For software design and development teams, meeting the demands of their stakeholders and delivering successful software projects on-time and on-budget is a never-ending challenge. Actually, according to the Standish Group, a primary research advisory organization that focuses on software development performance, of all the companies that they surveyed, 31.1% of software projects were cancelled, while 52.7% of projects exceeded their original budgets by 189%. Whether your developing a new web application, building a better website, or creating a new mobile app, you want to ensure that your project is completed successfully, delivering real value to your end-users and business, while achieving a positive return on investment (ROI).
In preparation for your next software project, here’s a top 10 checklist to maximize your chances of success and ensure that your project does not become another negative statistic:
1.) Be Clear on Your Business Objectives & Project Specifications
Prior to jumping into coding and executing your system development lifecycle (SDLC), create a product roadmap that identifies your business objectives and strategic plan. Be specific regarding what resources, infrastructure, and expertise your team needs to achieve it’s objectives with a value-driven vision of the project scope, who are the end-users, and what are the “pain points” being resolved.
2.) Deliberate from an End-User’s Perspective with Design Thinking Concepts
Design thinking is a process for creative problem solving which has a human-centred core. It encourages organizations to focus on the people they’re creating for, which leads to better products, services, and internal processes. During every step of the project (including testing), put yourself in the shoes of the end-user, so that the requirements of the target audience are fulfilled and business objectives are met.
3.) Create a Detailed Development Plan
With a detailed development plan, you can ensure that your technical teams and stakeholders have a clear understanding in advance of their roles and responsibilities, what development tools and languages will be utilised, and what technical architecture will be required to support the software. Be sure to implement the following development methodologies:
– An application framework
– Sprint plans with milestones
– Coding audits and progress reviews
– Bug and task logging and tracking
– Automated testing
4.) Only Utilise Experienced Developers
It sounds simple, but as the statistics quoted earlier suggest, companies with a focus on budget over expertise, will end up paying much more in the long run anyway. Ensure that you hire developers with a high level of expertise with a proven track record in implementing “best-in-class” software development protocols and workflows to guarantee a smooth development process.
5.) Implement Clear & Consistent Communication
Once all the preparatory work has been completed and the SDLC has commenced, it is common for companies to get lazy and “take their eye off the ball.” Clear and consistent communication is the backbone to any successful software development project. Ensure that dedicated communication channels are set-up so no matter what stage of the project you are at, issues, milestones, achievements, and ongoing project updates, are effectively disseminated.
6.) Execute Strong Project Management
Here are some key recommendations for a strong project management function:
– Draft a document where all stakeholders agree to a set of deliverables and acceptance criteria to avoid scope creep and any corresponding additional costs.
– Execute a formal agreement between your software development team and the internal business units to set clear expectations and eliminate any confusion.
– Ensure that the development team implements an Agile project management methodology, which develops software with an iterative approach.
– Always keep the project moving forward with clear milestones, strict deadlines, and regular progress review meetings.- Implement daily and weekly, internal stand-up meetings where you discuss what modules were completed, what will be completed next, and are any obstacles hindering progress.
7.) Implement Software Development Best Practices
Ensure that your development teams are working as per coding standard best practices such as implementing:
– Source control to manage changes to the code and provide a centralized source for the code.
– Continuous integration (CI) and delivery (CD) which provides regular updates to quickly resolve end-users problems with an emphasis on automated testing to validate the changes made throughout the process.
– Code reviews to identify any bugs and defects and enforce best practice implementation.
8.) Focus on the User Interface Design & Experience
It’s not just the back-end programming that is important, you need to have a team of user-interface (UI) and user-experience (UX) designers that always prioritise the end-user experience of the software. They will create a detailed design document that specifies the techniques and tools that support your product goals using wireframing and prototyping tools for user flow mock-ups, which show picture representations of information and features.
9.) Don’t Forget Risk Management
Even when looking back at successful software development projects, things still always go wrong. Create a risk management log for the early identification of risks, action plans to mitigate these risks, and the analysis of the potential impact these risks might have on the overall project budget, scope, and quality.
10.) Execute Go-Live & Post-Launch Reviews
Once all the final user acceptance testing (UAT) is complete, it is time to move onto “go-live” deployment of the software solution. Once you “go-live” utilizing the deployment framework and documentation you have already established, you then need to audit and analyze what features and functionality worked, what didn’t work, and what improvements can be made. This is where 360 degree feedback loops with end-users and stakeholders need to be continued and any refinements implemented.