Deadlines in Software Development Are a Joke!
We all know deadlines can be stressful in every domain. In software development, where there is a substantial technical barrier between the client and their development team, deadlines are often wrongfully estimated, hurting both the client and the developer.
Only 36% of projects are deemed successful, meaning on time, within budget, and on scope. 19% of projects fail, and 45% are challenged significantly during development.
Here are the real reasons why three out of five software projects come in late. Let me explain where your money leaks out and how to get the most value out of every resource.
There are six major mistakes that clients tend to make when employing the services of a software development agency.
MISTAKE #1 Inaccurate Requirements
- When you write the specifications alone, you risk not being on the same page with your team. Ask for guidance from your agency on writing the initial brief.
- Consider involving all stakeholders when setting your objectives. You could get valuable input from business partners, IT representatives, and even end-users during the requirements phase of a project. That’s what customer discovery, market research, and semi-formal discussions over drinks are for.
- In the planning phase, do your best to identify 90% of the potential changes that may appear. Don’t let more than 10% of changes blindside you. This is reasonable and allows you to fit into the budget and expected timeline comfortably.
MISTAKE #2 Uninvolved Project Sponsors
- This is a frequent issue when managers quickly delegate the communication process to an employee. They deal with the negotiation phase and return at the end of the project to run feedback.
- Not to get sentimental, but your software development team needs you. You know your project and business best and have the most special insight. When you don’t get involved, all that knowledge is kept out of the final mix. You will feel it when you review the final product.
- We understand that you’re busy, but the work is not done until you give your final approval. You are the final decision maker, and ultimately, you deem the project a success or a failure. Any time you feel you might have saved is time borrowed from future you when your project needs to go through another draft.
- Make time for 15-minute stand-ups per day or at least a one-hour retrospective at the end of each week. I’ve been working for seven years in this industry. I can see the difference between projects where the managers delegated entirely and those where they stayed involved.
MISTAKE #3 Shifting Project Objectives
- To minimize this risk, try reducing the timeframe of plans. After you map out your entire software goals and concept, start planning for shorter deliverables.
- Your tech partners might adopt a Scrum framework. The process involves one or two-week sprints. You check the status of the deliverables at the end of each sprint and replan the next ones if priorities have changed.
- The Waterfall approach might feel better for you because it needs less commitment from you or your employees. Waterfall means fixed time, fixed scope, and a VARIABLE budget.
- Agile advocates for a fixed time, fixed budget, and VARIABLE scope.
MISTAKE #4 Inaccurate Estimations
- Estimates are very inaccurate when the project manager relies only on the upfront estimation. They ask for quotes too early and never bother to re-adjust when requirements become more precise. To fix this, make a habit of recalibrating along the way.
- Issues also appear when the development team doesn’t have experience working with your type of product. We generally look at projects similar to yours that we did in the past and try to estimate time and costs. The issue (and the excitement of the job) comes from every project being unique and original.
- We usually add some buffer to the timeline with every project. Yes, sometimes we have a bit of extra time at the end of a project. We spend it on extra nice-to-have features that we kept fantasizing about along the way.
MISTAKE #5 Unexpected Risks
- It’s called the cone of uncertainty. Imagine a cone: wide at the bottom, pointy at the end. At the beginning of the project, this is the degree of uncertainty of our project: wide and broad enough to wear as a hat. The uncertainty narrows down as you elaborate and build.
- The cone of uncertainty comes in handy when dealing with those big buffers at the start of the project. It will keep you grounded when things don’t go as planned.
- Nobody wants to have a late project. If your agency gives you an extensive timeline citing the cone of uncertainty, don’t bully them into a shorter schedule.
MISTAKE #6 Dependency Delays
- In the software development world, everything is interconnected. Many dependencies are involved, such as an in-house developer, UI/UX designer, third-party solutions, etc. If one fails to deliver on time, it will cause a chain reaction of delays.
- To avoid this, make sure you are aware of possible showstoppers and try to focus on them. Treat each dependency as a mini project and add deadlines and buffers to every one of them.
You now have some insights into why 60% of projects turn out later than a Mad Hatter during rush hour. You also have the necessary tools to prevent such delays. You no longer depend on anyone for your project’s success, hopefully saving you time, money, and grief.
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