29 April 2014
You Don't Know What Software You Need Until You Build It
Depending on which source you believe, the average failure rate over the last 20 years for custom software projects is around 70%. It’s a staggering number for sure, but more staggering is the wasted dollars and people effort.
This begs the question, “Why?”
Gaslight was born five years ago out of a collective understanding that there’s a better way to engineer and deliver quality software. Software that people actually use and that accomplishes the business goals set out by an organization. Our approach to building custom software includes iterative, test-driven, agile development.
What does that mean exactly? In the simplest terms, we believe you don’t truly know what kind of software you need until you start building it. It’s amazing what you discover trying out a working feature. Seeing how it will function in your daily workflow and refining project details as you react to what’s built.
To drive this fluid process, our core business revolves around delivering production quality software on a weekly basis. We’re focused on a series of tiny software launches that are driven by business needs and a close collaboration with the people who will actually use the final product. Testing happens every single step of the way.
There are many software development companies that follow a much different approach. They spend a ton of time upfront creating heavy definition documentation that eventually makes its way over to a development team, who then build the software based on this fixed set of requirements.
Often, the end result is a product that doesn’t meet the needs of the organization because the development process wasn’t flexible enough to change and the actual developers were kept at arm’s length from end users. This is the beginning of the failure statistic in our opinion.
We certainly believe in planning, but we view this in much smaller chunks we call discovery. What are the project goals? What are the problems we’re trying to solve? How critical is this software to the core business? Will this custom software make money? Save money? Or reduce risk? Finally, what is most important to accomplish?
We ask these questions on a weekly basis and work with our clients to define the most important goals then craft solutions. We deliver production quality software quickly so that feedback from users can drive change or improvement. The tighter the feedback cycle, the greater chance we’ll build the right thing.
We’ve proven over time that the cost of building custom software in this manner is lower and more successful than other less agile approaches. We’re also able to deliver solutions that truly impact business needs.
Instead of pushing towards a big flashy final launch party, we live by a different motto: launch early, launch often.