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Truthful Timelines and Made Milestones: The Benefits of Planning with an External Partner


The differences between completing a software development project alone and working with an external partner can be night and day. A collaborative approach, new insight and additional experience can transform the effectiveness of the end solution.

Working with an external partner can also mean approaching work differently. Starting with an in-depth discovery session and ending with an interactive approach to shipping code, the entire process can change drastically.

Inevitably, that impacts timelines and associated milestones, many of which will need change when working with an external partner.


The Trouble With Estimating Software Development Times

It is notoriously difficult to estimate software development timelines.

Will Roszczyk, US and e-commerce editor for IT Pro, says doing so is one of the top risks of software development. “The unique nature of individual software projects creates problems for developers and managers in estimating and scheduling development time,” he writes.

“Often companies do not have a well-defined software delivery methodology that is consistently practiced,” says Bill Clerici, Kingsmen Software CEO & Partner. “They are gathering requirements, but they do not have workflows in place to structure, understand, agree upon, prioritize, and size those requirements as they get them.”

Estimates typically factor in the level of uncertainty that results from complex software projects. Yet even this uncertainty is all but impossible to accurately calculate. Instead, focus on roadmaps and ranges.


Roadmapping Creates More Accurate Estimates

External partners will have experience creating the kind of roadmaps described above. Their experience helps provide an accurate estimate for even the most complex of projects.

“At Kingsmen we start with the highest level of vision possible and break everything down into the smallest increments until you get a set of day-to-day tasks that a developer can accomplish,” says Denise Beachley, Kingsmen Software CIO & Partner.

In doing so, we’re able to produce an accurate roadmap of exactly what needs to be done and a reasonable estimate of how long that should take. This can even be translated into a dollar amount for the customer and added to the road map to give a visual representation of the work.

Timelines are unlikely to change much as a result of creating a roadmap, either. That’s because they reduce scope creep, Shubhangi Pandey at BrightWork writes. Should new features be requested, a well-defined breakdown will make it clear the extent to which this will impact the projects and what features can be backlogged as a result.



Outside Experience Makes It Easier to Create Roadmaps

The kind of projects that enterprises seek external help for tend to be large and complicated — the kind of software project that hasn’t previously been attempted in-house.

It’s understandable, then, that internal teams won’t have the knowledge or experience to create accurate timelines or milestones. Kicking off the project with an external partner who has a level of domain knowledge can help put accurate milestones in place. A team with deep domain knowledge understands what resources are required for each task and how long it usually takes to achieve specific goals, says software engineer Sihui Huang.

Combine that domain-level experience with broader experience estimating work and creating work breakdown structures, and you can see why any timelines so often get revised. Working with an outsourced partner who has experience in managing projects of this scope will help everyone have a better idea of timelines and give teams the stability they need to meet their deadlines.


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