Prioritizing Software Development: Overcoming One of Your Startup’s Greatest Challenges

Many of the startups in our technology-based society sell products or services that require a significant amount of software development. When these companies seek startup expert help, they often note that one of their main pain points is prioritizing software development in order to be successful. How important is this? According to research performed for the book IT Governance, “Companies that manage their IT investments most successfully generate returns that are as much as 40% higher than those of their competitors.”

An ideal example of software development prioritization done right is at the live-streaming Internet radio giant Pandora. When Pandora went public in 2011, they had a lean team of only 40 engineers that built products for 70 million monthly users. How did they do it? CTO, Tom Conrad, points to their development prioritization process, which broke down exactly what things they needed to build and how fast they needed to do it.

Prioritization done wrong (or not at all) can, of course, be disastrous. Startup consultants have seen numerous businesses crash and burn because their entire dev team got bogged down with projects that didn’t resonate with customers nor generate new revenue streams. Others failed to focus enough on sound development approaches, and quickly lost out to competitors that were consistently introducing new features that their customers actually desired.

Is software development the backbone of your business? Here are several growth hacking tips that will help you prioritize your dev efforts correctly to ensure success.

Understand The Development Costs Involved

Understanding and properly communicating the cost of software development in terms of time and resources is crucial to your prioritization process. Your team needs to understand not only what building the software costs, but also what other projects need to be put on the back burner to build the software effectively (and the potential cost of tabling certain projects). They also need to provide an effective cost-benefit analysis to leaders that is consistent and understandable. Once you know the probable investment and costs involved, you can measure that against the potential gains of increased revenue, market share, and brand awareness after the new software release is pushed live. You can also seek out startup expert help to review the analysis with your team to provide greater insights.

Analyze Your Past Development Projects

Growth hacking experts know that the past can be a good indication of the future. If you are on the fence about whether to invest in a particular development project, take a look at past projects that were similar. How much time and resources did they demand? Was the project finished on time and what was the end result? If you don’t have enough examples in your own startup, look at your competitors. Have they launched something similar? Can you get any information on what their process looked like? Any knowledge you gain from this process can help you determine whether your new project should get the green light.

Use an Agile Approach

When requirements and solutions for software development evolve through a collaboration between self-organizing, cross-functional teams, your startup can stay flexible. Referred to as an “Agile” approach, this software development methodology is based on iterative development and builds software incrementally throughout the project instead of all at once.

An Agile development approach allows your team to naturally evolve into the strategies and processes that work best for them. Startups work in a world of constant change as they respond to the market and their own growth, and a rigid approach to development hinders their ability to be flexible.

Know Who Makes the Call

Though most startups make decisions collectively as a team whenever possible, every new business consultant will tell you that there ultimately needs to be one final decision-maker. Have a plan in place in the event that one owner wants to move forward on a project, while another votes for nixing it entirely. This could revert back to the majority shareholder, or it could be determined based on the team leader that has the most expertise in this realm. The key is to know who has the final say before discussions start.

Prioritization of software development is key to a streamlined team that can make quick and effective decisions. By using an agile approach, effectively communicating cost of new projects, and analyzing past projects, you can develop a dev strategy that works best for your organization. Need more advice on how to grow your startup? Meet with one of our experts today to take your startup to the next level.

 

 

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