The problem: somewhere between a third to a half of IT projects fail—that includes everything from multi-million dollar outright failures, to overruns of timeline or budget, to projects failing to deliver what they set out to do, to adoption failures by customers or employees.
In our 20 years, we’ve built hundreds of projects. Many came to us broken—and we’ve had a few fail in our care, too. From these experiences, we created our work approach to foster software quality, cultivate team happiness, and provide the highest likelihood of project success.
Four ways projects fail
We see four typical kinds of project failures.
- Bellyflops are the obvious ones. The software or hardware systems don’t work, and that’s discovered—surprise!—at the end of a long and expensive process.
- Often we see the wrong tool for the job, where an organization is committed to a software solution that doesn’t fit anymore, hasn’t been implemented well, or is causing increasingly expensive workarounds.
- More often, we see untested solutions for unclear goals. In these cases, tactics have already been determined—perhaps by committee, an RFP process, or by poaching features from competitors. The tactics aren’t tested with the audience who will use them, and the bigger ‘why’ question isn’t asked. Sometimes we see variations on this, like fear of launching and feature addiction, where just one more feature will make everything perfect.
- The most complicated case is failure to adopt—even if the product works correctly, the audience doesn’t find it useful enough.
How we fight for your project's success
Nobody wants a project to fail. We cultivate success—and avoid surprises—by validating solutions with three-year roadmaps, diagnostic sprints, and real-customer testing. We uncover trouble early, using integration prototypes, real-content fitting, and iterative user experience design. Finally, we create quality software by working in iterative sprint-driven cycles, supported by extensive tests, and deployed using automated DevOps.
We create three-year roadmaps which set out a software development plan. Critical tasks are handled early; additional features, scope expansion, and integrations are planned in cooperation with our clients’ needs.
By validating ideas with inexpensive prototypes, we’re able to solicit real-world feedback on ideas, features, and workflows. Our background in usability testing helps us keep the needs of customers and clients regularly in mind.
Through customer experience mapping, team consensus building, and clear problem definition, we’re able to rapidly flush out ideas and make changes to the approach before expensive investments in software development begin.
We test how our software integrates with other systems early in the process—APIs, server integrations, and data workflows are all proven viable and tested under load.
We’ve learned the ideal world of graphic design mockups rarely pans out unless real content is used throughout the design and development process. We want our project editors working as early as possible.
Iterative user experience design
We get customer feedback on wireframes, visual designs, content, and clickable prototypes, which is incorporated into the current plan, or held for future development ideas.
We build client confidence through a series of successes. We work in two-week iterations, with each milestone capped by a meeting to review progress, to discuss the product backlog of requests, and to re-assess priority.
We specify, document, and test how software is expected to behave through extensive test suites. This leads to software that’s more maintainable and adaptable to business changes over time.
We use automation systems to aid in development, testing, and deployment, to mitigate the potential for human error. Server setup, network configurations, and application deployments to multiple servers are all securely automated.