Software development outsourcing is an excellent option to access skills that you might not have available in-house. However, this resource is only effective if you are able to communicate clearly what it is you want the software to do.
Woolly, vague explanations will simply result in a piece of developed software that doesn’t reach your expectations. In situations like this, it can sometimes be difficult to tweak and alter the project and could result in a time-consuming and expensive rebuild.
So, how do you ensure your bespoke software is built to your specifications?
Know what you want
You cannot explain clearly to a software developer what you want if this is not clear in your own mind. You don’t need to know how it will all fit together or work, but you do need to ask yourself these key questions:
- What do you want the software to do?
- Who will the end users be?
- What do you want the output to look like?
- Will users have access to all aspects or do security systems need to be built in?
The planning part of the process is by far the most important, as the clearer the image you have in your mind about what you want, the easier it will be to explain it to the developer.
Presentation to the developer
Once you have the answers to these questions you can consider how you will present it to the developer. The more information you can provide the more likely they are to get it right first time.
- Explain the function of the software.
- Explain the target user.
- Mock up pages of what the output should look like – such as splash screens, menus, reporting and navigational areas.
- Provide links to similar software if possible, which can be used as inspiration.
- Provide detailed lists of what functions you require.
- Provide lists of restricted output so security measures can be considered.
When presenting to the development team it is important to listen to their feedback and suggestions.
You may know what you want, but they will be able to talk you through what is realistic for your budget, the hardware, time-frame, and scope.
Once the developer has started work on the software it may not be possible to make changes or add new functionality without many hours of extra work.
Therefore, ideally it is better to have discussed all aspects of the functionality prior to work commencing but we appreciate requirements do change.
- If you realise you need extra functionality, speak to the developer straight away. The longer you wait the more work it may cause.
- Listen to the advice of the developer. It may be possible to change the software, but they may have an alternative suggestion which could be more cost effective or practical.
User testing and feedback
Once you get aspects of the software to test, you must remember it is a beta version. The testing is to identify bugs, and to identify what doesn’t work or doesn’t deliver what your original intention was.
Frequent testing and constructive feedback while a program is in development is crucial to creating quality software. If you're in charge of the main design, you should personally test each build of the app created as well as offering it to user-level individuals to see if it is fit for purpose. What is logical to you may not be logical to the intended user.
Rigorous testing will give you a much better feel for how the app is progressing, and allow you to offer your thoughts in a more informed way to the software development team if changes or refinements are needed.
Software development and outsourcing from Brandon Cross
Brandon Cross specialises in building standalone and online business applications. Our programmers and developers are highly experienced in creating fine-tuned applications for many types of businesses. Call or email us today to discuss what we could do for you.
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