Kick-Starting Your Project
So, you want to build a software application…
Often, we hear “We want to develop a software system for our business” … usually followed up with either “How much will it cost?” or “How do we start?”. Hold up… Before we get there let’s make sure we are setup in the best possible way to ensure success. I want to take a moment to focus on some key points that are critical to assess early in the process—the “ready, set” part. There will be lots of time for code writers, designers and other technical geniuses to have their way with the project later...
Does the team have a common understanding of the projects’ corporate vision? Alignment of the corporate, and project vision will provide a lens through which to focus many decisions as you proceed through the project life-cycle. A simple question to address is “When we have completed the system we/it will… [think global/vision]”.
Understanding how you will quantify the value of your project’s outcomes will provide a secondary lens through which to make critical decisions. The development process will gather many “great” ideas as stakeholders provide input. While many of these ideas may be interesting, the sum of them all will almost always exceed the project budget and timeline. Ensuring you focus on great ideas that enhance the core value will keep things on track…and budget.
Understanding the varied requirements and desires of the different stakeholders is critical to the success of any project. Stakeholder input will frequently surprise you - it is likely your organization performs several legacy tasks simply because no one has critically evaluated what the stakeholder needs for some time or has made assumptions. Engaging this audience is where the real value of the project is mined - and significant focus should be given.
It takes an entire team to make a project successful, but only a few dissenters to undermine a project’s success. The early part of the project is exciting as everyone sees the potential. As the heavy lifting starts and testing and training commence, make sure you have ways to maintain employee motivation, and morale. Celebrate the small victories as well as the larger ones!
Most risks can be attributed to either action or inaction (seems obvious…). Few people evaluate the risks of inaction, focussing more on the impact of potential actions. While it is critical to assess project risks and ensure there are sufficient contingencies to mitigate these potential risks, consider the risks of doing nothing. Understanding these hidden risks can dramatically impact your view of the value and focus of the system.
Make a Plan
Many successful projects start as “napkin art”; but the planning can’t end there. Developing a clear blueprint with as much visual reference as possible will engage the stakeholders and drive clarity through the project. The two primary measurements of project success are budget and timeline. Most project results can be traced back to the quality, and focus on the planning process –MINIMIZE THE EFFORT ON THE BLUEPRINT at your peril...
Contact us to help you successfully crystalize your plan and bring your vision to life…
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