5 reasons to take a phased approach to software development

Why it's a good idea to reduce your big idea to "Version 1.0"

ITworld.com –

The good news is that software development is an iterative process. You can start out with Version 1 that does all the things that absolutely must be in the application, follow it with Version 2 that adds more important features, and so on. But to do so, you need to prioritize and separate the "must have" from "want to have" from "It would be nice."

Reduce your big idea to "Version 1.0," recommends developer Derek Sivers in a blog post devoted to hiring developers. Think of the bare minimum that would make you happy, and people would find useful, he recommends. Identify the three most essential features, perhaps the single most essential feature. Save the rest for later. "A programmer is much more likely to say, 'I can do that!' to this simple version," says Sivers.

[ See also: How To Tell A Software Developer What You Want ]

There are lots of reasons for a phased approach. Among them:

  • Prioritizing the features ensures that the first version of your software can be useful to your users. Not to all of them, perhaps, or in the depth you prefer. But it's usable.
  • A phased approach makes budgets easier to cope with, especially when you haven't done a project like this before and aren’t sure how extensive it will be.
  • Once people are using the initial versions of the software, priorities will change. A phased approach lets you and the developer adjust the features that need to be added next. You can put the most time, attention (and budget) on the things that matter most.
  • If the developer screws up on Version 1.0, you have something to work with while you find another developer.
  • It can minimize "scope creep," wherein you add "just one more thing" to the project requirements (and somehow expect the budget and delivery time to be unaffected). If you know exactly what you will get in which project phase, there are few expensive surprises.

This story, "5 reasons to take a phased approach to software development" was originally published by ITworld.

Copyright © 2010 IDG Communications, Inc.

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