Custom Software Apps & SharePoint Consulting

How “Phase 0” Reduces Software Project Failures

When implementing a custom software project, there are certain steps to take before beginning the development process. The very first step is to discuss organizational priorities and stakeholder needs, which can help reduce risks and avoid project failures. At the same time, you’ll need to create a clearly-defined set of requirements and engage in technical planning. Together, all of these tasks can comprise “Phase 0” of a project, also known as the “Envision and Plan” stage.

According to a 2015 study, the average large IT project runs 45% over budget and delivers 56% less value than expected. Most ominously, 75% of IT project leaders believe their projects are doomed to failure.

So, incorporating “Phase 0” into your custom software project can be the key to ensuring its success. During this phase, you’ll define your goals while giving your clients a deeper understanding of the benefits of their investment. As the old saying goes, “Plans are nothing, but planning is everything.” Phase 0 helps you bridge the gap between strategy formulation and goal achievement.

Essentially, Phase 0 is a visual map highlighting a cross-functional vision that encompasses the needs of all stakeholders.

Below, we detail important steps to take during this phase.

1. Maintain All Crucial Documentation

To begin with, it’s important to make sure that all documentation is in place. In software modernization, this may include documentation of an existing feature set.

Development methodology may also include any desired additional features or, if the software is new, details about what features the solution will have. Proper documentation can help eliminate any misunderstandings or ambiguities around your project.

2. Determine the Best Technical Approach to Take

The next step is to focus on figuring out how best to approach major system components. The earlier you can prepare for process issues, the better you’ll be able to mitigate risks and improve outcomes. For example, can you leverage an agile approach to achieve success?

Ultimately, you’ll be able to reduce project failure by managing risks, such as budget constraints, unexpected delays, and evolving marketplace demands.

3. Develop an In-Depth Product Backlog

You’ll also benefit from developing a product backlog of user stories. This will consist of a hierarchical collection of tasks written in the user’s language. Essentially, the product backlog delineates all of the work necessary to create a new piece of software or app.

Development teams can use this backlog to develop functioning software. Subsequently, these user stories enable developers to trace requirements for adding functionalities down the road.

4. Develop a Statement of Work

To prepare for the “Build, Stabilize and Deploy” phase, consider developing a statement of work (SoW). This will give your clients a much clearer picture of what to expect when it comes to the overall scope of the project. Again, like other types of documentation, this will help prevent any misconceptions about the end product. As a result, your clients will know exactly what they are getting when they invest in your software or app solution. An SoW prevents conflicts from arising due to gaps in expectations.

5. Make Predictions Around ROI

While this is rarely done, it may be worth making some predictions around the return on investment expected from a project. If you take the time to consider what the real ROI of a project is likely to be, you can make more informed decisions about how to proceed.

Essentially, determining the ROI of a project can contribute to a better alignment with budget requirements and help quantify the results of success.

Entrance Can Help You Create Phase O Requirements

A plan-driven approach to project management can reduce the risks of project failures. By implementing Phase 0, you’ll go into the next phase with a better understanding of what the project will entail, and your clients will also be able to make better purchasing decisions.

If you’d like to ensure that your custom software project proceeds smoothly from conception to release, consider working with our experienced team of experts at Entrance. For more information, contact us to learn how we can help facilitate the success of your project.

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