When looking for a service provider, regardless of the industry, you need to cautiously evaluate which option may be the best to drive your project towards success. Here is a list of common risks that you should take into account when looking for a custom software development provider.
Starting a project always involves some risks. When looking for a service provider, regardless of industry, you need to cautiously evaluate which option may be the best to drive your project towards success. Software development is not the exception to the rule.
Choosing a service provider may sound easy peasy, but it is not. You may hear, “It’s just software development, there are a ton of developers and agencies worldwide.” However, there is some complexity that lies within. That complexity comes from the fact that it’s not just software development per se. You may also consider some other related areas, that include, but are not limited to, product, quality assurance (QA), UI/UX, infrastructure, and security, just to mention the most important ones. With that said, it is easy to conclude that each area may have to mitigate their own risks, and the cross-functional interaction may generate additional risks that require a continuous assessment.
In order to help you identify most of them, I compiled a list of common risks that you should definitely consider when looking for a custom software development provider.
Not understanding the scope of the project
It is one of the more important ones, if not the most. The scope determines how much work will be done and what features need to be developed. The scope definition sets the stage for all the rest. In other words, if the scope is misinterpreted or not accurately defined at any point, then you will fail on the estimations, the team composition, and the plan to achieve the project objectives. Defining the scope should be a joint and collaborative effort between you and the development team. Once defined, the software partner should be able to explain how they will do it.
Not having experience on similar projects
This is also known as not having the know-how. Not all projects are similar to each other, even within the same business area. Nevertheless, having broad experience on different projects over the years will allow providers to gain efficiency and apply any lesson learned to your project. Mimic what has worked, avoid what has not. The key piece is that they will be able to add value to your project based on the business knowledge and capitalize the experience from other projects.
Not building the right team
Software development is not as easy as finding some tech genius that is tailor-made to bring you a software solution. It’s not just about hiring people that only know about programming or a certain technology. While building the team, you may need to ensure all the required roles are covered with someone that is highly qualified for the task that will be performing. A
balance between technical and soft skills, it is crucial to accomplish the project objectives in a timely manner. Having a clear defined staffing process of course will help mitigate this.
Not choosing the right technology
Choosing the right technology is essential, as it is another factor that could make your project fail. Which technology to use will depend on the project requirements, and the decision needs to be strongly backed up by funding. Avoid using either outdated or trendy technologies just because the development team is familiar with them or just because it is easy to find skilled people.
Lack of methodology
The methodology, regardless of which one you want to work with, builds the framework where the project must be developed. Not having any methodology defined at all will cause the project to be chaotic, and of course, to fail even earlier.
A related risk may be about not choosing the right methodology. It’s not about implementing one or the other because they are trendy. It is about analyzing which one would suit your project’s needs better .
Not having a clear communication path
Lack of communication or miscommunication could result in either considerable delays or notable cost overruns. This applies to either internal or external communication.
Every project needs to have a clear communication path between both sides, which should be maintained through the different stages and over the entire duration of the project. That communication path definition must include not only the point of contact(s) to address different situations but also the channels that will be used for each purpose.
Not keeping the team motivated/engaged
When a new project starts, developers usually are excited about it if it seems to be interesting. While this is extremely positive for delivering a great software product at the end, it is also necessary to keep it up during the entire project. For that purpose, they should have leaders who can guide them throughout all the different phases and keep them motivated, focused, and engaged with their work.
Content related: 10 ways to improve team motivation at work and how to sustain it
Not considering software quality assurance / after-development support
No matter how good the developer team is, bugs are rarely avoided (especially when timelines are too tight). Combining various tools and techniques for testing is ideal. Do not just rely on your own testing capabilities to make the project cheaper because it will be more expensive in the end for sure.
In addition, as many users start using your application, they will likely request some changes or improvements on the software itself. Make sure to discuss a plan to address them in advance.
Not right-sizing the infrastructure
Nowadays, cloud providers have simplified this a lot (you usually get all the resources your software needs to run and pay only for what it is used for), but there are still some projects that require on-premise infraestructures because of different reasons. In those cases, sizing up the right amount of computing and storage resources with room for growth can be a complex process.
This activity may involve some related risks that include under-provisioning or over-provisioning, hardware incompatibility, software incompatibility, network issues and outages, migration issues, downtime, disaster recovery, vendor reliability, and unexpected costs. Setting expectations in terms of high-availability, amount of users that will use the software, concurrency scenarios, and scalability, among several others that will help you come up with the right infrastructure solution for your project from the very beginning.
Data protection and information security
This one has two big implications. First, of course, it impacts your confidential business information. In order to reduce it, confidentiality agreements are put into place.
But then, there is another one, though not less important, related to implementing the right security mechanisms to avoid potential attacks. It involves not only the code level but also the infrastructure one. It is a must to ensure there is no back door open that could cause any issue against data protection.
Do not miss this: Best practices for secure software development projects
Now that you have become familiar with the risks, you’ll be more prepared when the time to look for a software partner comes. Taking these risks under consideration and planning a mitigation accordingly is the key to making the correct decision about the provider you should choose. If none of the items mentioned above are discussed in advance about how they will be addressed, it is definitely a red flag you should pay attention to before moving forward.
In the end, the biggest risk of not contracting the right custom development is driving your project to failure. So what would be better than taking the time to find a team that not only delivers quality solutions for your needs but that also treats your project as their own
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