Remember the Staples “EASY” button? We like to joke that during the software design and development process, there should be a similar button handy. Except instead of saying EASY, it would say PAUSE. During software creation, it’s easy to lose sight of the forest for the trees. Both the tiny details and the broad scope of the project need to be managed and progressed, and that isn’t easy. Unfortunately, the farther off track a project goes, the more difficult it is to redirect it back on track.
Once an issue is discovered, the team should pause, regroup, analyze where they’re off track, and make a plan to move forward. But what warning signs indicate an issue? When should you reach for that PAUSE button during software design or development? Below, we’ll go over some signs to watch for.
If your team doesn’t have a clear view of the competitive landscape, PAUSE! This step belongs in the early planning stages of software design. A competitive landscape analysis is a systematic way of identifying and researching competitors. Without one of these, it’s possible to build software that already exists in a saturated market or build software with the same flaws as existing products, further irritating and alienating users. One could build software that doesn’t exist because there is no market for it.
If you find yourself wanting to jump ahead to the build stage without a clear idea of what product has come before yours, how it has succeeded or failed, and how your product will have a unique “it” factor, you need to hit PAUSE.
The attitude you should have around software development and your end user should mimic the Spice Girls song, “Tell me what you want, what you really really want.” You should be infinitely curious about your end user. Harness this curiosity during the design stage to map out, fully understand, and align what you’re planning to build with the end user’s needs, problem, and values. If this level of understanding doesn’t exist, PAUSE, dig in, and don’t progress until this is done. We explain why here.
During software development, countless solutions will be created to fix bugs, achieve functionality, and generally deliver on the overall concept of the digital product. However, the development process is not the time to determine the overall technical approach. Development sprints are a time for “doing.” The planning, including choosing the technical approach, should happen before development begins.
At ENO8, we like to say “you have to go slow to go fast.” Deliberate and thorough planning up front leads to putting the “sprint” speed into the actual development sprints. Don’t start building until the technical approach is chosen and clarified.
If you have been hearing refrains of “another two weeks” from the dev team, it’s time to PAUSE and assess. Most software is developed in two-week period of time called “sprints.” During each sprint, specific tasks must be completed based on what the team has prioritized to deliver. If they were supposed to deliver something in two weeks and another two weeks passes, you should start considering that something is off. If yet another two-week sprint dissolves without the promised result, it’s definitely time to hit the PAUSE button and regroup.
Note: Development taking longer than originally expected is not necessarily a cause for concern or a reflection of poor skill on the developer’s part. Some solutions end up being more complex than expected. However, it will save more time to pause, review, and come up with solutions than to keep forging ahead.
If you haven’t signed off on your requirements for release, PAUSE. If you don’t know what requirements for release are, double PAUSE.
As Smartsheet puts it, a release in software development is when a fully functional version of the software is delivered; it is the climax of the software development and engineering processes. The requirements for this monumental event should be set in advance. Then each one should be checked – and double checked as the old idiom goes measure twice, cut once – and signed off on prior to release. If this hasn’t happened, slap that PAUSE button, no matter how eager you and your team are to deliver this product to the world.
There are countless additional reasons to pause a project. While agile and lean design are dependent on the ability of the team to think on their feet – and skilled software developers certainly can – pausing when things seem off can save time (and money) in the long run. The value of hiring an experienced development partner is that they develop an instinct for when things feel off versus when they actually are off. So they strike the right balance between pausing when an issue really needs mitigated and not pausing so often that the project takes far too long.
If you’re considering a development partner for your next software project or application, consider this: you could have a solution-validated blueprint that’s ready to build in six weeks or less if you work with us in the Innovation Lab. See, now you need that EASY button!