For something that can’t be touched, software comes a close second to air in terms of necessity in this fast-paced world. Our technology has gone beyond the analytical program of Ada Lovelace and Charles Babbage in the 19th century. We have grown so far that one tap on a sensitive screen and it’s possible to automatically get coffee to roast when you wake up or remotely lock your doors in case you forgot.
The value of software transcends economies as the demand grows for programs meant for public consumption and those for private use. While not entirely free, developing new software can be cost-effective, thanks to open-sourced codes and rich libraries of information, handbooks, and classes available online. These days, even kids can build their own programs.
The daily operations of many businesses and organizations fall on the shoulders of reliable software. Digital computing should make work more efficient. We gathered a few questions you and your team should figure out first before developing a new software or finding contractors to do so.
#1 Who will use this software?
Is it your employees? Is it loyal customers? How about new incoming customers with specific needs? Certain markets call for certain needs. Determining who will be using the software will allow you to anticipate the right people to call to create the software, the design that will work best to your market, as well as the necessary functions that they will need.
Remember, the software must solve problems for its user. If you don’t pinpoint who that is, then you will have a problem moving forward.
#2 Who will develop the software?
Software creation may be prevalent now, but that doesn’t mean that specialized niches are of no value. While your in-house IT guy can run polls for an internal awards system or analyze time logs in real time, they may not always have the qualifications to create the software you want.
Sift through your team’s capabilities for the right talents or hire contractors trained to do the job. As oil well firefighter Red Adair succinctly puts it: “If you think it's expensive to hire a professional to do the job, wait until you hire an amateur.”
#3 Which development process will you follow?
Developing software involves a lot of resources. It’s always practical to ensure that the whole thing follows a modern and adaptable procedure that covers the planning, organization, and execution of the whole project. There are multiple types of software development process models, which vary depending on the involvement of stakeholders, subdivision of development, prototype use, and others. Research more into prevalent models such as the Agile methodology, Rational Unified Process (RUP), Waterfall Process, Prototype, and more.
WATCH: Software Development Lifecycle in 9 minutes! by Testholic
#4 How much are you willing to spend?
Once you determine the model, the costing should soon follow. The budget should include work hours, size of team, hardware, and other necessary resources. The value of a software should also rely on possible fluctuations in the cost of resources during the development process. Remember to include buffer for possible costing changes related to staff, hardware, sales, and other external pricing. It also helps to connect with project managers in the industry to get a general idea of market costs and items you might have overlooked.
#5 Which functions are absolute requirements?
It’s easy to circle back on the requirements for your software given the model you decide to work with. Depending on the model, you can break down requirements into phases or functions, determine which ones come first in the whole process. It is important to note if requested requirements from stakeholders are feasible given the architecture you’re working with and the environment the software will likely run in. Requirements should complement each other and not cancel each other’s functions. Note which ones are necessary for your goals and/or industry standards. Prioritize the ones that need to come out first given costs, schedule, and implementation as dependencies.
#6 When do you need the software done?
When assessing the amount of time it takes to finish your software, remember the project development triangle of time, cost, and quality also known as the “triple constraint.” The triangle sets your priorities among the three, thus compromising one aspect of the triangle. So, in determining the cost, you first have to pick two constraints from the three. If you want to create a software quickly but cheaply, you would have to compromise on the quality. If you want to create a cheap but good software, you would have to create a longer schedule. In the end, your goals and available resource should determine the time it would take to finish your project.
#7 How are you going to measure success?
Success in the software development scene depends mostly on the objective measurement of technical activities to achieve not only the project’s goals but also that of the whole organization. You can measure performance by defining commitments early on and assigning performance indicators. These indicators may include the comparison of planned and actual schedule progress, cost, quality, performance, and customer satisfaction.
READ MORE: New software development success metrics