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Software Development Milestones: Your Roadmap to Success

August 4, 2023
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Software development is a process that comprises several steps and requires input from people with different skills. Clearly, managing such a process is not an easy task. You need to constantly collaborate with team members, collect feedback, and follow the best practices at every step of the process.

Considering the implications, your best bet is to stay organized and follow a defined set of software development milestones. That way, not only will you be able to align your goals and track your progress, but you also have higher chances of success. In fact, PMI reports that “44% of projects fail due to a lack of alignment between business and project objective.”

Regardless of the nature or duration of your project, milestones improve project planning by helping teams with a breakdown of progress points. This software development milestones guide takes you through the steps to set up your milestones in the best way possible.

The Role of Software Development Milestones

Whether you are in the initial stages of ideation, or dealing with some major roadblocks during the deployment phase, software development milestones help you measure and track the progress of your project. You are able to identify potential hurdles that may come up during the development and how you can bypass such issues. 

why you need milestones in software developments

The purpose behind breaking up the development process into a series of steps is to set deadlines. When the team knows when each step must be completed, it becomes a milestone. You can deliver work while staying within the deadlines and also keep track of progress along each step of the way.

Defining Software Development Milestones

A well-planned software development project is associated with defined milestones. Software development milestones collectively create a project timeline and highlight your team’s achievements in each stage of the project. Whether you look at it from a manager’s perspective or consider the stakeholders, each milestone takes you a step closer to the project’s success.

Since software development is usually an iterative process, your milestones can be modified as the project moves forward. You need to have that flexibility to allow for continuous updates and improvements. At the same time, you need to stay in sync with your project’s real objectives.

Benefits of Setting Clear Milestones

The benefits of setting milestones in software development go far beyond improving productivity and overall results. 

  • It eliminates a disorganized schedule and streamlines the process for everyone involved. 
  • Each stakeholder knows what is happening at all times. 
  • As the milestones are defined, team members do not have to ask around for updates that often. 
  • Milestones are a way to make your progress measurable. You can choose what and how to measure at each stage, 
  • Milestones also bring improvements in scheduling, monitoring, validating, and adjusting the development process.

Essential Milestones for Every Software Project

Project Initiation

The first step of any software development project is the most important and unpredictable at the same time. This is where you can sometimes spend months defining your project’s scope and objectives, while some projects simply take a week to initiate.

Setting a milestone for project initiation helps you list down the stakeholders, their requirements, and their roles in the project. Moreover, you must also put together a feasibility study and get the necessary approvals from the concerned authorities. Within the team, the project’s goals must be distributed in an organized manner and every step taken must be documented right from the beginning.

Requirement Gathering and Analysis

Once you have established the project’s scope and your team has understood the core objectives, the next step is to break down and analyze the requirements one by one. Software requirements are further categorized into functional and non-functional requirements, but it's crucial to subdivide them and make them as comprehensive as possible. 

Requirement gathering is usually a part of the kick-off phase of software development projects. It involves deciding:

What the client requires, including functional and non-functional requirements

How much time it will take to complete the project

Who will be working on each module 

What risks may be involved in the project

Considering that your team is following the Agile methodology, this software development milestone must not be very difficult to achieve. You just need to lay the foundation of a documented approach for your team to follow. The objective of this milestone is for the designers and developers to fully grasp what needs to be done and how the software must perform. Another plus side of requirement gathering and analysis is that you are able to improve your project schedule as you have a clear view of each module to be developed.

Requirement Gathering and Analysis

After gathering the requirements, you need to make sure each developer is provided with the technical resources they need. The requirements must be carefully analyzed with special attention to the specifics and how they are going to be addressed. 

To put it into perspective, if you start working on building a software with just a general requirement of creating an e-commerce store, you will never achieve the desired results. Therefore, your requirements must not be generic. They must be analyzed based on the feasibility and availability of resources. 

Characteristics of healthy project milestones

The development team and other technical resources must be brought together to analyze and plan how to build the software. This includes the tools, platforms, and frameworks that will be required during the entire development process. Commonly used platforms for building e-stores include WooCommerce, Shopify, and Magento.

The key here is to plan ahead, and that is only possible when the tools and platforms are defined in the early stages. If this milestone is not defined and you skip out on requirements analysis, the interpretation will become much more difficult for developers down the road.

Planning and Scheduling

When it comes to solidifying the foundation of your project, you need to have clearly defined plans and schedules. Considering that the details matter most, your team will need to ask a lot of questions, starting with:

  • Where will we host the application?
  • Will we use any existing software or platform?
  • Will we need to buy product licenses? 
  • Is our preferred programming language supported in the area?
  • How will our data be modelled?

The first task of the the project planning team is to identify the right project management model that would suit your project and your team. For instance, an Agile model does not require you to lay out a full plan up front. You get to plan for every two to three weeks and work your way through consecutive sprints. That being said, you do have to plan at the start of each iteration.

