Why Do Software Development Projects Fail?
The siren song of a cheap price tag is, and always has been, a great allure to consumers and businesses alike. Unfortunately, most fail to understand that when it comes to something as complex and niche as custom software development, these risks are difficult to mitigate, and you often get what you pay for. Software development is, first and foremost, a risk management exercise.
This is especially true when it comes to hiring third parties for such software development projects. While some firms may claim to perform software development at a cheaper price, they seldom provide the quality a business needs, and the value is rarely as good as advertised. Let’s take a look at four reasons why that’s often the case:
1) A lower price per developer does not mean a cheaper project
Many firms that outsource their workforce for a software project will advertise a significantly lower price per developer compared to developers based in the United States. What they don’t tell you, however, is that outsourced/overseas teams for similar projects are often much larger than a US-based team, by as much as 3 to 5 times. To be clear, more developers does not mean better. With so many developers on your project, not only is the lower price per developer effectively meaningless, but progress slows down and project quality suffers.
2) Many development shops use under skilled and under experienced developers
One of the most important factors in providing top-of-the-line service is having a highly trained and experienced team can perform the tasks at hand with proficiency. Most of the time, outsourcing companies that claim lower cost software development services are able to do so because they cut costs on their developers. Quality developers are always in demand and the cost of building and maintaining such a high performing team should not be underestimated.
3) Time zone, language, and process barriers
Software requirements, expectations, and goals are already difficult to communicate between individuals who share the same time zone, language, and even office. These waters become murkier when inexperience and lack of process are thrown in the mix. Software projects can easily go entirely in the wrong direction due to miscommunication, mismanagement, and costly backtracking. Design and development processes provide a framework for teams to work within, but they only work when the entire team (including you) are on the same page, comfortable with the process, and communicating efficiently.
4) “Are we done yet?”
It’s common for a development company to deliver “something” and walk away when the project and contract are “complete.” There’s a chance your product ends up “functioning”, and perhaps it’s even useable. However, there’s also a high chance that it’s messy, incomplete, and certainly not meeting your expectations; this is essentially what’s known as a challenged project, and is a cost saving strategy for these firms. Rather than supporting their products, most shops are quite happy to simply wrap up the project, hand you the code, and move one to their next client, leaving you to pick up the pieces. Utilizing and modifying the code coming out of these projects is often a nightmare, and usually entails more costly and time consuming measures such as convincing another team to pick up where your original team left off. Of course, this assumes your code and project are salvageable to begin with!
Why You Should Always Put Quality First
Software development is a complex process with many variables that contribute to the final cost of the product. Understanding all these variables is what separates an expert from an average developer. An expert can quickly determine which software development strategies are profitable and which are costly mistakes.
The more experienced a team is, the more likely they’ll quickly and efficiently develop high-quality products from the get-go. In other words, the best way to guarantee a high-quality product is to work with companies who have produced quality software for a long time.
Above all else, great software is intuitive and easy to use; this is what separates quality products from shoddy work. The best programmers don’t just slap together code; they create designs that are practical, scalable, and aesthetic.
What Makes A Great Product
Software created by an amateur can feel like a cheap knockoff of the real thing. It’s not a welcome feeling for your users to always be fighting poorly designed and written application. On the flip side, software created by seasoned professionals can make the most complex of tasks become simple, which is usually the reason for any software: to make our lives (or businesses) simpler and more efficient.
A successful software development project starts with high-quality requirements. Having a vision for the end goal and communicating that goal to the development team is paramount to its success; otherwise, it’s like building a bridge to nowhere.
Once developers understand the end goal, it’s their job to execute on that goal. Software development firms are expected to build a road map to the end goal, then budget time, money, and manpower to follow that road map. Simply put, it’s a lot to juggle at once, and why talent and experience are important for a developer. Even the most talented developers become overwhelmed without the right processes in place!
A potential drawback of outsourcing with the wrong partner is that you could lose control over these variables and can’t guarantee the quality of your product. If missteps occur, you could be looking at a year-long project with nothing to show for it. The best way to avoid this, of course, is a transparent hiring process of a small team of talented and experienced individuals who work together seamlessly.
At the end of the day, you need code that’s high quality, maintainable, and scalable. No matter how brilliant an idea might be, an application is ultimately a failure if users don’t want to touch it.
The Bottom Line
There are so many variables in software development that it’s challenging to predict exactly how much a given project will cost or what kind of quality you’ll be getting for your money. That being said, if you outsource with the right partner, you’re putting all of the risk on you and your business. The consequences of a failed software development project can be devastating. In fact, even the consequences of poorly written software can be, too!
When it comes down to it, software development is about minimizing risk and mitigating liability. All projects come with these risks, but the hidden ones associated with outsourcing your product development to the wrong partner are akin to an iceberg. Sacrificing quality for theoretical short-term financial gain is always a roll of the dice, but especially so in software.
Who Are We?
We’re Eureka Software, a custom software development business based 100% in Austin, Texas. For over 35 years we’ve been obsessed with custom software design that is intuitive, streamlined, and a joy to use. Some even call it elegant.
Whatever it is, it’s designed with thoughtfulness, a singular purpose, and a fundamental focus on the human element. The user experience is ultimately what counts for our US-based team of creatives, scientists, and engineers. How people interact with a piece of software determines whether it’s a success or failure.
What gets us up in the morning and keeps us going is the daily challenge of solving complex custom software design problems. Tackling and successfully overcoming thorny user experience issues. Challenging our clients to rethink the customer experience. And delivering custom software solutions that go far beyond providing prototypes – solutions designed to easily scale to increasing production demands without costly delays and revisions. Contact us to see how we can help you and your business.