While there are many benefits to investing in custom software solutions for your business, such as increased productivity, a competitive advantage, and faster reaction time, the process of completing custom software can be daunting for many business owners or managers. Complex custom software solutions can take a long time to develop and often involve major changes during development and testing. For this reason, one of your most important tasks when you decide to order custom software is to maintain quality communication with your development team throughout the whole project. This tips will help make communicating with your development team easier.
When Possible, Work With a Local Project Manager
A local project manager will be able to come to your business to discuss your needs and help develop an in-depth outline for the software that will be developed. They can also help you understand the project management software, and since they are in the same time-zone as you, it is likely that they will be available during your working hours. Many companies that have headquarters in another state or country are willing to hire a dedicated project manager in your area if you have a large project.
If you are unable to work with a local project manager, consider flying the project manager to meet with your team at the beginning and end of the project and make sure that you have sufficient tools to communicate online through conference calls and remote desktop solutions.
Make Sure You Understand the Project Management Tool
During the project, you will most likely be given limited access to the project management tool that the development company uses. You should log into this tool regularly and make sure that you understand the various sections of it. This tool can be helpful by giving you a way to send comments on various parts of the software directly to the development team and by letting you to check on the development process.
Set Up a Schedule for Updates and Questions
At the beginning of the development process, you should set up a regular time to get updates from your project manager. Depending on your needs, this is usually done every other day or once a week. Having a regular check-in time allows you to stay up to date with any problems in the development phase and to add features or ask questions before the development progresses too far.
Keep a List of Your Questions and Concerns
Throughout the development and testing of the software, it is important to keep track of your questions and concerns. For example, if you are testing the software and notice a section that does not work properly or if are in a team meeting and decide you want to add a feature, you should record your ideas and present them to the project manager either through the project management tool or through a scheduled check-in. If you call your project manager every time you have a question or concern about the project, you risk interrupting the work flow and delaying the progress of the project, so it is better to present all of your questions, comments, and concerns at once during a scheduled call.
Determine Your Procedure for Change Requests Before Committing to the Project
Change requests happen when you decide to add a feature, remove a feature, or drastically change the function or design of your software. They can be initiated by the development company or by your own company and they often affect timelines and the overall cost of your project. Before you begin the project, make sure you know how to initiate a change request and how your change requests will be handled so you will not have any negative surprises.
Clear, concise communication with your development company is important before, during, and after custom software development. If you are concerned about communication, discuss how the company you are hiring generally deals with client communication and ask what communication solutions they offer.