One of the toughest parts of software development projects is figuring out when to start engaging a software development team. Starting too early leads to spending time and resources without realizing much value, but if you don't engage the team soon enough you may be missing out on critical technical insight. There surely is a balance, but how do you time it right? Here are 4 steps to keep in mind when you start to prepare for your next software development project.

1. First, know your problem

It might seem obvious, but this first step is often overlooked. What is the true problem you are trying to solve? Who does it impact? What are the tangible (i.e. financial) and intangible impacts? Are you missing an opportunity by not solving this problem? Write it down and organize your thoughts. Engage as many team members as possible to ensure you're accounting for a variety of different perspectives on the problem.

2. What does your world look like once this problem is solved?

Before you start your software development journey, you better know where you're headed. What does success look like? Will the solution change how your customers interact with your business? Will your internal processes change? Understanding the positive impact of solving this problem will help your software development partner define the project's objectives.

3. What is a solution to this problem worth to your business?

By now, you understand the impact you are seeking in a software development project, so what are you willing to invest in? This might sound like a sensitive subject, but it's critical information for your software development partner to know upfront. Building software is just like building anything else. There are a million ways to solve a problem and knowing your budget will help your software partner understand how simple or elegant of a solution you're after.

4. What is important to you in finding the right vendor?

Before talking to potential software development partners, make sure you're prepared to understand how they approach development projects. No two development teams deliver software the same, so prepare questions up-front to ensure you select the team that fits you best. How do they approach designing a solution? What level of involvement is necessary from you (their client)? What happens if you change your mind midway through the project? The best vendors will have a few project management styles that can fit your needs, but knowing what you want will help them start the project on the right foot.

Even the most talented software development teams have trouble reading their clients' minds. Knowing what you want upfront and communicating your expectations early on will help ensure the team you've selected is focusing on your top priorities throughout the life of your project. If you need help with these steps, you've come to the right place. Emergent Software's Analyst team is trained to guide clients like you through this project prep process and set you up for success before jumping into any development project. Contact us today!