Every development project is unique and has different requirements. But there are best practices for effective development partnerships that apply to any arrangement.
With so many moving parts within a development project, written and verbal communication is critical. That includes:
This article will look at why these best practices are essential to follow in a partnership and how they lead to an effective development process.
The beginning of any effective partnership requires alignment. Communicate and document your scope of deliverables, project responsibilities, and goals. When working with a development partner, over-articulate your vision for the project as much as possible. The more information you're able to provide, the better.
When you’re able to define your short-term and long-term functionality and feature sets, it allows your partner to better plan out the product from a tech and design architecture standpoint. This information helps them reverse engineer the product to make sure they can add all of the features you want down the line without having to work through many in-depth iterations.
The way we work through the discovery and strategy phase will vary from project to project. Factors such as the type of company, project complexity, and initial objectives will influence what we do. With any project, your primary goal during this phase should be clarity. Work with your development partner to help them understand your goals, industry, and terminology; understand their development workflow; and set key timelines for deliverables.
Within discovery and strategy, we implement varying methodologies of comprehensive research. This includes market research, user research, competitive analysis, and comparative analysis. This type of research helps you differentiate your product from your competitors, validate the need for your product, and guide the entire development process. Focusing on research upfront saves your partner from working through costly and time-consuming iterations down the line.
To set your partner up for success during this phase, it’s vital to provide all required documentation, materials, resources, and information that they may need to start the project.
The approach you take to development will vary depending on the requirements. Once responsibilities are clarified with your help, your development partner can define the development methodology and approach that fits best.
There is the waterfall methodology which linearly executes phases of a project. You may also use a more agile approach. Here phases of development are executed in a repetitive cycle of two-four week sprints and staggered according to your objectives and the complexity of each sprint.
Depending on the methodology used and your preferences, the cadence for delivering features to you for feedback can be decided. This can come in many forms, including shipping features after completing each phase, after every sprint, after every four sprints, or another cadence you desire. From there, you'll typically iterate and repeat the cycle until you reach your final product.
To smoothly work through development and design cycles, you need to be aware of the common bottlenecks that hinder progression and follow best practices for avoiding them.
At the onset of a partnership, a feedback cadence should be defined. Whether it is 24 hrs, 48 hrs, or 72 hrs, it’s vital to stick to it. If you’re not promptly providing feedback, it halts the project’s progress and can disrupt important timelines.
Additionally, if one of your teams (intern or external) handles part of the project, they'll need to coordinate their deadlines with ours. If anything falls behind, it throws off the progression planned and can cause staffing scheduling issues. If you know your team is behind schedule, it’s best to communicate this to your partner ASAP so they can plan accordingly.
Changes in project scope happen, and their impact on our workflow depends on the level of deviation from the original scope and how the project was initially priced out. If you entered a fixed bid engagement with us, there is less flexibility with changing the scope. In the case where you want to add a certain feature to a fixed budget project, a different feature may have to be sacrificed to uphold the initial agreement.
On the other hand, If you’re being billed based on time and materials, there’s more freedom in how you can alter the scope. In this case, we will estimate what resources we need, how much longer the new changes will take, and if we can make the changes in parallel with what we are doing or if we need to shift our attention to the new changes. Once you receive this information, it’s up to you to give either the green or red light on the scope change.
Though some scope changes are unavoidable, you can minimize them by providing as much information about the features you think you’ll need at the start of the project. When your partner is aware of all the possible features you want to be included in a project, they can plan accordingly and make quick changes or iterations when the time comes.
If a third-party integration will be used within your product, it’s important to set up the relevant account and provide us with access in a timely manner. After we work through the vendor review process to ensure the third-party integration is the right fit, it’s up to your legal team and the vendor’s legal team to set up the contracts. In some cases, this process can take weeks, which hinders the overall progress of the project. Though we expect some delays and account for the time needed to set up the integrations, you should do everything possible to work through the process ASAP.
If there will be a new ad network you want to include within your product or an update to an existing one, it’s essential to communicate these details immediately so we can plan accordingly. In many cases, updating an ad network is a higher priority than other features. This means that our team will have to pause their current sprint and focus on implementing the new update. This changes the timeline of the sprint and delays the progression of other features. Though it makes sense to focus on an ad update due to its revenue generation, you just need to be aware of the possible delays it can cause.
Depending on your level of involvement in a project or the amount of transparency you want around the details of a project, various project management strategies can be deployed. Some of our partners want to track all the details of a project. In contrast, others simply want to review final deliverables once they are sent over. In most cases, though, you’ll have access to a project management system to see the progress of a project in real-time. This allows you to review any changes made, add notes or comments to a board, and update any changes your team has made on the project.
When it comes to communication, provide your input on a cadence and strategy that works best for all parties involved. If you’re used to following the Scrum framework, have your development team hold the necessary standup calls and meetings to fit into that existing process. In other cases, teams will simply post updates on their tasks within Slack so you know what's happening and if there are any pressing concerns. When choosing a communication strategy, make sure time zone differences are considered so all stakeholders can effectively communicate.
Whether you're very involved in a project or more hands-off, it’s important to keep yourself available for key milestone meetings. If you have to push back these valuable feedback and update meetings, the project will also likely be pushed back in some way.
Building a solid relationship with your development partner to build high-quality products is an exciting journey. No two partnerships are the same, but there are best practices you should follow in any partnership to ensure the success of your project. These include forming clear short and long-term goals, effective communication, timely feedback, and providing your partner with any necessary resources or documentation they need.
If you're interested in seeing if Majestyk is the right development partner for your next project, feel free to reach out to us today.
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