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Working with Clients new to Software Development

Posted 15th December 2017 by Lawrence McCrossen

Software Development

We sometimes work with clients that are new to software development. This might be because they’ve worked in other areas of their business, or because they are involved with a start-up, which of needs a website that will be an integral part of the business.

"What Process?"

We’ve talked about ways of specifying systems previously in our blogs https://www.thebridgedigital.com.au/blog/5-ways-to-spec-a-system and https://www.thebridgedigital.com.au/blog/software-development-specs. These are still relevant, but we also have to be mindful of the fact that if a client hasn’t been I involved with software development before, they may not understand the need for a specification process - “we can just tell us what we want, and then leave them to it”. 

So this has to be explained carefully upfront. Even when using an Agile methodology, it may be misunderstood as an easy way to avoid writing a big spec. In fact, Agile has many benefits, but it is extremely dependent on frequent client input.

The same applies for ongoing tracking – planning, review and testing. Ideally one should use one of the many online project and task management systems. But if that isn’t practical, then at least an Excel or Word document that records issues and progress in one place. Again, it may be assumed by a client new to software development that progress just happens because the developers are experienced and experts. We are experienced experts, but a bespoke development is almost by definition, a new development, and so in that sense has not been done before.

It's not like a Product

One common misconception that we’ve seen is that a bespoke development is much like a ready-made product, in that the developers go away and build it, and when it’s finished, the client gets some training and then starts using it. That would be nice, but the nature of software development is that the software being produced is new. Hence it’s a very creative, interactive process, involving the best ideas from both the experts in the business you are aiming to improve, and the software developers that will ultimately bring the system to life.

As always, a discussion and setting of expectations up-front helps immensely. A little time spent explaining why methodology and process is important will pay off in spades, and you can look forward to creating software that will become the foundation of a new business.

If you'd like to discuss your website or software development options with The Bridge, feel free to call Lawrence on 02 9993 3300 or email lawrence@thebridgedigital.com.au

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