Dozens of coffee, red eyes, the whole team is on fire, and you are looking for new ways of expanding the number of hours in a day. Common sense? Yes, you know what it is. The Deadline. The horrible word which fears everyone from its first letters. Just read it one more time. Do you feel how shivers run up and down your spine?
But joking aside, an actual deadline is not so scary as it is at first sight. When plan and build your processes correctly, you won`t be afraid of the deadline and will meet it as an old friend.
Let’s get straight to the point. Software project management is a kind of magic: everyone wants to try, but not everyone can actually acquire this art. And in this sphere no matter how experienced you are: whether you make software development for startups or are a software guru, there always are specific and hidden pitfalls which can lead away your project to the bottom.
We decided to share our thoughts on important aspects of software development projects from on-time delivery perspective.
How to approach the challenge?
Every project is a challenge. And the first important question to answer is a relevant project approach. We can’t dictate you what methodology to choose because it depends on every particular project. But it can either help your project to be successful or make it fail. Let’s take a look at some widely used options.
This methodology is useful for those projects which have all requirements and software specification before the project starts, so you can easily define all the development steps till the end of the project. In unfavorable case, you will know that something is not okay with the software only at the last stages when the significant part of the time is already gone, and there is a risk of failing the deadline of the project. Unfortunately, inability to make crucial changes iteratively is a weak point of Waterfall. So it is not a good choice for development of new innovative products that assume time-to-market aspect and consist of many changes, trials, tests, feedbacks, and iterations.
As opposite to Waterfall, with Agile you can see iterative results before the final delivery. According to this, you have an opportunity to revise and implement changes during the development process. Agile methods allow you to divide the scope of work into smaller parts so each developer or team could be more efficient. Besides, communication techniques in Agile eliminate a gap between the team and the client, that reduces the time which is the most valuable asset in most projects.
Scrum, one of the agile methodologies, reduces the role of project manager. All team members work on the scope of the project and each sprint together. That way saves time and makes collaboration fruitful and helpful. Another Scrum advantage is the ability to be aware of all problems and issues and apply fixes as soon as possible without wasting time and cost.
To improve delivery time during the project, “visual” Kanban minimizes the delivery cycle by making an accent on regular on-time delivery. That ensures the work is moving fast and efficient through the whole project.
On the other hand, Agile methodologies do not give a clear answer to the question “When exactly the entire scope will be done?” There are no accurate time frames of each phase of the project. In most cases, you can`t say how long will the project last for sure, just because it changes and evolves on the fly! If you have a strict final delivery date, please remember that, and control the dynamic scope, so you do not fly beyond the deadline!
Planning & Estimates
After you have decided about the project methodology, it is time for planning and estimation of the tasks. The goal is to collect all requirements and information, think about the risks, build the project team, assess the budget and finally, consider the time and delivery dates.
The estimation of fixed cost projects includes a lot of aspects, and you should foresee some critical issues and unanticipated difficulties your project can face with. Involve the team in the discussion of all project details, take into account their skills, the team’s velocity, and availability.
Discuss the project requirements, organize a brainstorm discussion, listen to their suggestions and ideas to make the project better and faster. One of the good practices is not only to rely on your experience but also to include statistics and probabilities data to make estimation process more accurate.
You can find here our answer to the question of how to get the maximum value within the planned budget.
Once the project is on rails, don’t forget to be attentive to the time. Track all activities of the project, not just development tasks! Many day-to-day routine activities consume time: meetings, discussions, updates, configuration tasks, and so on. It is necessary to track all project activities to avoid delivery delays. There are different tracking tools and online services on the market like TickSpot, BaseCamp, Trello and more that can bring order to your project. Just select the most appropriate one and tune it to your processes.