Running and managing software projects is a collaborative effort. Whether you’re working for a startup or an established company, working with full-time or freelance developers, there are often multiple stakeholders involved. The initial project idea is often finalized by a few key decision makers. Then, either the PM and engineering team or freelancers will then take over to turn the idea into a product. In the ideal situation, all stakeholders will work together to deliver the project. More often than not, something will go wrong in the over-simplified process we just described. Below are seven key factors for implementing a successful software project:
Clearly Define Success
As previously mentioned, there are many way to define project and product success. A successful project may not necessarily be a successful product, and not all projects generate new products. It is important to have specific ways of measuring the success and failure of a project.
Have Clear Objectives and Requirements
When you’re working on a project, you should have detailed project specifications and established project management methodologies (i.e. Agile, Waterfall etc.). The project should be properly scoped and broken down. This way, a more realistic estimation can be made. We would recommend involving developers to help determine the project timeline.
Involve End Users
Whether you’re implementing a software for internal users or external users, it is important to understand what the users need. Often, the development team is so far removed from the users and so concentrated on hitting their targets that they fail to communicate with their users. To ensure that end users’ needs are prioritized, make sure to begin the project with a strong user requirements specification and ask for user’s feedback along the way. Encourage project team members to communicate directly with end users.
Hire Skilled Developers
A developer’s programming skill directly influences the success of his/her projects. Skilled developers are often more experienced, can create higher quality software, and be more efficient.
Use Effective Project Management Methodologies
Make sure you have reliable project managers and project management methodologies. For example, Agile methodologies stress the importance of developing software in iteration — each software version is tested and reviewed by stakeholders. Furthermore, make sure you always give yourself some leeway in terms of time. If a certain part of the project is set to be completed within 10 days, give developers 7 to 8 days to complete the task.
Break Your Project Up
Depending on what you’re aiming to achieve, your projects’ sizes will vary. It is important to break larger projects into smaller, more manageable chunks. When projects are broken down into smaller chunks, the communication is tighter and problems are more easily dealt with. Therefore, having shorter project milestones will help projects succeed.
Review Finished (& Failed) Projects
An often overlooked part of project development is project review. Whether you implemented an ideal project, imperfect project, or a failed project, it is important to review what went well and what went wrong with the project.
In order to implement a successful project — regardless of what “success” means to you — you must first realize that project implementation is a holistic process. Every step of the process and every stakeholder can directly influence the project’s success and failure. The list above is by no means comprehensive; however, it does capture some of the most important factors that lead to project success