Getting Involved in Your Project
Engaging in a development project of any kind can be a lofty undertaking, especially if you are new to the development process. For custom software development projects, you may not have an in-depth technical understanding of how custom systems are made. However, you probably have a pretty good understanding of how to leverage software to make a more efficient and effective workplace. Development projects aren’t just about the result though, but the journey, as it is important to remember the development process will almost always impact the final product.
To ensure the development process goes as smoothly as possible while yielding the best results, it is crucial that you are involved throughout the project. Whether you have limited technical knowledge or not, being involved during development will save you and your organization valuable time and money throughout the project.
A wise man once said that the root of all problems is communication or lack thereof. Communication should be at the heart of the project mandate, as overall project success hinges on it.
Assign a Project Manager
Assigning a Project Manager and using project management tools and techniques will allow you to more effectively future-proof your custom application from the beginning.
By having a project manager, you have a dedicated point of contact for all your development needs, questions and concerns. To that point, it allows for problems to be resolved both faster and more efficiently, mitigating risk throughout the entire project. Effective project managers can greatly decrease development time, scope creep and overall project cost, while contributing to enhanced customer satisfaction overall (with you being the customer). The project manager will use planning tools and methods and determine what is best for the business and the project long before any development occurs. Leveraging tools and processes along with their knowledge of organizational assets and history, as well as resource capabilities and strengths, the project manager determines how best to approach any development-oriented project.
ERP software distributor, Distribution One stated that:
“Without management, the implementation timeframe, budget, and scope can easily become derailed by any number of risks arising from unforeseen changes in requirements. It’s incumbent upon a project manager to stress the importance of communication through the entire process… Communication is key to building trust and effectively managing expectations.”
Establish Transparency & Communication
After assigning a project manager, but before embarking on the project, you should insist on the development of a communications plan. This plan sets the frequency, agenda, day, time and duration of your regularly scheduled project meetings. These scheduled meetings are usually referred to as Traction Meetings, and their focus is on progress; enforcing activity that is designed to identify, discuss, and develop solutions to issues impeding the progress of your project. They should be at consistently recurring times and be the same length, with the same agenda.
- Just under half (46%) of all respondents experienced challenges with change management
- Over 25% reported challenges with job reassignments, retaining process design, retaining job changes, as well as process/service management
All these challenges can be mitigated by maintaining an open and honest channel of communication, which allows for better transparency into the development of your system/project.
There a variety of tools available that can help foster a transparent environment and smooth communication. One of the tools we use is a project management system known as Basecamp. Centralizing project-related communications under one roof, tools like Basecamp make it easy to communicate and manage changes, keeping everybody in the loop and on the same page.
Effective communication, real status updates, frequent meetings, and product demonstrations are all part of the communication required for a custom development project. These processes ensure that you and your stakeholders have a high level of comfort throughout the project. Look into what project management software works best for your company to enable you to maintain project transparency as well as effective communication throughout the development process.
There were two studies performed in the 90's that have helped guide us here at CoreSolutions over the course of our development projects. A study by the ESPI in 1995 found that nearly 60% of all defects discovered in a software project could be traced back to errors made in establishing requirements. A 1994 study by the Standish Group revealed that 13.1% of projects fail due to the incomplete requirements and 8.8% of projects fail due to the rapidity of changes in the requirements. These stats are the reason the first stage of our development process is all about gathering, documenting and discussing goals and system requirements.
When discussing the requirements with your project manager, stress the importance of a requirement gathering process, as your contribution and involvement will be critical in defining project expectations and managing project outcomes. By working to develop a set of requirements for your project, you create guidelines to follow throughout the process, which is particularly important if you have outsourced development to an external company. By not being involved, requirements may never be properly established, meaning the scope of the project can quickly snowball, significantly increasing both time and overall cost.
Project involvement greatly impacts the likelihood of project success. Ensuring clear and open channels for communication helps maintain transparency while mitigating project risks, and fostering a collaborative environment. Assigning a project manager as a main point of contact is an important first step in obtaining productive communication between all parties involved, ensuring everybody is on the same page and working towards a common goal.
Make sure you establish a clear set of project requirements, and a means of metricizing project success with a set of simple, measurable, attainable, realistic and time-sensitive objectives (SMART Goals).
Connect with CoreSolutions today to start your project with a Free Needs Analysis.
And as always,
Thanks for reading!