There are many things to consider when beginning a new project. The most important is a solid plan, as this is the key to a project’s success. It makes no difference if you are remodeling a kitchen or building an enterprise microservice-based application, the most successful projects have a plan (and some flexibility built into the schedule). When thinking about building a new app, migrating to the cloud, or just enhancing an existing application, the wrong beginning will have an immediate impact on the outcome.
Project Planning Basics
Basic project management instructs us to start by defining the project. What is the scope, budget, and timeline? These are all interdependent; changing one will impact the other. Next, select the teams that have the skills required for the project. These teams can then begin the project breakdown and estimate the effort. Once this is done, resources can be scheduled for the team to begin the work. The final step is to have a way to track risks. Risks will arise during the project and must be mitigated as soon as possible.
What many companies fail to define is the strategy they’ll use to achieve their goal. Leadership assembles a team to get started. Soon after, the leadership starts asking “When will you be done?” The team is working hard to determine what needs to be done and in what order it should occur. This tendency falls into the “figure it out as you go” paradigm and can lead to delays and frustration all around. Leadership is spending money and while the development team is making progress, they have little to show. This strategy model is not sustainable and will usually lead to a poor outcome.
Neglecting a few critical areas will slow (and in some cases, cripple) a project. These areas include clear business requirements and a solid user experience. Too often, companies fail to spend the time to plan out these areas. They assume they will figure it out as they go, which never works out as planned.
While Agile, Scrum, and SAFe® continue to be widely adopted in the IT world, the teams’ success is even more dependent on a project roadmap. The roadmap is dependent on an organization’s ability to set priorities and determine the business value they will provide. Just saying that you want everything hosted in the cloud or a new user experience does not get it done.
The most successful projects define a clear product roadmap that provides clarity to the team. High-performing teams depend on leadership defining the goals. Keeping the project moving depends on the ability to adjust the product when issues arise.
User Experience Design
When updating or building a web or mobile application, it’s critical that the user experience (UX) team presents a design to the development team at the beginning of the project. A project team cannot estimate and plan their work without a design. Modern UI frameworks like ReactJS and AngularJS allow for building and reusing components. How will the team design and build reusable components if they don’t know the designs ahead of time?
The UX team also must have a clear vision of the product, taking into consideration modern design. Just looking at the apps on your mobile phone, you can easily determine the ones that have failed to keep up with modern design. How many use the hamburger menu in the top left?
Finally, all parties need to be able to adjust and adapt when needed. Sometimes, the best UX designs don’t translate well when implemented. They must be adjusted to meet the demands of the business without putting unnecessary demands on the development team. Business priorities can shift quickly as market demands change. With a solid roadmap, the plan can be adjusted with minimal impact on the deadlines.
Taking the time to come up with a design, development and deployment plan will pay off with a project that is on time and within budget. If your organization could use some assistance, our Kickstart process has helped countless organizations avoid the most common pitfalls, so please don’t hesitate to reach out to us. We’d love to help you get started.
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