A Guide to Custom Software Development – Are You Doing It Wrong?


Software development industry has been in existence for quite some time now. Could you believe only one in four projects is completed successfully? Even with tons of industry experts and a deluge of software companies having years of experience across the globe we see software development projects fail big time. Half the projects do not meet project deadlines and cost estimates.

It would have been acceptable in an initial phase of industry set up. Now with boatloads of tools and the immense pool of resources and experience the failure rate is a bummer. Have we really got it wrong?

In order to make sure that your important software development project comes to fruition we need to mull over the reasons for failed projects. Generally, time and cost overruns, content deficiency, gaps in requirement and reality, scheduling, quality issues are prime most reasons of a failed project delivery.

It is high time for management to identify the pieces where things are going out of hand. These failed results could be a big deterrent for many a business’s considering to outsource their software development requirements. Software development project failures more often than not cause huge losses in time and money. It is no rocket science that this could prove to be detrimental to a business’s growth and development.

Signs that Show Things are in a Wrong Direction

Quality of a project in software development cycle is reviewed at various stages after certain milestones covered and finally at the time of project completion. So as a project manager you should not skip these checks lest you might miss the signs that show your project is headed in the wrong direction. Watch out for any complications that might arise if there is an upgrade to the application. If simple changes that were earlier easy-peasy everyday stuff now becomes a tedious task for the team. This would most certainly mean broken links or bad coding. If bug fixes look as if they are triggering more bugs and addition of new features snowball into a whole range of new issues, then, without doubt, you have a great mess at hand.

5 Reasons Why Custom Software Development Projects Fail

You can get your business’s custom software development work either outsourced or build it in-house. However, neither development paths are fail-proof. You can nip the problem in the bud only if you knew the factors responsible for it. Let us help you identify the risks that will get you a higher success in software development if you mitigate or completely eliminate these factors during the software development cycle.

  1. Inaccurate Time and Budget Frames

If you fail to determine accurately the company’s budget for a custom software solution this can prove to be catastrophic if you shell out more than you have provisioned for the project. You need to take into account cost escalations in case roadblocks are hit midway.

It also happens that clients are keen to get their projects done on time and sometimes even before the agreed time at throwaway prices. This may, however, lead to developers agreeing to a rather shorter or unrealistic and non-negotiable time frame for the project delivery at paltry rates. This could be to either get business or cut the competition. Whatever the motive it will invariably lead to non-delivery of the project on time. Setting unrealistic timelines and budget allocations not taking into consideration all the factors involved in the project are major reasons of software project failures.

This, however, can be countered with effective communication and transparency in project dealings. Regular and detailed communication with your development team will help develop a clear understanding of issues related to project needs, timelines and budget constraints, requirements, and timelines. This will certainly help the software development team get a comprehensive understanding of the project and come up with more accurate and realistic estimates for the project. They will be able to chart out a clear roadmap to the success of application development.

  1. Was it Needed At All?

Getting a custom software is a fad. Yes, truly! For some companies, they are into digital transformation because everyone is onto this bandwagon. They fail to understand what exactly their business is going to achieve by developing a custom software. This usually happens in low-consensus and non-evaluative organizations that lack in leadership.

Undoubtedly software is indispensable for certain business operations for a smooth unhindered run. A custom project, however, is an altogether different ball game. If its purpose is not clearly defined then app development can really get out of hand. There should be some pointers that you need to have concrete answers to that will define the purpose of the project–

  • What problem is solved by the custom software
  • When will the problem be considered solved
  • What value does the custom software solution provider in efficiency and productivity
  • Present and future benefits of the project

You need to revisit these goals throughout the project development cycle to keep your project on track within the budgeted cost and time framework decided upon. These projects are more often very resource incentive. If they go awry then it can dent your company’s profits big time.

  1. Poor Communication

Failure to establish effective communication channels and participative environment with the project development team can put the project at risk. Regular clear communication is imperative to keep the development machinery chugging smoothly towards project success.

You must ensure project requirements are completely identified and clearly communicated and fully understood by the development team throughout the custom software development cycle. Standardized assumptions should be avoided as they may vary and thus could be misleading and result in development failure.

At times new features and functionality are added in later stages of development. It is imperative these new specifications are shared thoroughly with the development team to tweak the production timeline and factor in the changes in the forecast. Developers too should be accessible throughout the software development lifecycle to allay any anxiety on part of the client by providing information, updates and testable software. Strong two-way communication is a key factor to track your software development project and ensure its success.

  1. Too ambitious at the outset

The aspiration to build a grand solution that can solve many problems often result in bloated feature sets and capability needs that may land you in a soup of extended timelines and costs.

It is advisable to start your development process with a minimum viable product (MVP) to keep the initial costs lower and give a direction to your custom software project. As you move ahead in the development cycle you can incorporate add-ons that will be required by end users and thus contain costs by not taking up useless features. This way your software will be more adaptable at the same time protect you from unwanted cost escalations which could have occurred due to over ambition in initial stages of the project.

  1. Poor development practices

Your software project’s success largely depends on the quality and efficiency of your software development team. It is therefore important to identify firms that engage in sound practices in all aspects of business right from technical coding to simple day-to-day interactions with their clients.

Notably, not every software development companies are the first rate. Some don’t follow the best practices; some are unprofessional in their approach and also inaccessible through the project development cycle. Some may not follow and use industry standards for the software development and end up causing a big loss for your software and business per se.

Development downtime is sometimes a major contributing factor in the project failure which involves issues like application bug or error, environmental factors, infrastructure or software failure, virus, hacker, network/hardware failure and operator error.

A good software development firm will develop the application with the end user in mind. Finding and employing the right users to participate in the software development process can give insights to improve the product.

Finally, milestone reviews and end-stage testing should be taken up. Predominantly, a lot of importance is given to coding while testing remains a neglected child. In fact, testing calls for a greater integration and role in the entire software development lifecycle. Casual testing, testing under non-real time environments contribute to testing failures. Good practices employed by the development firm will ensure the project isn’t doomed.

Sohel Ather is software engineer by profession. And He is passionate about tech writing and loves to work on Guest posting, SEO, CRO, Growth Hacking and Online Marketing Strategies.

Sohel Ather

Sohel Ather is software engineer by profession. And He is passionate about tech writing and loves to work on Guest posting, SEO, CRO, Growth Hacking and Online Marketing Strategies.