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Custom Software Development: 13 Essential Checks in 2017

Michael Pihosh
Michael Pihosh
Managing Partner

Customer software development is a process of building software that addresses specific needs of the customer. The opposite type of development is Off-the-Shelf, more traditional one. Plenty of startups choose the Off-the-shelf solution. And it’s understandable since it’s cheap. But in this article, we won’t focus on cheap solutions and even compare one another. In this article, we will describe an easy-to-start strategy of implementing Custom Software Development.

Our text will be extremely useful for companies that have already decided to go in the custom direction. You will find actionable steps and transparent approaches that form the backbone of this model in 2017.

5 Steps to Build Custom Software for Your Business

Step #1: Ideation

We want to start from the identification stage as it is an essential part of every process.  In order to get advantages that this model offers, you have to be precious and to get to the very essence of your idea.

Goals:

Share your vision

  • Stop attempting to figure out the whole concept alone; share your vision with your team. It will help you to provide them with the “big picture.” After receiving feedback you can move to the planning.

Find an experienced, quality partner

  • A development provider simply must be a guru in your niche. Take a closer look at their portfolio, analyze their customers, and ask for references.

Understand the approach

  •  This is an extremely important and comprehensive point, as it includes many activities. We have mentioned above, that the whole process starts with ideation and goal setting. What comes after? Will your provider help you out with analyzing requirements? What about tailoring specification? You need to understand which development processes they follow.

Make sure that the team that you have built has a profound knowledge of Software architecture, step-by-step implementation strategy, and that they will meet expectations of maintaining it in the future.

Questions to consider:

  1. Does this partner have the right experience?
  2. Do I trust and like him?
  3. Can I rely on the offering technology stack?
  4. Are my budget expectations aligned?

Step #2: Strategy

Establish a starting point

Solidify your vision

  • In order to do this, make sure that the provided, detailed specifications align with your requirements. Check this article to learn more about software specification.
  • Understand the timeline and budget. Usually, software development companies can help you with both. If you have nothing but an idea – feel free to request “ballpark” estimates, but if you have prepared comprehensive specifications, ask for detailed milestones with defined timelines.
  • Keep in mind the “scope triangle” concept; the rule-of-thumb is to keep your project in balance.

On the other hand, “Scope Triangle” is a highly adaptable model. You have three options: Good, Fast and Cheap. It is called the “Pick Any Two” model and here are the alternatives you can choose from:

  1. Fast product development to a high standard, but it won’t be a cheap project.
  2. Build a quick and affordable project, but don’t expect the highest quality.
  3. Develop an inexpensive project with high quality, but it will take much more time than you expected

Questions to consider:

  1. What features deliver the highest value?
  2. Which are the greatest technical risks?
  3. Are there factors that affect our timeline?

Step #3: Build

Focus efforts on high-value

  • How important is a certain feature for your customer? Is there a critical need, or is it nice to have one? Do you have direct or indirect competitors in the market? You can do research by yourself; simply ask the potential customer, or use Business Analyst (BA) to scan your niche/market. Remember, uniqueness is always trendy. BA’s role can drastically reduce the cost of a project and speed-up ROI.

Manage Budget

  • Reliable development budgeting requires a connection of high-level requirements that correlate across the whole development process.

Questions to consider:

  1. Which feature(s) should we build next?
  2. Is everything working as expected?

Step #4: Repeat

Validate features with users

  • User testing is the fastest and the most affordable tool you can use to validate features.
  • Check if it’s easy to use a feature.
  • Figure out how discoverable the new feature is.
  • Determine where and why people are getting stuck when using your product.
  • The most beneficial part is that it allows you to gain an outside perspective.

Identify release points

  • Pay attention to Product release plan.
  • Set the release criteria: determination of exact release criteria can help you understand if your product is ready for shipping.
  • Set release goals: It usually is equivalent to business goals, pre-established by the product owner.

Check the ultimate guide “How to write a product release plan”

Questions to consider:

  1. Are our users liking what they see?
  2. Should we continue as planned or change course?

Step #5: Release

Gain user adoption

  • User adoption has a tremendous impact on the success of your product.
  • Set and analyze metrics to gain significant visibility.
  • Help users identify the features and benefits of the product
  • Assist users with technical implementation

Continuously collect feedback

  • There are many ways of collecting customer feedback. What exactly does this data do for us? Basically, they give us an understanding of what our customers want from our business, provide explanations of why people use some features three times more than another, and help us to know what causes customers to use your product less frequently or even stop using it, altogether.
  • Check out this comprehensive article about “Ways of getting customers feedback”

Refine future strategy

  • Specifying your trajectory for the following period in a comprehensive document is a good choice, but you can define it as simple as: listen, improve ship.
  • Don’t forget to make it measurable for analyzing progress.

Questions to consider:

  1. Is the application for solving the problem?
  2. Are our users happy?
  3. What should we do next?

To sum up

We hope that this short checklist shed some light on custom software development and it will be handy for you during the process of your product development. In case, you have some questions, don’t hesitate to contact us for additional info.


Also, check out our article about choosing a software vendor for your project: https://sombrainc.com/software-vendor/


 

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