No one enters into a new software development project lightly. As a company your motivations to complete the project are clear. Whether you want to eliminate inefficiencies, create a solution that better serves your customers or cement your place as a market leader, your project has a distinct goal in mind.
You won’t experience any tangible benefits until your project is finished, so clearly you want your software project completed as quickly as possible. Which brings us to the software development timeline. While the exact timeline of any software project depends on multiple variables, there are things you can do — and questions you can ask — that will move the timeline along as quickly as possible.
Communication is Key
Custom software developers work under a set methodology that governs not only how they work on your project but how they communicate with you as well.
Agile methodology, for example, refers to a development approach that is centered around iterative, incremental periods of design/build, called sprints. The flexible, interactive nature of this methodology keeps you and your development team in frequent contact. Other methodologies may follow a more linear development path, with less frequent communication updates, so be sure to ask your developer what methodology they use and how/when you will be involved in the development process.
Once you understand the communication schedule, sticking to it and avoiding gaps in communication or delays in decision-making will move the timeline along as quickly as possible. In addition to learning more about the firm’s development methodology you can also ask where your project’s development team is located and what level of communication you will have with them. Some development teams may be located overseas and the time zone difference can make communication difficult. Or the firm may require all communication between you and the development team go through an account manager. This account manager may be onshore but if the development team is located offshore, communication difficulties could still exist.
Confirm how communication will be handled for your project and you’ll be able to better manage expectations.
Sticking to the Scope
Your project’s timeline will be governed by a clear scope of work to match your needs. Defining your product vision should be a joint effort between your product team and your development team.
The finalized scope represents a blueprint for your project’s completion, but you can expect adjustments to be made along the way. These adjustments in scope could occur in response to unexpected complications or they can represent new opportunities to improve your end result. No matter why these changes occur, it’s important that the change in scope is well defined, and that everyone involved in the project understands the effect on the timeline and approves the new scope before the project moves forward.
The Right Team for the Job
Your relationship with your software development team should be a partnership – two sides working together to complete a common goal. Your software developer should provide a project manager to facilitate the project’s progress and if that person departs, filling the role quickly will prevent your project from lagging. At the same time you should expect the same developers to work on the project from your development company’s side while you assign the same team members in your company to the project. Employee turnover can’t always be avoided, but any instances of re-staffing may cause delays to your software development timeline.
Inquire about your development partner’s turnover and retention rates. Having low staff turnover should indicate the company’s ability to provide a stable team for completion of your project.
Let the Project Begin
As your new custom software project begins, your developer should be able to give you a more accurate timeline based on the scope of work. Expecting a 100% guarantee that your project will be complete on time is unrealistic. However, knowing in advance what methodology is being used, who is on your development team and when you can expect to be in communication with that team will guarantee that your project runs smoothly and results in a stable, secure, fully functional product you can release to market with confidence.