A practical guide for new clients – part 3

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A practical guide for new clients – part 3

This time we offer you a step-by-step guide to starting a new project with a software company you’ve been working with for some time now.

Let’s not waste time and start right away. Although you can pick and configure an off-the-shelf application from the company’s portfolio, the ideal way to go if you’ve been working with them for a while is custom development. Below is the minimal line-up of steps you should follow in the beginning of your project with the software provider:

Existing client company
Requirements clarification
Costs and timeline evaluation
Go decision or Evaluation approval
Project initiation

Before we proceed with any explanations, there is one thing you must know: you are the one who runs how you go about the process and you have the choice of which steps you need to follow, skip or repeat. Depending on your project needs and the relationship with your software provider, the sequence of steps can be either simpler or more complex.

As you can see, meetings no 1 and no 2 (sales and presales), discussed in our previous article, are missing from the line-up. This is due to the fact that you are probably already familiar with how to start a software application project, particularly with a certain software company. You don’t have to start yet again from scratch, but still there’s a sense of novelty that remains unaltered. Your business has grown and an additional application is called for, there’s a new team in your company that’s requesting a project and then there are all the new functionalities, challenges and possible problems that come with a fresh project.

The process associated with this fresh project commences with a requirements clarification meeting. Think of it this way: the clearer you formulate your business requirements, the more successful your project will be. Tip: keep your ideas on the business side. Concentrate on the business requirements and not the suitable [software] solution. Your software provider will have to find the optimum technical solution, as long as you help them gain a thorough understanding of your requirements.

After these clarification discussions take place, your software company will take things to the drawing board, to analyse and further detail the discussed requests in order to forecast other possibilities and scenarios they might lead to. A simple technique that we at EXE have successfully used (and recommend) is to describe your new business process as a workflow: who will use the application and how many times, how it will be useful, where it will be needed most etc.

In a non-Agile software development methodology (which we will explain in a distinct article), the deliverable you need from the software provider is a draft of the specification document, which should include: the purpose of the application, specifications (technical and functional requirements) and the technical resources needed to meet your request.

It is necessary that this draft must undergo iterative revisions until the final version is reached. The point of all this is to assemble a precise and clear specification document describing the application, its functional and non-functional requirements, time estimates and time frame. We are quite sure that is the key to the success of your project and business case.

The second step consists in costs and timeline evaluation. The contents of the research explained above can be sent via email, but it is highly recommended that a face-to-face discussion follows closely.

You are now in the position of making a decision. Based on the costs estimates obtained after the evaluation, you can build a business case which will serve as the base of the third step: go decision or evaluation approval.

If you’ve decided to go on, then you should expect a project initiation meeting. There are three types of “previews” you can choose from during this meeting: either a mock-up, a demo or a proof of concept.

With all the stages above completed, the kick-off is next. Simply put, this means your project can now start.

*Keep this in mind: it’s absolutely necessary that your company has its own IT manager able to keep close track of the relationship with the software vendor.

This completes our “Practical guide” series. We hope you found it helpful. For further advice, we’ll be happy to help. Contact us!