On the other hand, if you are using the Waterfall mode, you do need a comprehensive project plan right from the start. This software development milestone allows your technical resources to validate the proposed direction of the project. This is especially important because of the wide variety of approaches used by software development teams. If you discuss and analyze the specifics at this milestone, you won’t be snagging the project in its important stages later on.

Design and Architecture

This is where you need to bring in your software architects and designers. Design and architecture is the most important milestone for software development. Your team’s brightest minds sit together to define the technical details of the software to be built. Based on the scale of your project, the backend databases, number of screens and their respective interfaces, and are laid out. 

Design and Architecture

A software’s architecture is a blueprint for how it will work. It helps the development team coordinate and smartly handle the complexity of bringing together different software components. 

You need to define a structured solution that meets all the requirements laid out in the initial milestones, and also optimize the system for performance and security.

Software architects and designers collaborate to:

  • Select structural elements
  • Create their interfaces
  • Define the behavior of each element
  • Lay out the architecture that defines how structural and functional elements fit into the overall system
  • Define how these architectural elements align with requirements

However, this milestone is not achieved without input from the client side. After creating a complete prototype, designers are required to send the file, usually a Figma file, to the client for approval. In this file, the clients can see how the software will look and feel, including the placement of content, sliders, buttons, and CTAs.

Development and Implementation      

Given that you have achieved the previous milestones, your developers now work their magic to translate comprehensive designs into functionalities and modules. Of course, the development process itself is also broken down into many iterations, each of which has its own deliverables at the end of the milestone. Here, project management software like Jira, Wrike, and Asana help your team divide the development tasks into sprints and keep track of the project from start to finish. 

The development phase involves developers writing code to build the software according to the designs laid out in the planning stage. Ideally working in sprints of two to three weeks, the team works with the outlined specifications and holds reviews to test whether the sprint was successful.

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Quality Assurance and Testing

At this software development milestone, your quality assurance team brings out the big guns. Test scripts, test cases, and other best practices of software quality assurance are implemented to ensure that the finished product is up to the mark and stays true to the detailed requirements laid out earlier on.

Interesting statistics about software development

In the field of software development, quality assurance is said to be a milestone that can be achieved in two days. However, it must not be rushed. Regardless of the area of development, quality assurance is always a tricky business. With that said, this software development milestone can be approached in two ways. One approach is to run quality checks when the software is developed. But this approach is not suitable for small projects. Instead, you can run quality assurance tests during the development iterations. 

The QA process is a detailed one, and in some cases cannot be considered a single milestone. If you are running QA checks simultaneously with each sprint, you need to incorporate end-to-end testing in order to ensure that there is no quality compromise at any stage. Lastly, the quality assurance milestone also ensures that your software development process prioritizes compliance. You are able to figure out where you need to make improvements and make sure your software runs efficiently.

Deployment and Release

Now that you know your finished product runs well and has no significant quality issues, its time to deploy it for the world to use. Your teams set up an environment to upload the source code and then perform a rapid test run to ensure that the intended functions are working properly. Followed by that, you push the software to production, hence achieving this milestone.

In some cases, you might need to migrate an existing URL or site link to run your software on a new server. This, and other project requirements that are specific to the software in question, can shorten or delay the duration of deployment and release. 

Training and Documentation

Using any new software requires a certain amount of training and documentation. So it’s important to include this milestone in your software development process. One of the crucial steps of validating software is user acceptance testing. This is where the end users, or those who are not part of your development team, see whether the software meets its intended purpose. 

In simple terms, your development team gets to know how the software performs in real-life situations and also gets approval from the stakeholders.

Post-Deployment Support and Maintenance

Software development milestones usually end with deployment as the team responsible for building them simply does not want to go further. However, in order to differentiate your team from the rest, you need to have a post-deployment support plan in place. 

This milestone must be set early on in the development stage as you need to support vendors and other end-users with the necessary guides and documentation. You also need to consider whether someone from your team needs to be trained or whether there is a need to hire someone permanently for this purpose. 

Software Development Milestone Templates

Although most of the software development milestones discussed in this blog are common for the majority of projects, there are always some unique requirements and implications. 

You need to consider the milestones that are most important for your specific project and work on your own goals. This helps eliminate the risks of halting the project halfway through and also enables you to meet deadlines. 

With custom software development, you need tailored milestones that help you improve the project’s flow and ensure that you work according to the given requirements. Some of the best software development milestone templates include:

Key Takeaways

Kicking off a software development project without milestones is clearly an unsafe bet that leads you nowhere. Starting from the initial planning phase and all the way to post-deployment, you need a defined set of steps to follow in order to complete the project successfully. 

Software development milestones allow teams to adopt a sequential approach where a project can be divided into a broader phase and then subcategorized into further phases. This improves scheduling, reporting, and task allocation.

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Software Development
9/20/2023
What is Lean Software Development and how does it work?
5 min read

Lean Software Development (LSD) is an agile methodology that aims to minimize development time and resource usage while eliminating waste, delivering only what the product truly requires. The Lean approach is often associated with the Minimum Viable Product (MVP) strategy. In this strategy, a team releases the most essential version of their product to the market. 

