Maximize Your Custom Software Development Services Budget, Timeline, and Results
Custom software development services have been used time and time again to eradicate business’ biggest pain points, create competitive advantage, and help businesses reach their next objective. We’ve seen countless clients use custom software development services to reduce inefficiencies, eliminate nagging, recurring problems, and harness opportunities for new revenue streams, so we are firm believers in the long-term value that such an investment can provide for any company. Read on to learn how to maximize your budget, timeline, and results and get the most value from custom software development services.
Maximize Your Budget
When business owners come to us for custom software development services, budget is often a primary consideration. We regularly work with companies to help them assess the value of the project and compare it with its potential benefit after delivery. Whether the benefit is monetary, efficiency, or eliminating a problem that can’t be easily quantified, we’re here to help you weigh those options and decide if custom software is necessary to get the results you want.
Here are some suggestions for working with your developer to make the most of your investment in custom software development services:
The Agile Approach Ensures You See Value at Every Stage of The Process
Many companies with custom software development services ask you to list out all the features you’d like, and then start building a solution with all of those. This is the waterfall approach, and it works well for some projects, but oftentimes it could be months until you see a sample of the solution and have the opportunity to provide additional input.
By the time you see results, then, there’s a fairly large chance that something has changed for your business. For example, maybe the priority level of a feature changed or you’ve learned of a new feature that would be extremely helpful. Additionally, when you don’t get to start testing the solution until it is complete, there are less opportunities for clarification until the testing phase. This can delay deployment and add development hours. We’ve found that taking a more flexible, agile approach for custom software development allows clients to experience value along the way, make clarifications, and ask questions all throughout the development process.
Often new custom software development services clients come to us with all the features they think they need. No one has a crystal ball. Few can fully envision a complete software solution before any code is written. But with the agile approach, you can prioritize and test features along the way. You learn what is most effective. You see what is sufficient. If you don’t need to build a solution with all the bells and whistles you originally envisioned, you’ll find that out and won’t waste development time and money on features that you ultimately don’t need.
Conversely, the need for some features may be reinforced along the way as other features are tested and released. Overall, the agile approach helps you assess the value of your solution every step of the way. So you build exactly what you need. From the get-go, we ask “What is the most valuable to you today?” and then work to make that happen. Once that objective is finished, we move onto the next.
By using the agile approach for our custom software development services, there’s more communication along the way. As a result, changes occur incrementally rather than one big set of changes at the end of the project to get it back on track. You test features as they’re ready. The value of the solution is more quickly realized, allowing you to communicate that value and benefit to key stakeholders even earlier.
Additionally, the agile approach allows for maximum flexibility. If there is a chance your business model may shift, we can adjust the development focus quickly, without massive rework in the software to account for unforeseen changes. Why is this important? It means you don’t waste your time and money developing features that require big changes weeks or months later because something changed between the time you started and the time you were first able to test the software.
Using the agile approach for our custom software development services allows us to offer you the greatest flexibility, ability to prioritize, and ability to cut away unnecessary development expense along the way. Change is not a possibility. Change is a reality. An agile approach expects change and builds it into the process. And as the project proceeds, you get to decide what is the most valuable for your business.
Base Your Budget on the Value of the Solution, Not on Past Projects
No two custom software projects are the same. Just because your company used custom software development services for a project several years ago and the project seems similar, that doesn’t mean that costs or results will be comparable.
Ask yourself, what is the value of solving this problem with custom software? This is rarely an exact science, although many act as if it is (yes, sometimes it is). But you really should consider if the custom software solution delivers value if it’s $25,000 or if it’s $250,000. It doesn’t have to be exact. But you should consider the return on investment (ROI) at a high level before you begin talking to companies that provide custom software development services. Come to any budget discussion knowing the impact that the problem you’re trying to solve could have on your business. You’ll be more ready to decide what a solution is worth it in the long-term.
Additionally, in many cases businesses use custom software development services to generate new revenue streams or harness new opportunities, so prepare for a budget meeting by thinking about the potential revenue such an endeavor could generate. This will help you assess what the new solution is worth for your company and how much you can afford to invest in software development.
How to Budget When the Value of My Solution Can’t Be Quantified
In many cases, the value of a solution can’t be directly quantified, because it’s not directly going to generate profit or reduce hard costs to your business. Come into any budget discussion with your custom software development services provider with an idea of the value of addressing this issue for your company. How might it affect the company culture, employees’ workflow, or your customer experience? When you fully explore the potential of these areas, you’ll be better prepared to evaluate the resources that should go toward custom software development services and have those discussions with key stakeholders as you move forward with development.
We at #teamcsg love helping companies weigh the value of custom software development services. Before we start any project, we seek to understand the overarching goals of your business, ensuring that the project will fully align with your objectives and deliver the value you need.
Proceed with Caution Comparing Budgets with In-House Development Estimates
Your development teams excel at maintaining the systems you have. They typically have more work in their queue than they can get to this week, this month, or this year. They face unexpected challenges every day. They rarely have time to explore new technologies. They are, in short, overworked and under-appreciated. So the question is, will what got you here get you where you want to go?
In house development most likely won’t create the same solution or deliver the same results as a custom software development services company. If your in-house developer could have created the solution on their own, they probably would have done it already. But they are swamped. They are tired. They have multiple systems to maintain. They know your systems well, but when it comes time to do something new and different, are they best positioned to deliver? No. Not usually.
