Companies are turning more and more to technology to meet specific needs such as eliminating recurring tasks or increasing productivity and efficiency. While there is a plethora of software available on the market for payroll management, communication within different business units, and marketing automation, companies are increasingly looking to develop customized software solutions to meet specific needs. That’s a good idea, but how do we ensure it doesn’t become a money pit?
Stéphane Primeau, our software development expert with nearly 30 years of experience, shares five tips to avoid costly pitfalls when a company wants to start developing a software solution.
Tip #1: Know your goals and keep them in mind
That’s it! You’ve just come up with the idea of the century! You’ve put it down on paper and talked to your friends and family, and everyone agrees that you’ll be the next Bill Gates! This idea will revolutionize the world! You need to get a move on and develop the software!
Wait a sec!
Even with the best of ideas, it’s important to take stock of the situation and ask yourself the right questions before pouring your heart and soul into a project that could easily cost twice as much—if not more!—as you are willing to spend.
The first step before embarking on such a project is to ask yourself how it’ll be used. Try to answer the question “why?” What need will the software solution fulfil? What’s the objective? And then ask yourself: Is there a similar solution out there? Is there a real market need for this idea? Are there other competitors who have already thought about this and if so, what makes you different?
Once you have thought about these questions, it’s important to set goals for your solution, because without clear goals, you’ll just keep throwing more money into it. You have to be realistic. Unless you’re developing the next Uber, it’s important to budget your software solution and set clear and well-defined goals.
Tip #2: Adopt an Agile approach
What does Agility have to do with it, you might ask? The key lies in understanding this point.
Adopting an Agile approach to the development of your software solution will ensure you don’t fly too close to the sun. In other words, it is best to focus on what is most valuable. For example, you are a service company with database issues. You would like to develop an application that allows you to automatically record registrations and keep a history. You would also like the interface to facilitate the user experience on your website, and you would like this software to perform many repetitive tasks (reminders, invoices, emails, etc.) to ease the burden on your employees.
First, it’s important to focus on the part that will bring the most value, the part that will generate the fastest return on your investment: automatically recording registrations.
This will allow you to develop the MVP (Minimum Viable Product) of your software solution that will help you increase your productivity in the short term. After that, you can proceed with the other points. As the saying goes: You have to learn to walk before you can run.
Tip #3: Use control tools
This is also valid for all your other projects. There are many tools on the market that allow you to track and control your budget. Keeping an up-to-date record of your expenses and ensuring transparent communication between the parties will help make sure that you’re always on top of your expenses.
Tip #4: Take the lead, be invested in your project
Imagine you’re building a house. You’ve met with the architect, you’ve discussed what you want, and everything seems OK on paper and understood by everyone.
Several weeks later, you go to the construction site and realize that your expectations have not been met at all. The construction manager has not received the same instructions, there are additional delays, and worse still, the choice of materials forces you to revise your budget upwards.
Just like construction, it’s important to be invested in your project. As mentioned above, transparent communication and a timeline that is clear, shared, and understood by all will help you stay on top of your budget. Set up checkpoints at different stages of the process and organize regular contact to touch base so that you can keep informed of the progress of your project. Agree on the technologies to use and make the right choices. This will save you unpleasant surprises and will only strengthen cooperation between the two parties.
Tip #5: Find a partner of choice or trust a third party with expertise in the field
Don’t entrust your project to just anyone. Survey the market for potential partners and find out about the projects they have delivered. Talk about it with those around you. Ask around your network to find the ideal partner. A company that shares your values and specializes in your industry may be a partner to consider. But the most important thing is to find a partner who understands you. It’s crucial to establish a strong bond of trust. Your partner has the moral duty to guide you through the process. As the expert in our field, we are able to guide you. All too often, clients express their needs and think that choosing this or that solution will help them. However, our role is to offer guidance on technology to be adopted. For example, it’s sometimes necessary to choose a more expensive technology that will last longer over a less expensive technology that will require several costly updates in the future.
Consider the pros and cons. At Done, we have been the experts in custom software development for over 20 years. We have some of the best talent in the industry, and we have offered our expertise to about 30 clients in all fields.
Don’t hesitate to contact our team to talk about your project and get a free initial assessment of your situation.