Subsequently, the team collects feedback from consumers to understand their preferences, dislikes, and desired additions. Based on this feedback, they iterate and refine the product.

In this blog, we will explore the principles, practices, and benefits of Lean Software Development, as well as how to implement it successfully.

History of Lean Software Development (LSD)

Lean Software Development (LSD) draws its philosophy from the manufacturing industry, where the concept of lean principles was pioneered to optimize production and assembly lines, reducing waste and maximizing consumer value. 

Originally known as the Toyota Production System, Toyota developed it in the mid-twentieth century to streamline automobile production and minimize the wastage of time and resources. Over time, this approach was adopted by various manufacturing firms across industries and adapted into what we now know as Lean. 

In 2003, the concept made its debut in the world of software development with the release of the now-famous book, "Lean Software Development."

7 Core Principles of Lean Software Development

The principles of the lean development approach can be applied to any IT environment to improve programming methods. 

The practice is founded on 7 fundamental principles:

  • Waste Elimination
  • Amplifying Learning
  • Late Decision Making
  • Fast Delivery
  • Team Empowerment
  • Built-in Integrity
  • View Applications as a Whole

Waste is defined as everything that has the potential to degrade code quality, increase development time and effort, or decrease provided business value. It could be in the form of redundant code or functionality, programming delays, unclear requirements, or insufficient testing. Lean development focuses on removing these impediments, mastering essential technology, and developing an understanding of the user's true needs.

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Additionally, by deferring judgments until the last minute, the cost of change remains significantly lower. Iterative development is used to produce new applications or updates rapidly. Software is designed with integrity to ensure that the architecture and system components work effectively together. Organizations adopt lean development techniques to ensure continual improvement due to the rapid implementation of changes.

Waste Elimination

Project managers have regular meetings to discover and reduce waste, such as redundant code, process delays, ineffective communication, quality issues, data duplication, and more tasks in the log than accomplished. This enables team members to identify flaws and suggest adjustments for the following turn.

Enhance Education

Learning is enhanced through extensive code review and cross-team meetings. Additionally, paired programming ensures that a single engineer does not collect specific knowledge when writing a particular piece of code.

Delay Commitments

In traditional project management, this frequently occurs when you develop an application and discover that it is entirely unsuitable for the market. The LSD approach foresees this danger and allows improvement by deferring irreversible judgments until all experiments are completed. This methodology always flexibly builds software, allowing for the incorporation of new knowledge and the ability of engineers to make changes.

Fast Delivery

Previously, long-term planning was considered critical to corporate success. Still, it has been shown that engineers spend excessive time developing sophisticated systems with undesirable features over time. Thus, they devised an MVP method, which entailed rapidly developing products with limited functionality and launching them to market to gauge reaction. This technique enables them to improve the product based on user feedback.

Team Empowerment

LSD is more concerned with empowering team members than with dominating them. Establishing a collaborative environment maintains a great balance when faced with tight deadlines and an enormous workload. This technique becomes critical when new members join an established team.

Built-in Integrity

LSD is all about minimizing waste while maintaining a focus on quality. Developers frequently use test-driven programming to validate their code before writing it. Additionally, the quality can be improved by receiving frequent input from team members and project managers.

View Applications as a Whole

Lean's approach enables managers to break down a problem into its constituent elements to optimize the team's workflow, foster team togetherness, and instill a sense of shared responsibility, all of which result in improved team performance.

The Advantages and Disadvantages of Lean Software Development

Advantages of Lean Software Development Disadvantages of Lean Software Development
1. Waste Reduction: Eliminates wasteful practices, leading to efficiency improvements and cost savings. 1. Resistance to Change: Implementation may face resistance from teams accustomed to traditional methods.
2. Customer-Centric: Focuses on delivering value to customers, resulting in more satisfied users. 2. Learning Curve: Requires teams to adapt to new principles and practices, which can take time.
3. Quality Enhancement: Emphasizes building quality into the development process, reducing defects and enhancing software reliability. 3. Initial Overhead: May require an initial investment in training and process adjustments.
4. Agile and Flexible: Allows for rapid adaptation to changing requirements and customer feedback. 4. Complexity Management: May struggle with handling highly complex projects or organizations.
5. Faster Time-to-Market: Frequent releases and iterations accelerate product delivery and market responsiveness. 5. Lack of Documentation: Lean development may prioritize working code over comprehensive documentation.
6. Continuous Improvement: Encourages a culture of continuous learning and improvement within teams. 6. Not Suitable for All Projects: May not be the best fit for all project types or industries.
7. Empowered Teams: Empowers cross-functional teams, boosting collaboration and innovation. 7. Requires Strong Leadership: Effective leadership is crucial for successful adoption and maintenance.
8. Cost Savings: Reduced waste and optimized processes often result in cost savings over time. 8. Limited Predictability: Predicting project outcomes can be more challenging due to its adaptive nature.

