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Why complex application development project fail – and 6 tips to help you succeed

One third of all application implementation projects run late or over budget [*]. On top of that, many do not deliver what they are expected to deliver. Why is that? And, most importantly, how can you do better? Here are six tips to help you keep your project on time and on budget, while ensuring that it meets the needs of everyone involved.

Small-scale software development projects are relatively simple to manage. The scope is clear, the team is small and it’s easy to monitor the budget and timing. Large-scale projects, however, are more prone to failure. As they take several years to complete, the scope, the priorities and even the teams are bound to change over time.

There are several factors that put IT projects at risk of failure – from exceeding deadlines and running out of funds to falling short of user expectations. Here’s how to avoid them:

 

Tip 1: know your users and the business drivers

Your users need software tailored to their specific business needs and goals. So, no matter how great your application looks and how well every function works, it won’t be successful if it doesn’t do what the users expect it to do.

That’s why IT projects at Cegeka start with a foundation phase. We organize workshops with the business to understand the organization and learn what challenges they want to solve. Based on that input, we then determine the business drivers, scope, technology needed, etc.

IT projects at Cegeka start with a foundation phase. We organize workshops with the business to understand the organization and learn what challenges they want to solve.



Tip 2: take it one step at a time

There are plenty of factors that can impact the scope and priorities of your project. Make sure that you are able to adapt to that change. Work iteratively and hold regular feedback sessions to remain on top of user needs and respond to change quickly and efficiently.

Cegeka strongly adheres to agile and DevSecOps methodologies to anticipate change. By working closely together with the business (agile) and with operations (DevSecOps) and ensuring short feedback loops we can quickly change course when needed.

 

Tip 3: keep costs top of mind

To avoid the dreaded budget overrun, you need to keep costs top of mind at every step of your project – from scope definition to project delivery. Prepare for surprises when you estimate your costs, as large projects typically come with unforeseen circumstances that impact your budget.

Communication is really key in this matter. At Cegeka, we always discuss the actual spend versus budget in our bi-weekly team meetings. If needed we can then shift priorities to prevent things from getting too far out of hand.

 

Tip 4: develop software like a pro

The keys to successful, future-proof software development? Ensure a clear software architecture, use hands-on development methodologies and make sure that every developer strictly adheres to software engineering best practices.

More than 4.000 developers of the Cegeka digital factory follow a consistent approach to design and coding standards. That really is a must for high-quality and future-proof projects, like the Ventouris project that we’ve been working on for years. Of course, this all starts with recruiting – and retaining – the right people. More than technical skills Cegeka developers need soft skills too. And they have to fit with our corporate culture: be pragmatic and authenthic, take ownership, be willing to learn and grow, etc.

> Discover how Cegeka recruites and retains its software developers

More than 4.000 developers of the Cegeka digital factory follow a consistent approach to design and coding standards. That really is a must for high-quality and future-proof projects.



Tip 5: test, test and test again

The quality of software hinges on two factors: excellent software delivery and extensive testing. Make sure to carry out repeatable and automated tests to detect bugs from the early stages of development onwards to prevent your application from failing once it’s up and running.

Cegeka’s software development team performs a large number of tests to detect possible bugs. Just like application development, testing has become increasingly agile as well. More and more, we focus on continuous and on automated testing. Although building and maintaining an automated test suite does take time up front, it is sure to save time later on.

 

Tip 6: collaborate and communicate nonstop

I can’t repeat it enough: communication is king. Is the scope unclear, are you afraid that you’ll be running out of budget or out of time or do you have a technical problem? Talk with your peer developers, communicate openly with the customer and don’t be afraid to ask questions. At Cegeka, we insist on working in close collaboration with our customers. Software development is not all about technology. Technology is only a means to help people!

At Cegeka, we work in close collaboration with our customers. Software development is not all about technology. Technology is only a means to help people …

Need more insight and inspiration on how to make your software development project success? Download our free e-book.

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[*] Source: Use These 10 Contracting Steps to Dramatically Reduce Your Application Implementation Project Overruns (Gartner , 2017)