6 Tips for a Better Custom Software Development Project

Custom software can help businesses in a variety of ways. The right software can transform your company’s value in the marketplace, from improving internal processes and capabilities to offering exceptional customer experiences and proprietary products. But if you’re going to excel in this area, you need an intentional plan.

Generally speaking, most businesses find it cost-effective to outsource custom software development to skilled programmers who are proficient in this area. And when that’s the case, it’s important to have a game plan. 

Here are a few tips you can leverage to get better results in less time (and with lower costs):

  • Begin With the End in Mind

Some of the most poorly developed software on the market is software that was produced in a linear fashion from start to finish. If you want to develop compelling software that serves the end user well, you must begin with the end in mind.

By starting with the end in mind, you force your team to think about the software in terms of value added to the user. This reorients your approach and helps eliminate unnecessary features and “fluff.”

  • Have a Single Decision Maker

Whether it’s a small software development project or an intensive one, you’re going to have multiple people involved. And while it’s smart to have multiple people involved, you must be proactive about establishing a single decision maker to call the shots.

Your decision maker should be someone in a position of authority who understands the larger context. They don’t have to know much about software development, but they do need a firm grasp of your business, customers, etc.

  • Hire the Right Team

Few businesses have the internal resources to take on a full-fledged software development project. Thankfully, there are plenty of outside options. The challenge is sifting through all of the different developers to find the correct fit.

When hiring a custom software development team, be on the lookout for factors like experience, niche expertise, scalability, location (onshore, offshore, or nearshore), and cost. Check out portfolios, schedule consultations, and pick a developer’s brain before making a final decision.  

  • Be Wary of Scope Creep

One of the biggest problems we see in custom software development projects is a concept known as “scope creep.”

Scope creep is what occurs when the scope of a project suddenly expands to become something bigger or more involved than was originally planned. And while some revisions are certainly normal, too many changes without simultaneously adjusting expectations can create big problems.

“Generally, scope creep is when new requirements are added after the project has started. Often these changes are not properly reviewed,” ProjectManager.com explains. “The project team is expected to deliver them with the same resources and in the same time as the original scope.”

The best way to avoid scope creep is to be meticulous in your planning and to establish a change control process that ensures any additions are approved/rejected via a streamlined process. Without a process, things will evolve without decision makers having much control. 

  • Keep Your Team Motivated

Software development projects can drag on for longer than expected. And while the beginning and end stages are typically filled with plenty of enthusiasm, things can drag in the middle. Thus, it’s important to keep your team motivated and tracking. 

You’ll have to decide what this looks like based on the dynamic of your team, their needs, and their interests. However, it should be noted that money isn’t always the best motivator in situations such as these. Other forms of motivation like recognition, gratitude expressions, and time off can be more powerful.

  • Clarify Ownership

Though it most likely won’t be an issue for you, it’s important to at least mention the topic of ownership. In 99.9 percent of cases, the company that pays for the software is the one who owns it. However, there have been situations where a developer tries to claim ownership over the end project. To avoid a scenario like this, be meticulous about the contract you draft up and sign before the start of the project. 

Put Your Best Foot Forward

There’s no secret formula to software development success. However, if you implement some of the tips and techniques outlined above, you’ll enjoy a much smoother process. And when it’s all said and done, you’ll come out on the back end with better results than you ever could have hoped for.

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