Aug 30, 2020

4 Reasons Software Projects Fail

logo
Syberry

From startups to Fortune 500 companies, custom software solutions can have profound effects on business processes, customer experience, and the bottom line.

If they’re done right.

But too often, companies invest significant resources in a custom software project, only to see it fail. The organization’s time and money is down the drain, and there’s a good chance leadership is hesitant to invest any further in custom software.

These projects can fail for a number of reasons, and there are usually more than one at play. The good news is, in most cases, disaster is completely preventable. Let’s take a look at the most common reasons software projects fail, how to prevent obstacles from becoming catastrophes, and what to do when a project is in jeopardy.

4 Reasons Projects Fail

Poor Vendor Qualification

While both sides are often at fault for a flailing project, the software vendor is primarily responsible for ensuring effective communication, tracking, and adherence to requirements and constraints. So it follows that proper vendor qualification is the foundation of a successful project.

We can split qualification into two components: technical expertise and industry expertise. On the technical side, customers should look for vendors that are experts in all mainstream platforms and frameworks, meaning they can select and use the technology that’s best suited to meet each customer’s unique needs. On the industry side, customers need to look for custom software vendors that have experience working on similar solutions in similar industries. While no custom project will be a perfect match for any other, a team that can bring some related experience to the table will be much more effective than one that’s never encountered a customer’s industry or needs.

While a qualified vendor can make a project go smoothly, choosing an unqualified vendor is likely to lead to inflated (and inaccurate) timelines and cost estimates as well as an inoperable final product.

To check a vendor’s qualifications, we recommend vetting its completed projects for quality and functionality. If you like what you see, give the vendor a test task to learn how the team manages operations and communications. This will give you a clear sense of the vendor’s expertise as well as what it will be like to work together.

Project Management: Vendor Side

A good vendor will have a skilled manager leading each custom software project. The project manager may not be a subject matter expert, and she shouldn’t be a software engineer, but she should have a clear understanding of the customer’s business. The project manager will be able to communicate clearly and effectively with her own team and with the client, and she will ensure the customer feels informed and empowered throughout the process.

On the contrary, if the project manager does not communicate clearly (or at all) or doesn’t have a sense of the business needs underlying the technical aspects of a project, the customer is likely to lose faith in the vendor and become discontented as he keeps paying invoices for a project he has no visibility into or control over.

Project Management: Customer Side

When a customer is clear about what he needs from his custom software and presents that knowledge cleanly and thoroughly, a project is likely to succeed, given the customer has chosen the right developer.

However, if a customer is uncertain about requirements or constantly changes his mind about features and functions, it becomes impossible for even the most qualified vendor to maintain an efficient, cost-effective project. Every change to scope, every misunderstanding, and every hasty decision leads to increased timelines and costs — and increased tension between the customer and the developer.

At Syberry, we mitigate these risks by running a thorough discovery phase before we kick off any custom software project. During this phase, our engineers and business analysts work with the customer’s team to understand the vision and determine the requirements together. By putting everything on paper and ensuring both vendor and customer are on the same page before development begins, we can ensure the process goes smoothly from the start.

Underestimation of Required Resources

Cost and time estimates are closely connected to a vendor’s qualifications and a customer’s ability to communicate requirements. Unclear requirements or inexpert development teams can lead to overages on timeline, budget, or both. In software development, there are three primary approaches to contracts:

  1. Fixed Cost: A vendor commits to a specific cost and timeline for a specific scope of work.
  2. Dedicated Team: A customer pays for a team of specialists and their hours of work, rather than a specific scope.
  3. Time and Materials: A vendor works toward a specific scope, but with no commitment to a specific budget.

Each approach has its benefits, but each can lead to surprises. In a fixed-cost scenario, any changes to the scope incur changes in cost and timeline as well, and in dedicated team and time and materials projects, either party may underestimate the final cost, or a dishonest vendor may underestimate upfront, then inflate the timeline once work begins.

It’s up to each customer to identify the approach that works best for their budgets, but we recommend getting quotes from several vendors before choosing a partner. If vendors are using the same hourly rates, the difference in quotes from one to the next should not be more than 15 to 20 percent. If any quote seems ultra high or too good to be true, it probably is.

What to Do When Things Go Wrong

If a project is in midstream and starting to lag, the client should remember he’s still in control and can rectify the issue with simple operational measures. Here are three steps to resuscitating a custom software project instead of throwing in the towel.

1. Determine Whether the Project Is Really in Jeopardy

Does the project have a clear plan and timeline? While fluctuations are normal and expected, every change must come with a valid reason. Is the project manager communicating frequently and clearly? Has the vendor demonstrated results throughout the process? There should be milestones marked in the plan, at which the developers show the customer their progress.

2. Systemize the Project’s Workflow

If the answers to the above questions were no, the next step is to fix the workflow. Customers can request new project managers, progress demos, and more frequent and detailed progress reports. Monthly status updates can become weekly or even daily. For added urgency, customers can tie payments to project milestones.

3. Bring in a Third Party

If the restructured workflow isn’t solving the problems, it’s time to bring in a second vendor. The first step is to separate quality assurance from development, hiring a third party to check the primary vendor’s code and progress. If this outside QA assessment highlights significant problems, it may be time to hand over some or all of the project to a new vendor.

A custom software project is a significant investment for any company. At Syberry, we work side by side with our customers to ensure an efficient, transparent process from beginning to end. If you’re looking for a vendor to resuscitate a failing project or kick off a brand new one, contact us at contact@syberry.com to learn about how we can become a trusted partner meeting your organization’s custom software needs.

