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Irene KrotIrene KrotHead of Partner Engagement

Designing a Project Development Strategy: Where to Start?

The six steps to take before partnering up with a software development company

Designing a Project Development Strategy

* Bookmark this quick-start guide to project planning not to lose it. You will see, the questions I list here will certainly come in handy.

Developing a strategic plan is your first step on the path to success. Yet, the first one does not mean simple. There are six measures for you to take to get ready for it.

  1. Define the cooperation pattern

  2. Understand cooperation specifics

  3. Research your project idea

  4. Think about monetization

  5. Understand project specifics

  6. Define project constraints

If you do not feel prepared to carry out project research yourself, you can ask professional BAs to help you. In any case though, there are a number of questions I as a Partner Engagement Manager would like you to answer. Let’s see what I mean!

Define the cooperation pattern

First things first, we find out the cooperation pattern. There are two options: scope-based and resource-based. “Scope-based cooperation” and “resource-based cooperation” are my author’s neologisms, so do not even google it. Instead, you may know them as outsourcing and outstaffing.

Cooperation patterns

Scope-based software development is a cooperation model when you delegate a certain project or a part of it to an outside service provider on a contractual basis.

 A scope-based cooperation pattern is the most suitable when the Client delivers one of the following messages:

I have a product vision and need to develop a permanent solution.

I have a big project that cannot be handled by one person, a team is needed.

I want to have a determined scope and approved deliverables before we kick-off.

I have no time to control the process of project development, I am concentrated on other business activities.

I do not have a technical background, so I want to divide responsibilities and delegate the software development to you.

Resource-based software development is when you hire people employed by a different company to work on your project as a part of your team.

We are dealing with a resource-based cooperation pattern when the Client sends one of the following messages:

I need to augment my in-house team to bridge the skill gaps and distribute the responsibilities.

I need a team to be my remote IT department, they will continually build my company's product(s).

I want to integrate your specialists into our core corporate rules, methodologies, tools, etc.

We have a deadline coming up, and we need to finish the project on time.

Understand the specifics of our cooperation 

I assume that, once you have started looking for help with software development, you should have some understanding of what this help is going to look like. By now, you must have checked a number of software development websites, messaged or called a few companies, and read a few informative articles. There should be a clear picture of our potential cooperation in your head. For a successful strategic project planning, share this picture with me, please!

Regardless of the cooperation pattern, these are the questions that you should have answers to:

  • What kind of services do you require except development (QA, UI/UX design, PM)?

  • What would you like to see go right? What outcomes would you like to avoid?

  • How would you measure the success of our partnership?

  • How is a software development decision typically made in your organization? 

  • What will be the main factors guiding your decision?

  • What is your role in the future project? Who are the other project stakeholders?

  • Do you have an in-house team?

If our cooperation is resource-based, these are the answers I need:

  • What are the top tech challenges you or your team are currently facing?

  • How are you solving these challenges at the moment?

  • What motivated you to search for another solution now?

  • What kind of qualifications are you looking for? (Both hard and soft skills – years of experience, interpersonal skills, etc.)

  • Have you formalized your requirements in any form?

For scope-based cooperation, please, prepare the answers to the following questions:

  • How was the idea of the project born?

  • What is the main idea behind the project?

  • Within your organization, is there a person who can act as a Product Owner? Responsible for prioritizing features, approving deliverables, etc.

  • Have you prepared any specifications?

Research your project idea (or ask us to help you)

You should understand and study all the potential risks and difficulties of your strategic planning project prior to launching development. It will help you save a huge amount of time and resources.

Understand your competitors 

Once you have a clear picture of what your project should be, search for similar apps or services online. What do they offer their users? Is there something new you can contribute? Is the niche overcrowded, and do you have a chance to enter it? Is the niche empty and why?

Understand your industry niche

You have to understand the industry trends, which you want to make use of. You should also consider the most trending technological approaches, such as IoT or AI. How will your app change the industry? What technology do you plan to implement?

Understand your target audience

You have to know who you are developing your app for. What is their age, gender, family status, social status, occupation field, interests, and needs? Create a user persona, describe them in the tiniest details, and look for a way to make them love your product. 

Here is an example of a user persona our Business Analysis specialists created for Banker Advisor:

user persona

Think about monetization

If you develop a project for commercial purposes, not for the use inside your company, you have to think about how to make it bring profits. Monetization is a crucial aspect of the product development strategy, and you have no right to neglect it.

The most usual and obvious monetization approach is to develop a paid app. Yet, this way, you will have difficulties dealing with free competitors.

According to Statista, 96 percent of apps on Google Play and 90.3 percent of apps on Apple App Store are free. Can you offer something so unique and important that the users will buy it?

The most common monetization approaches for free apps include:

  • Selling associated products or services

  • Enabling in-app purchases

  • Offering a subscription model

  • Advertising

The four types of advertising revenue are:

  • Cost per Thousand Impression (CPM)

  • Cost per Click (CPC)

  • Cost per Action (CPA)

  • Payment for removing ads

Understand the specifics of your project

Your project has to be unique. It has to solve a problem that nobody has solved or in a way that nobody has ever done it. You need to understand what you are going to do, and why do you need it.

After you have conducted a research phase, you need to be able to answer the following questions about project specifics.

These are the questions that I would need you to answer regardless of the cooperation pattern:

  • Do you have a preferred software development methodology?

  • What are the key features of the app?

  • What are the user roles of the app? Can you describe the main User Flow?

  • What browsers and devices should the app be compatible with? 

  • What is the expected number of Daily Active Users and Concurrent users?

  • Will Search Engine Optimization be needed?

  • If Layout is included, do you need the app to be responsive?

  • If Design is included, do you have a style guide/brand book? What are your design preferences?

If our cooperation is resource-based, please, answer the following:

  • What are the technologies and tools you want to use?

  • Are there any third-party services to be integrated (payment, sending emails, etc.)?

In the case of scope-based cooperation, these are the answers that I need:

  • What is your goal in this project?

  • Have you decided on the technical solution? What kind of application are you looking to build: web/mobile/desktop? If mobile, is it going to be a native, cross-platform, or progressive web app?

  • Do you have a preferred technical stack?

  • What is the unique sales proposition?

  • Can you reset links to similar services? What do you like/do not like most about your closest competitors?

Define project constraints

Your project is going to be limited – limited in terms of people, deadlines, budget, and legal requirements. Clearly defined limitations are paramount in order to make sure that you do not go beyond all the possible project boundaries. It will also let you choose the most suitable one of the project management strategies.

Whatever cooperation pattern we choose, please, answer the following:

  • How much do you have budgeted now? 

  • By when would you like to have the project done? 

  • By when do you want to get started? 

  • By when would you like to select a provider?

  • Does your future app need to adhere to any legal requirements or industry-specific standards?

To Wrap Up

The answers that I listed above are important for the successful start of our project cooperation. How to develop a strategic plan? As explained earlier, here are the six steps you should work on:

  1. Define the cooperation pattern

  2. Understand cooperation specifics

  3. Research your project idea

  4. Think about monetization

  5. Understand project specifics

  6. Define project constraints

Yet, I recognize that you may not know all the answers when you come to us with your project idea. You can partner up with us to conduct research and collect project requirements together. Our BA specialists will also help you deal with strategic project planning and find the most suitable monetization approach.

Do you need help with the project development strategy?

Our expert BA specialists, Project Managers, and I, we will help you conduct project research and formulate the optimal development strategy. Learn more about Business Analysis services that we offer.

Ilona ShvahlaIlona ShvahlaHead of Partner Engagement