4 Ways to Prevent Custom Software Setbacks
There’s certainly no shortage of customer-client success stories on the internet – with great ventures resulting from equally great collaborative efforts. But the truth is, great partnerships aren’t caught like lightning in a bottle, they require due diligence, compromise, innovation, and continuous problem solving – time after time.
Yet, despite how often new projects start out with great enthusiasm – sometimes these ventures break down, become directionless, or delayed due to setback after setback..
So how does this figure into custom software development? Well, like most problems, you may blame poor ‘communication’ to be the root cause of most issues, which isn’t entirely wrong, but like everything, there’s more to it than that.
Ambitious development projects face many challenges, but with the right experience, they can be overcome. In this post, we’ll discuss four reasons why custom software fails, and what you can do to avoid them.
#1 Miscalculated Resources
Most customers looking for software want a cost-efficient solution in place immediately (or least as fast as possible). For business clients, this expectation can be unrealistic, depending on feature complexity, and unintentionally attract the ‘yes-man’ type of developer who is eager to close a deal at almost any cost, rather than a software professional who could advise on what’s actually achievable in the time and budget available, plus the options available.
Of course there’ll always be developers who are very quick, but a good developer won’t promise something that can’t be delivered. Moreover, as you start to analyse the specific strengths and weaknesses of each development company you talk to, you’ll start to realise that most development quotes aren’t like-for-like, either. The devil is always in the detail.
Remember, good software companies won’t oversell themselves by agreeing to an unachievable delivery date at a discount. If they do, then expect shortcuts that could compromise functionality, performance, or security.
Successfully outsourcing your software development project isn’t rocket science. Be realistic about your budget, focus on core functionality, and factor in achievable critical path milestones.
#2 Poor Technical Proficiency
Alas, like many craftsmen, sometimes you get a Ringo instead of a John, or if you’re unlucky enough – perhaps even a Trump. However, parallels of actual ability aside (we love Ringo) – my point remains. Some developers talk a good game, while others showcase style over substance – but how many developers truly understand how and why it all works?
The proof is in the pudding (as they say), and it requires your homework and due diligence.
- How to prevent? Ask for examples of relatable project experience, and if they have any demonstrable software – most ‘good’ software companies should have something to show you. Lastly, shop around – competent developers are easy to identify once you’ve spoken to enough, then you can weed out the ill-equipped.
#3 Additional Costs
Project delays happen all the time – just ask an engineer, novelist, or Transport for London (sigh).
Nevertheless, in the world of commerce ‘delays’ are pretty much universally disliked because they signal additional spending (to help resolve the problem), in turn creating uncertainty, undue risk, and even further deadline tension.
In addition, ‘cost variances’ can also occur from ‘scope creep’ – where additional functionality is requested from the customer post the initial agreement, putting an added strain on allotted resources and developer time.
However, how costly these variances will be depends on how well they’ve been anticipated, and if the project spec factors in any requirements the customer hadn’t foreseen (future proofing). Which is of course, the difference between an experienced and up-to-date development company, as opposed to a newer business with perhaps greener procedures.
- How to prevent? No project is without an area of risk. As such, a competent development company should outline any areas of difficulty (or unidentified utility) within the development proposal – whilst factoring in backup actions that stay within the project’s budget and schedule. However, if this doesn’t happen, the company is either being unrealistic or perhaps overconfident, and further questions should be fielded towards them.
#4 Misguided Expectations
Creating software is stakeholder intensive, think about it – you’ve got the customer liaison, their managers, any in-house developers and marketers, and the day-to-day users of the software (potentially thousands) – all with their own interpretation of how the software should handle.
As such, when the collective expectations of the user base aren’t in line with those of the development team, it can often leads to disappointment. That’s why it’s crucial to understand the fundamental value of the project, and work towards that first.
- How to prevent? In our experience, managing expectations is about structured technical communication – not inconsistent and informal chats.
Our approach is simple, each project utilises its own project manager (usually an ex-developer with strong interpersonal skills) who can effectively convey the customer’s needs to the development team, then relay what’s technically achievable back to the customer concisely – without any shortfall in expectation from either parties.
Alongside this, project managers will also encourage scheduled and succinct meetings with the customer, to discuss primary goal development and the statuses of any perceived risks.
So, with all the aforementioned risks covered, why still choose custom software? Simple – commercial products can only do what they advertise, and for many businesses this isn’t enough.
As a result, custom software still offers the best value for money when conventional off-the-shelf (OTS) software fails to meet the specific end users need, and when the long-term total cost of ownership (TCO) is too expensive to approve.
At Blueberry, we’ve been specialising in custom software development projects for almost two decades, whilst embracing the latest technical changes to deliver the intuitive software that provides value which lasts. If you have a software idea but don’t know where to start, get in touch for an evaluation and to see how we can help.