The benefits of custom software depend on the unique needs and situations of your business. But determining the effectiveness of your software needs to begin well before it is developed.
It should come as no surprise that many software projects meant to solve specific goals are subsequently blamed for countless problems if the original planning is executed poorly.
These issues can be diverted if the scope of your custom software and the metrics are:
- Well-defined early in the planning stage
- Executed during the development stage
- Measured after the project goes live
But what does that mean in practical terms? How can you know the software you have is meeting your needs? Or more importantly, is the software you are planning/developing on the right track?
Five Ways To Find Out Whether Your Custom Software Is Effective
You put a lot of work into developing the custom software tuned specifically to and for your business.
Your internal teams will have heightened expectations of what it can and should deliver, as well as whether it was worth the expense of not going with cheaper, off-the-shelf software with its more rigid standardized workflows.
But once it’s live, the time for debate has ended. The software exists. The decisions were made. And now everyone wants to see whether the software delivers on all of its promises – as well they should!
As a software development firm with more than $30 million in software deliverables, we’ve gained valuable insight into how to ensure your custom software yields results.
Follow these steps to ensure the effectiveness of your custom software and the alignment of all your internal stakeholders:
Its role is clearly defined
Custom software is meant to perfectly fit your business. But without a clearly identified scope, things can go wrong—and quickly.
One of our clients developed a custom lead tracking solution for its sales team. Within a month of launching, it was considered a failure as sales leads were not increasing.
The solution was never meant to generate leads, though, only track them. So, that lack of understanding cast the new software in a negative light.
You will need to ensure any custom software you deploy is properly understood within your company. This means covering the basics and making sure everyone knows what your actual software was created to do.
For our client, it amounted to creating demos to show how the software streamlined and improved their sales funnel management. But it also raised the issue of how to better address lead generation within the organization.
You need to define the metrics by which your software will be judged internally. If you don’t, someone else will!
You can drive with the dashboard
Your custom software should immediately show you the exact data you need. You shouldn’t need to export feeds, interpret values, or analyze metrics. If your dashboard doesn’t display actionable data, your project was not properly planned.
Planning is the most critical component of your entire development process. At DADEN, we start every project with an “Innovation Session.” We use this session before any bids are provided or contracts signed to iron out project details with clients and make critical decisions about the proposed project.
This helps us to clearly define the cost and scope of your solution and ensures we are solving your exact problem.
If your dashboard is filled with starting points and not decision metrics, something went wrong in the planning process.
It does everything it promised to do
Many projects start with a long, bulleted list of software requirements. Each bullet identifies, addresses, and resolves a pain point of your current process.
Once all of your company’s top-level decision-makers approve the custom software, they move on to other meetings and decisions.
When a poorly planned project hits snags later that can only be fixed by adjusting the cost or the deadline, the easiest way to keep forward motion is to slash the bulleted list.
Once you remove features from the development schedule and move them into future updates or subsequent versions, the project is back on track and budget.
But without effective up-chain communication, the delivered software will seem to be lacking. And the worst thing to discover at that point is that the features were the key drivers, and not the budget or the timeline.
Provides software success metrics
This sounds similar to Step Two, but it approaches things from a different angle. This is about enabling the software to track its own post-launch success, rather than giving the people for whom the software was designed the role-specific information they need to be effective.
If your software was planned, built, and launched properly, this sort of functionality should already be in there. It may not even be a data point that the team itself sees on their dashboards.
But it is tracking simple things like how much time occurs between steps in a process, gauging efficiency against pre-software metrics, and identifying where opportunities exist for future updates.
Internal metrics can highlight actions that were expected to be faster with your new software are actually taking longer, which are good starting points for investigation and room for future improvement.
There is a path forward
“Set it and forget it” is a good business model for a chicken rotisserie, but not custom software development. Once your software is launched, you need to have a plan for ongoing management. This will save you money down the line.
If your software is delivering the functionality you need today, the cheapest path forward is knowing who will continue to maintain the software as your needs evolve.
Ongoing support plans can be a lifesaver when future patches, security enhancements, or OS compatibility issues arise, and they will.
Addressing small updates that keep your software working perfectly is always the best strategy. But it is not a new concept, just a modern version of “a stitch in time saves nine.”
Custom software is beneficial because of its ability to deliver a specific experience specifically designed for a specific company. In addition, this approach avoids forcing your business methodology into pre-defined, off-the-shelf software workflows.
But your custom software will only succeed if it was perfectly planned, executed effectively, and managed meticulously. The steps above can help you determine if your software is effective, but the best way to ensure success starts long before it is ever deployed.
Looking for effective custom software development strategies for your company? Reach out to the DADEN software team today to schedule a your free innovation session