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Custom Software Development
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Custom Software Development and its 6 Mousetraps

Luís Filipe

Luís Filipe

Managing Partner YouX

Custom software development

In the evolution of companies and organizations, the day always comes when the generalist software on the market proves to be inadequate or, in other cases, too complex and expensive for the needs.

That's when people start talking about custom software development. Tailored because it is intended to respond to the specific needs of a company or organization and, in particular, the users who will interact with it.

Most projects fail

This development process carries several risks. According to various international studies, the overwhelming majority fail: either because it is way over budget, or it accumulates long delays and/or does not meet the expectations that were at the basis of its creation. In this article, we'll talk a little bit about some of the main mousetraps in custom software development.

Contrary to what is a very common thought for those who are less familiar with this area, many of the reasons that underlie the failure of media software development have nothing to do with  technology. 

Why custom software development projects fail: 6 mouse traps

Not investing in business analysis

One of the main traps is not investing in a careful analysis of the business before moving on to development. This is a crucial phase to bring any project to fruition. Before thinking about technology, it is essential that the entire team involved minimally know the business that will be the object of the application, its environment, its agents (users), have an idea of ​​similar projects on the market, (if any) as well as the objectives for the project.   

Failure to gather requirements

Another mousetrap is moving into development without clearly identifying what the project's requirements are. It is true that at the end of the project you can always make changes and add new features. However, it is guaranteed that the cost of the project will rise substantially, as well as the postponement of deadlines for its completion. Understanding well the needs that substantiate the requirements, knowing well the journeys of future users, clarifying the different contexts of those involved in the project, eliminating language ambiguities and, not least, clearly defining what it means to achieve a goal in the project; they are essential elements for the success of any custom software development project.

Overly ambitious projects

“Thinking small” is a success factor. We are not referring to restricting the ambition to do more and better, but rather to a reality that, according to various international studies, point out: large projects have an enormous probability of being unsuccessful. In fact, it is much easier to deal with a more limited work object and naturally with a smaller team which makes project management easier. In the software industry, the 20/80 rule is often referred to, that is, 80% of the value of the products is the result of 20% of the resources. This rule translates the need to focus on the main features that the user actually wants and will use. In addition to that aspect, it is important to resist the temptation to add features to the project. Starting with a smaller project, finishing it, creating new projects to add new features, is the safest path.

Communication failure

In a world made of change, software development projects are also subject to change: from legal regulations, market changes or even the composition of the team linked to the process. Maintaining effective communication channels between all stakeholders in a project is a critical success factor.  

neglect prototyping

Many customers are unaware of another decisive factor for the success of developing a bespoke application: experimenting before proceeding. Prototyping is fundamental and irreplaceable for moving forward safely to the construction phase . There are several tools that allow you to develop functional and interactive prototypes. The use of prototypes has many advantages: it allows identifying errors, involving the various actors in the development process, a better understanding of how the software works, identifying missing or confusing features.

Not having a testing policy

Testing is imperative. Systems are increasingly complex. Sometimes, a simple code change in one area can affect the system in completely different areas. Testing and having a development policy geared towards systematic testing is the only way to avoid mistakes and damage to your business and your credibility.

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