Software Products and Apps contribute immensely to the productivity, optimal resource utilization, and economics of any organization.
CTOs of companies i.e. the client, needless to say, are mandated to develop. Products and Apps in an efficient, cost-effective, and timely manner, to meet their corporate goals. Hence, outsourcing development becomes an inevitable choice. Also, this emphasizes the need for well-defined processes to streamline and support Agile Software development, which can substantially reduce ‘Time to Market’ and ensure project sustainability.
There are several factors affecting Software development cycles from ‘Conceptualization to Final Delivery’ of the Product or App.Let us discuss these factors in detail and discover the Software Development Methodology which will help CTOs make well-informed choices to meet and beat their corporate goals and expectations – especially in the context of out-sourcing the development to an external “preferred-vendor” like Hybrowlabs.
FOUR SUCCESS MANTRAS FOR BUILDING APPS
It is always important to start small. This is the cornerstone of Agile development, since it helps address and confirm the POC – Proof-of-Concept, besides evaluating Vendor competencies. Also, any issues or risks arising in the future can be mitigated early. This will ensure a smooth and lasting customer-vendor partnership and interaction.
Incorrect Software design (especially after its build and deployment) often results in extensive rework, which escalates ‘Total cost of software ownership’ to your organization, and may also lead to unnecessary losses and litigation. To avoid these, CTOs are well-advised to insist the vendor on Prototyping the Software or App, before building it. Prototypes, although not working solutions, provide a good look and feel and give insights into the final app, by simulating the app using mockups at an early stage. Also, it helps you – the client, to validate if the software will match the software specification It also helps us i.e. Hybrowlabs – your “preferred vendor”, in giving accurate project estimates. And, finally – it is extremely helpful for ‘User Feedback’. Prototypes are of two kinds. 1. Horizontal prototype – gives a ‘High-Level’ overview of the entire system or subsystem, focusing on user interaction more than ‘Low-Level‘ system functionality. 2. Vertical prototype – includes ‘Low-Level‘ system functions including features, database designs, process flows, mockups, screenshots, etc., and may involve some coding to simulate the Final App. Finally, building Prototypes may also be an iterative activity, but if done diligently, will save a lot of project costs, later.
The ultimate goal of any software product or app is to ensure a positive and smooth end-user experience with ‘zero-glitches’. Hence, it is extremely important to take regular Feedback from the ‘end-users’ – from the POC stage through to ‘Go-Live’, and even after, to validate that product meets its goals, is of the highest quality with ‘zero-defects’ and delivers on performance. User feedback is the ultimate ‘proof of the pudding’ for any software or app and helps mitigate any issues arising due to bugs, poor design, etc.
The ‘Document’ activity is many a time lost among the various dynamics of the project. However, if taken seriously, it can immensely help mitigate any gaps in understanding, and forge the ‘customer-vendor’
relationship. It should clearly articulate and document the following –
- Why – The purpose, objective, or goals of the activity.
- How – The processes, methods i.e. the methodology.
- What – What will be the resources, costs, deliverables, etc.
HYBROWLABS - DEVELOPMENT METHODOLOGY
Now, let’s drill down into the development phases and processes of the development methodology adopted and adhered to by us @ Hybrowlabs.
PHASE 1 - INCEPTION
In this phase, the VISION and CONCEPT of the app or software product are addressed first – by the client. Upon receiving this doc, a Prototype/ Commercial Proposal is developed and submitted by Hyrowlabs to the client for approval.
The Product Vision
The need for the app or product must be conceptualized, articulated, and explained with clarity by the client in a Product Vision/ Concept document, to initiate the project. This should encapsulate the ‘High-Level’ concept, objectives, and related elements clearly, for the software partner vendor like Hyrowlabs to understand the purpose, objectives, requirements, and goals of the development initiative.
The Prototype/ Commercial Proposal
Hyrowlabs will in turn submit back a ‘High-Level’ Prototype and/or ‘Commercial – Development Proposal’ with time, resource, and cost estimates – based on a ‘Fixed Cost’ or ‘Time and Material’ cost model, to the client.
