How do you make your software project successful? It’s a question in many business leaders’ minds. With so many organizations striving to break into competitive markets and make their product the next great one in the industry, not everyone will come out ahead.
Fortunately, there certainly are ways to maximize the value of the product and ensure you’re setting it up to succeed in a challenging landscape. While there’s never any guarantee, following these steps will better set you up for success.
It Starts with the Right Team
If you’re lucky, you have the requisite skills on your team already. But many businesses, large and small, simply don’t. Because software projects demand specialized talents and qualities, you will often need to look elsewhere to ensure that you’re equipped to complete the job successfully.
One solution to this is to outsource projects, or portions of projects, to outside talent. You can employ specialized firms or individuals who have the specific skills you need to fill in the gap, while at the same time freeing up time for your in-house team members to focus on doing what they do best.
It’s also important to clearly define roles and their responsibilities. Don’t leave any responsibility unaddressed, no matter how insignificant it might seem. This will ensure every task and piece of the project is accounted for.
It Continues with a Solid Plan
Once you have a skilled team in place, the next step is to formulate a solid plan that will dictate the course of your project and ultimately lead to your success.
Establish which tools you will use to best complete your project. Account for different pieces of the project — conceptualizing the product, building it, and testing it. If you don’t already have the necessary tools, plan for how and when you’ll acquire them.
Requirements gathering drives any software project. This vital step ensures that you’re working toward a specific goal or goals. While not identical to objectives, requirements set the course for what you’re trying to achieve by building your software.
It’s not enough to simply list out your requirements and create a plan. It’s also essential to put them into action — or at least consider how they would pan out — by developing a roadmap.
A roadmap details how you will actually implement your plan. You’ll include specific details, such as who’s responsible for which project components and benchmarks toward achieving your goals. Be as specific as possible.
You should also define the scope of your project. Without this key element, it could easily grow and get out of hand — beyond what you’re actually capable of accomplishing. Consider the scope in terms of what you can accomplish given your resources and how you’ll be able to say you’ve served your consumers.
Straightforward communication is essential for making sure you overcome obstacles and ensuring you meet the demands of the project. This goes for your internal team, connections between you and clients, and your work with stakeholders.
There are plenty of tools that can facilitate strong communication, from project management software to platforms like Slack and Zoom.
Always Have the End User in Mind
The goal of your software is to meet the needs of the user. To this end, you must always keep that individual in mind. Every measure you take and tool you leverage should have a purpose — and that purpose should be to address the demands of that particular individual.
Thinking like a software company means constantly appealing to that end objective. Outline what the needs you want to meet are from the beginning. Create a picture of the ideal user of your product. This is where most of the other elements of your project come from — requirements, your roadmap, and so on. Think about user testing, too. This will also help you ensure that you’re appealing to the user.
Know What Success Means
Success isn’t a blanket, standard term. It means different things to different organizations and leaders. When you set out to see your project through to completion, establish a clear definition as to what, exactly, it means to you.
What metrics will you use to evaluate your project? They will guide it toward completion and give you a means of determining when you’re finished and whether you have found true success at the end of the day.
Success doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re putting forth the most elaborate product with all the bells and whistles. Often, the technology that performs the best is simple. This is especially true when you’re just starting out in the world of software development. Attempting to incorporate too many features into a single product could lead to failure.
Instead, focus on the most critical, core features — the ones that make your product what it is. This is more likely to allow you to achieve ultimate success, your end goal.
Understand and Account for the Risks
No software project is without risks. It’s a delicate process, so it’s only natural that there will be problems along the way. One thing that separates successful projects from unsuccessful ones is accounting for the risks so that when issues do arise, you’re fully prepared to handle them.
Identify the risks involved with your project from the get-go. This will involve brainstorming and collaborating with your team. Consider not only what the risks are but also how they could potentially impact your project, as well as the scope of these risks.
No one can foretell whether and how your project will achieve ultimate success. The market is volatile and ever-changing. However, if you take these steps, you will be prepared to maximize your efforts and give your product the best possible chance of thriving.