5 Pitfalls to Avoid with Your Software Development Project

Edward Wong

Edward Wong

Head of Strategy

Seeing a software project through to its completion is a complex and challenging task. With research showing a staggering 66% of all software projects fail, it’s not uncommon for anyone to get halfway through their project, only to realise it’s running over budget, over time and eventually upon completion, not delivering the value that was initially predicted.

There are many pitfalls that your project can fall into – from poor planning to inefficient project management. Here are the most common reasons why projects have stalled amongst businesses that have come to us needing a project rescue.

1. Poorly defined goals

Just because you’ve got a great idea doesn’t mean it’s been clearly translated into specific and measurable goals. From our experience working on rescue projects, we have found this to be the biggest risk to the success of a project. If there are no clear goals, your project won’t have direction and your developers won’t understand what they are working towards.

Before any project commences, you need to know what business problem you are solving and how you will measure the success of the solution. Ensure this is documented and communicated with everyone working on the project.

2. Inadequate documentation

Being “agile” doesn’t mean making it up as you go. Written agreements and ‘just enough’ documentation are essential to your project. Coding software without clear User Stories & Acceptance Criteria is like building a house without knowing if it’s for a family of 8 or your grandmother. Your team won’t know what’s valuable to users, and therefore the business, and as a result, you’ll see low-value work delivered ahead of high-value work.

3. Gaps in communication

This ultimately comes down to a lack of care and accountability. Communication is the glue that holds your project together. Due to the number of people involved, the risk of misinterpreting, mistranslating or misunderstanding requirements are high. Documentation is important, but team dynamics and regular frequent ceremonies are key to make sure that information is not only communicated but also understood. Managing expectations is also crucial to ensuring everyone is on the same page, goals and deadlines are realistic and agreed outcomes are met.

Communication should be in a centralised location that everyone involved has access to. Instead of asking for updates, you should have access to task management and reporting tools so you can see what has been completed and where time is being spent.

4. Scope creep

As your project progresses, things can change and significantly impact the outcome. If your project goals and approach aren’t well defined, documented or managed, you’ll see bells and whistle features in your sprint goals, delaying your MVP, and therefore delaying that all-important user feedback.

Research shows that organisations that follow agile project management are more likely to be successful. Agile frameworks promote flexible, sustainable development, are responsive to change and allow for complex projects to be broken into small, achievable milestones.

You should be having regular catch ups and reviews of systems so any hurdles can be overcome early on, changes can be implemented smoothly and the rest of the project can keep progressing on time.  

5. Lack of stakeholder engagement

A lack of interest and confidence from stakeholders results in the failure of 33% of projects.  Keeping stakeholders informed and involved in the process and actively seeking feedback for improvement will increase their engagement and ensure your project continues to be aligned with what’s important to them.

It’s not all bad

It’s not uncommon for software projects to get delayed, have cost blowouts and lose their initial purpose. Teams lose interest as goals are not being met, communication breaks down and the whole project stalls.

The good news is that these projects can be rescued. Regardless of whether it’s fixing poor quality code, improving communication challenges or getting that important buy-in from key stakeholders, our team is experienced in getting projects back on track.

Talk to us today if you have a project that needs rescuing.

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