The ‘High-Level’ Prototype and Commercials once approved by the client, triggers the Phase 2 – Product and App Build, encompassing activities relating to Project Plan, Detailed Analysis, Requirements, Features, User Stories, Process Flows, Sprints, Standups, Reporting, Deliverables, Timelines, Milestones, Software Design, Development, QA/QC and ultimate Software delivery & deployment.
PHASE 2 - PRODUCT AND APP BUILD
This is the most critical phase, which is key to realizing the product concept to the final app deliverables – promptly. Hence, we will delve deeper into the actual software development approach, processes, and methodology, and how to manage them – for a CTO to ensure project and product success.
It is worthwhile noting that Hybrowlabs, adheres to ALL the processes and protocols described hereunder.
HOW TO MANAGE YOUR SOFTWARE DEVELOPMENT PROCESS
A streamlined Agile development process is extremely crucial to a positive, continuous, and on-going ‘customer-vendor’ relationship. So, as CTO you must choose your development partner wisely. Ensure that the Software Vendor is highly reliable, accessible, and most importantly has scalable resources with relevant/ diverse skillsets, infrastructure, and technologies – not just current, but ‘future-proof’ too!
Typically, it takes over a year for any product to mature. Hence, it is imperative to have a strong and scientific software development methodology that includes processes and best practices, to ensure successful project outcomes.
Let’s examine the myriad of Agile processes to be considered and managed by every CTO.
THE AGILE SOFTWARE DEVELOPMENT PROCESS - MANAGEMENT AND OVERSIGHT
It will be immensely helpful for the Client to share the ‘Product Vision’ with the Software Vendor Team. This can be done through ‘Focus Team Meetings’. More importantly, it should be used as a tool to motivate the Vendor Team, ensure commitment, collaboration and coordination, improve communication, and make them accountable for the project goals and expectations.
This is the first and important step in app development. The prototype developed should align with the concept and specifications of the product, and give clear insights into the functions of the Final product. Any deviations from the software specifications should be immediately brought to the software vendor’s notice and remediation should be sought at the earliest. Rest assured, the Hybrowlabs Team will always endeavor to provide a highly crystallized and insightful prototype for your product/ project requirements.
A Project Plan with clearly defined schedules, timelines, milestones, sprints/tasks/activities, and deliverables is the backbone of every project. Needless to say, this is also the very basis to measure project progress. Hybrowlabs Team will proactively share this key document as part of its standardized processes
‘User Requirements’ are analyzed and broken down to ‘User Stories’, which are then added to each Sprint. These describe vividly, the product features, and user-interaction, using non-technical language. These form the basis of the ‘customer-vendor’ collaboration & understanding and require client validation.
Granular Tasks emerge out of the User Stories, which triggers the creation of Scrum & Kanban Teams using the resources with the right skillsets. Such tasks are allocated to each Team Member and roles, responsibilities & expectations are clearly set with them @ Hybrowlabs.
Scrum & Kanban Teams
These teams are the right mix and match of members who will be able to deliver quality output. Hybrowlabs thanks to its talented and experienced teams, allocates the right resource and skill mix to build high performance and lean teams. This is our greatest ‘value-add’ to the project.
Sprints & Deliverables
Each project typically will comprise, multiple Sprints – i.e. iterative Development/Coding and Testing activity cycles. It is incumbent upon the client to ensure that the Sprints are of the right duration and all Sprint Member roles and activities are adhered to by the Software vendor team. Also, there must be clear deliverables at the end of each Sprint. Sprints @ Hybrowlabs are typically 2 weeks long and we ensure accurate and timely deliverables at the end of each Sprint.
A person, typically a Project Manager from the client side must be part of Standup Meets, at regular intervals of say 2 or 3 days, to review the progress made by the vendor team. This will ensure project against committed timelines.
Hybrowlabs provides accurate and timely reporting throughout the project. These include “burned-down” charts, WIP, Deviations, Backlogs, etc. These help both – client and us, to effectively track and measure project progress and avoid unnecessary project delays or cost escalations.
Quality Assurance and Quality Control are cornerstones of any successful software product. If the processes, deliverables, and their performance are not up to standard, the resultant product will be out of whack with the Product Vision. Hence, Hybrowlabs takes this aspect seriously and places great emphasis on both – QA and QC. All Testing parameters and Process check-points are systematically monitored and adhered to by our highly talented testing teams.