According to Standish Group's annual CHAOS report, 66% of technology projects end in partial or total failure. This means that only one in three projects are actually successful. Whenever a business is facing a mountain of work, there are always significant challenges and how you choose to face those challenges can permanently change the trajectory of your business.

If you continually manage expectations and try to understand best practices for the software industry, you will improve communication, productivity, and overall project quality. But how can you climb your mountain and get to that point? That’s where we come in.

Whether consciously or unconsciously, many decision-makers set projects up for failure because they don’t know what to expect from the development process or even from a final product. We want to share our experiences with you to tilt the scales in your favor so you can have a successful end product. The following tips can help you understand common project failures and avoid roadblocks before they even happen.

1. Quality is as Important as Feature Count and Budget

The dream for a lot of our clients is to somehow get the maximum amount of features in their application for the least amount of money. This mindset almost always ignores the most important thing that will differentiate your software on the market: Quality.

Ignoring quality for the sake of a budget frames your software as a commodity rather than a  guided experience of discovery and innovation. While it may seem like a great business choice, choosing this path leads to disappointment and frustration; commodified software projects will always fall short.

2. Your Software Must Be Solving The Right Kind of Problems

Our clients come to us because they are experiencing significant technical issues that new and updated software can solve. These issues become progressively more painful until they can no longer be ignored, and they almost always represent additional problems you can’t see on the surface. Some common pain points we’ve seen are:

  • Legacy systems that can’t keep up with explosive growth

  • Problematic apps that users don’t engage with

  • Platforms that are hard to navigate and prevent sales

  • Useless features that make an app confusing and unusable

A decision-maker should focus on whether or not a software solution is solving the right problem for the business. Extensive discovery sessions can help uncover the true needs of both your users and your business while revealing hidden expectations from your team. You can also rely on trusted advisors or software consultants to guide you to a solution that is truly right for you. 

3. You Ain't Gonna Need It

There’s a common saying in the development industry: you ain’t gonna need it. It’s a way to remind a technical team (and decision-makers) to keep things simple and streamlined by focusing only on what the end-user will truly need. 

It is tempting to add features to your app even after you’ve planned out the full project scope. However, frequent scope changes always have an effect on users as well as those who are building it in the first place. You can, and should, save those additional features for future updates.

Question your impulse to change or increase scope in the middle of a project. Remember that most likely, you ain’t gonna need it. Not really.

4. Never Ask "When Will It Be Done"

An executive or manager asking their technical team “when will it be done?” can be just as unhelpful as children asking “are we there yet?” on a long road trip. Instead, ask “what else needs to be done?”  This question focuses on continuous, quality delivery instead of inaccurate time estimates that are dependent on a lot of unknowable factors. 

Time estimates in software development are so changeable that strictly holding a team to an estimate is a recipe for frustration. When you ask “what else needs to be done?” you will get a more accurate picture of the project’s progress.

5. Work Smarter, Not Harder

Creating quality applications is a process and not a destination. Developers, designers, and project managers need to be working smarter, not harder, and do what they need to deliver software that is delightful and engaging. Throwing more developers at a project or simply telling them to “work harder” will not get you where you need to go faster or better.

You don’t need to be an expert in software engineering to understand and invest in important projects. If you set realistic expectations and understand best practices, you can ensure success for your team and your end product. Focusing on quality, solving the right problem, asking the right questions, prioritizing, and working smarter not harder, will set your project up for success. Armed with these tips from expert software consultants, you will be better prepared to start your journey into the innovative world of software development.

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