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Software Development Planning: Benefits & Steps to Craft Your Efficient Project Plan
The global size of the custom software development market is expanding immensely, with no surprise, as it has a lot of benefits to offer for companies. It was valued at $429.59 billion in 2021 and is anticipated to thrive at a CAGR of 11.7% from 2022 to 2030, according to Grand View Research. Although software development is worth the investment, it will be a high-risk venture for anyone stepping in without a proper plan in the play. If you are looking to build a successful custom software development project, you must lay down an efficient plan for it first. This article shall be your aid in the planning phase of your project and will provide step-by-step guidance for that.
What Is a Software Development Project Plan?
In the simplest terms, a software development plan is merely an overview created to map out all the phases in a software development life cycle, ranging from ideation, design, and development to testing, deployment, maintenance, and iterative improvements. It plays an essential part in project management and serves as the roadmap for completion. It comprises documents outlining the project scope, objectives, timeline, tasks, budget, resource estimations, roles and responsibilities of group members as well as risk management and contingency plans.
The set goal of a typical software project plan is to help project team members to comprehend what needs to be done and make certain that all project milestones (with actual performance metrics) are accomplished in the correct order. At the end of the day, software development project plans keep everything going on the right track and avoid going awry.
A development plan is an ongoing process, and it should be well-thought-out and fixed. However, it does not necessarily mean unchangeable. On the contrary, it should be flexible enough to be modified and adapted to meet the changing conditions of the project.
Usually, a project manager will be accountable for developing and implementing the plan. He or she will ensure that the project schedule is strictly followed and all project participants (stakeholders, project managers, developers, etc.) are on the same page and working toward success.
Why Need a Well-crafted Software Development Plan?
With a majority of companies implementing agile software development methods for their projects as current, a lot of opinions are spoken about whether or not project planning is still relevant. In reality, the answer is a resounding yes.
A well-thought-out plan is essential for the success of any software development project. A good one can provide numerous advantages for the development team, stakeholders, and also the overall project success:
Serve as a Clear Roadmap
As stated earlier, it is a must-have for all software projects to avoid confusion and ensure everyone stays on track. It clearly defines each development phase and provides guidance on what should be done at each stage.
Enhanced Project Monitoring
It offers the management team and stakeholders, as well as software development project teams, a clearer vision of the current development progress. By providing weekly or monthly reports as well as task status updates, they have access to all information in real-time and keep track of the project deadlines shortly so that they act accordingly in a timely manner.
Keeping track of time spent on planning, design, development, and other tasks, plus actual performance metrics such as effort estimation, cost analysis, etc., helps a software development team to estimate more accurately for the upcoming and future projects.
Simpler Project Organization
The entire project development cycle and tasks can be managed in a much more organized way with a good plan. It helps the whole team to be on board, from the project leader to each team member, to ensure all is moving in the same direction. Moreover, resources are allocated more efficiently throughout the software development process. Moreover, advanced tools such as project management software can help to manage the overall progress of a development project and make sure that all tasks are completed on time.
Improved Time Management
A good plan is definitely paramount to successful time management and project delivery. It effectively tracks all the activities, tasks, and deadlines that have been set in order to ensure everything is completed on time when planned.
Better Quality Control
With a good plan, it is much easier for software development teams to identify and address any issues arising during the course of a project. All tasks and activities in the production stages are monitored so that any discrepancies, such as low-quality code, bugs, or errors, can be detected early and fixed quickly before they become major issues. It provides more time for quality assurance testing and helps to make sure that all project deliverables meet the desired quality standards.
Facilitates Change Management
As all software development projects are prone to change, having a plan can make the process much more efficient and less time-consuming. By following a plan, teams can quickly adapt to any changes and ensure the project goes on track.
Last but not least, it helps software developers to identify, categorize and prioritize potential risks early and come up with contingency plans to handle them if need be. This ensures that the project will be completed within the timeframe and budget and with minimum rates of risk.
Create an Effective Software Development Plan within 8 Essential Steps
The software project planning phase is imperative in your SDLC, no doubt. Unfortunately, it is no simple task to create a workable one, and it requires careful consideration across a variety of factors. Business owners can leverage an available software development plan template to save effort in the planning process. To create a software development plan that works for your specific project requirements, here are the steps to follow:
Interpret Your Project Goals & Translate Them into a Detailed Project Description
The most basic and essential step in planning any software development project is deciding on the input. This planning stage has a lot to do with project analysis and specification, so it should involve all stakeholders sitting down together to discuss the project in detail. Your project description should provide all the necessary details, such as the scope of work, objectives, development timeline, expected outcomes, risks to manage, and all other related information. There should be one senior project manager to finalize the first visualization of a concise project plan.
Analyze Your Resources & Budget Allocation
The next step is to identify and assess all available resources – human resources, including technical experts and other staff members, as well as financial resources, such as cost of development, maintenance, etc. A good plan should include a detailed budget allocation and the timeline for each task or activity. Set aside a contingency fund that can be utilized in case of any unforeseen circumstances.
Define Your Software Development Process & Methodology
One of the most critical steps when planning software projects is selecting the proper software development process and methodology to follow throughout your project implementation journey. It not only helps identify what methods work best but also ensures that everyone is on the same page when starting a new project. A few popular methods include Agile, Scrum, Waterfall, and DevOps.
Assemble a Team & Establish Roles and Responsibilities
In software development, the size and structure of the team can vary depending on the project’s scope and complexity. But there is one certain thing: You need a capable and responsible team to deliver successful results and move the project forward. To do that, they have to know exactly what they are supposed to do in different project stages. Therefore, it is a must to break down development phases into smaller parts or modules so that they can be assigned to different team members with appropriate roles and responsibilities. It is essential to figure out who will oversee the project, who will develop it, who will test it, and so on. And make sure to assign roles that match each team member’s skillset and expertise.
Consider Outsourcing If Needed & Get a Partner
Leveraging software development outsourcing services for the project’s success is no secret. By outsourcing the business processes that are not the forte of your in-house teams, business owners can access a number of advantages instead of grappling with resource constraints. Therefore, if needed, consider outsourcing to get a partner that can contribute its technical and managerial capabilities towards the success of your project. Having a reliable outsourcing partner can help ensure quicker development and delivery of the software.
Measure, Track, & Maximize Progress
One step that cannot be missed out in software development plans is measuring and tracking the progress during the whole project timeline. Establish a set of KPIs that can keep track of the project’s progress and avoid delays. Regular checks on the progress, analytics, customer feedback, etc., can help business owners measure whether their plans are working successfully. Moreover, with accurate metrics in place, you can make timely decisions if changes have to be made in order to maximize progress or avoid delays.
Review & Finalize the Plan
Once all the above steps are completed, review and finalize the software development plan. It is important to ensure that all stakeholders have a clear understanding of the project before it starts. The reviewed plan should be shared among all team members so everyone is on board with the latest updates and info as well as aware of any potential risks associated with the project.
Revise & Modify the Plan as Needed
Software development projects rarely turn out as planned, and modifications may be needed along the way. And as aforementioned, no plan should be rigid; it has to have enough flexibility to be amended as needed. Therefore, review the plan and revise it regularly so that it accommodates changing customer needs or any other new challenges.
After putting together a detailed software development plan, business owners can now move forward with their projects knowing they are in safe hands. A planning process done right is one of the keys to the successful delivery of any software project.
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