You can ask for an estimate from your internal development team. You can try to compare that to what a custom software development services company is telling you. But, what is that going to get you? Custom software development companies must stay up-to-date on technologies in order to be competitive. Is that true for your internal team? Custom software development companies must compete every day in the marketplace with creative solutions in order to win business and deliver results. Is that true for your internal team? Custom software development teams see dozens if not hundreds of unique technical challenges a year across their client base. Is that true for your development team?
Odds are high that your internal development team is talented. They are experts in your current technologies. They keep the lights on. They got you here. But now, as you move to the next level, will they get you there? Probably not. Not because they are not dedicated, talented, amazing people. Because they probably are. No. It’s because they have full time jobs keeping the lights on for your current business and current software. You need a new and different perspective. That perspective is most often found by using custom software development services- by partnering with a provider that solves these critical challenges every day with custom solutions.
Additionally, if you’re paying an in-house developer to assess what solution is best and deliver it, they (1) Might still need extra help to complete the project in a reasonable timeline, and (2) Might not have the experience to ask well-rounded questions that get to the heart of the problem and lead to a solution that fully aligns with your larger business plan and objectives, and (3) Might not have broad enough experience in current technologies because they are so focused on keeping your existing systems running.
When considering custom software development services, don’t be too hasty to compare apples to oranges. Pause. Think deeply and critically to assess the true differences between proposed solutions. Consider the expertise and experience of in-house developers versus using custom software development services to help you deliver the best solution. It may be the difference between creating a software that will work for you for many years, as opposed to one that will quickly solve a problem yet lead to more development later.
Maximize Your Timeline
Communicate Consistently and Efficiently
With an agile approach, you’re guaranteed to see results along the way. Those results are maximized with efficient, regular communication. The best way to ensure an expedient timeline when using custom software development services is to communicate consistently with the development team.
Successful projects require commitment by both parties. As a client, it’s critical that you provide a point person who has the authority to answer questions from the development team. This “Product Owner” sets priorities, answers questions from the development team, and provides feedback on the software delivered that is critical to the success of the project. We ask that every client using our custom software development services has this point person available to answer our questions and provide direction. This keeps projects on time and consistently focused on delivering value.
At csg we intentionally schedule regular collaborative sessions to identify what needs to be reprioritized based on our clients’ feedback. This important time with key decision makers reduces the likelihood of miscommunication and helps us pinpoint any issues that need to be resolved. By leaving no question unanswered and providing intentional time for feedback, we can create a solution for your business that ‘fits like a glove’ and delivers the maximum value for your company.
Align Your Priorities with Your Timeline and Overarching Business Goals
If there’s a certain feature of your solution that is needed, for example, in time for a large conference or meeting with investors, be sure to communicate that with your custom software development services provider. At csg, we meet quarterly with clients to discuss not only their custom software needs, but their business objectives and related timelines so that we can work in unison with those efforts and provide timely solutions.
Without those discussions, either certain features might not be able to be ready in time, or other features would have to be deprioritized to make room for the more urgent one. By having discussions about your quarterly and annual business objectives well in advance of deadlines, we can ensure that you get all of the features you want and that they’re ready for when it matters most.
Be Open to Releasing New Features as They Are Ready
If you’re open to having features be deployed and tested as they are ready, rather than all at once, you will see more results more quickly, and your timeline will be able to move as fast as your communication. If all of the features have to be released all at once, though, a problem that needs to be solved with one feature could slow down the release of the other features that are functioning flawlessly.
When it comes to development, there will always be tweaks that will need to be made for every feature. Likewise, we work with our custom software development services clients to prioritize which features they need first so that we can deliver those sooner rather than later. We then add on other features as they are ready. If you are open to this flexible timeline, you and key stakeholders will get to experience the value of your solution much sooner than if you waited for all of the features to be ready at once.
Maximize Your Results
Get Feedback From Employees Or Customers Who Will Use it the Most
When we start helping any company plan what they’ll need from our custom software development services, we suggest that they get thorough feedback from the employees or customers who will use the solution the most. If the solution will be used by the customer service department on a daily basis, have in-depth discussions with those teams about what problems they experience regularly, what they hear customers saying about their experience, and what features would make their jobs easier and more efficient.
You won’t know what problems they run into unless you ask, and you’ll see greater results from using custom software development services if you ask these questions and share the results with your developer before the solution goes into development. Your custom software development services provider will use that information to prioritize the features that will make the greatest impact from the get-go and not have to circle back and include them later after testing and deployment.
Talking to the employees or customers who will use the solution is also a great way to gauge the success of a feature after deployment. This can be as simple as asking, “Are people now able to do what they need to do better than ever before?” If employees consistently can answer “yes” because of the new feature, then you’ve hit your mark.
Define “Success” for Your Solution
So how do you define success for features? At csg we have seen that a solution or feature that is successful is one that 1. People use, and 2. It makes their job or experience better than ever before and is an important piece of how they work or do business with your company. These are markers of successful adoption and helps companies know that their investment in custom software development services was worth it. We are also experienced in drawing up business case ‘valuation models’ to help calculate some of the intangibles. Employee satisfaction and time per task are all things that can be quantified, and we are here to help create those figures.
Investing in custom software development services doesn’t have to be a hassle and it most definitely doesn’t have to be an experience where you just hope you’re going to reap the benefit of your time and investment. A great custom software development services partner works closely alongside every customer to ensure that their solution meets their greatest business needs and strives to make the process as painless as possible. Yes, you will invest time, money, and effort into this, but you will see the benefit of your solution for years to come and will see the results to make your effort well worth it.
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