How and what KPIs and Milestones to set Before Starting a Project with a Software Development Company
Software development projects are complex, involving various stakeholders, technologies, and processes. Setting measurable KPIs or Key Performance Indicators and milestones are essential to track progress, ensure accountability, and achieve project goals. However, many businesses often overlook or undervalue the importance of setting clear KPIs and milestones, leading to project delays, cost overruns, and even project failure.
In this article, we will explore how and what KPIs and milestones to set before starting a project with a software development company. Whether you are a business owner, project manager or a software development professional, this article will provide valuable insights to help you ensure project success.
Knowing and defining KPIs
KPIs are specific metrics that project managers use to measure the performance and success of a project in software development. These metrics are crucial for monitoring progress, ensuring accountability, and evaluating project success.
Let’s look at some of the KPIs that are commonly used in software development projects:
- Velocity. Velocity is a powerful metric that measures their productivity. Rather than just counting how many stories were completed, velocity takes into account the complexity of the work by measuring it in story points. By dividing the total number of points completed by the number of sprints, teams can see how much they are achieving over time.
- Sprint burndown. Sprint burndown displays a visual representation of the remaining work, making it easy to track progress and adjust plans as needed.
- Release burndown. Release burndown is a metric used to track the progress of a release. It shows the amount of work remaining to be completed in the release, and helps project managers to identify any potential delays.
- Cycle time. Cycle time is the time taken to complete a specific task, from start to finish, helping project managers identify opportunities to streamline the development process. By measuring the time it takes from start to finish, they can pinpoint areas for improvement and work towards a more efficient workflow.
- Cumulative Flow. Cumulative Flow is a chart that shows the flow of work through the development process. It helps project managers to identify areas where work may be getting stuck and make adjustments to keep everything moving smoothly.
- Flow efficiency. Flow efficiency is a metric used to measure the efficiency of the development process. Essentially, it takes into account the value-added time (the time spent actually working on the task) and divides it by the total time taken to complete a task.
- Code coverage. Code coverage is a metric used to measure the percentage of code that is covered by automated tests. Knowing this percentage can help you identify areas where your testing efforts could use some improvement.
- Code simplicity. Code simplicity is a metric used to measure the simplicity of the codebase. It helps project managers to identify areas where the code can be simplified and made more maintainable.
- Code stability. Code stability is a metric used to measure the stability of the codebase, helping project managers to identify areas where the code is prone to errors and needs to be optimized.
- Code churn. Code churn is a metric used to measure the frequency of changes to the codebase. It helps project managers to identify areas where the development process can be streamlined and made more efficient.
Milestones, on the other hand, identify significant events or stages throughout the project’s lifecycle. Integrating milestones into your project management strategy not only helps you track progress but also helps you identify any issues early on.
- Defining the project’s scope. At LiftUp, we believe that defining the project’s scope is a crucial milestone that sets the foundation for any software development project. We work closely with our clients to ensure that we have a thorough understanding of their goals, needs, and expectations. We then use this information to define the project’s scope, including the features and functionality to be included, project timelines, and budgets. Our team believes that clear communication and collaboration between the project manager, development team, and stakeholders are essential to ensure that everyone is aligned on the project’s objectives and that we can deliver a solution that meets our client’s needs.
- Verify and validate requirements. Verifying and validating requirements is a milestone that involves reviewing and testing the project’s requirements to ensure that they are accurate, complete, and feasible. This process helps to ensure that the project meets the client’s expectations, and that the development team has a clear understanding of what needs to be delivered. It also helps to identify any potential issues or gaps in the requirements that need to be addressed before development begins. We trust this milestone is crucial to ensure that we have a thorough understanding of the client’s needs and expectations, which enables us to deliver a product that meets or exceeds their expectations. By identifying potential issues or gaps in the requirements early on, we can minimize the risk of costly revisions or delays later in the development process. Additionally, this milestone helps to establish a foundation of trust and transparency with our clients, which is essential to our approach of building long-term partnerships.
- Pre-development planning. Pre-development planning is a milestone that involves planning and preparing for the development phase of the project. This includes defining the development approach, selecting the appropriate development tools and technologies, creating a development plan, and allocating resources. Pre-development planning helps to ensure that the development process is well-organized and efficient and that the project stays on track. Our approach to pre-development planning is centered around collaboration, proactive problem-solving, and effective communication. We believe that by taking these steps, we can help our clients achieve their project goals while staying on time and within budget.
- Support. Support is a milestone that involves providing ongoing support to the project’s stakeholders after deployment.
