Characteristics of Successful Software Development Projects

Characteristics of Successful Software Development Projects

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Aspects of Successful Software Application Development Projects

During my long career as a full lifecycle system and software application development professional, I've experienced some amazing project successes, and several spectacular failures.

A Google search will find news reports of projects of all sizes, in all industries, that have met with remarkable success.

I've observed that successful custom software development and Commercial Off-the-Shelf (COTs) projects share common characteristics, with respect to the project strategy and plan that governs the project and results in a predictable outcome.

Deliver On Time, Within Budget, and Meet Stakeholder Requirements

Successful development projects deliver applications on or near schedule, within budgetary constraints, with application deliverables that meet or exceed internal and external stakeholder needs and expectations.

Executive project sponsors will lead and coach project managers to create a project strategy and plan that strikes a balance in achieving all performance indicators. Successful projects deliver software applications that meet end-user requirements, at the forecasted delivery time, with the allocated project budget.

Orientation and Training Programs

Executive project sponsors understand the importance of orienting business stakeholders to new workflows and processes that often result when transitioning to a new business system that features new software applications.

End users of legacy systems and software applications will also need to be oriented as to how they will perform their daily work activities using new systems and applications.

New employees will need to be trained in the use of new applications, for them to be able to perform in their respective job roles.

The development of orientation and training programs and supporting reference documentation is a key characteristic of successful software and COTs application transition projects.

User Acceptance Test Programs

Successful projects also employ quality assurance professionals to plan, develop, implement, and manage an ongoing program to ensure business application quality throughout the development, delivery, and production maintenance and support lifecycle.

Key to delighting end-users with the use of new business applications, is a quality assurance program that includes their participation in user acceptance testing of system and software deliverables.

Lessons Learned from Decades of Failed Software Development Projects

Testing the brakes was not included in the contract.
Photo: WikiCommons | When schedule becomes the priority, passenger safety can be compromised

History is replete with software project implementation train wrecks resulting from project sponsors and leaders that view success as a project delivery and budgetary event. The end users are just along for the ride and treated much like unwanted project baggage.

Fifty years of computer software application development has provided business stakeholders and development professionals with structured methodologies that continue to result in the successful delivery of a broad range of application development projects, to the delight of end users.

Reasons the Proverbial Train Goes off the Track

Project sponsors and leaders get into trouble when they decide to alter or altogether omit proven, time-tested best practices.

A lack of oversight and insight into project development plans, by project sponsors with a demonstrated track record of successful project implementations, is another reason delivered software falls are short of meeting an organizations business needs and user expectations.

Leave 'Hunt-n-Peck' Orientation Approach in the Chickencoop

A common mistake, especially when organizational leaders are implementing a COTS application, is to assume that business professionals can just figure out things as they work with new software application.

In addition to being a highly inefficient and costly approach, it also causes anxiety and frustration in stakeholders, and plants the seeds for the application to be shelved, due to lack of user adoption/use.

Most business professionals I know do not have any spare time to invest in diddling with a new application, trying to figure out how the make it accomplish what they do easily with their legacy application.

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