The 5 Key Steps in a Custom Development Project – and How to Nail Each One

Now that you’ve decided to tackle a custom software development project and chosen a development partner, what happens next?

Glad you asked because this piece will guide you through the five critical steps in developing a custom software project that will jumpstart your business and drive you to new levels of success. And we’ll provide insight on how to nail each one successfully.

But First, Some Best Practices

Before diving into the discrete steps, let’s discuss some best practices that underlie successful development projects.  Each of these should be integrated into the project from start to finish to ensure timely completion, superior UI/UX, airtight software quality, and compliance with your project requirements and business objectives.

  • Meticulous Project Management and Processes – Strict adherence to proven project management disciplines and established processes are vital to the success of your project and the timely completion of each step in the development process. Your project will consist of many moving parts, and it’s only through rigorous project management that all the processes and players stay aligned and drive toward the desired end goal. Using best-in-class project management software is essential, but a project management mindset and meticulous attention to detail are also required. 
  • Constant Developer/Client Collaboration  – Communication channels between you, the developers, and your project management team should always be open and accessible.  A disconnect between you and the programmers can sink your project and lead to frustration and missteps. Software collaboration tools go a long way toward keeping communication on track, but so is a general openness among all project participants.  A development project works best as a constant, two-way conversation between you and your programmers.
  • Detailed Discovery – The discovery process is critical to the success of your development project — perhaps even the most essential piece. It’s an iterative process that requires careful thought and interactive discussion between you and your development team.

Think of discovery as translating your business objectives into a development roadmap. Done right, it defines your project’s trajectory and charts a path to a successful outcome.

And Now, The 5 Key Steps and How to Nail Them

Now that we’ve established some baseline best practices, it’s time to look at the five key steps in detail, along with guidelines for attainment.

1. Identifying the problem or opportunity – The core motivation for a development project typically falls into one of two categories, either a problem to be solved or an emerging opportunity.  When scoping a custom development project, don’t let your vision be limited by what you perceive may be possible.  Given the right partner armed with the latest technology, you will be pleasantly surprised how effectively custom development solutions can achieve strategic business goals.

2. Designing the solution – Custom solutions can take many forms, from an application to an integration. Your design should incorporate your vision and distill it into a detailed Statement of Work (SoW) that your development team will use to build your project. Continue to stretch your expectations and challenge your software partner to do the same. By working together, you will likely arrive at an innovative solution.

3. Development – Your development team will work on coding the software at this stage. Use collaboration channels to communicate with the development team. Attend stand-up meetings to monitor the development process, and don’t be shy to provide input where needed.

4. Testing – While testing may seem like a step that occurs only at the end of the development process, your development partner may engage in QA and testing as an ongoing process throughout the development lifecycle. You can participate by testing software functionality in incremental stages or as part of final testing before implementation.

5. Maintenance – Your development partner usually offers a support or maintenance agreement, and it’s typically a good investment. Even if your solution is not under maintenance, it’s an excellent idea to keep in touch with your software partner.  Occasional support needs may arise, and your partner is a logical choice for your next custom development project.

Putting it all Together

These five steps and three baseline best practices provide a proven strategy for a successful software development project. Also, in this piece, you will notice a recurring theme that custom software development projects often depend on an expert and proven partner.  For insight on locating a software development partner, see, Find the Right Development Partner – Best Practices and Insights.

Pell Software is a Proven Development Partner

Pell Software is a premier custom software developer with expertise in all aspects of custom software development.  We’ve worked with companies of all sizes and types, ranging from small businesses to startups to national companies in a wide range of industries. 

So we know how to develop custom software to help you take back control and ensure your focus is on meeting your business objectives. We can help you leverage and enhance your existing technology resources while adding new capabilities to enable you to take back control while driving growth and increasing profitability. 

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