A Comprehensive Guide to Project Evaluation
Evaluation might seem like an unnecessary additional task if you are already short of time and resources. But it can save you both time and resources by keeping participants focused on, and working towards, the ultimate goal of the project. If necessary, it can refocus activity away from unnecessary work. To start with, evaluation by members of a project or organization will help people to control their daily work. It estimates the effectiveness of the work schedule. You will also see whether the project is moving steadily and successfully towards achieving the goals and KPIs, or whether it is moving in a wrong direction.
The main thing you need to know is that most software applications are like human beings. They need to breathe and eat. If you want to build a SaaS-type platform that people will regularly pay money for, you should immediately chase away any beliefs of a platform that “has the end”. This means that the platform will not be able to function forever. And after the launch of the platform, you can’t fire the entire development team.
The platform subscription works because users are willing to pay for an evolving platform that has all the latest integrations with third-party services. They need to make sure that the platform supports payments and features that no other competitor in the market can match. When development stops, the market continues to grow. Some things start to lose their relevance. Starting from the structure that the application uses, its features, integrations, or even the application itself.
What follows from this is that it is very important to avoid mistakes that can be associated with the evaluation of the “finished” product. Because there is a chance that this product will never really be ready. The best thing you can do is to focus on the first major stage, the MVP or first launch.
MVPs — estimate the initial phase of development
Understanding the basic functions of a particular application will help you establish what should be in a minimal viable product or on the MVP platform. This will weightily help you evaluate the initial development phase and what will be needed later to bring the app to the user market and monetize it in the future.
If you leave only the core components of the platform, you can easily get it into production in a matter of weeks or months, not years. When the platform goes live and users start interacting with it and providing feedback, you may find that some of the "core" features are not really needed by your customers. That way you can avoid wasting a lot of time and money on developing unnecessary features.
The main advantages of the onsite model
In the world of software development, there are applications for every budget. Every development firm will be clear and open about their pricing in terms of T&M. Good development firms don't cheat clients and purposefully don't stretch development longer than necessary. This is a brutal market, and any reputable software development company will quickly go under if they overestimate a project or don't deliver on time.
You save a lot of time and energy by naming your approximate budget in advance. This makes it easier to see if it's at least within what you can expect for the first development cycle. Also on timelines. If you have strict deadlines to meet, such as finishing the MVP for presentation to investors or before the peak season for your particular business. In that case, it's better to mention it in advance, so the development firm can take it into account when building the team.
If you are concerned that the firm is using this information to increase its own profits, you might want to start the conversation by asking what the minimum contractual commitment of the development firm is. Most reputable firms have this as a minimum contractual obligation that they will consider at the beginning of any new relationship with a client.
This will allow you to know the initial price for a particular service without unnecessary information. If this minimum commitment is not within your budget, you will be able to move on to other options rather than getting bogged down in a company representative's suggestions.
How to make guarantees that promises are kept
The next issue of great concern to clients is responsibility. How can you be sure that developers will stay within budget? Working on a T&M contract means that the longer they work on the contract, the more money they are going to make. What safeguards are in place to protect the client from unnecessary exploitation? Several things are important to establish in these cases:
1. The platform should be broken down into a list of individual features and functionality with a separate estimate for each item.
2. There should be a trial period at the beginning of the work, which will allow the client to stop development at short notice (1 day) if he is not satisfied with the course of the work
The idea is to see firsthand the development team's ability to stick to their estimates and deadlines, and to give the client an opportunity to terminate the contract early if things don't go according to plan.
While there is some risk involved with this method of interaction, it allows both parties to start small and get an idea of the collaborative work before entering into a long-term collaboration. Clients get a chance to ensure that the development firm is honest in its individual assessments.
The biggest drawback to this approach is that it takes a significant amount of time or research for the development firm to come up with such a detailed estimate. Binary has a process called Inception, which precedes the actual start of development to produce such estimates. This is a paid process that takes up to a week and requires close communication with the product owner to create the final design.
It takes time and money to create such a detailed proposal from the client, but in the overall scheme of the project, these are fairly minimal resources.
What should company executives keep in mind?
The more information you provide about your vision for the application, the more accurate the estimate will be.
- Wireframes, layouts, technical scope documents, requirements - providing this information to development firms will help get rid of misunderstandings when putting together an estimate and allow them to commit to a tighter overall budget. It will also help developers work more efficiently, as they will be able to understand what needs must be done before work begins.