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What is the Difference Between Lean and Agile Development?

Agile and Lean development share common principles, often emphasizing their similarities more than their differences. In fact, they often coexist and are referred to together as Lean-Agile. However, there are subtle distinctions between the two methodologies.

Commonalities:

Pace and Accountability: Both Lean and Agile place the product development team in control of the project's pace and make them ultimately accountable for product delivery. Agile teams typically achieve this through the sprint process, while Lean emphasizes optimizing the entire process.

Continuous Improvement: Lean's philosophy of "optimizing the entire" resonates with Agile's retrospective meetings, where teams review achievements and issues following a project's completion.

Key Differences:

Focus: Lean primarily centers on improving processes, while Agile concentrates on enhancing products. Agile methodologies aim to create products that meet consumer needs and expectations, with Lean being one of the approaches to achieve this objective.

Frameworks: Lean is often discussed in conjunction with Agile frameworks like Scrum and Kanban. The Agile approach, on the other hand, is detailed in the Agile Manifesto, which outlines its core values and principles, guiding various Agile frameworks.

Lean Software Development Best Practices

Value Stream Mapping

Value Stream Mapping is a technique used to visualize the entire software development process. By identifying bottlenecks and inefficiencies, teams can make targeted improvements.

Kanban

Kanban is a visual workflow management tool that helps teams visualize their work and limit work in progress. It promotes a smooth and efficient development process.

Continuous Integration

Continuous Integration involves regularly merging code changes into a shared repository. This practice ensures that code is constantly tested and integrated, reducing the risk of integration issues.

Test-Driven Development (TDD)

TDD is a practice where developers write tests before writing the code. This approach ensures that the software functions as intended and reduces the likelihood of bugs.

Continuous Delivery

Continuous Delivery involves automating the deployment process, allowing for frequent, reliable releases. This practice accelerates the delivery of new features to users.

Customer Feedback Loops

Lean Software Development emphasizes regular feedback from customers. By involving users throughout the development process, teams can make informed decisions and create software that truly meets their needs.

Benefits of Implementing Lean Software Development

The adoption of Lean Software Development offers numerous benefits, including:

Increased Efficiency: By eliminating waste and optimizing processes, teams can work more efficiently.

Reduced Costs: Waste reduction leads to cost savings in development and maintenance.

Enhanced Product Quality: The focus on quality from the start results in higher-quality software.

Faster Time-to-Market: Rapid delivery of features and updates keeps the software competitive.

Steps to Implement Lean Software Development

Assessment: Begin by assessing your current processes and identifying areas where waste exists.

Training: Provide training and resources to educate your team about Lean principles and practices.

Pilot Projects: Start with small pilot projects to test Lean concepts and measure their impact.

Iterate and Improve: Continuously review and adapt your processes based on feedback and data.

Scale Up: As the benefits become evident, expand Lean practices to other teams and projects.

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Brand Examples of Implementing Lean Software Development

Lean Software Development principles have been successfully adopted by several organizations and projects. One prominent example that showcases the practical application of Lean Software Development is Spotify. This music streaming giant has effectively integrated Lean principles into its development processes, making it a noteworthy case study in the industry.

Spotify's Implementation of Lean Software Development

Spotify employs a scaled Agile framework that incorporates Lean practices into its software development methodologies. Here's how Spotify has embraced Lean Software Development:

Squad Model: Spotify organizes its development teams into autonomous squads, each responsible for specific features or aspects of the product. This decentralized structure aligns with the Lean principle of team empowerment.

Iterative Development: Similar to Lean's focus on iterative and incremental development, Spotify encourages squads to work in short cycles, frequently releasing new features and updates. This approach enables them to respond quickly to user feedback and changing market demands.

Continuous Improvement: Spotify fosters a culture of continuous improvement and learning. Squads regularly engage in retrospectives to assess their work, identify areas for enhancement, and implement changes, aligning with Lean's emphasis on continuous improvement.

Customer-Centric Approach: Lean Software Development places a strong emphasis on delivering value to customers. Spotify uses Lean principles to ensure that their product aligns with user needs and preferences. Regular user feedback and data analysis inform their development decisions.

Waste Reduction: Lean aims to eliminate waste in processes. Spotify incorporates Lean thinking to streamline workflows and eliminate unnecessary steps in their development pipeline, resulting in more efficient software development.

By adopting Lean Software Development principles, Spotify has managed to maintain a competitive edge in the music streaming industry. Their agile and customer-centric approach, coupled with a commitment to continuous improvement, exemplifies the successful implementation of Lean principles in a real-world context.

Conclusion

Lean Software Development is a proven methodology for creating high-quality software efficiently. By embracing its core principles and practices, organizations can streamline their development processes, reduce waste, and deliver software that meets customer needs. The journey to Lean Software Development may have challenges, but the rewards in terms of efficiency, cost savings, and product quality make it a path worth exploring.

