According to a study published by the Standish International Group, only 16.2% of software development plans were finished on time and on the budget. 52.7% of the projects studied were considered challenged (the software was launched with less features and functions), and 31.1% were canceled. In other words, 80% of software development projects fail. They fail at being on time; they fail at being on budget; or they fail at providing the intended functionality.
If so many projects fail, then what is the secret to success? Success is as simple as making sure the right best practices are utilized when executing your project. These are proper project management, constant two-way communication, a solid technical brief and a well thought-out development plan.
The Not-So-Secret Secrets to Success
Many of these best practices might seem like common sense, and they are, but oftentimes only parts of each best practice are employed (rendering them less effective), or execution is lacking. Knowing a bit more about what each best practice entails will help you recognize if your project is set up for success.
Freelance developers are great to help you with a project on the go, but you need a skilled management team to properly develop a large software project. Someone on their own simply won’t have the time or skillset to do everything required. Everything from timelines, communication, the scope of work, quality assurance and more will all be taken care of (as they should be!) by your project management team. Project management is an art form, and with the complexities of a large software project, attention to detail and meticulous organization is imperative to ensure project success.
Whenever communication works it’s because it’s a two-way street. Your input as a client is extremely important to the success of the project. Your market intelligence, your sense of purpose, your vision, all are necessary to software development success. The team you work with should facilitate open lines of communication and be equally transparent with the status of the project and what needs to be done (by both sides) to stay on track. Weekly, and even daily if the project is exceptionally complex, email or phone updates should be established to ensure regular communication is happening throughout the project so nothing is missed and everyone is on the same page.
The Technical Brief is, in a sense, the manifest of the voyage of software development. Just like a ship’s captain has a complete description of his cargo and its destination, the Technical Brief states clearly what is included and what is not. Both those lists are very important to the success of the project. A clear statement of deliverables makes sure there are no surprises or crucial parts missing. And gives you a checklist of what to expect. The Technical Brief keeps everyone on the same page of the scope of the project.
You don’t build a house without a blueprint and you don’t develop software without a plan. Your development plan lays out the requirements for each feature, the why’s behind them, and how and when each piece will be developed. It’s your guide for success. Your development team should be able to clearly discuss with you how your project will be tackled, the sequence each feature will be completed, when testing will happen and outline the important milestones.
Choose the Right Team
When you undertake a software development project, you have to make sure the people you hire to do the work are up to the task. When vetting companies or developers, make sure that they have the experience and skill-set needed to meet the requirements of your project. A good development company will take the time to comb through your project and walk you through how they will deliver a product that meets your expectations. If they don’t clearly discuss how each of the above best practices will be managed, be wary.
If you have questions about a software development project, contact Troon. We can help advise you on how you can realize success for yourself.