Not all software development projects meet their intended goals. In fact, the bigger they are, the harder they fall. Some go over budget, are not delivered at the specified time, or are not suitable for their intended purposes once delivered. How can your company assure that the project will be a success? The key to a successful development project is evaluation. Evaluation should be both the first and the final steps in any custom development project.
Evaluation at the Beginning of Custom Software Development
Before you begin to build new software, it's important to understand why. What do you currently have? In what way(s) is this software lacking? What additional functionality and features do you need? What is the best way to go about getting what you need? This initial evaluation needs to involve all stakeholders in the software development. The executives need to define its scope. The production workers need to define its purpose and the best ways to meet those objectives. All users need to have a say. During this process, you are not just evaluating the software; you are assessing the processes and procedures that the software represents. Is there a better way to do what you need to do? Is everything you're doing now really necessary? Are there other things you need to be doing in order to stay in compliance and meet goals for efficiency and productivity? The initial evaluation process needs to be a coordinated effort between the business and the software development company.
Evaluation at the Completion of Custom Software Development
The final evaluation determines if all of the goals and objectives set by the first evaluation were met. A good developer can do this while staying within the time and budget constraints established during the first evaluation.
If the initial evaluation is done properly, the software development company will be able to design and produce a software application that meets all of its intended goals. A final evaluation should determine if the finished product meets its promised deliverables. Is it fit for the purposes it was designed to fulfill? Does it do so reliably and efficiently? More importantly, are the processes and procedures it follows maintainable? Is the software itself maintainable? Like the first stage of evaluation, the final evaluation needs to be a collective process between the software developer and all of the business interests -- the production workers, accounting department, upper management, and other stakeholders in the project.
How long should each stage of the evaluation process take? That depends completely upon the company it's designed for and the scope of the project. In a large organization with many stakeholders in the project, designing a comprehensive software application to replace an old legacy system, the process could take months. In a smaller company that is developing software for a specific application, such as human resources or accounting activities, the process could be quite short, lasting only a few days or weeks.
Don't worry -- evaluating your needs and producing a software that meets your goals and objectives isn't rocket science (unless, of course, you're in the rocket science business; then it's totally rocket science). Contact us at AndPlus to get started on your initial evaluation.