Software Development
9/14/2023
How to Calculate ROI for Custom Software Development Projects
5 min read

Are you a decision-maker at your organization?

Then you must be busy figuring out ways to make your company’s investments worthwhile. 

While custom software solutions provide the best ways to extract maximum business potential, measuring ROI in software development can be quite complex. In today’s competitive business landscape, you can lose millions due to inefficient software architecture, which makes cost-effectiveness necessary. 

Calculating the ROI for software projects is crucial to making informed business decisions. The metric provides greater clarity to business owners and stakeholders on the profitability of custom software solutions they invest in. The typical ROI for a software project is 20% or less, which is a little over the cost of capital.     

Why ROI Matters in Software Development

ROI calculation provides detailed insights into the capital invested by your company in a given project, team, or campaign.

When it comes to custom software development, the intention is to generate higher revenue and improve operational efficiency to get a competitive advantage. In this case, the ROI metric helps you understand whether the custom software project is indeed profitable or harmful for your company.

Regardless of the type of software you want for your company’s ecosystem, you need to determine whether it will be beneficial in the long run. Ideally, the software must work efficiently even when your business grows to new industry verticals. Apart from identifying how much profit your company can make by using a particular custom software solution, ROI also points out any potential drawbacks. 

Why ROI Calculation is Essential in Software Development?

The calculation of ROI is the foundation of any custom software development project. It helps determine the actual value of your investment and whether your business can benefit from it. That being said, ROI calculation also helps your business beyond the numbers. 

Make smarter decisions with ROI insights

Startups and small businesses simply do not know whether they will make more money than they are investing in custom software development. Instead of relying on guesswork or assumptions, you can have real numbers in front of you by calculating ROI. When you have a clear understanding of the pros and cons of a custom software project, you can make confident and informed business decisions. 

Align software goals with business objectives

Apart from setting your project budgets and other financial planning, ROI also helps create clear business objectives. When you have a definitive roadmap for business growth, you can align your software goals and set clear requirements for custom software development. This means you can get the right functionality for your business and also allocate your resources more efficiently.

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Explore Software Types for ROI Calculation

Different types of businesses require different kinds of software to achieve maximum benefits. This means that the ways to calculate ROI for different types of businesses can vary depending on the goals, benefits, and costs involved. 

Business Process Software  

Custom software built to improve internal business operations and streamline workflow are quite common these days. The calculation of ROI for business process software involves the cost of implementation, software maintenance, and employee training on how to use the software. 

Since every business has its unique operations and workflows, there are several aspects to be considered while calculating the ROI. For instance, you need to factor in the time saved by incorporating a more efficient system, the improvement in sales, and the following:

  • The cost of operations is replaced by custom software
  • The efficiency of the custom software and how much it improves the operations
  • The percentage of increase in revenue and clients with the use of custom software
  • The improvement in sales efficiency
  • The ability to perform risk analysis and avoid problems with and without the software
  • The improvements in customer satisfaction and retention rate

You can get a cost estimate for the custom software you want to build, but what’s important is to consider what you will gain from your investment. You need to have all the numbers in front of you before deciding whether you should make the investment. Here’s how you can perform the calculations:

Problem Losses Cost/Gains Loss/Profit
Unused Productive Hours
Example:
3800 hrs/year
At a rate of $40/hour
-$152,000
due to lost productive hours
Business Process Software
-$200,000
-$352,000
Acquire 2 new clients
$200k per new client
+$400,000
Business growth of 20%
Average client revenue is 500k/year
Total clients are 50
+$5000
Gain of productive hours +$152,000
Total Loss: -$152,000 Total Gain: +$909,000

Calculating ROI for software projects is never a straightforward process because it involves multiple aspects related to each business process. In some areas, you might need to cut down your budget and set a minimum threshold. Considering the increase in profits shown in the example above, you can easily jump to the conclusion that the ROI of your custom software development project will be high.

Commercial Software or SaaS 

For SaaS, or ‘software a service’ companies, the software itself is the revenue stream. It’s not hard to guess that calculating the ROI for SaaS projects will be much different compared to business process software. Here, ROI is measured using sales data in the numbers of MRR and ARR subscriptions. But there’s more to SaaS - as your clients who are using the SaaS product will be calculating their own ROI as end-users. 

That being said, in order to determine the ROI for SaaS projects, you need to consider various factors apart from the ones seen previously. One of these factors is the trading time of the SaaS company because they often need a significant amount of capital, especially in their intial days. An example of ROI in such companies is seen in tech companies offering project management solutions. These SaaS companies calculate ROI by putting subscription profits against the cost of the software project and its implementation.

At this point you might be wondering about the metrics for measuring ROI in SaaS projects. Here are the factors you need to consider, with the first one being the most important if you are a SaaS startup:

  • Cashflow
  • Monthly customer churn rate
  • Cost per client acquisition
  • Client LTV

Calculating ROI for SaaS companies involves identifying your break-even point. You need to determine how many customers you should have each month in order to balance your expenses and revenue. For companies selling regular software, the break-even point is acheived by onboarding upwards of 500, and ideally above 1000 customers.