September 26, 2018

Explore More Resources:

What our customers say about us

Syberry has provided satisfactory services thus far, and they are very responsive to any issues that arise. The team also possesses strong communication skills. They delivered a functional piece of software at a reasonable price, and they've managed the project very well.

Richard Harkness

CEO, ADEPT Driver

Elk Grove, CA

How we help ADEPT Driver Company

We developed a web-based driving simulator for teens and another for adults. The products run on Chromebooks, and the team added features that enable them to measure a driver's ability to avoid a crash.

Technologies used

I don't think you could find a better company to manage and build your project. I get so many compliments on my application, and it has a lot of unique and complex development.

Todd Surber

CEO, PIXRIT

Charleston, South Carolina

How we help PIXRIT Company

A photographer approached us to build a web-based software platform that combines the fastest social media manager with state-of-the-art galleries and provides the ultimate tool for photographers to upload, store, back up, and share their photos and manage their SMM activities.

Technologies used

The user-friendly software hasn’t encountered any issues or bugs in more than three years. It’s high quality has helped grow the clientele. Straightforward and consistent in communication, Syberry met every deadline and ensured a hassle-free development process.

Vince Hughes

Owner, Steel Estimating Solutions

Knoxville, TN

How we help Steel Estimating Solutions Company

Our client was inspired to create a product that helps steel erection companies perform faster, more efficient estimations and bids. We developed original proprietary software from the initial concept.

Technologies used

The new platform received positive feedback and performs better than its predecessor. Syberry communicated the project’s progress to their partners well by breaking down their steps and utilizing a management system. Most importantly, they delivered world-class service for a cost-efficient price.

Bill Fahy

Owner, FDI Creative Services

Houston, TX

How we help FDI Creative Services Company

Following strict regulations and requirements, we used AWS to develop a custom e-commerce web app that includes shipping integration. Since the site’s launch, the team has continued to make updates.

Technologies used

The application was delivered on time and within budget. Syberry explained their process thoroughly and accommodated to scope changes effortlessly. Their stellar project management, highly responsive communication, and proactive attitude set them apart.

Ricardo Casas

CEO, Fahrenheit Marketing

Austin, TX

How we help Fahrenheit Marketing Company

We developed a large, complex .NET application with various third-party integrations. The team built the software from scratch based on existing wireframes.

Technologies used

The end solution exceeded the client’s expectations. Syberry delivered high-quality products on time and at outstanding value. They provided frequent updates and repeatedly sought feedback at each stage. Customers can expect a highly experienced team that easily translates concepts into solutions.

Ruby Milkovic

Executive Director, Velicom

Austin, TX

How we help Velicom Company

Our team built video streaming software as a web and desktop app for a third-party client. We completed end-to-end development—from scoping to feedback cycles to QA—using PHP and Wowza Streaming Engine.

Technologies used

Syberry has successfully improved the frontend performance of the platform and continues to make thoughtful suggestions for enhancements. They have proven to be communicative and reliable, mitigating the common concerns of outsourced teams. Syberry remains mindful of business goals and client needs.

Cory Kowal

VP of Products, THG Energy Solutions

Tulsa, OK

How we help THG Energy Solutions Company

Taking over for another vendor, we served as the ongoing software engineering partner for an energy company’s cloud-based platform. The company provided scoping, development, testing, and deployment services.

Technologies used

The added team members sufficiently fulfilled the needs of the project. The product was successfully launched and has received positive feedback. Syberry continues to be a supportive partner in development. They provide an impressive team and their expertise fosters a smooth collaboration.

Chris Cox

CTO, MyMelo

Louisville, Kentucky

How we help MyMelo Company

We provided staff augmentation resources for a development project. The team contributed engineers to follow an established roadmap to perform updates and add features.

Technologies used

Syberry delivered a solid website that has become a database of close to 40 organizations. The team worked quickly and efficiently to get the website up and running, and they continue to invest their time into the project. Additionally, they have been a communicative partner.

David Snyder

Product Director, Covid Resource Network

West Orange, New Jersey

How we help Covid Resource Network Company

The company developed a website that serves as a database where organizations can find and donate to other organizations. Currently, the team is working on enhancing the website and fixing bugs.

Technologies used

When the system is up and running, it will save time for the internal team. Syberry was a patient partner, and they performed well throughout the collaboration.

Joyce Cubio

VP of Operations, Ernie's Mobile Home Transport

Yuba, California

How we help Ernie's Mobile Home Transport Company

The team built an information hub for a mobile home transport and permit service. After discussing the existing system and processes, we delivered a new structure for forms and data.

Technologies used

All deliverables have exceeded expectations and function properly once launched. The Syberry team is skilled in juggling multiple projects, and provide strong expertise in software development. Their dedication to the project has fostered continual success in the engagement.

John Fox

Executive VP, Fox Business Automation Solutions

Lakeland, Florida

How we help Fox Business Automation Solutions Company

Brought on as a third party, we supplied ongoing development services. The team work on multiple projects and deliver according to predetermined design specifications.

Technologies used

Contact us to learn more about how Syberry can help your business achieve its every goal!

Sign a mutual NDA NDA preview before a conversation.

When to sign an NDA?

A non-disclosure agreement (NDA) is a legal contract between parties, such as the software developer (or a software development firm) and yourself, outlining information to be shared and requiring that information be kept confidential.
Send
Submit loading...

Was this page helpful?