The give and take in a partnership can be revelatory. Any issues you are currently facing with your internal processes may be made even worse when an outside partner comes in —especially when it comes to planning and signing off work.
Analyze and refine the following internal processes prior to engagement to get the most from your custom development partnership.
ImprovING Internal Communication and Buy-In
Opening up clear, effective lines of communication between development teams, other business units and executives is essential before partnering with a custom development team.
Your processes for seeking stakeholder approval should also be watertight. Any project that aims to improve technical debt can often receive flack from forward-thinking stakeholders who don’t want to revisit the past, says Chris Cardinal, founding principal at Synapse Studios. “But you need the room in the budget for fixing technical debt, and you likely need stakeholder approval for the expense.”
The trick is to show forward-thinking executives that things break when you move quickly, and you can’t leave them in pieces. Otherwise, those errors pile up to such an extent that it hampers your developers’ abilities to move forward at all.
Address those issues as and when they occur, however, and developers are able to jump on new opportunities moving forward.
Refine the Sign-Off Process
Signing-off processes tend not to scale.
“Signing off a solitary product update isn’t difficult, but signing off a rolling three-month software roadmap can be incredibly complex,” says Frank Wanicka, CTO and Partner at Kingsmen Software. “Bottlenecks and obstructions are a common cause of developmental delays, and these must be removed before engagement if you want to streamline delivery.”
If your development team already has a successful sign-off process, share it with the wider team. Digital transformations tend to be cross-departmental affairs, so it’s important for everyone to understand the process.
At the end of the day, however, sign-off needs to be final. That means appointing one person to handle sign-off for each iteration.
Adopt a Portfolio Mindset
The final adjustment that enterprises may need to make before partnering with a custom development team is shifting from a project mindset to a portfolio mindset. This sees teams continually optimize projects to ensure they deliver value, rather than stopping development as soon as they’re complete.
Shortening feedback loops and adopting a continuous improvement mindset is key, says Jeff Keyes, director of product marketing at Atlassian. “An approach based on continuous improvement actively seeks to increase the value your software delivers to your customers and the way it’s developed.
“For instance, a process that frequently seeks user feedback, works to cut out unnecessary activities, and puts in place measures to reduce or avoid defects results in fewer support tickets later on.”
Begin improving these processes immediately. Start by identifying where things go wrong, says Jim Brown, a QA analyst at Boston University.
“To characterize the most problematic tasks, list each one and assign it a score. Start with the task that gets the worst score. Do some group brainstorming to come up with a corrective action plan. Avoid making that plan overly detailed — it just might defeat the purpose.”
These processes don’t have to be perfect, but they do have to be in place.