A Step-by-Step Guide to Calculate ROI for Software Development Projects

Gather Investment Data

The first and most important part of calculating the ROI of custom software projects is defining the costs. You need to break down the cost of each step of the project, including design, development, deployment, and maintenance. Then, you need to sum up the cost associated with each step, which will be the cost of investment for your software project. Apart from the development costs, the investment also includes hardware, employee training, and annual operational costs.

Identify Returns

Once the investments part is settled, the next step is to determine the amount in savings and profits that your software project will provide. In the beginning of your ROI calculation, you will find it difficult to estimate the returns. For this reason, most companies are forced to use estimates in place of true values. You can create estimates using similar projects involving software that are currently in use, and identify whether they improve efficiency and reduce errors. Most importantly, the software must help improve sales and profitability.

Quantify Returns

Here’s the tricky part. You need to ensure that all your software development project capital is decided while staying within the defined budget. For this purpose, the resources must be allocated efficiently for maximum returns. For tangible benefits, you need to quantify the financial gains, such as increases in sales or savings. For intangible benefits, you need to identify other advantages that are not directly linked to your finances. These include enhanced user experience and user ratings, feedback, and Google rankings.

Calculate ROI      

The ROI (return on investment) of your custom software development project shows you how much revenue you have generated for your investment. Calculating the ROI is your actual objective, and having a positive result here means that the project will most likely be a success. Here’s how to calculate ROI for software development project:

ROI % = Net Profit / Cost of Investment * 100%

To calculate the ROI using this formula, you need to have concrete values of investments and returns of your custom software project. 

For example:

If your Net Profit is 450,000

And your investment is 300,000

450,000 / 300,000 x 100% = 150% ROI

Your ROI is 150%

Interpretation and Analysis

Now that you have calculated your ROI, how will you know whether it is good enough for your business? To know this, you need to compare the value with industry benchmarks and the goals set by your company in its early stages. Your ROI shows you how the software project will impact your business as it factors in every small detail of the project. Assessing the ROI in the right way is crucial to understanding how you can maximize your profits and take your business to the next level.

Strategies to Maximize ROI in Software Projects

Efficient Project Planning

As we have seen, ROI in software development is dependent on various factors that often go unnoticed. However, leaving out any of these factors can have an unexpected impact on your business. So it’s important to plan your project effectively. You need to incorporate processes that make the project more efficient and feasible so that the ultimate goal of your company can be achieved.

Agile Development Practices

One of the ways to improve the efficiency of your software project is by choosing an agile methodology. This process of software development lowers your costs and increases the productivity of your teams. Not to forget, it also improves the ROI of your custom software project. 

Agile methodology is used by software developers to make the process smooth and bug-free. The resulting software is more adaptable as it is less costly to change features and release new updates with Agile.  

Here is why Agile is the way to go in software development:

  • You get more feedback during the development and have better chances of tailoring the software to your needs
  • The development takes less time and resources, which helps cut down your valuable investment
  • The flexibility of the Agile framework decreases individual workload and helps adopt a problem-solving approach
  • Higher customer satisfaction

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Effective Resource Allocation

No matter what the nature of your project, resource allocation is always a key aspect for maximizing ROI. In this step, you need to assign roles based on the experience and skillset of each individual involved in the project. Allocating the wrong resources to the wrong parts of the project often results in delays or even alters the direction of the project. You need to clearly define the goals, the scope, and the dependencies of the project. It’s also important to set priorities for each phase of the project based on the skills and availability of resources.

Continuous Improvement

Any project that comes at a standstill after its completion is bound to go useless after a given period of time. For this reason, your software project should undergo continuous improvement practices.. These include regular evaluation of the performance and making improvements where necessary. Examples of companies that have implemented these best practices to enhance ROI include Amazon, Netflix, and Microsoft.

Key Takeaways

Calculating the ROI for custom software projects may sound difficult for starters, but it is becoming increasingly important for businesses to thrive. Even if you do not have concrete values, you should still calculate ROI for your projects using estimates and have a clear understanding of the impact it will have on your business. That being said, it is important not to overestimate the benefits and underestimate the costs of the project.

Using the formula above within your pitch decks, you should have a much more informed conversation and an easier time convincing those on the fence that the investment will be worth it in the long run.

Software Development
9/11/2023
Custom Software Maintenance: Keeping Your Solution Up-to-Date and Efficient
5 min read

The world as we know it today has evolved into a highly competitive place that does not accommodate slow-paced businesses. Establishing your presence has become more challenging than ever. Businesses are now expected to deliver top-notch services without sacrificing customer satisfaction. Thankfully, you can get customized software to suit your specific business needs and provide the best services in your niche.

