The success of a software development project is made by a variety of factors, specifically in the process of planning, execution, collaboration, and management.

Although software development projects are often conducted with the best efforts from organizations, roughly 30% of them expect certain success. Failure may lurk from many aspects: poor planning, unrealistic expectations, improper vendor selection, ineffective communication, or lack of project management. 

Challenging as it seems, Project Managers (PMs) can still achieve desirable deliverables and optimize input resources by embracing the right practices from planning to launching and maintenance.

1. Start a project with realistic objectives and thorough planning

According to a survey of Innotas, 55% of IT professionals indicated that their development project failed due to a lack of time, staff, and budget. The main reason behind this is unrealistic expectations, especially when PMs skip a proper feasibility study or do not give much thought to a project’s complexity. Therefore, in order to effectively manage the project, PMs should set the objectives based on a thorough understanding of business context and anticipation of external influences and interdependencies.

Apart from expectations, it is the type of software development model that PMs need to clarify for the whole project flow. In case of no innovations in technologies or approaches, PMs can apply a simple linear waterfall development process for better control and time-saving. 

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Source: Science Soft

On the other hand, consider evolutionary development if the project is going to be vast and sophisticated, and the needs are likely to evolve. The agile methodology can be an effective option for its flexibility in development and testing activities. One of the most popular implementations of Agile methodology is the Scrum model, in which incremental builds are delivered to the client for feedback in a sprint of 2-4 weeks’ time. Scrum enables software development teams to focus on providing business value in the shortest time by speed and frequent evaluation of the product. It emphasizes responsibility, collaboration, and iterative development toward well-defined objectives.

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Source: Science Soft

The scrum model is popularly used because planning is not only done at the beginning of each project but also undergoes continuous adjustments after each sprint regarding feedback of actual performance. By closely tracking project performance, PMs can recognize failure indicators and respond accordingly to ensure milestones are met.

2. Make Wise Decision on resource allocation: In-house Development or Outsourcing

Companies that plan to build custom software often face a dilemma: Is it better to have it developed by the in-house team or by external vendors? While in-house software development maintains better alignment with the company’s values, outsourcing is motivated by the need to reduce costs and shorten time to market. Based on the organization’s resources and objectives, each approach offers varied pros and cons.

In-house software development comes with higher commitment but greater costs and a lack of expertise. Existing employees who already share the company’s culture are easier to team up and collaborate in the long run. By consistent participation, they may increase the in-project expertise. However, two main challenges are huge initial investments and a limited talent pool for related jobs. Hence, in-house software development may be more suitable for large-scale companies with abundant funds and adequate human resources.

On the other hand, outsourcing offers access to a vast talent pool as well as massive cost reduction. Especially if your core business is not directly related to software development, hiring an IT service supplier will ensure proper expertise and tools. Not only the expertise but also the cost is optimized by strategic outsourcing, up to 17%

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Source: McKinsey

Efficient as it may seem, PMs may face some difficulties in controlling quality and managing security risk when working with an external partner. Collaborative issues, limited control over the development team, and limited motivation may also be the concerns. Nevertheless, this can be alleviated by clear and formal agreements from both parties. Given its effectiveness, outsourcing is reported to become a growing trend in IT.

3. Choose the right Development Platforms

The right development platform is crucial to project success, as it can shorten the duration 2 to 20 times and offer different levels of effectiveness. PMs can consider development platforms depending on the type of project, whether it’s a website, web application, or mobile application. 

Website: To build a website that meets the project objectives, PMs can either use custom platforms or open-source website development ones. Custom platforms are coded exclusively to each business by professional developers based on specific requirements. This approach offers outstanding benefits of performance, security, and maintenance yet requires a certain investment. 

However, in most cases, PMs will have the website deployed on open-source platforms (for example, WordPress, Joomla, Microweber), for they are publicly accessible, user-friendly, and supported by various practical plugins. Yet PMs should be aware that it takes effort to keep available and added features in sync, as well as stay up-to-date and secure from viruses. 

