How to scope a software development project

16th September 2020 - Jamie Mallon

Blog Post
How to scope a software development project

I’ve written this blog post as a quick guide on the process we use when implementing a bespoke software solution from scratch.

With a bespoke option, like the solutions DevStack implement, we work with you to understand your business objectives then translate these into ‘project requirements’ which form the basis of a project specification.

Once we’ve worked out what you are aiming to achieve and we’ve got a clear specification agreed with you, we are ready to move into the ‘design and development’ phase of the project. This is where we start to design and implement the software platform inline with your business goals.

The initial discovery meeting

At an initial discovery meeting we’ll be working with you to ensure we cover all of the information, requirements, goals and background of your business and what your business aims to achieve through our work together.

High level goals

This covers the core fundamentals about what you want to achieve, this could be short or longer term.

It might be your business is growing quickly and the systems you currently use are struggling or simply unable to cope without an upgrade or you could be looking for efficiency savings through increased productivity, a reduction in non digital (paper based) processes to save admin time or something that covers all of these bases; we’re confident we can implement solutions to help achieve your goals.

Long term vision for your business

Understanding the long term vision for your business is key to us implementing the right technology solutions to help you achieve your goals. At Devstack we take an agile approach to this, breaking down each project into smaller bite size sub projects or ‘Epics’ if you’re familiar with Agile Methodology. What this means in real terms is we can prioritise the key features or attributes most important to you and deliver these first, to create a solid foundation for additional development in future.

Scalability requirements

If you’re building an app for 10-15 users as opposed to a SAAS (Software As A Service) web application that may be required to scale for hundreds of thousands of users we can save time and money by identifying the level of scalability required - we won’t overengineer beyond your anticipated growth or requirements.

One of the advantages of a bespoke platform is that it’s built from the ground up alongside your requirements with the knowledge you have of your business. A bespoke solution can often be a more cost effective option over a broader ‘off the shelf’ solution. Equally a tailored, bespoke approach can offer you the ability to integrate functions throughout different areas of your business, from stock keeping and back office functions all the way through to an online sales platform. We always work to ensure the systems we build are scalable and capable of both growing and optimizing alongside your business.

How can we work together

Project plan

We provide a high level project plan to include top level milestones and phases which will give you an estimate of how long each element of the project will take. Typical examples of these will be Discovery, Design, Development, Testing, Deployment; in short we work with you to ensure we are delivering what you need when you need it.

Demonstrating what we deliver

We typically break our projects into two week sprints. The goal of this is to ensure we build the most important features first, ensuring our clients benefit swiftly from our work and often see high levels of ROI from the start of the project. We often see other developers rely on incremental development where there is little to no ‘end in sight’ for the client. We deliver measurable outcomes throughout the project, which means as our client, it’s easy to demonstrate the progression of a project throughout the process to your teams, Chief Executive or Board.

Show & Tell

After each sprint we’ll demo the work we’ve done to you and ensure you and your teams can test everything in a safe (but entirely realistic) environment before taking onboard any feedback and making any necessary tweaks or amendments to the software functionality. This means for every sprint (usually two weeks) there is a tangible, functional addition to your business you can share with your teams (or the board!) and allows us to deliver each element of the project exactly to your specification.

Key stakeholders

It’s essential we have key individuals (or an individual) within your business, that is an expert in the area we’re working in, we refer to these people as ‘subject matter experts’ to ensure we are completely clear on the fine details. We can always create the software you need with the right information, but it’s worth bearing in mind that like most projects, bespoke software development needs some management on both ends, with the ‘product owner’ and our developers. This way we know the project is meeting the exact requirements of the business and when we need information or more detail on something we know who to speak to. Depending on the size and scope of a project, we might suggest our clients to identify a ‘product owner’ for the project to discuss how the different parts of the software system would work best for their respective areas of the business.

Support & maintenance

Once the project is signed off and has gone live we're ready to move into the support & maintenance phase of the project. We usually advise our clients to decide on an affordable monthly budget that we can use to provide you with support and add additional features as they're required. We're dedicated in providing our clients with the best support for their sofware and we always strive to respond to any queries you may have promptly. We're also able to offer 24 hour support depending on your SLA requirements.

Defining project scope

To ensure we’re all on the same page before undertaking a project it’s important for us to agree and define project scope and create a statement of work to highlight which areas of the project are included, and in what phases work best for you or that align with your priorities.

It might be that for the initial phase, only part of a wider project is delivered due to business objectives or budgets. The statement of work aims to clearly describe what is expected for this phase of the project including project-specific activities, deliverables and timelines to ensure we’re aligned perfectly with your requirements.

Conclusion

We’re confident we can work alongside your business to scope, fact-find and deliver the right bespoke software solution for you to optimize, grow or find greater efficiencies within your business and ultimately help achieve your goals.

If you’re thinking about a project or you’d like to talk through anything I’ve covered above then we’d love to hear from you. Feel free to connect on LinkedIn call ‘0113 493 1006’ or just drop us an email and we’ll be happy to talk through your requirements.

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