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Strategies for Software Development Project Success – Part One of a Two-Part Series

Best Practices for Improving Project Success: The Importance of Synchronization

Early collaboration
It's also a good idea for software engineering to start working with the marketing organization early in a project, because marketing people can help you obtain the information necessary to create effective use cases. They can help you define your target audience and market because they constantly work with focus groups and analysts who maintain a clear picture of the current market. At the same time, the work you do to define goals for a feature or product release will yield well-prepared documentation that can help the marketing organization understand the product early on and enable it to describe and promote the product accurately. The key word is collaboration.

A good practice is to assemble a collaborative project team to help everyone in the organization understand what needs to be done. In addition to gathering the marketing input described above, this collaborative team should also do the following:

  • Recognize key sponsors and engage them in the planning phase (review of goals, vision, business goals, and use-case scenarios). The sponsors can be external investors, potential customers, or even groups within your organization.
  • Get information about the client's support requirements, including their level of expertise and training needs.
  • Get information from the sales team about the desired availability date, key customers, and major concerns.
  • Assemble presentation material to introduce other parts of the organization to the project so that they can begin participating. Collaborative team members should stay up to speed on project goals, plans, and activities throughout the project lifecycle so that they can continue to educate interested parties.
"Talking" marketing
"Talking" marketing refers to how you communicate technical features through the media. Sometimes the target audience for a marketing effort is very technical, but more often, such efforts are pitched at business decision makers who are not technical at all. The best way to help your marketing organization transform feature details into meaningful information for a non-technical audience is to fully understand the benefits and value of a new product or enhancement, and be prepared to help express them in metrics such as dollar amounts.

Be ready to provide clear answers to questions such as:

  • "Why is this new product or enhancement important?"
  • "How does it support the key initiatives in our business strategy?"
  • "Who will benefit from the new capabilities?"
  • "How does the product work?"
In my experience, there is always a way to explain even the most complex technical solutions in a relatively simple manner that summarizes the motivation behind the solution and its benefits. The challenge is to find a model that most of the people in your audience can understand.

Conclusion
In the face of the complex business and technology demands that globalization has brought about, today's organizations have to concentrate both non-technical and technical resources on creating a successful product and a strong market presence. Although there is no silver bullet that can protect your software development organization from all the challenges it might encounter in the course of a project, recognizing the importance of synchronization among all the different departments and functions within your organization will better prepare you for meeting every challenge that comes your way.

In part two, next month, I'll explore ensuring effective testing and supporting marketing efforts for software development project success.

Notes:
Standards for writing code can be industry specific and are often mandatory requirements.

More Stories By Goran Begic

Goran Begic is a Senior IT Specialist with IBM.

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