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5 Ways a Client can Help Ensure Project Success

When I meet with prospective clients, I am often asked what is the most important thing required to ensure project success. This article reviews the most important client attributes that influence the outcome of the project and hopefully provides some food for thought to those looking to outsource the development of their product to a third-party vendor.

Know the problem you are trying to solve. This is the essential requirement for any new software development project. Software is merely a collection of instructions and data that tell a computer how to work. It does not matter how great these instructions are, if the software does not solve a specific problem, the software is worthless. The client must be able to clearly articulate the problem at hand and the reason this problem requires a solution. The solution itself is secondary and can evolve overtime as testing ensues and user feedback is received.

Understand the importance and value of POC. A proof of concept helps confirm the product's potential in real-world application by validating that it has demand and can solve the problem it was created to address. There are two potential outcomes of a POC software and both are valuable. You can either avoid spending a lot of money on something that is not viable market- or technology-wise, or you can get a tangible proof that your idea is worthwhile pursuing. It is important to remember that a POC software is not intended to demonstrate every possible feature of your future software, and should focus on a small set of functions that help understand the potential of the future product.

Be a part of the team. I can't stress this point strongly enough, but it is of the utmost importance that the client actively participates in the project. This means that the client has to assign a dedicated individual who will work with the development team to provide information, help make decisions, set priorities, and learn how the newly built software works. Without ongoing client participation, the project will likely require many costly revision and will result in lack of satisfaction and low team morale.

Provide timely and detailed feedback. Each stage of the software project development process provides different set of deliverables such as UI mockups, prototypes, intermediate versions of software and so on. Clients should review and provide feedback to the development team. It is crucial that the feedback provided is timely and detailed. If the team delivers a set of mock-ups that are not acceptable, it is not enough to say, "I don't like it." It is important to communicate with the Project Manager and explain why the work is not acceptable and how the team could improve it.

Trust your development team. Trust is essential to an effective team because without it there is less innovation, collaboration, creative thinking, and productivity. When working with a third-party provider to build a new software product, the client should trust that the team has their best interests in mind. After all, the development team has the necessary experience and skills required to deliver the product in the most efficient way.

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