The demand for software development has increased and evolved drastically over the past few years – and this demand is certainly not expected to slow anytime soon. In fact, according to Ibis World, the size of the software industry is anticipated to grow by 6.4% in 2022.
With the clamour for software delivery continuing to rise, companies must ensure their processes are efficient and effective, so that value is delivered for the business and – most importantly – for its users.
Here are three best practices organisations should keep in mind when setting out to develop new software.
- Choose a delivery methodology that suits the overall business needs
Software delivery teams often choose delivery methodologies that work for them but rarely consider the overall business needs. By considering the entire organisation’s needs as a whole, a delivery methodology can foster interdepartmental collaboration and communication, allow for rapid business change, and ensure value is delivered in a meaningful way for all areas of a company and its users/customers.
Before determining which methodologies will work best, you need to, firstly, outline the business and product objectives. Secondly, you need to establish what success looks like. And, finally, you need to understand what it is about your current method of software delivery that works well, and what doesn’t.
With this information secured, it will be easier to consider which delivery method will work best. This could be SCRUM, SAFe, Nexus, another methodology not listed here, or the delivery method you’re currently using but with some changes to suit your organisation.
Once your chosen delivery methodology is in place, remember that making improvements to it is something that should happen iteratively to ensure continual learnings are implemented and continuous improvement is made.
2. Have a designated Product Owner
It’s impossible to see the complete picture of a jigsaw until all the pieces are in place. This is the same for each member of a delivery team. However, the role of a Product Lead or key decision-making stakeholder is often overlooked or underestimated.
It’s essential to have a facilitator to own the product, whether this be a professional Product Owner or a key stakeholder with decision-making power. It needs to be someone who fully understands the users and the business and who can make informed decisions to drive the evolution of the product.
As a central figure, the facilitator can listen, rationalise, set and communicate clear expectations to all stakeholders and the delivery team. They’re able to communicate one product vision to the delivery team that better equips and empowers them to make suitable and smart suggestions on how to proceed with technical challenges.
And, ultimately, they undertake the challenging role of ensuring that value (recognised by both the users and the business) is delivered, making the final call on the priority order of the features and deciding what can be removed or simplified to meet milestones.
Without this role filled, it’s much more difficult to see the complete picture.
3. Opt for full transparency
Transparency is essential to ensure that all desired outcomes are met – and it should be achieved in many different ways. These include:
- Sharing product project knowledge and documentation
- Scheduling regular demos of work complete
- Reporting on key success metrics
- Providing users/stakeholders with opportunities to provide feedback
- Giving feedback, whether positive or negative, back to the business
- Ensuring that there are opportunities set in time for open and honest dialogue
- Making time for key stakeholders to hear each other’s goals and vision for the product
This transparency allows team members and stakeholders to reference the reasoning behind a specific decision later in the product’s lifecycle. It ensures that everyone is on the same page on a much more regular basis and that any changes or misinterpretations are addressed early enough to be resolved easily.
Such transparency can also foster an appreciation for the work and effort required by different business departments to successfully deliver valuable software. Overall, it provides better alignment across your company and with your software partners.
The bottom line
Software delivery isn’t a quick, one-off activity. It’s an ongoing journey that involves a range of different skills from across a business and beyond. If it doesn’t go to plan or isn’t thought through properly, businesses are unlikely to win the software delivery game.
However, by following these three best practices, organisations can avoid costly missteps and ensure their software delivery is efficient, effective and, most importantly, adding value for their customers and their business.