Good news or bad news first?
That's always a tough choice. We like to finish on a positive note, so first we published 5 Reasons Why Custom Software Projects Fail.
Today we flip that around and look at our top five reasons custom software development projects succeed:
- The Project Has a Clear Goal
Building a piece of software is usually a group effort. Building anything with a group is challenging. Different people will have different ways to solve a problem, different ideas of design, or even different priorities of what should be done first.
Ultimately though, it all comes down to that the users have to want to use it. Involve them before the first line of code is written. Find out what would make the project a success for them.
The finished project has to provide value to the business. It has to save money, make money, or improve another identified metric within the company. Map those goals out before the project gets underway. Get baseline measurements that you can use for comparison when your project is complete.
And yes, requirements can be expected to evolve as the project proceeds. Successful projects anticipate this and provide a means to manage change, and test each change against user and business goals.
- The Project Has A Savvy Sponsor
Successful projects have a champion in the business where the new software will be used.
When you implement new software in a business, it means a change to the way the work gets done day to day. People are naturally resistant to this change.
The sponsor on a successful project uses their leadership skills to overcome resistance. They communicate with end users, champion the new solution, and influence adoption. They also are always available to the team, throughout the life of the project.
The client sponsor on a successful software project understands the development process. They understand the impact of changes to the budget and schedule and they understand the end goal.
- The Project Has Dandy Developers
Successful projects have developers that are chosen for their productivity and competence, not their hourly rate.
Successful projects invest time in teaching the developers how the business works and how the new software will fit within it. Being able to think like a user, communicate with non-technical users, and wear multiple hats, is what makes a developer an invaluable asset.
The developers see the project as a way to solve challenges for the end user, and that's more important than the elegance or novelty of their code.
- The Project Has a Prescient Project Manager
Prescience: The ability to know what will or might happen in the futureMirriam-Webster.com
Successful projects have project managers who can see the course of the development at a high level, foresee challenges, and head them off at the pass.
The PM on a successful project will:
- Schedule meetings to draw the team together
- Document clear objectives and requirements
- Establish project milestones
- Create a communication model for the project
- Schedule events to celebrate project wins along the way
- Help resolve issues that arise so the team can be as efficient as possible.
Sponsors are from Mars. Developers are from Venus. The PM on a successful project, acts as the interplanet project emissary between the two, translating languages and adapting communication modes to suit.
- The Project Has Agreement on Budget and Schedule
Being over budget or late is the usual project-killer. Successful projects have agreement on budget and schedule.
Through communication by the space-walking project manager, that agreement is maintained as requirements, features, and schedules slip and change.
Need a Success?
Have you been burned by failed software development projects in the past? Yea, our record isn't spotless either.
But we all learn, right?
Give us a call. We can share horror stories and have a good laugh. But then we'll plot out a fresh and shiny project that avoids disaster and ends up on time, on budget, and makes life easier for its users.