The Great Divide: The Difference Between Planning and No Planning in Software Deployment

Would you go on a road trip without clear directions or a plan to get to your destination? Some would, and that’s OK.

The majority would have more confidence when going on a trip with a map and a plan to get to where you want to go. Without a roadmap or planned route, there is a great risk of losing time to get to your destination if you get lost, and losing money on wasted gas. 

The same idea applies to any large business investment to be made at a company. It goes unsaid that companies lose time and money when they jump into a large project, such as software investment, without a “roadmap” or plan.

According to Innotas, 55 percent of IT professionals surveyed indicated that they have experienced software project failure. Most of these failures can be traced back to a lack of proper planning.

As companies consider Digital Transformation to plan for new or better software, having a clear plan for a solution can be the difference between business growth and a business failure.

Why software projects fail and how to make them succeed

Problem: Ambiguous business objectives 

Less than 20 percent of business executives can clearly describe the requirement process of their business needs. With that statistic, if the company itself is unable to clearly define the requirements of their business needs, how can developers fully understand the specifications of the project? This ambiguity further also leaves the developers unsure of what features are essential. These expectations should be laid out from a very early stage but it is often not the case.

Solution: Engage key stakeholders early in the process

Software projects need to begin with a shared vision between executives, IT and all internal users of the software. Having a shared vision of the business objectives can mitigate confusion of the end goal. Resources like a Strategy Statement and Empathy Maps of your target audience are helpful tools to align this vision.

An Empathy Map defines your audience and helps to understand what drives user behavior
An Empathy Map defines your audience and helps to understand what drives user behavior
A Strategy Statement is used to define inputs and outputs to measure ROI.
A Strategy Statement is used to define inputs and outputs to measure ROI.

Problem: Unrealistic timelines and budget

One of the most common reasons why software projects fail is because of arbitrary deadlines and plans that are set without sufficient data. In the early phase of a project, time estimation is the best-educated guess because teams are still comprehending the project requirements. When they are not revisited regularly or resourced properly, it can be costly and time-consuming for the business.

Solution: Have a Solutions Plan

Without a clear plan, it is inevitable that developers will need to build and rebuild, which increases the project budget and extends the timeline. Before you begin any project, have a Solutions Plan that outlines the associated fixed costs and estimated timing (with buffers) to complete the project. It is not to say that when you set a timeline upfront, it will be followed to a T. You should revisit your plans and estimates frequently. During development, sprint reviews are set by the developer to review project milestones and check to see if the project is still on track.

A Solutions Plan offers a birds-eye view of the development scope.
A Solutions Plan offers a birds-eye view of the development scope.

Problem: Unclaimed accountability

When determining who is responsible for the software project, the answer should not be “all of us.” There will be many stakeholders and teams involved in the process but with too many cooks in the kitchen, there is confusion around roles and responsibilities. This confusion is often the greatest barrier and source of frustration to delivering successful software. 

Solution: Have a dedicated point of contact or team

Have a Dedicated Project Manager who is the go-to contact for the developer. It’s important to not assume that the dedicated contact needs to be in an IT role. Many organizations fall into thinking technology projects are exclusively an IT responsibility. Rather, it’s a joint responsibility between IT, business or sales team, operations and company executives. The dedicated resource manager should be the liaison between all these groups.

Once you determine a dedicated resource, it’s important to align expectations upfront with your development team so the build progresses smoothly toward your anticipated completion date. 

A dedicated resource for a development project must have a clear understanding of the business needs and goals.
A dedicated resource for a development project must have a clear understanding of the business needs and goals.

 

The software development process begins as early as the initial idea of creating a business software or mobile app. FUSION OF IDEAS’ Solution Mapping is a process to provide clear output so businesses can have a defined plan to participate in a development project or share with stakeholders. It makes for a much smoother and more effective design and evaluation process.

For more information, visit fusionofideas.com/mapping.

How to Increase Workplace Productivity Without Increasing Headcount

Staying competitive in the age of digital transformation means doing more with less. Your organization may not have the available budget for new hires to cover business growth, or you may be dealing with a talent shortage in the areas that you need help with. The good news is that you can increase workplace productivity without increasing your headcount. 

Identify and Address Your Processes

One of the major culprits that slow down productivity may be your workplace processes.

While processes are supposed to help organizations scale up, they are often complex with layers, workplace politics, and interface structures.

