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What can go wrong on my project?

A lot. Believe me.

No one wants to anticipate the worst. But actually thinking about what can go wrong can help you to better prepare for and prevent problems.

Here are some of the common problems that happen on software development projects, and what you can do to prevent them.

The estimate is wrong, and the project will take longer and/or cost more.

This is the #1 problem that occurs on software development projects.
What to do? Don’t panic. Evaluate the situation. Could this have been prevented? Is this a one-off, or indicative of a larger problem?
How to prevent? The best way to prevent problems like this are to hire experienced programmers, and to work hard every day on better communication.

The programmer used a flawed architecture, and the application doesn't work well

For more complicated applications, this is a common problem. Perhaps the developer saw an article about a new approach he wanted to try. Or perhaps he doesn’t have any experience building an application of this scale.

One problem I see quite a bit is that many programmers have a lack of understanding regarding the constraints of data transfers. What works fine on a developer’s local environment may not work properly when trying to move that same data across a local area network, or across the internet.

How to prevent? The way to mitigate this risk is for the developer to put together a proof of concept application before the main development work proceeds. The proof of concept should demonstrate that the architecture is sound, but doesn’t have to be a fully working application. It is better to spend a little more upfront to work out the kinks than to develop an entire application and then discover the architecture is unworkable.

The users hate the application

There are many reasons why this happens. Sometimes people are just uncomfortable with change. But this may also occur because no one spent time with the users understanding their needs. Without a thorough understanding of the end-user’s requirements, the resulting application may not fit well into their workflow. Or the user interface may be poor and difficult to understand.

How to prevent? The best way to prevent this is to get representative users involved in the process early on. You don’t necessarily need to talk to all users, but make sure that the major types of users are represented, and solicit their feedback. That will help them to feel involved in the process and will make the application better.

Understanding what can go wrong on your software development project can prevent costly mistakes.

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Comments  1

  1. Default 27 Jan

    Pingback from: http://www.avonellelovhaug.com/Default/09-01-27/software_project_lessons_from_2001_a_space_odyssey_and_2010_.aspx
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Avonelle is an incredibly talented software developer. She works fast, is economical, and offers great insights into the project at hand. She is also not afraid to speak up when she has concerns about a decision or approach. We’ve utilized her talents on many of our software development projects over the years.

Carrie Rocha, Chief Operating Officer @ HousingLink