- There should be a clear and honest assessment of how important QA processes are to initial development. For some clients, time is a priority. They want to get up and running as quickly as possible.
- Other product owners may want the application for medical or financial use, so research and testing is a must. Letting the development firm know this will go a long way toward helping your team come up with an accurate estimate
- Template estimates give an approximate figure and help development firms and potential clients test each other, but they are usually not accurate and should not be considered. If the MVP for another platform took 3 months, that doesn't mean your MVP will take the same amount of time.
- If you have a budget of 5k and you see that the average MVP from a firm takes somewhere between 30-60k, it means that you need to either look elsewhere for a solution or increase your budget.
- From the developer's point of view, there may be unforeseen problems: engineers' oversight, external factors. From the customer's point of view, any changes or new features added to the application during development will push back the timeline. So when you calculate the number of calendar days needed to complete the development cycle, consider vacations, holidays, sick days, etc.
Evaluation is a necessary part of starting a partnership with a development firm. They play a key role in determining which development partner you should choose to start with. By following the above guidelines, you will be able to maximize ownership and planning for the project. The estimate you receive paints a clear picture of how much time and resources it will take to get your platform into production.
It's not like deciding to buy project management software after leaving work and saying, "You know what? For dinner, I want pizza. There's a lot more to it, and knowing what you're looking for beforehand will make your evaluation much simpler.
As much as you can, involve your team in this step for it to be successful. Since they will be using the software, it is important to understand what they require in order to execute effectively. Their perspectives are valuab
Your team's difficulties are probably already well known to you. That's what initially prompted you to look for project management software. It's still a good idea to write down the specific issues you're having, though.
Be detailed and precise. Maybe you can't see how much work each team member is doing, so they're always swamped with assignments. Or maybe you work closely with clients, but the communication flow is clumsy and you spend a lot of time sifting through emails.
On the surface, it's simple to assume that everything is equally important, which makes this one tricky. That’s a dangerous place to be in while you’re evaluating software.
Taking that mindset into your search will lead to either disappointment because your expectations were too high, or it’ll lead to a budget that’s blown out of the water — the higher your demands, the higher the cost.
Are you entirely remote? In-office only? A combination? Your team’s structure will help determine what features rise to the top of your requirements list. If you all work remote, user access and robust collaboration tools won’t be optional.
Your team’s size is another variable to consider. Some products have a required minimum number of users or different price points for different team sizes.
You also need to take your team’s background into account. Have they all worked with project management tools before? If so, you may want to look at products that have more functionality.
Not all project management software will serve your project types. Some are more generic, but others specialize in certain practices. The type of system you look for should fall in line with the specific intricacies of your projects. The good news is, most PM tools can be broadly applied. And if you need a niche solution, there are options for that, too.
Some key things to consider before evaluating a tool are as follows:
- How will the evaluation process be led?
- What financial requirements are there?
- Which authorizations are all required before you can begin?
- What is the schedule for the assessment?
The goal is to create a workflow, obtain approvals, and assign duties.
A scorecard can be used to measure a tool's capabilities and compare it to other options. But you have to do some math!
Give each of your must-have and desirable features a weight (i.e., a numerical value) based on how crucial it is to your process. The weight of the feature increases with its importance. All of the features' combined weights should equal 100.
Numerous methods exist for conducting vendor research. Visit their website to read case studies, use the links to other websites, and read unbiased vendor reviews. If you know of someone who uses the product, you can ask them what they think of the vendor.
You can also check news sources to see if the vendor has ever been linked to any overcharging or data security breaches.
The TCO will vary depending on the initial setup, with on-premise deployment typically requiring a higher initial investment than SaaS. It will also vary depending on how much the hardware, upkeep, support, licensing, and subscriptions cost.
Determine the important topics you must cover and treat these as the important buckets before conducting a survey. Create the pertinent inquiries, then organize your thinking around these categories. The optimal number of questions is between 10 and 15. Determine the survey's methods once the questions are prepared.
Resources will be needed at different times as projects advance, making it nearly impossible to track them in a straightforward spreadsheet.
Project failure, however, can result from improper time and resource management. In actuality, poor resource forecasting accounts for 18% of project failures, and inadequate resource availability accounts for 21%.
In order to create a balance between robust planning and speedy execution, it’s important to look for software that supports efficient project creation and setup. One best practice in project management is to use forms and templates to aid in the efficient processing of new tasks and projects.
The best online project management tools come with a dynamic request form feature. This feature changes the form questions based on the information the requester provides as they are filling it out.