Taking these steps will drive success!
It can be hard to know what steps to follow to ensure that you have a successful development project, especially one that comes in on budget. Getting it right though, can save you up to 40% in cost and resource time, so it is definitely worth doing.
To help all of our clients with this, potential or otherwise, we thought that we would put together a checklist that includes some industry best practices that are proven to drive results. In our next post, we will then be going into even more detail, and provide a full development guide to help you with your next project!
Step 1 – Creating a Brief
The brief is the key to a successful development project, and is the difference between a great piece of software and a poorly thought out one. So what should it include?
- The top level ideas of what you are trying to achieve, and why?
- What problem are you trying to solve with your new software?
- What users are you aiming it at? Internal staff or external or both, including age range etc if applicable.
- Who will the users of the platform be?
- What are your major competitors in the space, if applicable? And therefore what is your core differentiator (USP)?
- Do you have any thoughts on software language, hosting environment or device / environment specifics?
Step 2 – Project Detail
The Detail step provides us with further, more detailed information, that drills down on the key requirements of what the software actually does, and what you you are looking to achieve with it. It is the heart and soul of the project, and something that will be referred to throughout the project development process.
- List out what your application should do, breaking it down into as much detail as you can, section by section. Breaking this down by user is also very helpful if there are going to be different types.
- You should also highlight which items are the core items that your platform has to go live with, and those that are really nice to have but could come later on.
- How will your users use these features? We call them use cases, and they can also take the form of workflow diagrams.
- Will your software require ongoing maintenance? So things like regular content updates, new features once it has gone live, hosting support etc.
- How do you expect your application to grow and advance in the coming months and years?
Step 3 – Budget
We can advise you on this, but it is always helpful to have an understanding of your financial position as early on as possible. We work with a lot of startups, so we can often help with putting together the relevant information that you would need for investment rounds and so on.
- What is your available budget for the different phases of development, including initial phase, second phase and ongoing maintenance? It is good to break it down into the different areas so you have a clearer picture of what you would be getting for your money.
- Prioritise the features that you would like to see in your software (as per the above step), and mark what is the most important and what could wait if push comes to shove and budgets are limited. By looking at if from a financial point of view by doing this exercise, some items may be shuffled around, and what you then develop to minimum viable product (MVP) could be a little different!
Step 4 – Software Delivery Timelines
We know that timeframes are, more often than not, the driving force behind a lot of decisions, but they can be detrimental if not planned for accordingly.
- Be clear with what timeframes you are looking to complete each phase of development by, and provide reasons as to why – this helps us understand your urgency and can enable us to plan aspects of the project in ways that can accommodate more successfully.
- Always allow time for a good period of testing prior to your ideal launch date. Ultimately your users will be the driving force behind bugs and change requests, but you don’t want their first experience of your brand new software to be a bad one, so aim to get your software tested by experienced users of similar software. Again, this is something we can help with.
- Factor in training times if your application will require staff members to update your product/service.
Step 5 -Additional details that can be very helpful!
The more information that you can give us, the more of a picture it builds for us, helping us to really understand what your expectations are and what you are hoping to achieve. A couple of those additional details could be:
- Logos, branding material, fonts, images – anything that may already have been created that portrays the type of ‘feeling’ you are hoping to achieve.
- Drawings or wireframes (however rough), that help illustrate your vision for your software project.
- Any details of what you are hoping your software will do. For example, will it need to integrate with any other pieces of software? Do you have login details for that software so that we can take a look?
- Are there any legal requirements or pre-existing projects or software that may impact the development of your project?
If you need a hand putting your development brief together, please do let us know, and contact us via our online form or phone us on +44(0) 800 774 7306. We would love to help!
Also, please do come back next week, when we will be posting our Software Development Guide – a guide that will help you with formatting all of the above answers to the checklist points, to make it as easy for you as possible!