The Nature of Custom Software Development

The Nature of Custom Software Development
Your new applications will evolve and mature over time, based on your specific needs. It will be tailored to fit the nuances of your organization, and will probably touch many areas of your organization. This may present many opportunities to streamline and improve how your organization operates.

Building a custom solution is not an exact science. It is a collaborative effort requiring creativity and logic. It also involves re-evaluating and often changing the way you do business. Development generally evolves over time, and frequently relies on trial and error. We have found that this process helps managers to re-evaluate their internal functions and processes, resulting in streamlining that can transcend the solution under development, and improve the organization, overall.

Our efforts will strive to save everyone time, improve productivity, improve the user experience, improve morale, and improve how the entire process is managed. We will work to improve the usability, functionality, performance, scalability, and reliability of all of your applications, using modern technologies and techniques.

Methodology
We generally ask our clients to choose between two development methodologies when building their custom database. They are known as Waterfall and Spiral.

WATERFALL
The Waterfall method provides an orderly sequence of development steps and helps ensure the adequacy of documentation and design reviews prior to development, to ensure the quality, reliability, and maintainability of the developed software. Below is a high-level outline of a typical Waterfall life cycle:

• Discovery –> Write Business Requirements
• Planning –> Write Project Plan
• Analysis –> Write Systems Proposal
• Design –> Write Systems Specifications
• Develop –> Build New Systems and Test Plan
• Testing –> Test and Repair
• Implementation –> Certify, Rollout, and Review
• Post Implementation –> Review and Support

This methodology identifies system requirements long before programming begins. The entire design must be specified on paper before programming begins, resulting in a long time between system proposal and final delivery of the new system. While many disparage the “Waterfall methodology” as being needlessly slow and cumbersome, it does have many sound principles of life cycle development.

SPIRAL
Demands for reducing the time-to-use period often make the Waterfall method inappropriate. The ultimate evolution from the Waterfall is the Spiral, taking advantage of the fact that development projects work best when they are both incremental and iterative, where the team is able to start small and benefit from enlightened trial and error along the way. FileMaker Pro’s rapid development nature lends itself better to the Spiral methodology.

The Spiral methodology incorporates the same tasks as the Waterfall methodology, with rapid prototyping, increased parallelism, and simultaneous design-and-build activities. The Spiral method is still planned methodically, with tasks and deliverables identified for each step in the Spiral, but the solution is built in a real-time, creative, iterative, evolving process. All of the steps in the Waterfall lifecycle are performed, with much less emphasis on written documentation and more emphasis on getting a useable prototype in place quickly.

Many projects will often take a hybrid form of these two methodologies.

Achieving Success
The Bad News
One of the most widely quoted pieces of research in this area comes from the Standish Group, which in their most recent edition of their CHAOS study found that only 29 percent of IT projects succeed – finishing on time, on budget and meeting their objectives. More than half (53 percent) are “challenged” and 18 percent fail outright.

A study from Aberdeen Group states that 90 percent of all IT projects are delivered late. And according to Gartner, half of deployed applications are rolled back to some extent. The failure rate of large IT projects is surprisingly high. Some sources estimate that one third of all IT projects are cancelled before completion and only 10 percent achieve their original plan.

(Need better research and reference to the studies presented – Links, something.)

That is the statistical bad news…

The Good News
The good news is that we have many years of experience dealing with large, complex environments, and our success rate is very high. We have been doing this for a long time and know most of the pitfalls.

Guestimates
It is nearly impossible to provide an exact estimate after one visit and one high-level review of your existing systems. Even when there is an extended discovery period and detailed requirements written, many new discoveries and variables are inevitably introduced while a project is in process. We do our very best meet each project on or before our estimated date. However, it only may take just one new discovery or one slight miscommunication to significantly skew an estimate.

Our estimates include hours to research, plan, meet, design, build, test, train, document, implement, certify, and initially support the application.

Budgeting
We are very sensitive to your budget, and we will work with you on the cost of your project. We understand that this is an investment, and we understand the importance of a return on investment. We are confident that the value we provide will far exceed the monetary costs. Some of this value will be realized in the short-term, and some will be realized in the long-term.

Our efforts will strive to save everyone time, improve productivity, improve the user experience, improve morale, and improve how the entire process is managed. We will work to improve the usability, functionality, performance, scalability, and reliability of all of your applications, using modern technologies and techniques.

Now that you know the kind of clients we work with, the some of the issues we help them resolve, and what our clients need to do to insure success, to learn more, please read about our Products and Services.

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