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Partnership: which questions should you ask your development agency when developing built-to-last software solutions?

This article is part of a series about the key elements of successful enterprise software development projects. In the previous articles we discussed the difference between ‘built-for-purpose software’ and ‘built-to-last software’, and how you should approach lifecycle management and test coverage of these kind of projects. In this article we talk about partnership: asking each other (the agency and the client) the right questions.

Tibor Uittenbogaard | 09 dec 2018

This article is part of a series about the key elements for a strategic enterprise software development strategy

Developing software that is long-lasting and adjustable, based on a successful development strategy that safeguards quality of the software in a changing IT landscape. That sounds good. So why can’t my software development agency provide quality and warranty like this? This is the question my clients often ask when I meet them for the first time. Which brings us to the client’s role. The answer to the question above can be found by asking some questions in return:

  • What did you “buy” (or what did you expect to be buying)?
  • Did you aim to purchase a product with a list of requirements, or a software solution to solve a specific problem (the purpose)?
  • Or did you aim to select a development partner, and a partnership for success?

If you asked for- and bought a solution to solve a specific problem (so a purpose-built solution), then it is only natural that there may be hiccups or friction if the nature of that problem or purpose changes. The same goes for solutions or products with very specific properties. If the product was developed with specific properties, without discussing expectations about change at later stages, then it’s only logical that changes at later stages may be very difficult, or even impossible.

But if you asked for a partnership for success- and if you engaged in a cooperation to work on a durable and lasting solution, well then your agency should have sold you a development strategy. Not a solution based on a list of features or functional designs.

So if you’re a client, ask yourself this:

  • Did I ask my agency or development partner the right question?

But also:

  • Did I as a client adopt the right mindset?
  • And did I maintain that mindset?

Because building & maintaining solutions to last, also requires a lasting mindset.

“One of the learnings from Change Management methodologies is you have to change yourself to facilitate for change. “
- Mohammed Brueckner, Technology Strategist, CRM Expert and Change Manager

Long-lasting development strategies

At One Shoe, we aim to provide our clients with long-lasting development strategies. We prefer to offer built to last solutions instead of built for purpose software. This, because in many of our projects, the initial objectives remain only fixed until the objectives are met. After that, there are new objectives, insights and ambitions. And probably new stakeholders as well. And new developers. And designers. And use cases. And technologies. And so on.

In those ambitious projects on which we work more and more, it’s akin to aiming at (working on achieving) a moving, sometimes invisible goal. In those projects our agile development processes, quality assurance safeguards and development culture, ensure that quality is safeguarded at all times, every step of the way. Through technology, as well as through processes and people.

Also interesting to see is that more and more of our clients no longer approach us with fully outlined requirements lists. More and more of our clients are characterized by an energizing and stimulating ambition and vision, and a mentality that assumes that the ambition can only be realized by cooperation, and by utilizing all different perspectives and expertise, to find and outline the best solutions.  These kind of projects are the best, because they focus on result-driven cooperation and continuous evaluation and improvement.

Even projects that seem small (i.e. the “prototype”) may suffer from something we call “scope creep” - the shifting of priorities and requirements, without a benchmark that allows for the team to properly manage and accommodate for that shift. This is only logical; success makes hungry for more! And a successful prototype or small proof of concept, naturally should be able to evolve into the production-worthy solution that the prototype envisioned.

So at One Shoe we embrace change management and quality assurance as part of our software development approach, because it’s in the best interest of our clients, and vital to nurturing successful long-term relationships.

Let’s talk!

Are you looking for a development partner that can ensure quality? Don’t hesitate to contact us for a cup of coffee and we’ll explore how we can help you with your next ambitious project!

About the author

Tibor Uittenbogaard is Digital Consultant at One Shoe since january 2010. Tibor consults and guides our clients in determining goal-oriented strategies and optimal practices for project cooperation, software development and digital communications strategies. Feel free to contact Tibor if you’re curious to learn more about brand strategy, user experience, development of websites, apps and software, or other topics relating to communication and digital marketing.