27 Jan Your Custom Software Has Been Installed, Now What?
As custom software developers, we cannot stress enough how important it is to have solid requirements, a well thought out plan, and a contract in place when embarking on custom software development. Not only will the three see you through the build, but they will ensure a smooth transition after your custom web application has been installed.
Sometimes when an application has been built and installed, it may not feel like it’s actually complete due to the ‘grey zone’ of requirements. The ‘grey zone’ can occur when a requirement has different meanings to different people or is interpreted in different ways. Unfortunately, often times the ‘grey zones’ are not detected until the requirements are turned into the actual product.
Also, clients might give feedback about the aesthetics of the final application such as; it’s not blue enough, why aren’t the buttons more round, I thought the columns on the report would be wider, the font needs to be bigger, etc, or we might discover previously undiscussed workflow issues; yeah, but every time that happens I have to run this report and mail it to her so can we just need to do it automatically. Generally, these client requests are very reasonable, but they are outside the initial scope of the engagement.
The more clarity provided during the requirements gathering stage, the less risk that there is a miscommunication regarding detailed expectations, and a functioning wireframe is imperative in helping to demonstrate what the completed application will look like. ‘Grey zones’ can translate to project bleed and unhappy clients and all efforts should be made by the software development company to minimize them.
Now, let’s take a look at the difference between application warranty and enhancements:
Warranty refers to anything that is not functioning as it should. For instance, the requirements spec says to do X, but the application is actually not doing X very well. When performance is already established, the warranty ensures that the performance continues for a defined period of time.
- There can be an error screen from a bug. These are rare, but on occasion, it may occur.
- Some of these occasional bugs are actually unaccounted for case scenarios. For example; maybe a page in the application works fine until someone tries to order a negative quantity of an item, or they schedule an event to last for 72 hours when the system had only been programmed with an assumption of a maximum time of 4 hours. These bugs are harder to cover under warranty and are generally caused by the grey zone of requirements. A discussion is usually required to determine if these are warranty or enhancement items.
Enhancements are items that can be seen as a lack of functionality that escalates in priority until the items are worth building:
- A column missing on a report
- A missing step in the workflow… if we just automated this then it would be so much easier
- Keeping up with new technology
- Staying compliant with new security measures
- Scaleability – The system might respond fine to a few thousand users (or hundred thousand records), but starts to crash under tens of thousands of users (and millions of records)
It will also be necessary to ensure your new application undergoes routine updates. Think of it like car maintenance; done regularly, it’s mostly painless, left unchecked, you end up stranded with your family along the side of the interstate and your vacation is ruined. This is why your developer should be talking to you about maintenance early on in the engagement so that you understand what to budget for. Open communication is the key!
Inverse-Square is a custom software company in Indianapolis. We focus on workflow automation software that improves process efficiency. Whether you are looking to replace excel, or build a background screening application, we can help!Request a Consultation