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Understand why your project has failed to deliver, learn from classic project pitfalls and put what you’ve learned into practice with enterprise prototyping

More than ever, software companies are under pressure to turn in more projects with smaller budgets in shorter time frames. As the pressure to deliver builds up, so do the risks that lead to late or incomplete projects. According to Standish Group, only around one-third of all IT projects were successfully closed as per the time and budget set in 2016.

But how do you know your projects aren’t going to go as planned? Well, you can never know for sure – but efficiently planning a project is a good way to get started. Here we discuss the main reasons for the failure of software projects, and how implementing prototyping in your enterprise systems can help to avoid them.

The reasons why your software project is failing and how to remedy them

Software project pitfall #1: Poor planning of project scope

There are several reasons why projects fail, and most of them can be avoided by careful planning. The scope of the project does not only concern the final result you want to realize – it also includes the milestones you want to reach along the way.

“Software projects are notorious for initial hiccups and false starts.” Ashfaque Ahmed, Software Project Management: A Process-Driven Approach

Unforeseen hiccups are always going to rear their ugly heads in software projects, making milestones seem unachievable. And when milestones are continuously missed, that’s when the problems start to snowball. Next thing you know, there’s no time to test your software and no time to guarantee that everything is as it should be. The launch date is approaching and so you decide to release and fix the problems later on. Sometimes this works, but most of the time it’s a train wreck. These kind of problems can be avoided with careful planning of project milestones. By aiming to reach each milestone on time, you stand a better chance of keeping up momentum within the project, not pushing tasks forward, and not adding additional tasks to the project.

Solution: identify objectives carefully and set priorities

At the start of your project, make sure you have clear scope. Divide each phase of the definition process into small tasks, define who’ll do each part, and then assign an amount of time to each one of them (start and finish dates). You’ll need to assess the difficulty of each task to give it an accurate time frame. Consider Agile’s sprint approach to your planning. Break project objectives/requirements into smaller, more manageable task, making it easier to estimate and visualize them.

Planning your project, mapping out requirements and defining your software definition process with a prototyping tool is a smart move. If you start off documenting your project properly, it will be easier to collect data related to the project’s schedule, duration, effort expended and the scope of the work performed.

Project planning is where Justinmind’s software requirements features can be of real value. Justinmind Enterprise Requirements enable you to create, trace and manage your project objectives and visually confirm that each has been implemented correctly and on time. A version history is available for all modifications, from start to finish, and requirements can be organized in customized categories with labels and colors for solid and efficient management.


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Software project pitfall #2: Poor communication in-house and out

In enterprise, communication is not always the highest priority, with budgets and deadlines almost always at the head. Regardless, lack of effective communication can truly break the back of any project. The quality of communication directly affects decision making processes and design making success. And with so many individuals and groups involved in the software project life cycle, it’s important to find effective communication methods for stakeholders and teams so that everyone is on the same page.

In-house, poor communication between distributed software teams can lead to conflicting goals that in turn leads to disinterest, reduced commitment and little room for collaboration. By all means, assign someone to control and manage everyone’s activity – but make sure that everyone’s opinions are heard.  A common trait of IT projects is that senior management has the last say on project objectives, with little consideration for what it actually takes to deliver, as Diane C. Buckley-Altwies, CEO, Core Performance Concepts explains.

Poor communication with the client undermines the success of your software project, and ultimately kills customer value. Only when the right individuals are present in project planning will the key objectives be documented and realized.

Solution: manage teams and clients with collaborative prototyping

Get designers, business analysts, UX researchers, project managers, clients – and, yes your developers – all on the same page as early on as the prototyping phase of software definition. By getting everyone to use the same design tool, you’re already half way towards improving communication. If you’re using a prototyping tool designed for collaboration, like Justinmind, teams can work on the same prototype teams can collaborate together, as well as present the product more effectively. With Justinmind’s collaboration features, teams can work on the same prototype simultaneously, in real-time. What’s more, you can have your clients and stakeholders verify the functionality of your designs before full production.

Software project pitfall #3: Lack of metrics

If your team isn’t clear on the metrics related to your product, your project will no doubt suffer. Metrics help you to manage your project, enabling you to assess if you’re on track with your project schedule. As Lean Transformation Consultant Anand Subramaniam has it, metrics are essentially a measuring stick that depicts values, thresholds, constraints, scope, duration, maximums, minimums and averages related to your project. In his Project Metrics and Measures presentation, he goes on to state that developing an effective metric program early on in your project can be critical to the success of the project as a whole.

Solution: integrate your prototyping process with your project management system

Now we know that project metrics are hard enough to follow at the best of times; we have a hard time defining them in terms of the size and complexity of each project. And according to Subramaniam, a key challenge related to metric challenges regards the lack of resources and a formal approach to establishing the metrics.

Justinmind’s integration with Atlassian JIRA allows you to define and manage your project metrics effectively. With the software project management tool JIRA, create a milestone timeline, measure progress and assess and estimate the difficulty of each task. Define the approach you’re going to take, and identify key participants and the reporting structure of each phase of the software definition process. Then export all of your planning directly to you Justinmind account. Easy.

Takeaway

Failure isn’t all bad. When things do go wrong, there’s always something to learn from. And with a collaborative prototyping tool like Justinmind, that allows you to define and manage your requirements and metrics onsite, you can afford to spend more time on planning your project and failing forward, fast, rather than failing, period.

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Emily is Marketing Content Editor at Justinmind

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