With the return on investment of software development efforts being so obvious, it is tempting to jump on the bandwagon and reap the benefits ahead of the competition. Yet, despite its potential benefits, software development is a quite risky enterprise. As many as 66% of IT projects worldwide end up being a partial or complete failure. To get the most out of your software development project, take into account the following eight best practices to employ when working with a technology consulting partner.
1. Set Your Goals
Building a software product only because TechCrunch says it’s a good idea or because everyone else in your industry does so is not the best strategy. Prior to getting down to work, think of your long-term business objectives and the problems software might help you solve. To choose the type of software that might bring maximum benefits for your business, target a specific pain point or problem that you would like to solve. However, don’t be too general: 'increase revenue' is a great goal, but it is too vague. Besides, how will you understand how much growth is enough? A much better idea would be to start small and set a specific milestone, such as, 'I want to attract X customers within X months and increase the average purchase by 10%.'
2. Go Full-Cycle
When building a software product, expect more than solely engineering skills. Software success lies not only in the lines of code. Simple and elegant user experience is equally important for your product’s adoption by your target audience. For better outcomes, engage a full-cycle development team that will share your responsibility and guide you through all stages of the process: from business analysis and UX/UI design to engineering and quality assurance. Further support and ongoing product improvements are valuable as well.
3. Look Beyond Costs
Software development can be cost-consuming. It might be tempting to choose the cheapest offer, but remember, if you buy cheaply, you pay dearly. Relevant experience, domain-specific skills, and modern technology stack prove to be more valuable than several thousand dollars you might save instead. A dedicated software development team approach is a great addition to the above-listed benefits. Hand-picked software and QA engineers become a part of your core business, focusing solely on your product, which allows for better quality and faster time to market.
4. Define the Scope and Deliverables
Although it is almost impossible to assess the project scope upfront, creating a simple work breakdown structure can help you outline the major requirements and tasks. Such an approach contributes to the understanding between you and the team. Make sure that you understand what you will get at the end of each project stage, starting from consulting and up through the product launch.
Communication proves crucial for project success when working with a distributed engineering team. This includes being able to clearly identify the goals and requirements, agree on deliverable beforehand and efficiently iterate throughout the process. It makes sense to come over to your team or invite them to visit your business location to jumpstart your project. This practice is especially important at the analysis and specification development stages. Then all issues are resolved as early as possible in the development process.
6. Start Small
Diving headfirst into a large software project with a new contractor might be risky. If something goes wrong or you decide to change the engineering team for any other reason, re-engineering of the half-built software might increase the project cost and cause significant delays. That is why starting a new software development partnership with a pilot project is a good idea. This allows you to eliminate the risks and test the waters at a reasonable cost.
7. Iterate and Improve
Even with a large project that is estimated to take more than a year, there is no need to try doing everything at once. A far better option would be to break down the total project scope into smaller and more manageable tasks, according to the best Agile software development practices . This keeps you flexible and allows you to adapt to the changing market conditions. Moreover, with technological advances your product never will be finished -- there is always room for improvement.
8. Choose the Right Technology Stack
The technology stack largely depends on the type of software you want to build and its purpose. While the choice between native and cross-platform mobile development is one of the most disputed topics, web development offers a great variety of options as well. Therefore, you need to weigh all pros and cons, rather than blindly trusting your contractor. Or at least request technology consulting as a separate service to make a well-grounded decision.