Custom software provides the right functionality and evolves with the changing requirements of growing businesses. However, this is not achievable without proper custom software maintenance. Not only is maintenance an important part of the software development lifecycle, but it is also a continuous process that keeps your solution in its best shape. 

This blog dives deep into the process, the importance, and the benefits of custom software maintenance, as well as the right strategies to adopt. 

Why is Custom Software Maintenance Important?

Functionality

Businesses opt for custom software applications to get the right functionality and to be able to offer the best services in their respective niche. While upholding unique business values, these applications provide organizations with the most convenient ways to go about day-to-day operations. 

With that being said, custom software are just like off-the-shelf software when it comes to bugs, defects, and run-time errors. In certain cases, these issues may even multiply over time. And that is when the importance of software maintenance shines through. 

Security 

Software maintenance covers all the measures taken to counter unexpected issues such as crashes and security concerns. By doing it right, developers can maintain the stability and usability of the application, ensuring that the business using it doesn’t have to face any downtime. 

Efficiency

If you dig deeper, custom software maintenance is the necessary fine-tuning you need to extract maximum performance from your solution. The process optimizes the code, enhances database queries, and fills in memory leaks. As a result, users get a highly responsive and seamless experience that provides businesses with the engagement they are looking for.

Types of Software Maintenance

Corrective Maintenance

Bugs and errors are a part of every software’s lifecycle. Corrective maintenance is the type of maintenance that addresses the issues that can affect the design, code, and logic of your application. When the software is in use, bug reports are automatically generated to allow quality assurance engineers to spot these problems. 

The goal of corrective maintenance is to identify and resolve these issues before users notice them. Understandably, this is important to avoid staining brand reputation by ensuring stability, security, and performance.

As the name suggests, corrective maintenance is about making the necessary changes within a given time frame. It comes under the category of urgent maintenance tasks and is mainly focused on low-priority issues in custom software development.

Adaptive Maintenance

Software applications are designed to be used on a wide range of platforms, but that is only made possible by performing adaptive maintenance. With customized software, you always need to be sure that your application will be able to adapt to changes in platforms and the introduction of new technologies. Thankfully, adaptive maintenance addresses this by modifying the software to fit in with new operating systems, third-party integrations, and even hardware.

Adaptive maintenance is typically carried out in tandem with corrective maintenance, allowing developers to update the system for new platforms while addressing bugs. Some bugs, such as speed issues and lags can be automatically fixed when the software is updated for a more advanced operating system. 

One of the advantages of adaptive maintenance is that it allows you to pinpoint software issues before they become critical and also helps reduce the number of code changes required. Rather than fixing bugs after they are discovered, you can use this approach to update the code beforehand. 

Perfective Maintenance

When developing customized software, users are normally concerned about the quality as compared to legacy software from trusted brands. With perfective maintenance, you can guarantee that the software will perform its intended functions without running into problems. The process covers the addition of new features, code optimizations, and UI and UX improvements. 

When it comes to enhancing the performance of your application, it's important to not only fix the bug but ensure that it does not generate again. Quality assurance teams need to be consistent in their practice to look for bugs as perfective maintenance requires attention to detail.

Perfective maintenance also includes the improvement, evolution, and introduction of features into your software application. Upon using the software, users often find something missing and also make suggestions for improvements. Here, perfective maintenance helps improve functionality and enhance user experience. 

Preventive Maintenance

With new technological developments coming every year, any software built today will go out of date in some time. To keep up with the times, software development teams need to perform preventive maintenance. This kind of maintenance covers all aspects related to the deterioration of a software solution as ages. Preventive software maintenance includes code optimization and thorough documentation to ensure long-term stability. 

By making your software more understandable and maintainable, you have better chances of improving engagement for businesses. For this reason, preventive maintenance is a must. You need to go beyond just fixing bugs and render your software future-proof. Considering the fast pace of technological evolution, the preventive maintenance process should ideally allow your software to work well in changing environments without deteriorating. Then there are the changing requirements of businesses and individual users. Preventive maintenance ensures that the software performs as intended and continues to be a secure and convenient solution in the years to come. 

Benefits of Regular Software Maintenance

There is a reason so many businesses are investing in custom software. However, the real purpose cannot be fulfilled without the guarantee of ongoing software maintenance. The benefits of custom software maintenance extend beyond resolving testing issues; they involve making meaningful changes that have a real impact. Here are some of the major benefits of regular software maintenance. 

Improved System Stability and Performance

With operating systems, hardware, and applications becoming more and more advanced, you need to be sure that your software is ready to change as required. Custom software maintenance allows you to keep your software updated and compatible as new operating environments are introduced to the world. 

If you perform regular maintenance, your software will be able to connect with a wider range of devices, versions of third-party applications, and other integrations. The benefits don’t stop there either, as users get to experience seamless transitions between pages and have no issues in terms of compatibility with upgrades and new releases.

Enhanced Security and Vulnerability Management

Apart from performing the intended functions, the software is also expected to be secure against cyber threats. No business would want to lose their data to malicious attackers and that is why software maintenance regularly includes security patches. 