When employers can address that pain point by developing streamlined processes, not only can the business dramatically improve the customer experience, it can also increase job satisfaction for its employees. Additionally, you free up time for your employees by creating efficiencies, giving them more room to innovate. A little automation goes a long way. 

Utilize technology

The truth is, staying abreast of technology is no longer a ‘nice to have’ but is vital to compete with the early adopters in your niche.

Go through a complete audit process on your current technology and look for the areas that are most productive as well as the least productive. Get feedback from the users on exactly what would make their jobs easier to do and start looking for platforms that match these requirements. 

Once you have a good sense of your technology needs, have a strategy in place before making software or hardware purchases. Every off-the-shelf software solution does something specific to solve a specific task or process. And it can get complicated quickly when you have multiple software solutions that need to integrate together.

Consider working with an IT consultant to see if developing a custom software solution from the ground up makes better business sense.

Prepare and position for success

You’re making that technology investment to help your employees work smarter. And you’ll be giving them the tools. The third step in the process is making sure they have the know-how to use them.

Make sure you offer the proper training across the company to ensure your employees understand the new processes. Some companies have found that peer-to-peer training keeps employees more engaged and ambitious. Every company will train differently based on its workplace culture. Find that method resonates best with your employees.

To consult with FUSION OF IDEAS’ software development experts on your technology needs, call us at 949-453-0740 or visit https://fusionofideas.com/dev.php.

5 Myths About Custom Mobile Applications

Many businesses are enjoying the benefits of using a custom software solution, which can save the company time, money and resources. Good business software can effectively manage the day-to-day activities of a business. It can also collect data to provide analytical insight so management can make smarter business decisions.

Yet, there are still common misconceptions around custom applications that can deter businesses from going custom. Let’s debunk them:

Myth #1: Custom apps come with a high price tag.
Myth #2: Custom apps are only useful in niche markets.
Myth #3: Custom apps take too long to build.
Myth #4: Off-the-shelf apps are more convenient and easier to use.
Myth #5: Custom software does not integrate well with existing IT systems.

  • Myth #1: Custom apps come with a high price tag. 

Custom applications will cost more than off-the-shelf applications, but the same is true for any product or solution that is customized. The cost of a custom app depends largely on the desired features, the complexity of the design, back end complexity, and platform compatibility, among other factors.

For a custom option at a lower price point, FUSION OF IDEAS offers a Dynamic Content System, in which the app design is templated, but allows for custom fonts, colors, designs, and logo to fit your brand. 

FUSION OF IDEAS' Dynamic Content System is a simplified content application that can be customized to fit your business.
FUSION OF IDEAS’ Dynamic Content System is a simplified content application that can be customized to fit your business.

Jump to top

  • Myth #2: Custom apps are only useful in niche markets.

Businesses in any industry can benefit from custom applications. Fortune 500 companies have seen an increase in revenue with custom software. This can also be the case for smaller, local businesses, and even startups. According to studies, business mobile apps have a higher conversion rate when compared to desktop or mobile websites. 

Jump to top

  • Myth #3: Custom apps take too long to build.

The reality is, the amount of time required to build a business app depends on the requirements of the company. There are a variety of factors involved in building a great mobile app. Some companies need multiple functionalities to serve different business units, which adds to the development time. Understanding the steps to develop a custom app can ease any apprehension about the time it takes to build your custom software.

Jump to top

  • Myth #4: Off-the-shelf apps are more convenient and easier to use. 

Off-the-shelf apps do not offer the two main benefits of a custom application: security and scalability. Let’s look at both.

First, custom software offers security for your business. Because a custom app is used by only one company and there is no public documentation to shed light on possible attack vectors, it’s more difficult for hackers to crack into your system. 

The second benefit is scalability. Off-the-shelf applications may be easier to use and faster to set up at first. But when your business grows in size, these apps may not be able to handle the load. When you build a custom application built solely for your business, updates can be made and the app can expand with your operations as it grows. 

Jump to top

  • Myth #5: Custom software does not integrate well with existing IT systems.

The reality is actually the opposite. Rather than needing your system to fit a pre-developed software product, custom software is built to fit your existing IT ecosystem. A good app developer will provide a solution for app integration, which includes a private, secure and dedicated cloud or internal server. For seamless integration, have your API (application programming interface) accessible for the developer.