Software project planning usually starts with high spirits and expectations. You’re passionate about your idea and want to turn it into a viable business solution as soon as possible.
Maybe you decide to hire software developers and start an in-house team to work on a project. However, the recruitment process takes ages, and then it takes more and more time to finally deliver each feature, even though you oversee the project yourself.
In the second scenario, you decide to invest in outsourcing. Hoping to reduce the project’s cost even further, you decide on offshore development. Despite initial reassurance from a chosen vendor, the communication becomes irregular and passive, the time difference keeps you awake at nights, and you realise the quality is below your expectations.
Frustrated, you end up with an uncompleted project, already having wasted time and money. Sounds familiar? Close to 50% of our clients share similar experiences when they ask us to fix their projects. In this article, I’d like to guide you through planning a software project, and ultimately teach you the principles for how to develop a software project step by step.
Sounds familiar? Close to 50% of our clients share similar experiences when they ask us to fix their projects.
Here’s why software project fail stories continue to exist:
According to a study published in the Harvard Business Review, even one in six surveyed companies’ IT projects overrun their original timelines and budgets. Why does this happen?
PMI explains that there are seven causes of project failure, which include:
- The lack of focus on business value,
- Poorly measured results and the lack of accountability,
- Inconsistent processes,
- Omitting the customer during design and development,
- Poor software project management,
- The lack of tools and skills required for the project.
Plus, there are many challenges during software development:
- Keeping an eye on a budget and schedule is important for the bottom line.
- Choosing the right tech stack will make it easier to expand or maintain a solution and to avoid technical debt.
- Change requests or sudden problems can postpone project delivery.
Strategies to reduce variability according to McKinsey
One way to improve software project delivery is to focus on managing variabilities within the project. After studying data from numerous complex projects, McKinsey proposed four strategies to reduce variability, which can also improve software projects delivery.
In short, the idea is to:
- Leverage standardised processes,
- Reduce complexity if possible,
- Remove redundant processes,
- Control points of contact (e.g. design reviews, change requests).
Changes happen, but a successful software project manager knows where to apply standardised procedures, and where to adapt to project needs and changing business environment.
In software development projects, sometimes you will have to overcome technological challenges and barriers, and sometimes adjust or tweak something based on user feedback. With an incremental approach to planning a software project, you can maintain control over these complex processes, and reduce the chance of these variabilities to interfere with the project’s timeline or budget.
The second option is to improve software project management to better track costs, available and booked resources, prioritise work, and measure workload. This way it is easier to spot areas that need improvement or to better allocate resources.
DMAIC model in software development
Speaking of improving performance and enhancing existing processes, a DMAIC roadmap is a perfect tool for that. The model consists of 5 different phases:
- Define the area that needs improvement and set goals that will help you measure success.
- Measure the performance of the project.
- Analyse the factors that initially led to the problem.
- Improve the project by eliminating the causes of the problem.
- Control the project by monitoring improved processes.
DMAIC model fits software projects as they often follow an Agile methodology. This software project planning approach is based on iterations and delivering smaller pieces of software at once, which allows for improvement and better allocation of resources.
By defining goals, measuring analysing processes, improving weak spots, and ensuring continuous control, you can overcome the causes that lead to IT project failures I’ve mentioned at the beginning.
Need help with software project planning?
Running a successful software project can be overwhelming. This is especially the case if it’s the first time you’re tasked with managing software developers, project dependencies, different technological needs, users, and other factors. When asked how to develop a software project step by step, many novice developers will neglect the project roadmap for realising the initiative.
Furthermore, the reason why software project fail stories continue to plague development teams is unfortunately due to a lack of experience and preparation.
At SoftwareHut, we’re well aware of how complex software project management can be. Having worked on over 200 projects for clients from all over the world, we know when to apply standardised procedures, and when to tackle things individually.
We can support your project delivery, assigning experienced project managers and software developers to your IT solution. Let us know about your needs and allow us to handle the rest.