As part of your maintenance practices, you are able to identify loopholes and vulnerabilities within your code. Following that, developers are able to make the necessary updates to the code and libraries to strengthen the software against threats. In case you miss out on security patches, your clients are always going to be at risk of serious data breaches. 

Cost Savings Compared to Reactive Fixes

When a user encounters a bug in your software, it means it's already too late to perform maintenance tasks and you have to resort to reactive fixes. Not only do reactive fixes cost more, but they are unplanned and mess up the entire schedule of development teams. Instead, the best practice is to implement plans for software maintenance beforehand. 

Performing software maintenance and identifying issues proactively allows you to bypass critical problems that can be very costly. If you keep an eye out for potential areas of improvement and optimize your software for performance and security, you are able to save valuable resources.

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Best Practices for Effective Custom Software Maintenance

Software maintenance is clearly an ongoing and never-ending process. As long as your software is being used, it is always going to need improvements and fixes here and there. Here’s what you need to know about effective custom software maintenance.

Regular Monitoring and Evaluation

Once your software is up and running, you need to constantly monitor and evaluate its performance. Checking whether the software works according to the client’s requirements allows you to pinpoint potential problems and fix them. Some of the important metrics to be monitored are system uptime, user feedback, and resource utilization. Apart from getting the maintenance process right, evaluating these aspects also helps you keep you make better decisions about new releases and improvements to your software.

Timely Updates and Patches

Coming back to the security aspect of the software, it's essential to keep sending out timely updates and patches to ensure that your application runs smoothly. Just like receiving updates on your smartphones, these maintenance tasks include bug fixes, performance improvements, and in some cases the addition of new features. But most importantly, they provide the security necessary to keep your application safe from cyber attacks. 

Proactive Issue Identification

Just like in any other IT-related system, software requires proactive issue identification to reveal some of the hidden errors. This is especially important because the identification of an issue is where you either get on the right track to improve the software or lose it all by misunderstanding what’s really happening. Your software maintenance plans must include regular testing and identification of even the smallest of errors so that the users do not face any downtime.

Documentation and Knowledge Management

Whether you consider software maintenance in specific, or software development as a whole, documentation is of utmost importance. Without documentation, you cannot keep track of anything and you never know what you’re working on. The best practice in this regard is to document every single change in code, architecture, and design so that it can be maintained and managed easily.

Implementing the Right Software Maintenance Strategy

Identification Any issues with the software must be identified either by a user or a quality assurance engineer.
Analysis The cost and feasibility of the identified problem must be analyzed along with insights from stakeholders.
Design The proposed software must be designed as agreed initially. This is to avoid additional costs due to changes in design.
Implementation Developers must work on the updates and bug fixes while sticking to the right design and functionality.
System Testing After the changes are made, developers must test the entire system thoroughly for its functionality and performance.
User Testing Users must also test the software after the said changes have been made and check for discrepancies before going live.
Deployment Upon successful testing, the software can be deployed for the public with the new updates.

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Challenges in Custom Software Maintenance

Dealing with legacy systems

One of the main challenges in custom software maintenance is getting around legacy code. These programs are outdated and often come in the way of newly updated code. The real issue arises due to the lack of proper documentation and testing of legacy systems, which puts developers in a tough spot with unpredictable compatibility issues.

Balancing maintenance with new feature development

Adding a new feature to your software is always a bit of a challenge as every new change connects with a lot of existing aspects. Developers often struggle to streamline the development of new features alongside maintenance tasks, as they need to think about the compatibility and integrations of the new feature but also consider the implications on the existing system. 

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Managing evolving user requirements

Another challenge that comes in the way of software maintenance is the changes in user expectations over time. This is because you can never measure or anticipate what the user may expect now and how their expectations will change in the future. It often happens that a user wants you to build the software to behave a certain way, but is not able to communicate what they expect. To ensure that user expectations are met, and you need to establish strong communication channels with them.

Future-Proofing Your Custom Software

Anticipating Future Technological Changes

When you’ve been in the field of software development for a considerable amount of time, you can somewhat guess what is to come. This is exactly what is required to develop a future-proof solution. Keeping in mind what the world is currently running on, and anticipating what it will need in the future, allows you to plan your software maintenance effectively. The end goal here is to keep the doors open for innovation and improvements. 

Designing software with scalability in mind

If you are incorporating all the right practices into your software development process, chances are high that it will be used for bigger purposes in the future. It is one thing to create a solution that gets the job done. But it's another thing to create a scalable solution. Once your customer bank grows and bigger businesses start searching for your software, it must be ready to take up the challenge. 

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Key Takeaways

Custom software maintenance is now becoming more important than ever, as user expectations are increasing and the competition between digital solutions catches on. The goal behind developing customized software is to achieve maximum performance and ROI. None of that can be achieved unless you keep your applications and web platforms up to date and maintain them well. So your best bet is to invest your time and resources in effective software maintenance processes.

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