IT Strategy

5 Key Success Factors in Software Development Projects

See what key factors contribute to the success of your project and get started on the right track.

Completing your software development project within the time and budget you’ve set beforehand is a challenging task, and according to the report by Standish Group, around 31.1% of all the software projects are canceled and up to 52.7% of the projects go well over 189% of their original cost estimates. That is a rather alarming number for anyone thinking about starting a new software development project. You surely don’t want to fall into that 31% and you almost certainly don’t want to pay twice the estimated price of your project either. But how do you mitigate the risk factors and improve your chances for software development success? Well, there are certain software development success factors you need to keep in mind and follow through with those factors whenever you approach a new software development project. 

You should understand that different projects in different industries would have their own factors that affect software development, and you would have to adapt your approach to the needs of your industry and market accordingly. Nonetheless, there are common factor rules and practices that apply to most projects. Here at Intersog, we’ve been working with clients in numerous industries for more than 15 years, and we are going to share our experience in mitigating the development risks and emphasizing the project’s strengths to achieve great results.

Have Clear Objectives

One of the most common issues with software development projects is not having a clear vision for the product and clear objectives for the development cycle. According to the aforementioned research, 94 of 100 projects will have a restart, and a large portion of those would have several restarts, which is a critical issue caused by the lack of vision within the project management. Basically, businesses start the projects with the rough idea of where the results are going to land but they do not evaluate all the factors affecting software development such as the relevance of the intended product, the tech stack, the influence of competition, and the right marketing strategy.

Simply put, the reason for losing money at the very start of the project is not knowing exactly what you are going to do with it. Of course, you can apply the agile development strategy that is meant for managing the project with uncertain scope and changing requirements, and that might give you the chance to shift your goals on the go. However, these changes also result in time overruns and significant budget bloating, which is not ideal for anyone trying to save time and not go overboard with the money. According to a study on the correlation of critical success factors with the success of software projects, most companies land somewhere in between on the maturity of vision and mission, which means that they do not exactly have a clearly defined and precise action plan. The simple solution here is to plan your entire project from the start. 

Have a Mature Team

The maturity of your team plays a critical role in the overall success of your project, and even more than that, you need to have a consistent team that handles your project from start to finish without too many changes. Hiring a dedicated team of skilled professionals is not that easy though, and delaying the project launch because you don’t have the right set of people to start it with is one of the risk factors in software development projects that may cause significant delays. 

That is where outsourcing your project to the nearshore team might be the best solution that can give you a strong advantage over the competition and prevent time overruns and excessive spending. This is especially relevant for the depleted talent pools where it is hard to find the right people on site. From our experience, there are several reasons why businesses turn to outsourcing their projects: not having enough skilled developers in their area, wanting to save the costs, and not having enough time to spend on hunting and hiring the developers themselves. Intersog solves all three of these issues as we help our clients hire fast and at a reasonable price from a global talent pool.

Thanks to our global presence across the Americas, Europe, and the Middle East, we deploy expert teams of developers either offshore, nearshore, or even onshore to help our clients achieve maximum efficiency and get their product to the market. Having a mature team of developers at your side is the key component to getting your product ready for the market launch within the time and budget limits you’ve set beforehand. If you have both clear requirements for the project and a professional team of developers, you are off to a good start.

Apply Relevant Project Management Practices

The most crucial part to ensuring the efficiency of your efforts is to choose the right project management strategy for the entire project. Usually, project managers opt for either of two main choices: Waterfall or Agile methodology. There also are many others such as Lean, Extreme Programming, Rapid, and more, but most of them are derivatives of either Agile or Waterfall models. We have many examples of using both approaches throughout our 15 years in the business, and though Agile seems to be more prevalent and versatile, it is not to say that one model is better than the other – both of them have their applications under the right circumstances.

As an instance, several years back, we worked with Fido Solutions, a FinTech company that needed a new mobile application for an improved loan service delivery. Our client had a clear vision for the app, and they quickly outlined all of their requirements for the project that included a straightforward loan request form, customer history tracking tools, a built-in interest rate calculator, and a comfortable payback interface. These were the main requirements along with a set of other smaller requests we had to fulfill, and thanks to the clear and precise planning, we were able to use the Waterfall model that infers a rather straightforward approach to project management. In cases where you have all of the project requirements, you can just go from one milestone to another without any iterations and achieve the required results within the provided timeline.

