The development of corporate software tools for small and medium-sized businesses requires careful management, precise planning, and a big emphasis on adapting to the needs and capabilities of a particular business that requires a custom software solution.
Each project is unique and has different success metrics, the level of involvement from stakeholders, budget restrictions, requirement fluctuations, and more. Carefully navigating all of these factors requires an effective application of project management techniques.
There’s no plug-and-play solution for each case. However, as a software development company with 16 years of experience developing software for small and medium-sized businesses, we have managed to test and draw conclusions on utilizing multiple approaches for various situations. Let’s take a closer look.
What are the project management approaches used for software development for SMEs?
The software development industry always strives to come up with an improved development model or project management approach. During our years of practice developing corporate software tools for businesses, we had the opportunity to test several approaches, like:
- Hybrid Environment
- Waterfall (PMI guides)
- Extreme Development
Each of those has its optimal conditions for correct implementation and can immensely affect the quality of the product. Choosing the most fitting one can be a challenging task, but if done with the target business in mind, it can alleviate a big portion of potential issues in the technical implementation of the solution.
Which circumstances make certain methodologies impossible to follow?
The process of software development and project management depends on a variety of factors, which can be a disadvantage when opting for specific PM methodologies. To provide a clearer context for such a situation, let’s dissect two scenarios from our expertise.
Stakeholders on the client side are short on time and, for various reasons, cannot allocate enough resources to:
- meticulously collect requirements
- develop a modular structure
- Develop the prototype of the tool they need
- test a concept as a whole
- design the appropriate architecture before spending money on development
In this case, it is impossible to use a Hybrid model, which combines Waterfall and Agile. On the contrary, it is necessary to move forward flexibly using Agile and Extreme Development (much less often, LEAN).
In our experience, in these situations, this is what everything ultimately boils down to, even if we started with Scrum or Kanban.
If the business has a strictly limited budget, which, according to all primary estimates, is clearly insufficient to develop the necessary tool for the business, then Agile methodologies cannot be effectively implemented.
This limitation arises because it’s impossible to maintain budget control and closely supervise prioritized functionality without creating a comprehensive corporate tool prototype.
This prototype should be based on well-tested requirements, interface, and a software architecture that facilitates accurate budgeting, scheduling, and prioritization of each functional component within the corporate tool.
Consequently, in such scenarios, a Hybrid model emerges as the most cost-effective approach, with an initial Waterfall phase followed by Agile development principles.
What are the interrelated risks associated with different PM approaches?
If we develop a corporate tool according to the hybrid approach, we ensure a smooth process by addressing budget concerns and preventing deadline breaches at the project closure. This is achieved through the scope of work being thoroughly planned before development begins. The negative impact of insufficient communication with stakeholders is minimized.
Furthermore, teams experience no downtime due to delays in obtaining final decisions on specific requirement implementations because these matters are resolved during the initial phase, which is performed according to the Waterfall.
Moreover, if there are strict budget limits, then in such conditions, early management of the functional units’ priorities allows to cover the risk of work freezing when the tool is not ready for work due to budget exhaustion.
So, following the Hybrid PM environment, a project will not stall, and the money spent will not be lost, as it often happens when, under such starting conditions, the project is developed according to the Agile approach.
If we carry out the development of a corporate tool according to the agile approach, then there is often turbulence associated with the budget, the completed scope, and the deadline at the project closure stage.
These turbulences are absent only when the project is planned and executed in the background and the customer has a sufficient budget for a dedicated team.
Effective project management in corporate software development for small businesses requires a tailored approach that considers factors such as budget, stakeholder involvement, and project specifics. While there’s no universal solution, we can still extract insights from years of experience.
For resource-constrained scenarios, Agile or Extreme Development can be viable choices, while strict budget limitations can call more for a Hybrid approach that combines Waterfall and Agile. Anticipating and mitigating risks associated with these methodologies is crucial, and success can often depend on the chosen approach and how well it is customized to the project’s unique needs and constraints.