We recognize that support is an ongoing process, and we work closely with our clients to ensure that their new application continues to meet their evolving needs over time. This may include updating documentation, providing additional training or support, or implementing new features or functionality to enhance the application’s value and usability.
- Quality assurance testing. Quality assurance testing is a milestone that involves testing the software to ensure that it meets the specified requirements and performs as expected. This includes functional testing, performance testing, security testing, and usability testing. Quality assurance testing helps to identify and address any issues or bugs before deployment and ensures that the software is of high quality and meets the client’s expectations. During the application design process, one critical stage involves the LiftUp Quality Assurance team and the Client’s subject matter experts going through various scenarios to simulate and stress-test the new software product. In a staging environment that emulates all live environment conditions, LiftUp will conduct a comprehensive evaluation of all software application features, activities, workflows/journeys, and use cases. Each stage of this process presents new challenges that require resolution, but ultimately, a bug-free product that meets the business requirements signed off on will be delivered.
- User acceptance testing. User acceptance testing is a milestone that involves testing the software with end-users to ensure that it meets their needs and is user-friendly.
At this stage, we work closely with the client to identify and engage end-users who represent the software’s target audience. We carefully track and analyze user feedback to identify any areas where improvements can be made to the software’s functionality, ease of use, or user experience. By prioritizing user satisfaction and engagement, we ensure that the software is not only functional but also enjoyable and intuitive to use.
- Deployment. Deployment is the final milestone that involves delivering the software to the client or end-users. This includes installing the software, configuring it to meet the client’s needs, and providing training and documentation.
Our team takes great care to ensure that the deployment process is smooth and seamless, including working closely with the client to configure the software to their specific needs and providing extensive training and documentation to ensure that end-users are able to use the software effectively. We take pride in delivering a high-quality product that meets or exceeds our client’s expectations, and we’re always available to provide support should any issues arise after deployment.
Remember that before defining KPIs and milestones, stakeholders must be clear about their objectives and desired outcomes. This will help to ensure that the KPIs and milestones are relevant, measurable, and aligned with the project goals. By setting clear and relevant KPIs and milestones, project managers can ensure that software development projects are completed on time, within budget, and to the required quality standards.
Setting KPIs and Milestones
Setting KPIs and milestones is crucial for ensuring the success of software development projects. Effective KPIs and milestones help project managers to track progress, evaluate performance, and ensure accountability. However, setting relevant and effective KPIs and milestones requires careful planning and consideration. Here are some practical tips for setting KPIs and milestones for your software development project:
- Define SMART objectives. KPIs and milestones should be based on specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART) objectives. This means that KPIs and milestones should be clearly defined, quantifiable, achievable, aligned with the project goals, and have a specific timeframe.
- Involve stakeholders. It is crucial to involve stakeholders in the process of setting KPIs and milestones. This includes the software development company, project team members, and other stakeholders, such as clients and end-users. By involving stakeholders, project managers can ensure that KPIs and milestones are aligned with the project goals and stakeholders’ expectations.
- Prioritize KPIs and milestones. It is essential to prioritize KPIs and milestones based on their relevance and importance to the project goals. This means that project managers should identify the most critical KPIs and milestones that will have the greatest impact on the project’s success and focus on tracking those.
- Communicate expectations. It is crucial to communicate KPIs and milestones to the software development company clearly. This includes defining the KPIs and milestones, explaining their relevance and importance, and outlining the expected outcomes. By communicating expectations, project managers can ensure that the software development company is aware of their responsibilities and can work towards achieving the KPIs and milestones.
- Track progress. It is essential to track progress against KPIs and milestones throughout the project lifecycle. This includes monitoring the progress of the software development company, evaluating performance against KPIs and milestones, and making adjustments as necessary. By tracking progress, project managers can identify areas where improvements can be made, and take corrective action to ensure project success.
Setting clear KPIs and milestones is crucial to ensure the success of software development projects. KPIs and milestones help project managers track progress, ensure accountability, and evaluate performance. They also help to identify any issues early on, enabling project managers to take corrective measures in a timely manner. By defining SMART objectives that are aligned with the project and business objectives, project managers can ensure that the KPIs and milestones are relevant, measurable, and achievable. This, in turn, will help to ensure that the software development project is completed on time, within budget, and to the required quality standards. Ongoing monitoring and adjustment of KPIs and milestones are also crucial to ensure that the project stays on track and meets its objectives.
Therefore, it is important to emphasize the need for businesses to set KPIs and milestones before starting a software development project to enjoy the potential benefits such as improved communication, increased transparency, and better alignment between stakeholders and the software development company.
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