The Components of a Software Development Plan
With software developers making an average of around $100,00 a year, a lean team of 5 or 6 software developers can start a new project off in the red. With those kinds of starting costs, project managers want to know that not a cent of the budget is being wasted. Without a software development plan, projects can drag on for years longer than necessary, going grossly over budget.
Starting a software team off without a plan is like letting a herd of cats loose in a room and hoping they come up with the collected works of Shakespeare. While it’s possible they might work together to surprise you, you shouldn’t count on it.
If you’re thinking about a new software project, make sure you have a software development plan. A successful plan will have these 6 essential components.
1. Find the “What”
The first part of your plan should be an assessment of what goals your product should have. While you might want to write “save the world” or “fix the environmental crisis”, realistically your project should have one clear goal. Find out what the strengths and weaknesses of your approach are. Include this in the plan and try to strengthen your project along the way. Try to sand off the weaknesses and start your project off from a positive perspective.
2. Find Out “Why”
Your plan should be able to tell your team, your investors, and your audience why you’ve created this product. You should have a way to analyze the success of the product that justifies your approach. Take performance stats at various times and get to know which measurements mean success and which mean there’s more work to be done.
3. Include a Timeline
Your plan needs to have a clear timeline. Rather than solid dates, each deliverable should have a length of time attached to it. Have each member of the team provide a conservative and an ideal estimate. Creating custom software requires a custom timeline. This will be helpful for estimating how long it takes to each one of your mile markers along the way.
4. You Need a Design Plan
You should have a separate section reserved for a design plan. You should be able to justify why something looks a certain way or acts a certain way. You should be able to make an argument for every color that’s used, every behavior, and any kind of popup you see.
5. Testing Metrics
6. A Maintenance Plan
Your development plan should include a list of ways you’ll maintain the code over the coming years. You’ll certainly have elements and dependencies that will update out of sync with the rest of your product. Be sure you’re prepared for that work.
Your Software Development Plan Should Reflect Your Style
Every software development team has a different way of working. Your plan should reflect that and leave room for each member of your team to grow. A consistent metric of job satisfaction is the ability to grow over time and you should nurture that. If you’re ready to get a jump on your next software development project, contact us for more tips on how to get started.