Alternatively, you can go with the Agile methodology or its sub-methodologies such as Extreme Programming. This approach works best for projects that might have changing objectives and unclear requirements. We have the experience of working on such projects as well. As one of such examples, we’ve worked with a Ski Nation brand that needed a mobile app, and the problem was that our client did not really know what the app was ought to be like. This sends us back to the problem of unclear requirements, but we’ve managed to take the project to the finish line by applying the Agile approach. Together with the client, we’ve been changing the scope of the project and its main purpose a number of times, and in the end, we’ve got the product our client was happy with. 

There’s no single universal project management approach and that every project needs its own. There are several options you can go with, and choosing the right approach is one of the critical success factors software development companies need to consider when embarking on a new project.

Establish Effective Communication

Communication is the most crucial factor determining the efficiency of your cooperation with the vendor. Whether you work with the in-house team or a remote team of developers on the opposite side of the globe, you need to have a clear and comprehensive line of communication. That way you can make sure you are on the same page and that the developers know exactly what needs to be done in order to deliver the required results. Proper communication is not just important for conveying your vision to the developers, it also establishes a connection between you and the team, which is imperative for keeping the team motivated and productive. 

It is quite unlikely that your team would be as invested in the project as you are if you do not communicate your vision to the developers. If they have no idea who they are working with, how are they going to understand you and your vision? Lack of communication might also produce a negative impact on the developers’ motivation, which is one of the critical human factors in software development and design. If your development team has little to no idea of what you think of the project, what your vision is, and how you see the further developmental path, they are unlikely to stay interested in the project. They would keep going just because you pay them, but they would certainly not be as invested in the project. 

A personal interest is a human factor you cannot disregard, and just because you are interested and personally invested in the project, does not automatically mean that everybody else is. You need to foster that personal connection to the project through close communication with the developers. A disenfranchised team that does their job only for the money is less likely to deliver satisfactory results than a team that is genuinely excited about the project.

Assure the Quality

This is obvious but many companies still approach this issue the wrong way – the quality of your software is paramount for the proper user experience. No matter how exciting your ideas are or how revolutionary your software is, every time it crashes or anything goes wrong, you lose a user. Every disappointed user equals financial losses for your business, and if your software underperforms on a regular basis, lags, and crashes frequently, you are not going far. Having a team of Quality Assurance experts is a must because you do not want to release a buggy product.

Human error is always a possibility and your developers might make mistakes regardless of how experienced they are. The code is a complex thing that takes months to write, and it takes an additional 30% of the development time to test all that code. Testing plays a critical role in the success of your project; thus, you should never omit that stage. Here at Intersog, we run both automated and manual tests throughout the software development life cycle to ensure the quality each step of the way. Some companies test the finished product once all the coding is done, which is also a viable option, but we prefer to run tests on a regular basis to identify all the possible flaws in the code on the fly. With that approach, we do not allow the issues to snowball into a real disaster, and by the time we are ready to roll out the final version of the product, we are sure it is flawless. 

Final Thoughts

There might be a whole bunch of industry and market-specific success factors driving your particular business, and you should keep those in mind too. Each project has its own unique features, and it makes it difficult to give all of them the same blueprint for success; nonetheless, there are certain points that are common for almost any software development project. Having a clear goal and requirements, hiring a professional team of dedicated developers, choosing the right management approach, establishing a transparent line of communication, and ensuring the quality are the key success factors that will drive your project from the ideation stage and up to the market launch. This is the basis for developing a project worthy of your customer’s attention and love, and subsequently, this leads to a return on investment. 

If you want to ensure success, contact our experts at Intersog, and together we will get your project going with confidence and precision.

IT and talent solutions
Intersog is a leading IT solutions provider in the United States and beyond. The company has provided agile software engineering and staffing services for Fortune 500 corporations, tech startups, and SaaS businesses for over fifteen years. Why Intersog.