Analysis of the Project – Necessary Evil or Mark of Quality
Building your dream house is impossible without the knowledge of an architect, a project, analysis or planning. We have special laws to regulate this endeavor, which is why detailed documentation of your investment has to be provided to obtain a building permit. A well-planned building project not only helps you get what you expect, it translates into a realistic plan for realizing your dream, an efficient use of resources and key cost saving measures, resulting in investment success.
This works in programming tailor-made business applications as well, but without benefitting from the same legal standing. Working with a team of dedicated professionals, you begin with a project and a strategy, and you end with a system that meets the needs of your business. Skipping this stage or not devoting time and attention to it may leave you with a project that fails to meet your business needs and regretting the time and fiscal resources invested.
First the project, then the implementation
From our experience, customers tend to skip or downplay the analysis stage of collaboration for specific reasons.
Hurried interactions. The client urgently needs to know the project budget during the first contact with a team of specialists to even decide initially whether he can afford it. Unfortunately, to accurately estimate the project budget, analysis of project parameters needs to be gained from a client needs analysis. Without this, the valuation won’t be accurate and runs the risk of drastically changing when the project is implemented. Even details specific to the client’s company and the industry play a role in budget projections. With analysis, we are looking for key needs and challenges which are both achievable with the technology used and relevant to the project. Then, together with the client, we set the priorities of individual tasks, primarily taking into account the impact of their business value when implemented. This requires close cooperation between the project team and people on the client's side familiar with the organization and its challenges.
Therefore, there’s a need to involve high ranking employees in the analysis process, including business owners.
Cost cutting. Often, the unwillingness to dedicate resources towards the project analysis stage is from a lack of fully understanding its importance and its benefits. Customers are used to buying off-the-shelf products, ready-made solutions with a price tag, whereas the situation with tailor-made IT solutions is completely different. In practice, creating dedicated systems more closely resembles design thinking processes that involve prototyping, testing and dialing in performance until the expected results are attained. This software is difficult to compare with the price of an off-the-shelf system, because it is actually formed around a client’s unique business needs.
By choosing to cooperate with a team of specialists, such as White Label Coders, and taking advantage of a dedicated solution, you can be sure that your client’s particular needs will be met. From the outset, the client’s needs will be analyzed in order to create an application that will address their unique challenges, develop their business and help gain a competitive advantage over the competition, ultimately bringing a return on their investment.
Analysis in an IT project
For projects in the area of digital transformation, analysis (also called the discovery phase) serves two purposes:
- Transferring of knowledge about the system’s specific areas of activity which will support the IT system in the future, as well as a list of problems to be solved, from the company commissioning the project to the contractor
- Developing a clear consensus and understanding of the proposed vision, between the client and contractor.
A carefully conducted analysis is key in reducing the risk of project failure, maximizing the likelihood that the new system is actually tailored to the clients needs and works as expected.
Careful prioritization means, the more positive impact a system function has on business value, the more its implementation should be prioritized. This has the ability to cut project costs, extending real savings to the client. It’s fairly normal for an initial needs analysis to include functionalities and set expectations that over time prove to be minor, or even completely irrelevant, from a business point of view. Among other things, an in-depth analysis should help eliminate unnecessary elements from the project scope and direct resources towards refining the most important ones.
As a result, project budgets are dedicated to what the company actually needs and what is proven to specifically benefit them.
How do you envision the solution?
The analytical stage involves iterations of individual solution modules. In the case of complex IT systems, its impossible to collect all the requirements in one workday, which is why this work takes time and often plays out over many meetings. The "general to detail" approach works well here, where the first meeting is devoted to looking at the project from the widest possible perspective. Subsequent work focuses on refining the details. After each meeting, specialists write down their assumptions, collectively analyzing possible solutions, deliberating, making lists of questions, then confirming those assumptions at the next client meeting while asking follow up questions ... and thus each subsequent system module is developed.
The output of the analysis process includes specifications in the form of user stories (the so-called backlog), and process flow diagrams, or the so-called mockups of the relevant parts of the future application.
Only on the basis of the results of this analytical work is it possible to estimate project costs and develop the specifications that will become an important element of the next stage of the contract for software development.
What is important for getting started?
The client has to value the analysis process and devote enough time to this stage. This can be anywhere from day to weeks of intensive joint efforts, depending on the size of the system.
This stage is no place for cost cutting - its necessary to understand that the analysis phase requires a lot of work, both on the part of the contractor and the client. Through it, a system design is created, which proves its value as it is needed to move towards implementing the system. Less resources spent at this stage translates to more problems during the implementation stage.
As much as possible, its important that not only decision-makers, but also future system users, participate in the analysis.
What is important to remember - in practice, there are almost always many other places to find significant savings in system implementation costs, but it is the analysis phase that serves to determine what can be saved and what requirements must absolutely be met in order for the system to actually bring in the expected return on investment.