Best Practices in Software Delivery
The right teams, tools, and processes can put you well on the way to delivering software that’s on time, on budget, and exactly what the client requested (until they change their mind).
Whether you’re developing something brand-new, implementing an upgrade, or doing regular maintenance, here are some software delivery best practices that will keep your staff and customers happy.
Hire the Best
In software delivery, a triumphant project always boils down to the skills, experience, and attitude of the people who work on it, which means you need to assign the right tasks to the right people.
Before looking at a single resume, decide on the scope of work that new hires will be expected to perform. Will they assist in setting development standards or conform to those already in place? Are they creating new applications from scratch or optimizing existing structures?
Whether you hire in-house talent or augment your staff with an outside firm, a crack team is the key to your success.
Give Your Teams the Tools to Succeed
The world’s best chef is nothing without a proper set of knives. Likewise, the most talented developer or engineer will struggle to perform without optimal hardware, software, and testing applications. Any up-front expense now will be well worth it in increased productivity and efficiency.
Define the Scope of the Project
Before writing a single line of code, all stakeholders need to be on the same page. Team leads should be clear on what the executive suite wants, top brass must have realistic expectations on what the product will actually do, and customers need to be ready for what’s coming their way. These constituencies need clearly defined parameters for success, and everyone should be in agreement on them before the work begins.
Software is complex, and the more time you spend up front walking through the client’s requirements (functionality, architecture, design, maintenance), the smoother the development process and quicker the delivery will be.
Pick Your Process and Manage Accordingly
Whether it’s Agile, Waterfall, or any other philosophy, your development process should reflect your project’s goals and team’s working style. Does it fare well with an incremental approach or a more traditional, linear style? Such questions are vital to building and maintaining a successful software delivery team, held together by a project manager who lives and breathes your process and can implement it across the organization.
Test, Test, and Test Again
You’ve paired the most ambitious vision with the best developers. You’ve almost got an excellent product. A rigorous testing regimen is the essential final ingredient to ensuring a flawless delivery.
Testing should work on a parallel schedule with coding so you can tweak as you go. A combination of automated tools and flesh-and-blood testers is essential to catch bugs early and redirect ineffective processes before they get too far down the road. Proper reporting and tracking metrics are also essential to quickly resolve errors and keep to the timetable.
Celebrate the Small Stuff (and It’s All Small Stuff)
Of course, you’ll want to congratulate your teams when they hit major milestones, including delivery of the final product. But just as important are the mini-milestones, the little victories that propel them from one day to the next.
Lin got a revision to the client ahead of schedule? Maria on your remote team fixed a nasty bug that had stumped everyone for months? Pop a cork and celebrate their successes.
Be Prepared for Change
Change is a fact of software development. An unforeseen problem pops up, the client’s needs shift in the middle of coding, or customer feedback requires retooling certain functionalities. The more you work this into your planning, the less stressful and surprising these course corrections will be. Always assume that the end product is not the end of the process.
Share and Learn
A successful development team continuously experiments, learns, and incorporates those lessons back into the next round of work. The key element in this is sharing—in a healthy workplace culture, mistakes are embraced, not feared. Give your teams permission to fail in order to achieve even greater successes.
Augment Your Software Delivery Team If Needed
With competition for locally grown developers increasingly fierce and salaries continuing to rise, staff augmentation with a firm in your time zone may be an ideal way to stretch your hiring budget and bring great talent to your company. Our Cost-Benefit Analysis e-book is an excellent resource to use to see if this solution is right for you.