How to Start a Custom Software Enhancement Project?
Custom software enhancement is often confused with custom software maintenance services, because the line between these two terms may seem blurred sometimes. You need to know that software enhancement includes advancements in features, platforms, performance, usability and design. Through enhancement your software application becomes faster, more efficient, more usable, more useful, and more desirable. It’s the next step in your software’s evolution, that’s why you need to know how to prioritize the changes.
Step 1: Get an idea on where to start your custom software enhancement project at.
Create a database of requested changes where users of your solution can offer what they wish to see in the upcoming version of your software. In addition to this, you can approach your most valuable clients/users and ask them directly what kind of new features they would like to add.
Afterwards, ask the development team what kind of functionalities they would add.
They may speak in favor of:
Upgrading the software to be compatible with new database releases;
Adding new statistical analysis and visualization tools;
Adding a new tab to the dashboard;
Improving the search function; etc.
Step 2: Evaluate the information and take a decision.
As with all business decisions, it’s a cost/benefit problem. What is the benefit of adding a feature? What will it cost (including the costs that will result from not adding the feature)? Calculate how much it will cost to add it.
Tip: Usually the cost is calculated in hours that have to be spent by developers to develop a feature.
Analyze the information you got from the users of your platform and identify those missing features that will have a tangible business impact on user experience. It makes no sense to add a feature from which only a few will benefit.
At first, pick those features that have the most benefit for the smallest cost. Resources are often limited, while requirements and desires are not, that is why it is so important to prioritize correctly.
An accurate estimation of a custom software enhancement project may be a herculean task. These questions will help you estimate the project:
1. How will your existing solution be affected by modifications?
2. Do you need to build the new feature from scratch or does something similar already exist in the system?
3. Can you reuse the existing code?
4. Will modifications require the testing of the whole system?
5. How many developers are needed to make modifications?
6. How much time will it take to develop, design and test new features?
The bad news is that you can miscalculate the time and effort required. For instance, the development of a new functionality might take longer than you expected and result in higher production costs.
In order to avoid this kind of errors it is better to entrust your custom software enhancement project to an experienced team of software developers who know how to:
• Thoroughly analyze existing software documentation
• Analyze the architecture of the existing software application and offer structural changes
• Analyze and make changes to the existing code
• Perform software security analysis
Custom software enhancement cannot be made by a low-skilled developer. That’s why you need someone who has experience in adding new features to a code written by someone else, who can understand not only how to build in new functionalities, but also to see the business essence of the system.
One of the most important things in software enhancement projects is to clearly prioritize the requirements and take an approach to incrementally work on one function or feature at a time. Your users will thank you for the changes they’ve asked and waited for.