The bespoke software development industry is booming. The ever-growing demand for new applications and features has led to an increased number of software development companies and individuals offering their services. However, software development is a challenging and risky process, so such projects may fail due to a number of reasons. In addition, more and more businesses have jumped into the fray, and software development has become more complex and difficult to predict. With so much competition, it’s more significant than ever to have a well-thought-out plan before embarking on any new software development project. In today’s guide, let’s go over the nine most critical steps for software development planning.
What is a Software Development Project Plan?
A software development project plan is a document that outlines the activities and resources required to successfully deliver a project. The plan usually covers all phases of the project, from planning and ideation to design and development, testing, documentation, deployment, launch, and maintenance.
A good software development project plan is important because it helps you map out the steps needed to reach your goals. It also allows you to track progress, identify potential problems early on, and course correct if necessary. Without a proper plan, it would be difficult to know what and when needs to be done and by whom.
Step by Step to Plan a Software Development Project
No matter what kind of software development project you are undertaking, adequate planning is essential for success. Failing to plan properly can lead to budget overruns, missed deadlines, and frustrated stakeholders. Here are nine critical steps that should be part of your planning process:
Define Your Project’s “Everything” – Goal, Scope, and Budget
The first step in any software development project is to define the project’s goals, scope, and budget. This may seem like a no-brainer, but it’s amazing how many projects get off on the wrong foot because these three essential elements were not properly defined from the outset. By spending the time to sit down with all of the stakeholders and getting a clear understanding of what they want to achieve with the project, you can avoid a lot of headaches down the road.
Estimate Technical Resources, Time, and Budget
Once you capture a clear picture of the project’s goals, scope, and budget, it’s time to start estimating the technical resources and time required to complete the project. This is where things can start to get tricky. Inexperienced estimators often underestimate the resources required for a project, which can lead to cost overruns and schedule delays. On the other hand, overestimating the resources needed can result in an unnecessarily large budget. Therefore, the key here is to strike a balance between the two extremes and come up with an estimate that is realistic and achievable.
Assemble the Right Development Team
Once you have a good understanding of the resources required for the project, it’s time to start assembling the development team. This is arguably an essential step in the software development process, as the quality of the final product will be directly related to the skills and experience of the developers working on it. When assembling your team, be sure to include individuals with a variety of skill sets and experience levels so that you can take advantage of their different strengths. At this point, a lot of organizations decide to contract out with a software development services company for a dedicated team or augmented IT personnel.
Create a Detailed Schedule
With the team in place, it’s time to start creating a detailed schedule for the project. This schedule should include milestones for each phase of the project as well as target dates for the completion of each task. By creating a detailed schedule, you can ensure that everyone involved in the project is aware of what to do and when it needs to be done.
Design and Prototype
The next step in the software development process is to design and prototype the application. This is where the developers will start to put their ideas down on paper (or in code) and bring the project to life. The goal at this stage is to create a working version of the application so that stakeholders can get an idea of what it will be like when it’s finished.
Develop and Test
Once the design and prototype are complete, it’s time to start developing the actual application. It is definitely where the rubber meets the road, and the developers have to turn their vision into reality. During this phase, it’s also important to conduct regular testing to ensure that the application is functioning as intended.
Conduct Regular Reviews and Demos
As the project progresses, it’s important to keep stakeholders updated on its status. This can be done through regular reviews and demos, which will give them a chance to provide feedback and make sure that the project is on track.
Get Sign-off on the Final Product
Once the development and testing phases are complete, it’s time to get a sign-off on the final product. This is typically done by having the stakeholders review the application and confirm that it meets their requirements. Once they’ve given their approval, the project is considered complete, and you can move on to other things.
Launch and Monitor Post-Release Metrics
The final step in the software development process is to launch the application and monitor post-release metrics. This will help you determine whether or not the application is successful and identify areas that need improvement.
In brief, a successful software development project is impossible without a proper plan in place. Following the steps outlined in this post, you can increase your chances of delivering a high-quality product that meets the needs of your stakeholders. However, if your company has no competency or resources in-house to deliver such a project, it may be best to outsource your entire software development project to third-party vendors and leverage advantages, and they will be solely responsible for everything from the initial planning stages to post-release support and maintenance. Now, it is your decision whether to build a master plan for your upcoming project or outsource it to avoid any risks.