Startup guidelines for non-technical CIO

Startup guidelines for non-technical CIO

We have collected in this article all the main tips & tricks intended to assist non-technical CIO in managing software development projects.

What can you get out of it?

Investing in a software product development, you expect to get target deliverables. However, lack of working hours and insufficient competence can become the reason for miscommunication between management and development team. One insufficient mistake at the project start can lead to the result falling short of your expectations.

One of our customers told us a cautionary story. His bitter experience of developing a data portal led to substantial financial losses. He came to a  software agency with a detailed description of a project. Being not an IT expert, he was only able to describe a front end leaving a back-end design to IT professionals. As you may guess, that provider delivered a non-functioning prototype of the interface as an output and thus, failed to meet customer’s expectations.

Correct allocation of tasks

You should clearly realize that a professional software development company is a body of business that works in line with established rules. The fewer deviations from the standard business process you have in your project, the fewer business risks will take place. Therefore, the best way to allocate a task for a software solution provider is to start with business analysis. This way, your project will commence with the involvement of an experienced business analyst who will scrutinize your tasks, domain expertise, and user requirements to offer you the best software development model to fit your project. A range of documents are developed at the business consulting stage – business specification, system specification, etc. – which is a detailed description of the future project covering all the functionalities of a would-be solution, e.g., data storage, users’ interactions, UI, security, and more. The main advantage of business analyst involvement is the opportunity to discuss all the project details in simple language.

Business analysts/consultants responsibilities include not just understanding
of the business processes and drawing all the documents but also making sure
customers get all the peculiarities and have a clear vision of the final result.


Choosing a business model

There are 3 most common models to start the development of your project:

  1. Fixed price model
  2. Time and Material approach
  3. Dedicated development center (DDC)

These three differ in respect of chosen approaches to risk management and levels of control over the development process. Imposing any of the models on a provider with no preliminary stage of IT consulting will be a mistake. Most customers with no technical background prefer Fixed price model where one can accurately calculate the project cost and deadline, with the software development company bearing all the associated risks. However, such accuracy can be achieved only through initial IT consulting stage.

One of the typical mistakes of customers is choosing the Time and Material model and demanding simultaneously the project’s exact cost and deadline. The matter is that Time and Material approach is used in cases the development of detailed specification is not required and, therefore, a customer bears all the risks related to the project deadline and budget.

Reporting and control

Clients often require developers to provide detailed reports on project hours. It definitely makes sense for Time and Material or DDC cooperation model. However, you shouldn’t forget that too much control and reporting can affect the project budget. We recommend you to learn some time-tracking and reporting tips and stop overloading developers with excessive reporting.

Prices, discounts, bargaining

The core question of every customer is “How much?” As you can see from the above, it is not possible to answer this question immediately. In some cases, analysts can give the project price quite accurately based on experience and similar developments. So, you should contact the consultant to specify the price and discuss details. And you can also get some useful tips about software development cost and pricing issues from here.

Out of budget doesn’t mean the dead-end

One of the typical critical situations is lack of budget for development. Having come across with it, customers often try to place an order with less qualified providers but those offering lower rates. A strategy that can help acquire the required business functionality and remain within the budget is designing and launching a “minimum viable product” (check this article to get more MVP ideas).

Design-driven approach

Sophistication and highly technical information can puzzle you and make you feel like losing control of the situation. So, try the design magic and you will find things becoming more straightforward. Visualizing ideas in functioning UI prototype will help both you and developers to get on the same wave faster.

We finally suggest that you check on the “Software development: best practices” article to find out more about software prototypes, QA & testing, etc.


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