The intrinsic connection
Software development projects are intrinsically connected to business processes. We’ve discussed at length the concept of BPA (business process automation). With BPA, the knee jerk reaction will be that all repeatable processes should be automated, right away. Our recommendation is that BPA should only be looked at for mature processes that have been running for an extended period, at a relatively stable state. Other types of software development projects include Application Modernisation, which involves modernising legacy applications and New Product Development, which again is heavily linked to business process. With such a strong connection between software development and business process, the role of the Business Analyst becomes very important.
Although many organisations want to engage in software development, oftentimes the underlying business processes are not clearly defined. The Business Analyst’s job is to sit with stakeholders, define the processes in place, map out the existing environment, and create a clear picture of the processes and systems used by an organisation. The BA then analyses and documents their findings. In that regard, the Business Analyst is in a perfect position to identify an organisation’s pain points and the pitfalls to avoid when undertaking a software development project. With that in mind, we sat with ActionPoint’s Business Analyst Manager Orla O’ Dwyer. With her help we’ve compiled a list of the five pitfalls to avoid when developing software.
1. Not Getting the Right Stakeholders Involved
We’ve spoken before about the importance of creating a strong channel of communication between an organisation and its software development partner. What’s even more important is to make sure that you have the right stakeholders involved from the beginning and are consistently getting feedback from them at every stage of the development process. The right stakeholders are those that are most closely aligned with the business processes being addressed. Stakeholders could include business owners, IT managers, quality managers, customer service managers, and even customers. Many projects come into difficulty when the stakeholders most impacted by the project’s objectives are left on the side-lines.
2. Creating a Big Design and Getting Lost in the Requirements
Many organisations that take on large software projects take on too much, too soon and get overwhelmed by the details. At the beginning of a large project, it is not necessary to meticulously examine every requirement. What’s most important is that you can communicate the big picture and outline what you’re trying to achieve. Avoid trying to understand everything about every module. ActionPoint uses an agile software development approach for this very reason. Large projects should be broken down into more manageable chunks. Prioritise modules and tackle them one step at a time.
3. Not Accounting for Change
At the beginning of software projects, we often given our clients advice to “capture what you know but expect change”. In the preliminary design phase, clients describe their needs, processes and pain points. We capture what we know at that time but know that change is inevitable. Processes can get redefined, requirements evolve, and new challenges emerge. It is very difficult to define all the requirements up front and expect them to stay fixed throughout the entire project. Again, an agile software development approach allows for variations during the development phase. With this approach ActionPoint can facilitate change during the development of the software system while ensuring budget constraints are adhered to.
4. Not Speaking to Your Customer
In point two, we highlighted the importance of getting the right stakeholders involved in a software development project. This is so that organisations can gain the required insight and perspective. In the same vein, it is similarly important to engage with your prospective user. For outward facing applications, this could be your customer base. However, it can also mean your internal staff, who will engage with the software system.
It is important to test how the user interacts with your software application, where they experience difficulty, what resonates and what does not. Mock run-throughs, wireframing and prototyping can be invaluable learning tools. User Experience Testing can unearth issues that might not have been considered which, underscores the importance of expecting change.
5. Not Having a Realistic Budget in Place
A common downfall for organisations comes from sticking to a budget that is too rigid and unrealistic. Depending on what you are trying to achieve, software development can be a sizable investment. The good news is that the goal of effective software is to move the business forward and, either directly or indirectly, increase ROI.
The remedy for this particular pitfall is to contact a software partner and discuss options. At ActionPoint, we have vast experience working with software development projects of all sizes. We can discuss options and tease out what is feasible and what areas might require increased investment. Start the conversation today by contacting us at https://actionpoint.ie/contact/
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