How to Scope a Bespoke Software Solution: Establishing Clear Deliverables

Organisations with bespoke software requirements face a number of challenges, not least how to scope the parameters of their new custom-made systems.

Many businesses that find that off-the-shelf or cloud solutions don’t meet all of their requirements will be investing in technology that is custom-made specifically for their business and unique processes.

The main thing to remember when undertaking the process of tailoring software is that it takes time and costs will increase as you go. You should ideally try to avoid any additions or changes once a project has started, or there is a risk that you end up with a system that doesn’t do what you need.

That said, there are a number of steps that you can take to stop scope creep from creeping in.

Understand what your business needs before moving forward with the development phase. It is important to know where this process will start and finish, so give consideration to all elements within your organisation, including staff roles and responsibilities, how data is stored and processed, connectivity and infrastructure and, of course, the end-user experience.

What does your staff need to do?

Identify each process and how it fits into the workflow within your organisation or department. Envision what you want or expect that process to look like in a digital format, then decide whether it is achievable with bespoke development.

Are you are looking for a digital solution to replace an existing manual process? If so, consider whether it is possible to automate the task or find software that could provide the necessary data.

Remember that there are often several ways of achieving similar results with bespoke development, but it’s important to look at what is realistic based on both your current resources and timeframes.

How does critical data need to be stored?

The majority of custom software is built on client server architecture, which involves the client (or end-user) having access to a central database.

This means that all information needs to be stored somewhere securely, so it’s important that you consider what your requirements are for data storage.

If you are looking to keep them separate, how will your new system connect with existing systems?

What is the infrastructure like at your organisation?

Every business has some sort of IT infrastructure in place, but not all organisations have extensive networks with servers, high-speed broadband connections and fully secure remote working solutions.

If your organisation is still using dial-up modems, it will be important to realise that this kind of infrastructure won’t be able to cope with the bandwidth required for a bespoke software development project.

What level of resources can you commit?

Customised software typically takes up more time and resources than alternative digital products. So, it’s important to know what your business can commit to this process before you begin.

Some of the challenges that bespoke development projects face include:

Bespoke software is not a cheap option and, as such, budgeting for this type of project can be difficult. While costs will vary from one arrangement to another, it’s important to factor in development costs, ongoing maintenance and IT support.

You need to determine whether you want an ongoing agreement or fixed price contract with your service provider. If you are looking for a more bespoke consultancy package, be aware that the cost of this will vary significantly depending on what is involved.

Planning ahead There are a number of things that you can do to avoid scope creep throughout the project lifecycle. For example, having a clear idea of what your requirements are from the start will help prevent requests being made later down the line.

Software requirements should be defined before a contract is signed and this will include all deliverables, timelines and costs for both development and maintenance.

Be aware that communication breakdown between your project team and end-users can lead to scope creep. If you suspect this is starting to happen, bring everyone together to discuss the situation and determine what it will take to get the project back on track.

It’s also important to decide whether you want direct input or hands off involvement. If you want to be kept up-to-date with progress and provide feedback, there will be additional costs involved.

For many businesses, bespoke software is the best option when it comes to addressing specific business challenges. But it’s important not to underestimate the amount of preparation that needs to go into a project in order for it to be successful.

As with any other kind of relationship, the only way to get good value for money is to set out clear requirements and expectations from the start. Patner with quiits – the leading software development company in UK to start working on your next project!

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