It’s time to take a fresh look at what goes on behind the scenes when you hire a team to develop software. After you’ve hit “Send” on your project goals and parameters, it’s all too easy to sit back and wonder what’s taking so long.
With most other services, you can see changes happen in real time. You can anxiously wait for a download progress bar to fill up, watch as a restaurant worker builds your perfect sandwich, or check the postal service website for updates on your delivery. The world of software product development, in contrast, seems like it must be deliberately obscure with timelines that mean almost nothing in practical terms.
If you don’t have your finger on the pulse of what’s going on behind the scenes, it’s a recipe for frustration. This Get Real series aims to pull back the curtains and let you see what it really takes to bring an application from a vague vision to a downloadable reality.
The following are several truths about the software development process that no one likes to talk about. However, accepting and even embracing these truths is key to getting where you want to go and enjoying the road that will take you there.
Put these points all together, and you’ll begin to understand why going past the deadline and over the budget are so commonplace – and it may even be a sign that your end result will be a higher quality application with a better likelihood of success.
This is an investment rather than a straightforward purchase.
Creating and releasing software is using digital technology to grow your business. A helpful and streamlined user experience leads to happier customers, more business, and greater revenue.
If you were presented with two possible future scenarios—one in which you invested heavily in digital technology and the other in which you did not—which strategy do you think would have the most positive impact on your business’s future bottom line?
It’s impossible to tell which specific developments will make the most difference and what your exact return on investment will be, of course. In general, however, when you’re confident a certain strategy could lead to success, it’s best to go all-out on that strategy rather than take halfway measures.
The true question is not how much you want to pay for a new piece of software. It’s about how much you’re willing to invest in your company’s future success by developing a robust, useful tool that will actually help your business grow in the long run.
Building enterprise software is like building a new factory.
If you’ve ever driven past a factory under construction on your daily commute, you may have watched with fascination as the construction site quickly went from an empty, dirt field to a finished and functional building.
However, if you’re only paying attention to the construction, you’re missing the other, equally vital, steps in the process. Before the first slab of concrete was poured, that building was technically under development for months, or, in some cases, years. It went through architecture and design, city planning, zoning, and approval before anyone donned a hard hat and broke ground.
Likewise, the building’s development doesn’t stop after the final stroke of paint has been applied. For years to come, there will be maintenance, upgrades, and any number of renovations to alter the building to suit the needs of its owner and occupants.
The final version of the building may not resemble the architect’s initial vision at all, but hopefully, if each team has done its job well, it will be a better, stronger, and more useful building than it would have been if everyone had simply stopped building after they had a recognizable structure.
The same goes for software development. You’ve got to account for planning, design, building, and updates. You may not end up with exactly the software you wanted when you set out, but the goal is to provide you with a product that is even better than you could have imagined at first thought.
You’ve been sold a lie.
For years, every software development pitch bombards you with the message that quality work can be done quickly and cheaply. In reality, this simply isn’t the case.
If anyone claims they can build you bespoke, robust enterprise software and come in under budget and ahead of schedule, run. It will be a waste of your time and money, not to mention a considerable source of stress and disappointment.
When a development company creates enterprise software, they aren’t churning out cheap lines of code that could have been written by computer science students. Your team is taking numerous factors into consideration: real-world user processes, interdependency, user experience, overall functionality, database storage, and even visual design elements.
Understanding the difference between what goes into writing a simple program and what goes into building a polished product with a seamless and delightful user experience is part of being an educated customer. Having realistic expectations surrounding timelines and budgets can help you avoid disappointment and stress along the journey.
The Agile process takes you closer to your goal one small step at a time.
When you start with a vision, you can’t bring that vision into reality all at once. In the old days of software development, clients usually waited months or even years for one massive update. Only then could the client take a look at the finished product and say, “Yes, this is great!” or “Wow, this isn’t at all what I wanted.”
The Agile development process is the solution to an archaic process that usually leads to disappointment. Instead of waiting on the hook to see all at once whether you’re happy with the finished product, you’re introduced to your new software piece by piece, as it is developed. This is a blessing, in that you can guide the process along the way and prevent the unpleasant surprise that occurs when you realize your development team completely misunderstood your requirements.
However, you must take some bad with the good if you want to be an Agile customer. Because Agile development is a process rather than an event, there is no frame of reference on which to place your expectations. The process itself defies prediction and control, because it is ultimately the result of multiple collaboration efforts, revisions, and course changes.
It may seem like the whole process is dragged out, with few to no major, earth-shattering updates along the way. Perhaps more disappointingly, each change you request costs time and money to implement.
If it seems like you’re taking one step forward and one step back (and repeating the process over a period of weeks), just be assured that this means your development team is altering the product to better suit your exact vision. You may have to wait longer to see the final product, but you’ll be presented with the software you actually wanted in the first place.
AVI goes beyond software development.
Anyone can come up with a product idea and place an order for an application to be developed. The ultimate reality check will happen when you release your product onto the market. Either you have spent the development time wisely and taken the time to align your project’s goals with the needs of your customers and the potential marketing points you’d like to hit, or you have not.
If you want to avoid the harsh reality of a failed product release, you need to do more than simply hire a software development team and hit “Send” on your project parameters. You need a product development team that can guide the creation process of your digital product in a way that ensures success.
Applied Visions specializes in full-service digital product development. With each course change and every tiny refinement, we’re bringing you one step closer to owning a product that will thrive in the marketplace long after your project leaves our desks.