The number of articles discussing the reasons why software development projects fail has recently been growing, you can find one of them on our blog as well. This should come as no surprise, given the research conducted by the Standish Group which shows that over 30% of projects are anticipated to be closed before ever being completed and over 50% of projects will cost twice as much as it was originally estimated. Whilst there has been a great deal of analysis focused around what makes a great number of projects end in failure and how to overcome this problem, little has been said about shifting your mind-set and focusing on success instead of assuming failure upfront, which is why this article explains how to ensure project success in the first place.
1. Gather clear requirements
Gathering requirements and conducting business analysis are the first two steps in the development lifecycle which determine what designing and developing a product will look like. After collecting and analysing requirements along with additional business documents, a business analyst can determine what your client needs and distinguish it from what they want, as well as then translating those needs to developers to find the best way to complete the project. If you want to avoid failure, be realistic, and never promise something you cannot deliver.
2. Detail project specifications
Once the requirements are collected and analysed, it is necessary to write them all down. It allows both parties to verify whether all aspects have been included in the contract as discussed and to avoid any misunderstandings in the future. It is vital to discuss conditions such as the general scope, deadline, payment schedule, and detailed system performance criteria.
3. Involve end-users
Whether the software is to be used by internal or external users, it is important to understand what they need. Ignoring this fact often leads to developing a product that nobody uses as the people responsible for providing the requirements failed to engage end-users in the project. Remember to communicate with both your co-workers and customers to prioritise their needs, as this will ensure project success. It is extremely helpful to ask for their requirements at the beginning, as well as for their feedback during the development.
4. Work on internal communication
Communication is one of the most vital aspects leading to project success, however, building a good relationship with your customers is not the only thing you should pay attention to, as effective teamwork within your company is equally important. The healthier the workplace is, the more successful the company becomes, which is why you should make sure that departments exchange information seamlessly and openly. When building a team for a new project, it is important to ensure that they both have the right skills and can work well together.
5. Be flexible
Project requirements usually change during the development lifecycle. To meet the needs of their customers, vendors should remain flexible to face all of the possible challenges. However, some companies are unable to do so as they refuse to implement emerging technologies and thus reduce automation. Not only does it slow down your workflow but it also prevents you from providing a customer with the newest technology, which leads to losing a competitive advantage. If you want to grow your business, you need to keep up with the tech industry.
6. Communicate and be transparent
Always make sure you are on the same page as both your customers and your team members to avoid possible misunderstandings. Building a transparent work environment is a great way to speed up the company’s workflow. It includes organising weekly team meetings where those involved can update others on their work progress, as well as monthly status reports where customers can share their feedback. It is said that communication tends to be poor in projects experiencing problems, thus keeping everyone informed both make your product meet all of the requirements and increases the productivity of your company.
7. Test, test, test
Last but not least, solid testing is critical to determine how the software will work in a new environment. This last phase of the software development life cycle is often ignored and completed in a hurry which leads to releasing an error-prone product. When performing solid and thorough testing before the release date, you can easily detect and fix any bugs that may occur, while involving end-users in this process allows you to make sure the system is user-friendly and works according to the requirements.
Software development project failures remain worryingly popular but can be easily avoided if you pay attention to details and carefully follow a chosen methodology. Every company is likely to experience downfalls, but it is the way you approach this problem which makes you either complete the project or fail. The first step is thus shifting your mindset from failure to success.