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Six Tips to Ensure Success for Your Complex Application Development Project

5 minutes read

As an ISV, how many times have you kicked off a software application development project with dreams of an app that delivers big for your customers and users? And how many times has that dream turned into a nightmare, with an app that is never really finished, lost forever in the black hole of eternal, never-ending software projects and unhappy clients?

If this has never happened to you, you are lucky.

To help you avoid some of the most common app dev pitfalls, this blog shares some important tips based on our experience working with clients that can help you successfully manage your complex enterprise application development project from start to finish.

Failure Is Not an Option

Let’s take a look at the numbers. Although estimates around failed software projects vary widely, many studies show a 50% or higher failure rate. In 2017, published an article “Why IT Projects Still Fail” and “Top 9 Reasons for IT Project Failure” both shared data (from The Project Management Institute’s 2017 Pulse of the Profession report) that 28 percent of strategic initiatives overseen by survey respondents were deemed outright failures. According to a 2018 Information Age article, Why IT Projects Continue to Fail at an Alarming Rate, only 29% of IT project implementations were successful, with 19 percent considered as complete failures. Earlier data from a 2009 ZDNet study shows that 68 percent of IT projects fail. In line with these statistics, Servoy experiences similarly high rates of failure when software companies try to do complex app dev projects themselves.

Of course, all of this depends on the definition of “failure.” Failure can mean a lot of things. For example, failure can happen when the back-end framework is built, but there is nothing visible for the customer or user to “see.” Or there might be a lovely UX, but the app doesn’t scale or perform well…or it is bug-ridden. Sometimes “feature creep” occurs when there is too much focus on perfection or adding “the latest and greatest” feature or continually improving on existing ones–all of which pushes you way behind your deadline.

We see these challenges all the time in companies large and small, and any one of them is a recipe for failure that no company–software or otherwise–can afford to make.

Defining Success for ISVs

Success can be defined by many things. So when it comes to application development, here are the most common landmines that can easily derail your project:

  1. Undefined (commercial) objectives
  2. Missed deadlines due to inaccurate project scoping
  3. Not embracing an “end-user first” mentality
  4. Scope creep (not using a MVP, agile approach) generating an app that’s never finished
  5. Lack of expertise in building or modernizing an enterprise app
  6. A DIY approach, which in our experience is only successful if you have an experienced team of at least 50 developers

Ensure Your Complex App Project Is a Success

At Servoy, we’ve seen numerous enterprise projects fail and fail agonizingly slow. To help you ensure your application development project is successful, we have put together our top six best practices.

  1. UX-first approach. Keep your team focused and your stakeholders’ involved with a “user experience first” (UX-first) strategy. When you are laser-focused on providing value to your users (and your customers’ users), you inevitably create an amazing customer experience and reduce your risk. In the era of digital everything and increasing competitors, putting the customer and their needs first almost always gives you an advantage and helps keep your project on track. (Check out this blog “Three Ways to Deliver a Better User Experience” to learn more about a UX-first approach.)
  2. Define your minimum viable product (MVP) from the outset. The balance of achieving what is acceptable to achieving perfection is a delicate balance. Frankly, perfection in a tight timeline is not possible. Your goal should be to capture and validate with your customer those features that are most important to them. Then, you can strategically focus on delivering that functionality in their app. (Read “Kicking Off Your Project or MVP” for more details.)
  3. Truly embrace an agile approach. The principles of agile development include an iterative approach to project management and software development that helps teams deliver value to their customers faster and with fewer headaches. Instead of betting everything on a “big bang” launch, an agile team delivers work in small, but consumable, increments that include stakeholder feedback every step of the way to ensure product success.
  4. Start from the top-down, building from the UX up to the database and framework. Good code is obviously essential but this new “decade of design” and the increasing digitization of products and services–means the top requirement is to make apps consumable, visually appealing, and user-centric. Designing with user experience (UX) in mind is simply good business, for you and your customer. Read more about here: Driving the App Dev Vehicle Top-Down.
  5. Use a low-code or RAD platform to create apps. Software vendors working on more intricate apps for enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems or customer relationship management (CRM) platforms will demand a robust rapid application development (RAD) platform, like the Servoy platform. How to decide? Read about Low Code and RAD Development Tools here, when they work–and when they don’t.
  6. Get the support you need. Make sure you have access to a systematic support program that gives you everything you need to deliver your project on budget, on time and with all the great features your customers–and their customers–expect. (Check out the Servoy Appsurance program, as an example.)

The Secret to Your App Dev Success

Many of our clients have reached out to us for help after they’ve had several software projects fail. Maybe you’ve been there, when one of your own application development projects has gone awry. As you gear up for your next complex software development or modernization project, watch this video to learn more about the Servoy platform. Or contact us for a quick, low-pressure, customized demo. We’ll here to help ensure your next project is a success.

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