Completing projects successfully and within schedule and budget can be a very challenging endeavor. Design and development teams around the world struggle to deliver on the demands of their stakeholders, while still retaining their life and sanity. Throughout this blog we discuss the common reasons that software projects go over budget, and what you can do as a developer or stakeholder to successfully complete projects and deliver real value to your users and business.
Whether you’re looking to create an app or build a better website for your business, you’ll be investing in a software project. To ensure software project success, you want to understand why the majority of software projects fail.
According to a Standish report, about 31.1% of software projects will be canceled and about 52.7% of projects will cost 189% of their original estimates.
Here are 10 key factors that will ensure software project success:
1.) CONSIDER END USERS AND IMPLEMENT USER TESTING
One of the best ways to increase your chances of success is to make sure you’re designing and developing for your intended users. This is why it’s crucial to understand the needs of the user throughout the process. When you create a value-driven statement you can identify what solutions your product brings to your target audience. For example, you can write out a statement at the beginning of your project that answers the question of who your product targets and what problem your product will solve for intended users.
Consider which phase of your project you want to implement user testing. You can use different methodologies depending on where you want valuable user feedback. Conducting user testing before you design can determine whether you have an adequate user interface while conducting it post-build can compare your product to competitors. Make sure that you prepare your participants and testing zone to achieve accurate results.
2.) HAVE CLEAR OBJECTIVES AND SPECIFICATIONS
It’s useful to create a product roadmap that lays out a strategic plan and highlights your objectives. Be detailed and specific about what your team needs to help meet your ultimate goal. Before diving into the software development life cycle, create a value-driven statement to help set a precedent for what your project is, who it aims to target, and what problems it will solve.
3.) HIRE EXPERIENCED DEVELOPERS
Hiring skilled developers makes for a smooth development process. The investment in senior developers will certainly cost more, but it will save you headaches, time, and money in the long run.
You should make sure that each team member understands their roles and responsibilities for the project. Assigning project roles will give you the confidence that the team can complete the project effectively. Also, ensure that your team is following software development protocols and workflows. A project that doesn’t follow best design and development best practices is destined to break or fail in the future. Last but not least, work with a team that is passionate about your product and genuinely cares about the outcome of your project.
4) HAVE A PLAN
Proper planning will ensure that everyone knows exactly what they are responsible for throughout the project. Before you begin working, you should determine the project strategy and approach that will lead you to achieving the end goal. Take the time to figure out which development tools you’ll be using throughout the process and identify the technical architecture that will support your software.
Make sure you have all of the following:
- Sprint plans with clear milestones
- Application framework
- Code reviews
- Automated testing
- Bug and task tracking
5.) PRACTICE EFFECTIVE PROJECT MANAGEMENT
All stakeholders of the project must agree to a set of deliverables and acceptance criteria to avoid scope creep and the accompanying additional costs. A formal agreement between your business and the software development team is a great way to set clear expectations and eliminate any confusion.
You should find a team that uses the agile project management methodology, which develops software with an iterative approach. To ensure that your project is always moving forward, the team should set clear milestones with hard deadlines.
The software design and development company should have weekly, internal standup meetings where they discuss what was completed, what will be completed next, and if there are any obstacles hindering their progress.
Client meetings should be scheduled regularly to update your business on the progress of your project. This is an opportunity for your team to provide feedback and clarification to the development team.
6.) HAVE CLEAR COMMUNICATION
Clear communication is critical at the onset of a project. As a client, you should clearly communicate your product requirements and vision for your product. Communicating your needs ensures that the development team builds exactly what you ask for. Document your scope of work to ensure that everyone is on the same page. Clear communication will increase your chances of creating a successful software project.
Clear and consistent agreement is the backbone to a successful software project which helps to ultimately avoid confusion, delays, and mistakes. Regardless of the stage of the project, communication plays an integral part. Whether it’s understanding concerns, achievements, or ongoing project updates, there should be a dedicated communication channel (i.e. Slack, Skype, Email, etc.).
7.) FOCUS ON YOUR DESIGN
During the design phase, the UX designers should create a detailed design document that specifies the techniques and tools that support your product goals. The software developers should then review the document to correct technical changes. The design is the blueprint for what is going to be built. It may take a few test runs to find the right design. This is why it’s important to have testing and improvement phases throughout the development process. You should have an excellent team of UX designers that prioritize the user experience. They’ll need to have some technical tools such as wireframing and prototyping tools for user flow mock-ups.
Wireframes and visual compositions are critical for your project’s objective. To create a software project such as a website or a mobile app, you’ll need to begin by creating wireframes which show picture representations of information and features. Wireframes are valuable as they help you visualize a general layout of your website or app. They are also used to define specifications and obtain approval from clients. Wireframes can supplement visual comps as these mockups go a step further to provide a visual representation of your product. Other diagrams that provide value to your project process are flowcharts which help define the workflows by providing clear visual models of what a programmer will code.
8.) IMPLEMENT RISK MANAGEMENT
Let’s face it. Things always go wrong, so you should try to fail as gracefully as possible. To do so, create a risk log with action plans to mitigate and tackle risks early on in the process. The software development team should create a plan to confront risks and inform clients about potential problems.
You should identify any risks that might emerge and then analyze the potential impact it might have on your overall project budget, scope, and quality. Implement the proper risk management to mitigate any risks and prevent derailing your project.
9.) FOLLOW SOFTWARE DEVELOPMENT BEST PRACTICES
It’s crucial for your team to follow software development best practices. The development team should abide by the guidelines of coding standards. Source control is another vital component as it allows you to manage the changes to your code and provide a centralized source for your code.
Some other modern development practices include continuous integration (CI) and continuous delivery (CD). CI is a preparation aimed at getting regular updates as quickly as possible to get fixes to users. There’s a huge emphasis on automated testing to validate the changes made throughout the process. CD extends the process of CI as it allows you to deliver changes to your customers.
Before moving into the launch process of your application, the software development team should have a code review. Code review is an integral phase of your software project that will help you identify any bugs and defects. Code review ensures that software developers are following best practices while making sure the whole team has reviewed the code.
10.) DO A FINAL REVIEW AND POST-RELEASE REVIEW
Don’t leave your release planning until the very end. At the beginning of the project, you should test your system with the setup and data that are as close to production as possible.
Once you’ve done all this and completed your final acceptance tests, it’s onto the next step, deployment. The deployment process is customized based on your project’s specific requirements. Your operations team should review, confirm, and approve the deployment documentation. Then, when you release the product, you should analyze and reflect on what went well and what didn’t throughout the project cycle. This will help your team adjust performance accordingly for the next project.
Ready to start your software project? We have a dedicated team here at EXsphere Technology to help ensure your software project success. Contact us today to discuss your plans so we can help make your ideas become a reality!