom software and how much they will have to pay for it.
While software development agencies usually don’t give precise cost estimates at first meetings, discussing a client’s planned budget and expectations for the project helps them with something else. After gauging the main vision of a client, how much they are willing to spend on their project, and where the funds will come from allows software development companies to give their opinions about how feasible and realistic it is.
If there’s no match between what the client expects to get within their budget and what the software development company can realistically provide, then it’s unlikely that the project can be completed successfully. Using BANT also helps software development teams to minimize the risks of overhead costs spiraling out of control.
A for Authority
Besides having a realistic budget, it’s equally important for software development partners to know precisely who will be the main person responsible for the project from the client’s side. No matter how detailed the scope is or how many details were discussed during meetings, there’s always a risk of something unexpected happening during the development stage. If the software team doesn’t have the means to reach out to the person responsible for the project on the client’s side or there are several people with contrary opinions about how the project should go, the chances of it failing increase.
So during early meetings with the software team, you can expect questions about who will be the person responsible for verifying and accepting the different stages of the project, responding to various issues, and, in general, regularly contacting the development team. Through those questions, software development companies can determine whether or not the client has thought about how the cooperation between the two parties will go, especially since the length of the project may be a few months.
N for Need
There’s a reason the client came to the software development partner with their custom software project - they have a need or a challenge that can’t be solved using existing solutions. But sometimes clients might confuse what they “need” with what they “want”, and aim for a solution that may not actually be a good fit for their business. That’s why experienced software development companies will often ask several questions about the client’s main challenges or pain points and how they want to solve them. Those questions will also help the client determine whether or not their expectations can be realistically met.
Here’s where having a detailed Request for Proposal (RFP) is necessary. An RFP is a business document that describes both your business and its needs as well as the software development project’s scope, through which you can pick the software development team that best meets your criteria. You can find more details about what you should include in an RFP in this article.
T for Timeline
Estimating how much time is needed for creating custom software is also frequently mentioned as a problem for a software development company’s clients. That’s why after discussing their needs and budget, software development clients should ask about time constraints and expectations. Designing a product and developing it might take from 2-3 months for a small project or even several months for specialized, complex solutions.
Therefore, if the client needs a solution urgently, then creating custom software for them may not be a good fit as the price could be much higher or it might not even be possible to finish the project in the time required by the client. At this stage, one can expect questions about the project schedule, planned deadlines for completing different phases of the product, and also about possible risks that might delay the project.
Benefits of BANT for effective collaboration
This is a pattern that should be treated as a coherent concept. In what ways does it assist with the collaboration between clients and software development agencies?
1. Quick evaluation
BANT covers a wide range of topics and requires many answers. The end result is worth all the effort. There is a common understanding between all parties about what to expect from the project. Due to prior agreement of the details, misunderstandings are much less likely to occur. In addition to increasing the efficiency of the team, BANT also increases the satisfaction of their clients. It allows quick identification of whether there is a match and facilitates collaboration.
2. Faster problem recognition
In the BANT phase, problems or obstacles that can affect a particular project before it is launched can be identified and resolved so that they can be avoided or prevented from happening further down the line. Also, it is possible that an organization may not be ready to embark on such a project, so allowing them to anticipate this will prevent them from being disappointed later. The fact that the process is complete is a good signal for software development agencies to continue on the project with a prospective client.
3. Build a relationship
With the BANT system, you can examine the needs of your clients in more depth. The BANT methodology can be a great starting point for further projects, even if we are only talking about one process or project at the time. By following this approach, a software development agency and its clients are able to build long-lasting relationships that are more solid and loyal. The probability is high that customers who have already briefed their partner's software development team in terms of the possibility of cooperation would be willing to commission further projects to a partner for which BANT has already helped complete some work.
Over to you
Even though it may be regarded as a bit worn out or not suitable for software development agencies, BANT still remains an effective tool for coordinating client-agency relationships. It facilitates finding common ground and helps solve potential problems before they escalate. Using it at the appropriate time is imperative. An effective BANT process set can serve as a bridge between the successful completion of a partner's software development project and the beginning of an effective collaboration process.
It's not unusual for a software development team to request BANT - it's for good reason!