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11 Steps to Consider Before Starting a Software Project

Not with standing the fact that every person plans for important tasks in a different way, the same is not true with a huge and complicated software project. A software project which is a set of elements responding to various inputs to produce a pre-defined outcome is a combination of a plethora of human and automated factors.

And to manage and plan for a software project, certain tried-and-tested methodologies can be employed by software project managers to ensure that the final deliverable meets the ultimate goal of stakeholders and clients. These methodologies help you break down the mammoth project into smaller tasks, while sticking to timelines and quality specifications.

Hence, it is important for every project manager to consider the following eleven steps to ultimately churn out an error-free and completely satisfying software project to your esteemed customer.

1. Focus on the Complexities of Your Project At Hand
You will agree with the fact that organizing a project is the most important responsibility of a project manager. Requiring him to possess an eye-for-detail about each and every task that should be completed on time, he should be able to churn out huge projects with a number of complexities through the use of human and technical supports.

Nothing should come to him as a surprise when he primarily focuses all his efforts into enlisting the numerous complexities the entire project can pose at various stages of development. Team management skills coupled with knowledge about software can help him address the concerns of managing a project so as to deliver it on time within the scope of financial and technical requirements.

2. Set Aside Preparation and Planning Time
After identifying the complexities of your software project, you as a project manager should set aside time to prepare and plan. Attempting to prepare for the project is an intelligent move to begin with, even before the project starts. The Project Manager who is at the helm of affairs should constantly interact with his stakeholders, informing them about the roles and responsibilities of every person involved in the project. Planning involves chalking out the budgetary requirements along with coming up with the specifications about human resources.

Along with planning and preparing for the software project, you as a project manager should specify clear internal guidelines about what is expected from every team with a provision to track the progress of the project. If need arises, the plan should be able to accommodate adjustments so that you can deliver the project to the utmost satisfaction of your stakeholders.

3. Measure the Scope of the Project
The next step is to gauge the scope of your project. Gaining insights from the efforts you have put in during the project prepping phase, you should be able to identify the main aim of the project. What would you be achieving and delivering to your client once the project is completed? This is an important question that will set the stage for introspecting, enabling you to chalk out a clear cut project plan.

Here that you should bring flexibility to your project. There can arise many instances when a certain client demands more than what he initially asked for during the requirement gathering stage. If you have a flexible plan in hand, you will not be pushed to the wall with new functionalities demanded by your client just before the final release of your project.

4. Make a List of Deliverables
The next step after measuring the scope of your project is to enlist all the deliverables. Making a list of deliverables is a clever move that will ensure all your team members stay in sync. They will not only be in tandem with each other but also in terms of the bigger picture; the successful rollout of your software project through the combined efforts of each and every team member.

5. Identify Elements that Promise You A Successful Project
A successful project is measured in terms of multiple factors. Termed as Key Performance Indicators, it is on the basis of these factors that you can be adjudged an excellent or a good project manager.

While for some, success spells in the form of cost reduction, there are others who rate your caliber on the grounds of the time taken to deliver a huge project. The ultimate quality of the project is another factor that demonstrates your mettle when you will be able to release a flawless application to your clientele. Hence it is important that you identify any such factor that can become your success mantra.

6. Steer Clear by Identifying Significant Risk Factors
As a project manager managing a huge project, it is important for you to anticipate all the significant risk factors. Preempting and enlisting all the factors that can go wrong during the course of project execution, you with an eye on the future can play safe. Limiting all the pain points, you will be able to address these issues through a sense of preparedness. This way, you can resolve any issue with a level head coming from the confidence of being in total control of your project.

7. Work Around SMART Objectives
SMART is an acronym for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time Bound. Setting business objectives in line with SMART specifications will be helpful for you to reach plenty of successful milestones during the course of delivering your project.

A milestone can be the successful completion of a crucial section of your project. Enlisting all such milestones beforehand can help you manage different teams better.
Every person who is informed about his role in the project will be able to look at the milestones and tune them with the SMART objectives. Motivating the team members to complete their ordained tasks, it is through these SMART objectives that you as a project manager can ensure a seamless progression of your project.

8. Pick and Choose Your Team Mates
It is your responsibility as a project manager to choose a team that works in unison with the overall objective of your project. It is hence your prerogative to identify and name all your team mates who will eventually become a part of your project management team. Next in line is to clearly specify their roles and responsibilities in detail so as to avoid a communication gap between what was supposed to be done and what is pending on account of a team member not being informed of his exact role in the project.

9. Span of Control To Be Clearly Spelled Out
It is important that you have a well-defined reporting structure in place, where you will clearly define the scope of work of every team member. Who reports to whom should be clearly specified so as to have a tight control over the final deliverable. Team this with reporting policies that can be implemented on a monthly, weekly or daily basis. This way, you will be able to exercise better control over the project through the timely appraisal of every team member’s performance.

10. Resource Allocation
As described earlier, a software project is the end result of employing human, software and hardware resources. It is through a combination of all these resources that you will be able to bring in a balance between availability and requirement.

Enlisting all the resources that can be put to use, your diligence as a project manager will come to the fore when you proactively employ a resource that is currently available to offset the delay caused by another resource which is absent at the moment. This way, you will be able to keep a check on the most important job that needs to be completed, using the resource that is available, to its maximum.

11. A Final Plan to Set the Stage
After taking into consideration all the above mentioned steps, the final step is to act in accordance to a baseline. This can be your guiding light till such time your project is completed, allowing you to focus on blind spots that arise with the “what if” analysis.

A last minute shock can be just around the corner when a certain team member fails to deliver. It is then that you with the help of “what if” detailing can bring in a new employee to replace the earlier one without hampering the progress of the project. Tagged as a damage-control mechanism, a baseline is helpful to churn out a project on time.