Explore fram^’s top tips to keep your software development plan up-to-date

Blog posts 11 January, 2019 Sean Boyle & Ha Bui

Why do you need an updated software development plan?

For an idea to succeed, planning is essential and software development is no different with many projects to gather all the necessary information to control a project. A software development plan describes both the technical and tactical approach to a project, which project managers can use to track and schedule the entire development process. This is vital for planning how and when resources will be used, including whose responsibility each individual task is and if the activities are dependent upon one another.

Moving goalposts

While the software development plan will provide the blueprint for the project’s life-cycle, it is a collection of estimations, it is not forged in stone, far from it. With time concerns a frequent issue in development, the temptation for project managers is to over-promise, leading to unrealistic goals, missed deadlines and frustrated phone calls. This is why it is vital that the engineers who will carry out each task, are the ones to provide the estimates regarding the timing of the tasks.

These estimates may change as the project progresses, time-consuming issues can arise with debugging, testing or refactoring old code. The best software development plan is one which sets very specific milestones that are both measurable and achievable within 24 to 48 hours. This provides a great deal of accountability and necessitates ongoing updating of the software development plan word document. It is no set and forgets fantasy story, it needs to be an up to date, real-time account of where the project is and where it is going.

Assessing your software development plan

By constantly analyzing and updating your software development plan template, the assessment of the project is ongoing, from inception into planning and throughout the execution phase. This allows for a realistic and accurate reflection of the project’s direction and goals, anything that doesn’t contribute to these goals will be removed from the process. Often defining what you don’t want or need is as important as identifying what features you do.

A typical software development plan will begin with the riskiest tasks in an attempt to de-risk the overall project as quickly as possible. They will seek to avoid rewriting entire systems from scratch, rather incrementally replace the subsystems, switching out one part at a time. This allows them to test the system as they work instead of when everything is finished. This can be an unpredictable stage and the engineers need to be honest if something has been under-scoped and update their software development plan accordingly.

Planning every step of the way

By breaking down the development process into its component parts, an effective software development plan allows for greater flexibility throughout the product life-cycle. It may even mean parts of the project could be launched before others if necessary or risky aspects could first be prototyped with dummy data before being added to the system. With clearly defined goals there should be less of a tendency to spend too much time getting distracted by unnecessary adjustments and over-fixing existing shortcomings.

It is unrealistic and even counter-productive to expect to be able to lay out an exact road-map for a project’s development process and expect it to guide the software and its engineers through to a perfect completion without any adjustments along the way. Often it is better to prioritize the impact of the tasks over time is taken, as ultimately it is the impact of the tasks that matter most. Engineers giving a realistic probability of meeting time constraints based on the present reality of the project is a much more useful reflection than one written week before by an overly optimistic team manager.

The most important thing you need in your plan to succeed

Whether the development takes place in-house or is outsourced a software development plan needs to be crafted, maintained and brought to fruition by an experienced team of developers and project managers. It will have to deliver a quality product to the end user, with measurable milestones plotting its path and issues of timing, responsibility and traceability navigated successfully.

By choosing one of the most experienced & custom software development firms, it is possible to find or create your own team with the exact knowledge and expertise required to bring your project from the planning stage through to completion and launch. If you’re in charge of a software project and not sure how to make a perfect plan to run it, don’t be shy to contact fram^ so that we can help you!

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