Project management methodologies exist to take you from point A to B as fast, efficiently, and with as little waste as possible. The waste bit is important: It entails minimizing lost time, errors, risks, duplicate or low-impact efforts, and costs. When it comes to custom web application development, developers typically rely on one of two popular methodologies: Agile or Waterfall. In our young industry, there’s still much debate over the two project management styles and which is best. Here’s a breakdown:
When stage and cinema artists need to train in the art of stage combat, they turn to the Society of Fight Directors, "an organization of dedicated artists whose purpose is to promote safety and foster excellence in the art of performing, teaching, and directing staged combat/theatrical violence." And when the Society of American Fight Directors needs a custom web application to manage their members' information, they turn to Inverse-Square.
When someone hears the words, inverse-square, they probably think of physics (if they know about laws of physics anyway), but at Inverse-Square, when we hear our name, we think about trust. Inverse-Square is a law in physics that states, the closer you are to a source, the stronger that source is. We believe that a close relationship and close communication between ourselves and our clients is paramount to the success of a custom software development project. And we chose the name, Inverse-Square, as an acknowledgment to how powerful a close relationship can be.
With over over 10,000 volunteers, Special Olympics Indiana (SOI) have their hands full managing and coordinating all of their volunteer's data between different counties and varied processes. Inverse-Square is honored to have been chosen by SOI to help them find an easier way to do so with a new online database system customized to meet their needs.
<< Part 3 At Inverse-Square, we consider the most critical piece of our operations to be effectively communicating with our clients. We like to be certain that there are no surprises in their project schedule. All of the daily operational tasks mentioned in the previous posts come down to effectively communicating the good, the bad, and the potentially ugly in custom software development. This information is given in two documents for every client of ours; the Task Summary Report , and the Project Summary Report.
One of the most challenging things about building custom software applications is estimating the time involved for the build and the associated cost. The crux of this challenge comes from the fact that we are a custom software development shop and most of what we do is being done for the first time. There is a lot of research and development in our work, and that can lead to uncertainties. When there's not a software solution on the shelf that fits your needs and we take on your custom project, we minimize the challenge of time and budget estimation with thorough planning.
As a child, Ann Marie's wish was to grow up to be an ice skating ballerina, but lucky for us, the Franklin native grew up to be Team Awesome's Application Development Manager instead! New mom, Ann Marie, joined Inverse-Square about six months after the company was founded making her one of the first members of Team Awesome along with Bob and Joe.
<< Part 2 Task time tracking, or logging hours against every task we work on, is the driving force to scheduling and forecasting our custom web application projects. At Inverse-Square, we drill down to the eight hour work day and monitor the hours logged by the developers, as opposed to only weekly or monthly monitoring. This 'drill down' allows us to immediately recognize if tasks are being completed on time, under the estimations, or taking longer than our original estimations. We can act immediately on potential issues, while also recognizing 'task wins'; tasks that were accomplished under our original estimations. Ultimately, our time tracking for every task we have scheduled gives us the opportunity to see where every custom software project is at down to the day.
<< Part 1 Once the client approves the application design, we schedule the build contract into our master project schedule. This is why accurate estimations are necessary to custom web application development. If we are not accurate, our master schedule won't be accurate. An inaccurate master schedule can result in major delays to deliverables, budget overruns, and missed deadlines. Unfortunately in the website software industry, these outcomes are all too common. Once we add a client’s project into our master schedule, it is our daily duty to adhere to that project schedule.
As stated in Part 1, Wireframes are helpful because they have the ability to balance details. They allow both the custom software developer and the client to share the same vision on what an application needs to do, without being distracted by how it looks. It's far easier to modify the appearance of a custom web application than it is to change what it does after the fact. In Part 2, we will explore the process behind our wireframing.
When putting together a custom software development plan, we follow a strict set of guidelines to ensure that our time estimations for each task in the project are as accurate as possible. Accurate time estimations effect and influence our forecasting, scheduling, and budgeting for our clients. This is a crucial activity and without a doubt, one of the most challenging in our industry. We gain accuracy through iterations; we start at a high-level and continue to refine with a focus on the most challenging aspects.