For a software project to succeed, there are many things that need to come together. There are often multiple teams working on the same project, and many layers of development that need to happen. Each phase of a software development project is critical to it’s success. Here are seven tips for ensuring that your software development initiative comes out on top.
1. There must be a clear vision of what the product should be when it is handed to the customer
In order for any software project to succeed, there has to be a singular vision of how the end product will work, how it will look and how it will grow in the future. Defining what the product will be when completed is definitely the most important step, because it informs the decisions for each step after it. A flaw at this stage can create an unworkable solution that does not meet the business needs of the client, if you’re making the software for someone who has hired you, or will not fulfill the desired use of the software.
This vision can be developed by the company who is contracting the software development, or in many cases it can be defined by the development company by asking the client what their goals are through a series of discussions. The output of these discussions is a set of business requirements. These documents are written in plain language that anyone can understand and discuss. They allow the client to have a clear understanding of what they are paying for. They may include diagrams, and even rough sketches of how each user interface will look and will detail how the product will work for anyone who uses the system.
2. There must be a clear definition of each component of the product to be developed
After coming up with the overall vision for the product, the software development team will be able to create a technological overview, based on the business requirements created in step one. The diagrams and documentation is discussed by the technology team and they will generate technical requirements. This is a list of instructions to the development team and any other resource that breaks down high level instructions. An example of this would be the statement “A viewer can watch a model by clicking on her cam,” for a software that would allow users to watch a fitness model live on their computer.
This stage also defines functional areas and actionable technical instructions that breaks down the rules necessary for the viewer clicking on the window and what happens. For the example given above, “When the viewer clicks on the cam check to see if he’s logged in, if he isn’t logged in show the login page, if he doesn’t have a login make sure there’s a ‘register now’ link. Check to see if the model is logged in, if she’s in a private session display a dialog box,” would let developers know what the parameters of this feature are. Depending on the size and complexity of a project this step can be somewhat informal – the breakdown is discussed and can be immediately input into a project management software as tasks to complete, or it can be a formal document to be reviewed by the client.
3. The architecture chosen must meet the goals of the business, including upfront and ongoing costs
If you want a car to drive to the store, sure, you can do it in a Bugatti sports car, but if the user has a family with 5 children and needs somewhere to put the dog and $500 of groceries that’s probably not going to get the job done. The architecture is developed by understanding the business requirements, and is usually decided while developing the technical requirements. The architecture should reflect the overall goals of the project, and keep the budget in mind.
At this point in the project the product should be defined, any concerns or complications should be identified. Assumptions should be identified and, if possible, tested. Issues discovered at this point should be discussed with the client if they will increase costs, risks or time estimates. This will make sure that everyone is on the same page.
4. The resources on the team must possess the skills necessary to perform these tasks and produce a quality product
When hiring an outside company to perform a task it is a reasonable expectation that they will be able to perform at a high level to provide value. All software projects are unique, and have their own challenges. Any team must have enough base-line skills to be able to adapt to these new challenges. Depending on the per resource costs there may be some latitude for learning new skills, but the expectation when hiring an outsourced team is that they have the necessary skills to execute successfully while learning project specific skills. Thus, it’s best to do some research when hiring firms for a software project outside of your company.
5. There must be project controls to ensure efficient use of resources and people
There are many different ways to effectively manage a software project. There are project management tools that are web based or software based, and of course, many companies use project managers to help keep everyone on task. The important piece is to understand where you’re going and to break down the project into a number of steps that can be estimated and tracked. In addition, setting reasonable milestones is an important part of project management. This will keep the software development team on task, and will also keep any clients happy, because they will be able to see a timeline of when things are going to happen.
6. There must be quality controls to ensure that written code meets or exceeds the project goals
In any complex product there are many inputs and outputs. From user interactions to data being moved between software components. While there are different philosophies on how to test something it is critical that all these moving pieces are validated. This is even more important when the system involves the movement of money. Every software development company should have a good quality assurance process to make sure that everything they develop works correctly, and performs the goals of the project. Quality assurance is a key part of software development that should not be overlooked.
7. The product must be able to compete in the marketplace and exceed customer expectations
Basically, this means that the software developed has to work, and it should be better than the things that are already out there. Whether that means it is faster, looks better or simply functions better than other existing software is up to the developers, but they should leave the client something competitive to work with. With so many different software services, apps and the like out there today, it could be easy for a new product to get lost in the sea of digital sales. Make sure your development team is going to help your product stand out to make your investment worth your while.
Justin Ross is the owner of BlueOctop.us consulting. He started as a technologist during the early days of Palm Computing, became a seasoned veteran of Internet 2.0 startups including 'lots of failed entities no one heard of', and parlayed those learning experiences into major successes as the director of ‘making things better’ for Endurance International, and now serves as a key contributor to the explosive growth of several well known brands in the digital marketing and high traffic monetization verticals.
There are no upcoming events.
© 2015 All DigitalApex. All Rights Reserved.