5 steps you should consider before building software

Kerstin Manninger

Kerstin Manninger

software development

digital buiness


Thinking of building your own software to stay ahead of the competition? In this day and age, that definitely makes sense — no matter what size you are.

At the same time, it's also something you shouldn't jump into without careful consideration and prep. We've found five key things you need to consider before the coding begins — otherwise, you're setting yourself up for failure. Here's the breakdown.

1. Your time & capacity

Step one: assess where you stand, capacity-wise. Aka, what time, team resources, and budget do you have available to kick-start development? This will help you determine whether launching a full-scale project makes sense for your business — at this stage.

Here are some points to get you started:

  • How much time can you and your team set aside to build a new product on top of your existing workload? Going digital can take anywhere from months to years.

  • Your requirements, i.e., whether you need to build a product from scratch, optimize your existing software, or even implement an off-the-shelf solution. A lot of times, you might not know the answer to these questions. Which is why our first step with clients is a thorough discovery phase to figure out their requirements and more.

  • Your estimated software project budget. This can be tricky — and we've often found that people are quick to assume you need huge budgets. Here's a guide that covers the actual costs of software development so you can get an idea of what you'll need to budget for.

  • Your team capacity and who will be handling what tasks; some might make sense to tackle in-house — with others, you'll benefit from external support. Working with an external software service provider will take a lot of the heavy lifting off your plate. But at the same time, your team will still have to be involved — and dedicate a chunk of their time — for software rollout to be a success. Things like internal project management and change management as well as giving feedback and briefings on the regular, are incredibly important. So consider who on your team has what time to spare and how much.

  • Your existing tasks and projects status and whether you can balance product development with them.

Pro-tip: your time and capacity is something you should keep in mind and communicate to your dev team throughout the entire development process.

2. Whether you (and your team) are willing to prioritize a full-scale software project

Your time and capacity are your "How are we going to prioritize this?" Now you need to figure out: "Why are we going to prioritize building this software?"

Here's our take from a business perspective. When it comes to developing new software, three steps can help you figure out whether it should be your priority:

  1. Compare development time and costs to your time to market. This would help you determine your opportunity cost — i.e., how much time will it cost you and what else you could be spending it on if you didn't spend this much time and resources on this project.

  2. Calculate your return on investment — i.e., if you implement this software, how much money will it save you, and/or how much more revenue will it help you generate compared to the initial investment?

  3. Actively involve your team in making this decision; they're the ones on the ground and can tell you how much time something is going to take on their end. This step will also give you a feel for whether your team also sees this as a priority — i.e., are they motivated to prioritize this project in the long run?

When you start your project on the same page as your team, you can keep them motivated throughout development — and gear up for a successful product launch.

3. Are you aware that software won't fix your broken processes or office politics?

Developing software can do a lot of things — but it won't work wonders, especially in terms of your processes or office politics.

In the past, when developing custom software for our clients, we've noticed how a lack of well-defined internal processes can create inefficiencies and delays. So before you kick-start development, make sure your team has its structures and processes in place.

Here are some steps you can keep in mind that we've seen work:

  • Clearly delegate roles and responsibilities within your team at every stage of the project. Ensure that your team knows who to reach out to in case they hit a roadblock.

  • Set a realistic timeframe to execute tasks, including enough time for coding, testing, debugging, and emergencies and last-minute changes. This encourages your team to take ownership of project goals and stay accountable even when things get tough.

  • Get your communication channels in order, including regular team meetings, status updates, and feedback rounds.

  • Document your team processes and decisions in an accessible format so that anyone from your team can refer to them. For example, at TRIGO, we keep these documented on Notion. We recommend setting this as a living document as your processes evolve with time.

  • Encourage your team to share their input on continuously improving and optimizing these processes.

Embarking on a software project is always a great opportunity to review what's working at your company — and what's not. But just keep in mind: an external software service provider isn't responsible for these roadblocks.

4. Think about who will be the IT project coordinator

A key stakeholder we recommend delegating is a project coordinator, the IT team's point of contact. No matter if you're working with an internal development team or an external IT agency.

Your IT project coordinator works as a go-between across different teams and keeps everyone on the same page. By consistently staying in touch with your development team, they can:

  • Address communication gaps and clarify everyone's expectations.

  • Ensure your development team stays accountable to deadlines, keeping in mind last-minute changes.

  • Help you keep a pulse on the development process at every stage. And as a result, how close you are to hitting your project targets.

5. Plan ahead for managing change

Building a new software product is just step one. Step two: actually implementing it. And this means change at every level of your organization.

Initially, rolling out your new software might even disrupt your business processes. Or your employees might resist adopting it because they're unsure how it affects their jobs and workflows. In other words, switching to a new system isn't easy — so it's smart to have a solid change management plan in place in advance.

From our experience at TRIGO, we've seen for ourselves how business software can affect employee happiness. In a nutshell: involving your employees at every step of rollout means they'll adapt easier to the chaos of a system change.

Check out the full insight on how a change management approach can positively impact your business here.

5 things to consider so you can set your software project up for success

Going digital to stay competitive — smart move. Planning ahead before you start building — even smarter.

Here's a quick recap of the five steps to consider before you launch your next software development project:

  1. Determine whether you have the time, team resources & budget to launch a software development project on top of your existing workload.

  2. Figure out whether you can prioritize your project. This means balancing development time and costs with time to market and your projected return on investment. When you actively involve your team in the process, you figure out whether they're ready to prioritize the project.

  3. Review your internal team processes. This can help prevent delays and ensure your team is working together efficiently.

  4. Assign an IT project coordinator who works closely with the development team, helps set realistic timeframes and keeps everyone on the same page.

  5. Put together a change management plan that involves your employees in every step of the rollout process.

Want to build your own software but not sure how or where to start? Book a free call with our Product Owner, Kerstin, to explore how a custom software project might fit your business.

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