You’ve heard the statistic before, maybe lots of times: more than half of IT projects fail. And you have probably read plenty of opinions about why that’s the case and how to fix it.
But what about the projects that aren’t failing? What do they have in common and what can we learn from them?
Successful projects aren’t magical pots of gold you find at the end of the rainbow. They take hard work, strategic planning, and effective management.
The good news is that when you understand the structure of a successful software project, you can replicate it.
In this post, let’s take a look at some testimonials from Worthwhile clients who experienced successful project launcesh. We’ll talk about how they reached their goals and what it takes to get those results.
And when we’re done, you’ll know the keys to a successful software project.
Athene Annuity needed to automate parts of its process so that employees could work more efficiently.
Results: Automation and usability updates resulted in a 65% decrease in application processing time overall. The changes also supported a better decision-making process, more effective analytics, top-notch security, and revenue increases.
Alex Holloman, Athene Annuity’s Director of Annuity Suitability, called the new app the best suitability review application in the industry.
What We Can Learn: Athene needed greater efficiency, better usability, and tight security to protect sensitive data. Here’s what made their project a success:
Complete Requirements—Athene knew exactly what they needed and they laid out those requirements clearly. Project managers should invest a significant amount of time at the outset of the project brainstorming with both stakeholders and users. During those meetings, the manager can conduct usability studies, focus groups, surveys, and software prototyping models to define process requirements and identify problems that the new software must solve. This is the best time to identify any new functionality needs.
Clear Goals—Clearly defined goals will keep the project on track from Day One. Once you have your requirements, the project scope should lay out exactly what you need to accomplish. Clear and specific goals help you hit the right targets without wasting resources on unnecessary functions.
Strong Development Team—A strong team not only brings excellent skills to the table (which should be a given), but also works well together. That takes consistent, frequent communication, effective managers, clear responsibilities, and commitment to the process.
Continental Tire needed a mobile app that could integrate seamlessly into its current digital portfolio, while also managing documents and boosting employee efficiency. They wanted a user-friendly experience and tight security to protect sensitive data. And they needed it fast.
Results: The quick timeline for the project necessitated a tight schedule. The project was completed on time and within budget, and Continental Tire received an effective, user-friendly app that increased the efficiency of the sales team.
What We Can Learn: Tight timelines and stringent requirements mean teams will need a carefully managed project strategy. Here’s what made this project a success:
Superior Project Management—A quality project manager will define critical success factors at the outset of the project. Then he or she will define the scope and process for achieving each of those goals. The process should allow room for change requests while also effectively keeping teams on track with the timeline. Effective project managers will also design a protocol for UX testing and risk assessment to identify potential pitfalls early in the process.
Realistic Expectations—To meet the timeline requirements for this project, the team took a phased approach so Continental Tire could see immediate results. Trying to pack too much work into too short a timeframe is always a recipe for disaster. Look for ways to relieve immediate pain points successfully, while allowing room for additional iterations over time.
Frequent, Intentional Communication—Fast-moving projects require frequent communication to prevent hang-ups. Regular scrum meetings give team members the opportunity to identify problems, get input from others on the team, and encourage collaboration.
The Bottom Line
Behind every success story is a solid strategy that includes project planning, risk assessment, and a deliberate roadmap for reaching the finish line. Perhaps the most important factor in that equation is having a team that works well together. With that in mind, here are a few final takeaways from our success stories:
Work Together—Clear responsibility delegation, definite expectations, priority alignment, and good communication are all keys to reaching your goal. If your team doesn’t work together, your project will bloat.
Work Smart—Take the time to assess what steps will have the greatest impact on the success of the project. Keep meetings short and to the point, give team members flexibility to get additional help when they need it, and pivot quickly when problems crop up.
Always Improve—There is no perfect process for every project. That’s what agile methodology is all about. As the project evolves, teams should have the freedom to adjust the plan. With that freedom, however, comes responsibility to document, get the right approvals, and communicate.
Software teams demand exceptional skills, but they also require effective management and collaboration. And that’s the recipe for success.
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