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How to brief your software development team

New software projects have the power to unlock opportunities for businesses, churches and charities. But getting it delivered without delays or other difficulties can prove tricky at times.

Here we present the Worthers guide for helping you to ensure your project arrives on time, on budget and is all that it is meant to be.

A brief to end all briefs

Before you can brief a software development team effectively, you need to be crystal clear on your ultimate vision and goals.

What results do you want? Put together a list and discuss the points with stakeholders. Make sure everyone is in agreement. What you decide now will drive the project and provide the framework for every choice the developers make. Keep the aims clear and without conflict so that the project can achieve exactly what it is intended to.

When you come to write the brief, stick with simplicity and clarity. Avoid ambiguity. Smart-sounding statements can still be vague and may cause your developers to misinterpret what you mean.

As you are writing, get a project spec produced. Either by yourselves or by the company delivering for you. This will help all parties know exactly what is being built from a technical standpoint. Once again, it doesn’t need to be long or complex, but it should detail how the software will be used and how users will interact with it. The aim here is to set everything on track from the start so that delays don’t occur later.

A transparent timeline

When planning the timeline for your software project, you need to build in the risk factors. If everything always went exactly as expected in software development, the world would be a magical place, but no one is quite there yet. The nature of software development is that you are often creating something new, and as with any embarkation into the unknown there are variables you can’t predict, but you can still plan wisely for the inevitable extra time they will require.

Give your development team more than enough time, briefing them as early as possible. They may be able to rush to meet a pressing deadline, but they’ll be able to do a better job if time is a plentiful resource. If it’s an unrealistic deadline it might harm the project long-term.

Instead of waiting for the finished product, agree on a set of milestones. These dates and goals will help focus you and your provider and give the opportunity to watch the project progress at key points.

A space for unseen potential

While you’re still at the brief stage, ensure your developers give you a clear breakdown of what each component costs, so you’re on the same page from the get-go.

Just as you built risk into your timeline, you need to make room for it in your budget. Keep a percentage of what you’re willing to spend back, so you can accommodate any new ideas and change of scope that crop up during the project. This is all in the name of making your end product the best that it can be.

You might not have any shifting requirements during the project, but it’s still worth assuming you will. The same goes for post-completion tweaks and changes. Software development isn’t a static operation. Although it is built from code, it will most certainly require maintenance and adaptation. If you approach a project mid-stage with strictly the same posture as you had at the beginning, the project may miss its full potential. But if you allow time and resources for adjustments, your project can arrive on time, on budget and may even break the boundaries of what you thought was possible.

6 months ago | Thought Leaders

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