Web application: Web applications use a combination of server-side scripts (PHP and ASP) to handle the storage and retrieval of information and client-side scripts (JavaScript and HTML) to present information to the user. Therefore, they are mostly used for interaction-involved projects like hospital patient records, enterprise corporations’ internal systems, and SaaS. Two types of web applications are SPA (Single Page Application) and PWA (Progressive Web Application). 

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Source: GEM

Mobile application: Mobile applications can be developed as Cross-platform (same code for iOS and Android) for simple functionality or Native (separate programming language for each operating system). For optimization of interface, responsiveness, and speed, Native development is preferable.

Indeed, PMs can come up with a wise choice of development platform with the consultancy from a tech-expert partner who accumulates professional knowledge and has diverse experience. With high Agile & DevOps capabilities and Quality Assurance experts, GEM has succeeded in numerous software development projects of multi-industry clients.

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4. Be Mindful of Communication and Partnership

One of the primary reasons why software projects fail is the lack of communication. Successful software development requires seamless communication both internally and externally. 

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Source: Photo by Charles Deluvio on Unsplash

It is critical to define and assign roles to team members in order to ensure that tasks are clearly listed and assigned to optimize effort. Indeed, up to 59% of U.S. workers confirm communication as the key to project success. Formal meetings and casual check-ins should be combined to communicate with the development team. Scheduled meetings provide an organized and exchange of information, which would help avoid any unclarity in requirements. Meanwhile, casual interactions allow a PM to ask and listen to team members proactively. Assuring the development team that management or other stakeholders will be alerted when concerns emerge is critical.

Spiritually, developers also benefit from frequent contact because they feel like valuable members of the broader project team. They may be working individually, but they are not operating in isolation with proper facilitation from the PM.

5. Keep Project Scope in control

To effectively manage project scope, a project scope statement can be made to ensure all key stakeholders have a clear understanding of what and how the project will run. It lowers the possibility of “scope creep,” or the addition of extra features and works not included in the initial discussions for the development team.

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Source: Photo by Lukas Blazek on Unsplash

In fact, PMs and business executives are at times unaware of the impact of a feature on the value they offer. Thus, it is necessary to return to the project management triangle and balance the scope, money, and time. The scope can always be supervised with the proper amount of analysis without affecting commercial value. A PM needs to constantly monitor the project to verify that its scope is under control. This might entail comparing performance data to project specifications to spot any potential flaws. If modifications are required, it may be necessary to return to the original agreement to see if they are within the scope of the project or a change requirement. 

Once the scope is well managed, the budget and timing would likely be clearly aware based on defined scopes. Periodic review, realistic estimation with room for flexibility (secure funding at least 150% of the estimate for unexpected expenses), and priority-based allocation are also helpful in keeping the delivery on time and within budget.

6. Gather customer feedback

Customer input is the ideal catalyst for helping both the product and technical teams establish a cadence and uncover new use cases. When market research and product development are not coordinated, release cycles tend to drag.  Besides, early evaluation and feedback are important for creating a product that sells, especially when consumers’ demands are difficult to forecast or change fast. You may achieve this by allowing extensive experimentation, beginning with introducing an MVP to entice early adopters to join and offering trial versions. 

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Source: Atlassian

There are several approaches to get authentic and helpful feedback in time. It could be feedback surveys after uninstalling (easy and quick to fill with multiple-choice and fill-in-the-blank questions), in-app bug reports, and communications channels (e-mail, web page, and social media). One creative example is a feedback collector on mobile applications called Jira Mobile Connect – a homegrown, open-source feedback system. This tool was created with the goal of removing friction from the feedback collection process; a user activates the feedback collector by shaking his or her smartphone, which takes a snapshot of the current display and prompts the user to enter data into a textbox. The feedback is then connected to an issue in the team’s Jira Software project for evaluation.

With proper filtering and analysis of helpful comments, the development teams can highly increase user loyalty and further expand the software’s life span.

Conclusion

To sum up, PMs can guarantee that projects are completed within timeline and budget, as well as minimize unpleasant incidents by a realistic and detailed plan from scratch. In addition, a wise decision on such an important resource like the development platform would play a vital role in the success of software development projects. Desirable final results are also contributed by a lot of communication, effective coordination, careful project scope management, and last but not least, improvement based on customer feedback.