Best Practices for Working with Software Development Partners

The Dreaded Budget...

Have you found yourself uttering these dreaded words—’We’re behind schedule and over-budget’? It’s a familiar lament in the world of software projects. But fret not, for there are remedies. Here are four proactive best practices that can steer your software development project on course.

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1. Plan Ahead!
Approach your partnership with a well-defined plan. Before embarking on a journey with a software development partner, ensure your team has a clear project objective. The cost and time overruns often arise when clients are uncertain about their goals, leading to numerous mid-course alterations, resulting in delays and extra expenses. Process documents, entity relationship diagrams (ERDs), flowcharts, hand-drawn sketches, swimlane diagrams, and user stories—any combination of these documents can be invaluable. Developers, often unfamiliar with your company or industry, greatly benefit from having reference documentation. Some of the most helpful documents have been hastily drawn with arrows and scribbles.

2. Time Equals Money!
Remember, developers typically bill by the hour. Think of your interactions with them akin to consulting a lawyer. Each contact, request, or meeting incurs hourly charges (usually in 15-minute increments). Make efficient use of your team’s time to avoid unnecessary expenses. Sending emails with questions or feedback? Billable time. Meetings? Billable. Being late or unprepared for meetings? Billable. Debating with colleagues while meeting with developers? Also, billable. To minimize costs, consolidate your questions into a single email and be ready for testing and feedback to keep development on track. Efficient communication and time management will shield you from surprise bills for additional developer time.

3. Scope Creep: The Peril!
When starting a software project, it’s easy to get swept away by the possibilities of a new system. The potential for improvement and efficiency gains can be overwhelming. Integrations with accounting, HR, and your company’s social media accounts may seem like fantastic ideas. However, they may well be beyond the scope of your initial project. Unless your budget is limitless, it’s prudent to catalog these ideas for future endeavors. Attempting too many changes at once can burden end-users and create more problems than solutions. Balancing the pace of change with the resources available is essential, as discussed in a forthcoming blog post about deployments.

4. Committee-Induced Indecision
When collaborating with a software development partner, designate a point person on your team to lead the project throughout its duration. This individual will be the primary contact for addressing questions and resolving issues. While many may be involved in shaping the project’s initial vision and goals, having too many voices in day-to-day decision-making can hinder progress. While diverse perspectives can be beneficial, excessive input can obscure the developers’ vision. Appointing a primary contact who can make decisions on behalf of the collective, gather feedback, and communicate effectively streamlines the development process, ensuring project success.

Our mission as developers is to transform your vision into reality. While it may not be an art form, our ultimate aim is to simplify people’s workdays and give them back valuable time. While there are numerous considerations when implementing a new business solution or enhancing your existing software stack, these practices serve as a solid foundation to help us assist you in reaching your goals.

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