When you make the decision to contract for new custom software, you naturally have high hopes for the project and everything your solution will eventually do for your company. But before you can begin to enjoy the fruits of this decision, there is a development process that must be completed, and ideally your solution will be created without a hitch.
Hiring the right software development partner is a critical part of minimizing potential problems, but your company plays a vital role as well. Be prepared in advance by reviewing these five common mistakes that companies make in supporting — or failing to support — their custom software project. And, learn the strategies you can use to overcome them before they develop into an issue.
1. Failure to Formulate Your Plan
When you’re determining the goals for your custom software solution, the outcome you desire should be as finalized as possible, down to the last detail. Many companies mistakenly focus solely on the desired “big picture” outcomes without understanding the smaller benefits as well. In addition to understanding your goals, you should have a rough idea of your realistic timeline expectations to chart progress.
The more completely you can map out your vision and communicate to your development firm exactly what your software solution needs to do, the more quickly the firm can get to work bringing your goals to life and following your plan.
2. Throwing People at the Problem
There can be too many cooks in the kitchen, and there can also be too many people on a custom software design project. Your custom software design partner will employ a design methodology — like Agile, for example — that governs how they work and communicate with you. When these communications occur, it’s in your best interest if they occur with a smaller, consistent team on your side.
If your company is forced to add new team members to the project, they will need to be brought up to speed on every aspect and, naturally, will want to interject opinions of their own. Either of these scenarios could delay your project’s completion.
To counteract this, commit to a small, dedicated team that will manage the project on your side. Make the project a focus for these employees and they will see it through to the end.
3. Increasing Scope
First, a small disclaimer: Managing your expectations does not mean lowering your standards. You still have the right to demand the highest quality custom software solution.
What it does mean, however, is that all your expectations should be viewed not through a lens of “Is it possible?” and instead through a lens of “Does it help the overall solution?” Some companies fall victim to the lure of an added feature that seems appealing, only to find that it will delay the project for little overall gain.
To avoid what is commonly called scope creep, keep sight of your ultimate goals for your software project and take the time to discuss any other possible additions with your development team. Tell them what you’re considering and be receptive to their feedback about how this addition will affect the overall timeline and budget. In some cases there may be real benefits to making the change, while in others the addition may be better left out.
4. Failure to Participate and Missing Deadlines
Many companies make the mistake of believing that because they’ve hired a custom software development firm to handle the creation of their solution, the project is out of their hands.
This is not the case.
Custom software development projects — particularly those developed through an Agile methodology — thrive on constant communication. When only one side is taking an active role and meeting deadlines, the project suffers.
To counteract this, place the project in the prominent, important role it deserves and let your team know that they are responsible for keeping the project moving smoothly on their side as well.
5. Disregarding Early Versions and Testing
Your custom software solution will be developed as a series of regular releases, each with new features to be tested. While these are only test versions, it is vitally important that they are reviewed and tested to ensure the development team is on the right track.
As a company, no one on your team should ever adopt an “it’s only a test” mentality. These test releases should be closely scrutinized and treated as if the outcome is the final product. This will allow your team to identify usability issues early and have them fixed, before the project is complete and they become more expensive to correct down the line.
Working With Your Custom Software Development Firm
Every custom software development project is different, but the processes you put in place to address the concerns above will help in any instance. If you ever have a question about how you can make your project run more smoothly, address it with your development firm. A little extra communication can go a long way toward delivering the result your company deserves.