In software development, it is true that the beginning affects the ending. A small but vital detail missed at the start of a process or project could multiply and could lead eventually to failed expectations, dissatisfaction of the client and the outsourcing service provider and missed schedules. That is why when outsourcing software development to a third-party organization, it is necessary to invest in a preparation phase.
The butterfly effect is a phenomenon of sensitive dependency on initial conditions and the cost of correcting project mistakes exponentially increases. The butterfly effect further means errors at the early requirements, collaboration and design and are tenfold as costly to fix in the coding stage and around one thousand times more expensive after release.
In outsourcing the development of software, avoiding the butterfly scenario means preparing to outsource software projects is investing in a time-boxed preparation phase. This enables one to understand the business requirements behind the needs, analysis and addressing technological constraints and establishing full transparency between partner organizations on communication and collaboration.
The preparation phase could include the following items:
- Assessment of the project:
is one of the vital steps enabling the outsourcing vendor to acquire knowledge on the client’s existing system. The process delivers the benefits of knowing the readiness of a system for the changes planned, determines possible risks and shows the improvements roadmap as well as justifies estimates for more evolution. This is mostly driven by project requirements, the solution and by known problems.
It is a set of actions for exploring the opportunity, identifying the scope and resources for the discovery phase and offer project ballpark estimates in order to support go or no go decision if input information is sufficient. The efforts during this phase are typically internal investments by the outsourcing service provider needing just a signed NDA from the parties.
It is a fix-bid, short activity that is staffed by the outsourcing software developer with senior professionals and the core members of the team responsible for collaborating model and evaluation of project risk, scope and requirements elicitation, project plan and resource allocation and technical estimates and vision. The discovery team could also include experts in security, development operations and more.
This is extended by the software and quality control engineers. The choice of the model to be implemented, whether agile, scrum or others is agreed upon by both parties early on during the engagement or the discovery phase.
One more reason why a preparation phase is thoroughly important when outsourcing the development of software is related to the evolution of the amount of uncertainty in a project. The less known about the details of the project, like requirements, scope, solution, staffing, the more inaccurate the estimates could be.
Methodology is the key to the success of a software development project and to avoid the butterfly effect. Some design work must be done at the start of a new project. Diving right towards development with unclear technical vision and not finalizing the technology stack will jeopardize the budget of the project, the quality and schedule.