10 Ways to Avoid Software Project Failure
Even with many factors contributing to the failure of a software project, they are still ways to ensure the success of a project by analyzing and identifying issues and working towards them. Most businesses fail to analyze and identify these issues, rather tend to overlook them, as they are deeply engrossed in the whole software development process.
You will agree that executing large software projects and ensuring its success is easier said than done. As per the recent study, 70% of the organizations suffer at least one project failure within one year of the project commencement.
One of the best ways to prevent project failure is, understanding what lead to the failure in the first place. Read our well researched article on "why do software projects fail?" to figure out 10 most common reasons that lead to a software project failure.
10 Simple Ways to Make Your Software Project a Success
Following clear standards throughout your software development lifecycle right from the initial stage till the very end, is one of the most basic methods to ensure success of your software project.
Let's look at the 10 efficient ways which can help you avoid software project failures -
Ensure that your Vendor Comprehends the Information Correctly
- A leading report states that 48% of developers feel that the time they spend on information gathering is insufficient.
We have noticed that many projects fail or get challenged due to vendor / manager's incompetence. To make your software project a success, it is imperative that your vendor or project head collects adequate information from the client. Some pointers here -
- Apart from just giving the requirements, check whether your vendor or software project manager is posing proper and precise questions to the client, which can actually help in understanding the end product. Check whether they have subject matter experts and project managers during the discussions
- Your vendor, in-house team or third-party contractor, through proper questioning, should be able to estimate the nature of the project, and give nearly accurate time and budget frames for your project
- An experienced manager should try to understand the business case of the project, and tries to gauge the keenness of all your stakeholders. This is among the many ways to ensure project success
Estimate Proper Time and Budget Frames
Once you are sure that your in-house or outsourced vendor has got a firm grip over the requirements and nature of the software project, expect a genuine timeline from them. This will make sure that you do not have to run around crazy behind them on agreed timelines. Avoid vendors who keep on changing timelines, which implies that they have failed to gauge the project in its entirety.
Similarly, check whether you are clear with the proposed project costing. Ensure that the costing is purely based on the nature and complexity of the project, and not just on the assumptions. Also be very clear in drawing clauses on future cost changes, etc. in case you are working with a third-party or software outsourcing vendor.
Design and Processes are Vital; Give them Due Importance
Check if your vendor or your software team can come up with a clean design and execution plan. Software project planning and road map designing is the key, and if you see that the in-house or outsourced vendor is jumping directly to coding anticipating early rollouts, be careful as it could lead to disaster.
Ensure that the Success Metrics are Well-defined
Does your vendor or project manager define success metrics and KPIs and share it with his team? This will ensure that the team has got clear pointers to work upon and succeed. Failing to define these metrics like functional milestones may cause the project to fail as they are left unchecked.
Engage a Team with the Right Skill Set
Most vendors/project managers blindly engage the same development team for each and every step of the SDLC, often ignoring the specific skills and competence that your project may demand at different stages, for its successful completion. At times people make a mistake of depending on only one or few developers with expertise, and assign partly skilled developers under them just to save costs, which leads to software project failure. If possible, interview these junior developers before engaging them to work on your project.
- In a report by The Standish Group International, the impact skilled developers and decision makers have on the project is depicted below -
- Another report by MSM Software states that 48% of developers feel that poor project management is a major cause for project failure.
Active User Participation is the Key
Does your in-house or outsourced vendor seek your participation at all crucial phases of the development process? If they are failing to do so, you could be staring at a challenged or failed project. End users' perspective is a vital ingredient of your software project and clear areas must be defined where the feedback of the users is required.
Skilled Executive Sponsors
Successful software projects have executive sponsors who fuel the whole development process with their presence and actions. If your vendors are engaging a poorly skilled or an executive sponsor who spends less time with the whole development process it will leave a deep dent in the overall development.
- In a report by The Standish Group International, the impact of a skilled executive sponsor clearly stands out.
Ascertain that Testing is An Ongoing Process
Ensure that code testing at all pre-decided milestones and progress review is a part of the development process followed by your in-house team or the vendor. Also guarantee that the project head is always ready with a clean working source. Most vendors/PMs fail to do this and wait till the end to test the whole project at one go, which may cause serious issues with respect to code or module integration. Testing should never take a backseat; ensure that your team gives testing an equal importance. Failing to do so will surely lead to catastrophic errors in the live environment for you and your clients.
Revise or Revisit Requirements, Wherever Needed
See whether your vendor is back to gather more requirements from you, which is a sign that they have a robust process and are keen to clarify things when needed. This is a key aspect in the many software project success factors.
- A report by MSM Software states that 28% of developers halted the project and went back to requirement gathering, causing project delay.
On-time Delivery of Internal Milestones
If your vendor/in-house team is delivering milestones on time and as per specifications you have engaged the right vendor, but if they fail or often change milestone dates then you are in for trouble. A clear milestone chart with details of every specific step of the process is important for project success.
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