When a business cannot achieve its goals, responsive measures can take different forms. Sometimes, slight re-organizational steps are enough. In others, business processes require major overhaul. In some scenarios, adopting a custom-made software solution can become an essential part of the optimization process for many reasons. For example, business process automation that such applications enable is sometimes irreplaceable when improving organizational efficiency is a company’s number one priority. The major task for a project manager in this case is to enable hassle-free functioning of a software development team.
If team members are not aware of the potential risks that may appear during the work on the project, they may face problems for which there’s no plan-B solution prepared beforehand. Putting your problems on top of those your client has is not an optimal approach. Here, you risk missing deadlines, delivering a product of inferior quality, or exceeding development budgets. Today, we’ll consider the main issues a software development team can face and designate possible ways to resolve them.
Lack of barrier-free communication between team members can significantly slow down the progress of the project. The cost of fixing a bug whose discovery was not reported to colleagues in the early stages of the project will increase many times in the later stages. Constant collaboration with the customer is also important. Feedback received from the business owner who’s trying to solve the issues he or she has should become a guiding light for the software development team. If a specific new feature doesn’t meet a customer’s vision and expectations, it’s important to ensure that every specialist involved is well-aware of that to avoid tons of rework in the future.
On the other hand, there’s always the possibility that lack of customer experience in software development will lead to false expectations. For example, the desired functionality of a future application may lie beyond the capabilities of the average development team. Or, say, a client may ask you to develop a feature that will take a lot of time and effort for your software development team to implement but will not be of any practical use.
To avoid possible misunderstandings between the development team and customer, it’s vital to ensure that the primary communication channels are determined in the very first stages of the project. All development team members should know collaboration software everybody uses so that the flow of information does not bypass them. It’s a project manager’s task to determine how often stakeholders must share their feedback. Using a project management software system can help all involved specialists to report their current progress.
Project scope determines your major and minor goals, and to some extent helps to predict potential problem areas. It doesn’t matter how many bright minds you can gather on one team. Without clearly defined goals, they will wander in darkness. Scope that lacks essential project features is only half the trouble a software development team can face. Sometimes, while working on the project, scope extends so fast, it’s barely possible to deal with it. This phenomenon is known as scope creep, and it usually comes out of nowhere. For example, at some point, the customer may decide that the current feature set can’t cover his or her business needs and ask to implement additional functionality.
Inaccurate scope and the scope creep are often a result of lack of attention to requirement analysis. The major task for a business analyst during the initial stages of the project is to understand the client’s needs and offer a solution for them. Constant close cooperation between stakeholders can significantly decrease the probability of scope growth so much that its control becomes impossible. But it’s always helpful to be realistic and understand that the requirements list may expand, despite how scrupulously you discussed the product with the client. Therefore, a good project manager always seeks for maximum flexibility and leaves room for maneuver.
Inadequate Project Plan
In custom software development, everything is interconnected and every wrong decision can have repercussions in the later stages of the project. Scope is a foundation of all subsequent activities. It determines which tasks the project will be divided into, when they should be completed, and to which team members they must be assigned. If you fail while working on the foundation, don’t be surprised if all the further steps will cause you difficulties. Inaccurate roadmap will force the software development team to work towards unacceptable deliverables and lead to a dissipation of efforts.
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The plan designed before the software development team started its implementation should address such questions as how, who, when, and why. Besides handling your project scope with due attention, to prevent yourself from an inadequate project plan, you must ensure that not only team members but also customers are involved in discussion. It’ll help to ensure that goals are achievable and everyone agrees on them.
Lack of Risk Management
You can do your best while clarifying your customer’s problems and turning them into a detailed project plan. However, if you work in a software development industry and declare that your project is 100% risk free, most likely you are fooling yourself. There is always the possibility of risks, whether they have human or technological nature. Unfortunately, potential risks are often left out of sight and can become unpleasant surprises for which you do not have solutions. Luckily, if it’s not the first day in the office for a project manager, there’s a substantial basis for building a solid risk management strategy. Closure reports generated during the work on previous projects can shed some light on potential risk sources. This info can help to develop scenarios, helping to avoid the risky situations or overcome the outcomes in case they occur.
Complexity of modern software systems and the variety of technologies required to implement them leaves no room for doubting whether testing is needed or not. The reasons for a team to neglect software testing may vary. Sometimes, bad project planning leads to missed deadlines. In this scenario, some features of the system can be left to chance and the team can decide to cut testing activities. The risk of system failure will increase, problem solving will lie on the shoulders of the maintenance team, the cost of fixing the bug will increase, and customer’s financial and reputational costs will be unpredictable.
To avoid such a disastrous chain of events, it’s essential to remember that the best possible approach implies starting testing activities right from the project’s beginning. Ideally, the team must start with requirements testing to avoid all ambiguities and contradictions.
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Despite the complexity of concepts that software development teams have to deal with, none of them are immune from seemingly trivial problems. Lack of thoughtful communication channels may lead to misunderstandings. Without a reliable project management app, a certain task may escape the attention of the employee, leading to significant rework during the later stages of the project. Whether you want to develop a complex enterprise-wide software solution or build a modest house in the countryside, you may face one of the described problems in one form or another. Luckily, we can learn from past mistakes and, with each new project, strengthen our control over seemingly unimaginable scenarios.
If you want to cooperate with an experienced software development team that plans ahead and is well aware of all potential risks, contact us.