When you think of the factors that are crucial for software development, what comes to your mind first? Technical skills? Budget? Marketing? Timeframe? Software development is a complex process requiring people with different skills to use their talents effectively to succeed.
While many factors determine the success of such projects, a few critical elements can make or break the project. Being aware of them and how they work together is vital to the success of your project. In this article, we'll focus on ten factors vital to the success of your next software development project.
In every development project, there are four factors that affect its success. They are:
- The people involved
- The development processes
- The required product
- The complexity of the project
Out of these, the most crucial factor for software development is people. Think about it this way — the human factor drives every project phase. To make something work, we need those responsible for its success in the room together. A report by Apium Hub and Codingsans found that when hiring the right people for software development projects, willingness to learn, work experience and technical skill evaluation tests, and cultural fit were the most important factors.
We're often more concerned about how technical the software we create will be, but people are the most important aspect of that development – which is why we spend so much time finding the right fit. Let's look at how the human element plays a role in other factors contributing to such projects' success.
Hire a Proficient Project Management Team
Hiring a team of seasoned project management professionals with experience specific to your needs is vital. The reason is that if you hire a team with tangential expertise, they might not be familiar with the nuances of your project.
For example, if you hire a team whose expertise lies in iOS app development but you need a web-only application — it might pose a problem as the project progresses. They may not know how to hire a web developer, nor would they have the right standard operating procedures (SOPs) to manage this project efficiently.
Build a Team of Skilled Developers
It’s well-known that developers are introverts who prefer working in silos — given the nature of the job. However, all development projects require strong communication skills. In terms of hard skills, you must determine who to hire based on the required experience and budget.
Hiring a senior developer would save you time, money, and effort, but that might not always be possible. So, make sure you or your team hires a developer who is experienced with different software development lifecycle (SDLC) frameworks and is passionate about your project.
Set Specific Goals and Objectives
Once you have the entire team in place, creating a solid project management plan is essential. A recent study indicated that a clear vision and mission is the most significant factor in successful development projects. Many software projects go through several restarts simply because they avoid the goal-setting phase of the project. With time and budgetary constraints, this is not feasible — which is why you need to create a technology roadmap that accounts for short-term and long-term goals. Here are a few aspects you must account for:
- Defining goals and objectives
- Split them into actionable sprints
- Account for different phases (code review, code testing, bug tracking)
- Set clear sprint timeframes
- Account for risk factors and mitigation
- System to monitor progress continuously
Clarify Business and Industry Needs
It’s imperative that the team you hire — for project management or development — is crystal clear on what your business does and how it serves specific industries. Having domain knowledge is essential as it can impact the overall development process.
Moreover, your team needs to understand why you’re creating this product in the first place so that they can design their user research and testing process accordingly. It influences the features they create and the entire prototyping process too.
Implement the Right Project Management Framework
There are many different project management or SDLC frameworks like Agile, Waterfall, DevOps, and more. You can conclude what works best for you depending on the project needs and timeframe. Many professionals recommend an Agile approach, which accounts for iterative testing and flexibility during the project. Plus, it can be combined with other DevOps approaches like Continuous Integration and Delivery (CI/CD) — offering a holistic solution.
Establish a Strong Line of Communication
A recent McKinsey report indicated that remote work results in reduced team cohesion. 80% of those surveyed have impaired work relationships due to reduced communication. When we consider that most software projects happen in a remote or hybrid context, this finding shows how important it is to establish a strong line of communication.
You can do this by dedicating a single communication channel like Slack, Telegram, Skype, Zoom, Discord, etc. It's beneficial when you're working with an in-house and a freelancer or outsourced team for the project as they can communicate easily in one place.
Cultivate a Collaborative Environment
In addition to establishing a communication line, project managers must also encourage active engagement. The reason being developers might be clear on the project goals, yet their understanding might be tangential to what's expected. When you implement a process for continuous feedback and engagement, it ensures that everybody is on the same page.
Let's say one team is working on bug tracking, and another is working on machine configurations. When the first team is debugging the code, they might not consider if it's working on the various configurations provided by the other team. Unless these two teams collaborate, it'll be hard for the entire project to move forward.
Conduct thorough User Research and Testing
User research is unavoidable as the product you're creating will be serving a specific audience. Testing with the wrong audience or avoiding adequate testing are some of the most common pitfalls in the industry. The reason is that most teams spend precious time creating a product they think the user wants, but when it's rolled out, they realize that the features are not helpful.
For this reason, conducting ample user research before starting the project and user testing during multiple phases of the project is important. It can help you avoid wasting time and effort building something your target audience might not use.
Deploy a Robust Quality Control Process
The quality of your product is paramount because even if it offers standout features, it's pointless if they don't work as intended. Moreover, many countries and governing bodies have regulatory standards like HIPAA, SOC-2, GDPR, etc. that certify product quality indirectly. The human factor also contributes to errors in the code or review process, so establishing a quality control process can rectify these issues.
Control the Budget of the Project
A 2020 report by CISQ found that unsuccessful IT projects could impact the US economy by costing up to $260 billion annually. Moreover, only 16.2% of companies complete their project on time and within budget, while the number is even lower at 9% for large companies. These findings indicate the challenge of creating software products within a fixed cost and timeline.
Some development costs include subscribing to automation tools, testing tools, renting servers, project management tools, hiring budgets, maintenance budgets, and more. Throughout the project, the costs add up quickly if not monitored continuously. So, it's crucial to implement a robust budget review process and maintain a buffer budget in case the project runs into unforeseen issues.
The best way to measure the success of the development process is to monitor the factors we've discussed above. These factors will directly or indirectly affect the outcome of the project. Each element varies in significance and how it impacts the development process. Managing these factors with a clear product vision ensures you get the right deliverables each time.
As the people who handle and contribute to the project are the ultimate determinants of its success, hiring the right team is essential to ensure the successful execution of your vision. If you're looking for a software development partner to bring your vision to life, check out Pangea’s list of software vendors to help you achieve that.
Q1. What are the major factors in software development?
Several factors affect the software development process. Some of them include:
- A project management team with expertise
- A clear set of goals for the product
- A realistic timeline for development
- A robust user research and testing system
- An experienced team of developers
Each factor plays a massive role in how a software development project plays out. For example, if you don't have an experienced project management team — the entire project could fall apart as it'll lack a clear set of goals, without which it'll be hard to create and test the product in the stipulated time.
Q2. What is the most critical phase of the software development life cycle?
In any software development life cycle, the requirement phase is the most critical as it sets the expectations for all stakeholders. The client can specify what they want to achieve with their product, and if they're not sure, the project manager must ask specific questions to finalize it.
It's also crucial for developers and testers because they need to know how much effort will be required from them to estimate their workload accordingly. The project can be planned only when the stakeholders have all this information in hand.
Q3. What are the three factors that affect software development?
According to McCall’s Factor Model, there are three factors affecting the software development process that you should know:
- Product operation: It includes how easy it is for users to use, how well it works, and whether it solves the problem for which it was designed.
- Product revision: This refers to how fast and easy it is for you to update your software once released into the market. If your product requires constant updates or patches, then this will affect its overall success rate as well as its reputation within your industry.
- Product transition: It refers to the product's capability to work in different environments and adapt to other operating systems. In turn, it also includes its ability to integrate with various applications. Here are a few details you can use to assess the transition:
- Portability — Can the application be run on different operating systems?
- Reusability — Can the application be used in multiple contexts?
- Interoperability — Can the application communicate with other software or hardware products?