<img height="1" width="1" style="display:none" src="https://www.facebook.com/tr?id=443149619225659&ev=PageView&noscript=1"> Three Steps to Software Success

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Three Steps to Software Success

Three Steps to Software Success

Succeeding in the field of custom software development is no easy task. Of course, it's partly a matter of choosing the right methodology and partner organizations for your business, not to mention the right projects to hand off to a software development firm.

On the other hand, coming up with the correct formula for a successful software project sometimes feels like a giant experiment using trial and error that you can never repeat in the same way. With so many variables in play -- from the employees in your organization to changing macroeconomic conditions -- figuring out the best way to run a software development team might feel like a hopeless cause.

Fortunately, there are experts to help you figure out exactly that. In a separate insight, we referenced a 2014 study by the Center for Excellence in Service at the Robert H. Smith School of Business at the University of Maryland called Product Development Success. The study's authors isolated six of the most important factors and drivers when it comes to successful software projects. Here's a closer look at just three of them (we'll tackle the other three in another post).

A Culture That Supports Innovation

In some sense, organizations are built to succeed or fail from the very beginning -- it's all a matter of culture. Software companies with a strong IT company culture will thrive, while those with a poor culture will struggle. According to the University of Maryland study, culture is the single most important causal element for whether a software development company will ultimately be successful.

So what makes for a good company culture? For one, employees need to feel that their input and work is valuable and that they can think creatively and out of the box. Business author Daniel Pink has suggested that all employees need three things to feel happy and fulfilled:

  • Autonomy: Having some degree of control over your work

  • Mastery: Being skilled at a particular task

  • Purpose: Observing the broader impact of your work

Incorporating Feedback Into Software Development

Trying to improve your software without feedback is like trying to soothe a crying baby: you know that something is wrong, but you can't figure out exactly what. Having a formal process for bringing feedback into your development process is crucial in order to make sure that you're building the right software for the right people.

Whether you get input in the form of focus groups, social media, interviews or usage metrics, user feedback should inform your priorities for how you continue to develop the software after release. In addition, before release, your product should be thoroughly tested for bugs, design and usability issues, and performance under various conditions, just to name a few.

Regular Communication With Cross-Functional Teams

Traditionally, software development teams have been "silos": isolated entities that don't regularly communicate or share information with other departments. With the rise of methodologies such as DevOps, however, software companies are beginning to break down these silos and create channels of collaboration across the organization.

Cross-functional teams -- self-sufficient groups that include staff members from a variety of disciplines -- are structured not by department, but by the product or purpose that all members have in common. These teams are ideal for dispersing knowledge throughout the organization and for working on time-sensitive, fast-paced projects. Form-building software company JotForm, for example, has used cross-functional teams to great success as the company has grown in size and purpose.

Final Thoughts

A company culture that supports communication and collaboration plays a bigger role in successful software projects than you might think. In the coming weeks, we'll discuss the other three key factors that go into successful software development. 

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About the author

Richard is CEO of Small Footprint. He worked for several start-up companies before starting Small Footprint. He spent 15 years working and living in Eastern Europe, during which time he built and managed operations across 5 countries for start-up telecoms provider eTel Group (later purchased by Telecom Austria), and also served as an early Sr. Manager for Hungarian telco Novacom, forging strategic international partnerships and new product development. In 2003 he saw the opportunity to leverage the exceptional software engineering talent of the region to provide global IT services and established Small Footprint. Small Footprint is celebrating its 15 year anniversary this year, having established an exceptional company culture envied by many.

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