The Do's and Don'ts of how to approach it!
There are many different ways to run a successful development project, but the key is always in the initial planning, and then how you follow and adapt that plan throughout – things will change, so adaptability and good communication is key.
To help you plan your next development project, take a look at our core do’s and don’ts below:
- Use good project management software to manage all of the items that we will be covering below – you need to be able to create a record or requirements, phases, deadlines, tasks and who is responsible for what so that you can plan effectively, maintain transparency and aid good communication throughout
- Make sure that you list ALL of the requirements / features that you want to include in your development project – from ALL stakeholders
- Break these requirements into 3 different phases:
- Phase 1 – has to be included in the initial product launch
- Phase 2 – to be included in the next release after launch
- Phase 3 – next phase of development after initial 6-12 month period, and should include user feedback
- Do create budgets for the whole project, and the individual phases, so that you can successfully report against them
- Create different projects / plans / spreadsheets (however you are managing your project) for the following, so that you can report and keep track of progress, along with making sure you can assign the right tasks to the right team members:
- Requirements – where all feature requests sit, and where stakeholders can add new feature requests, so that you can track your organisation’s product feature requests
- Product Roadmap – normally broken down into quarters that cover your companies financial year, and used to align stakeholders on what products they’re creating, why, and when they’ll be released
- Product Project Plan – to help you break down your product features into top level projects that help you to focus the team on what needs to be developed and well – bitesize chunks of work if you like!
- Sprint Planning – to help you track your team’s sprint plans. Most teams make projects at the beginning of each sprint and track their work through each stage to make sure they know where their sprint work stands
- Product Launches – to help you keep track of all the statuses, stages, details, deadlines, and deliverables for your next product launch
- Bug Tracking – to help you track the bugs that are found across the platform during testing and after release
- Create a Communications Plan to sit alongside your project plans – so that all stakeholders know how they will be communicated with (so via email, project tool, phone etc), how often that is likely to be, and what response timeframes they are expected to give
- Be flexible when things change – priorities, directions, budgets, people changes etc always pop up, and there is no way to avoid it. So the best thing to do is to have a plan for when things change – a Change Request Plan. Make sure that you always include the following:
- What the change is / new request is
- What efforts will take to complete it – so the design, spec, development and hosting requirement needed
- Durations for this new effort
- How it will impact on existing timeframes, product launches and budgets
- Create a Weekly Status Report that you send to ALL stakeholders of the project, that includes timelines met and missed, requirements added / removed, budgets met / missed and the implications of these on the launch timeframe for the new application
- Don’t be rigid in your approach – creating the perfect project plan before a project begins is one thing, but after that things will change, and the success of a project will be based upon how you deal with those changes
- Don’t be unresponsive in your communications – when timings are tight or things aren’t going to plan, it is easy to bury your head in the sand and crack on with work, but this doesn’t help your team or stakeholders understand what is happening, which causes unnecessary and time consuming frictions on a project
- Don’t ignore your planning when things change – this will only cause greater slippage throughout the project, costing more time and money. So make sure that when things happen, you update the project plans accordingly, and communicate these changes back to the stakeholders
If you have a great software product idea, but aren’t sure where to start in regards to planning and development, then please do give us a call on +44 (0)800 774 7306, or fill out our enquiry form here. We would love to hear from you.