Software Life cycle Management Strategies
Organizations can manage uncertainty and risk by adopting sound software lifecycle management strategies. Here are 7 that can set you on the road to meeting your objectives.
1. Understand the big picture.
Someone on the team needs to have a “big picture” perspective. First, what are the business and IT drivers for your software initiative? Perhaps you want to remedy compliance issues, shorten time to market or position the company for growth. Second, what are the strategies you will put in place to address these drivers?
2. Secure executive sponsors.
Software initiatives with executive sponsorship have a much better chance of success. Identify and engage sponsors who truly support the effort. The most successful enterprise IT projects I have experiences had actively involved sponsors who demonstrated leadership, made the tough decisions when needed, communicated throughout the organization and had earned respect.
3. Plan, and plan again.
Time spent planning is time well spent. Since each step in the software lifecycle sets the stage for the next, it is critical to set direction early. Strategy drives the scope of the software effort and the stakeholders involved. Stakeholder needs and priorities drive software evaluation and selection, as well as system design and configuration. And so forth…
Plans are living documents, and will change as the software initiative progresses. Have a process in place to decide which changes to incorporate.
4. Identify stakeholders and needs.
Stakeholders include internal parties like operations personnel, corporate staff and management. Stakeholders also include external parties like stockholders and regulatory bodies. Not all stakeholders are users, but all users are stakeholders.
Define the user population—the specific job roles within the organization, at stated global locations. Identify a core team of representatives and document their consensus business needs and priorities (aka business requirements). Poor business requirements cause problems in over two-thirds of software initiatives, so take the time to clearly and concisely document needs.
5. Document and manage business benefits and risks.
Organizations that state the expected business benefits of their software initiative—and measure how well the solution fulfills these expectations—are more likely to be successful. The risk side of the equation is just as important; what are the risks that could occur, and their severity?
6. Anticipate and manage organizational change.
New software and IT tools change the way people work. Consider the “people” aspects of your software initiative alongside the technical aspects.
Organizational change management starts when you start with a concept for your software effort, and parallels the entire lifecycle. Organizational change management efforts range from readiness assessments and user needs surveys to communication plans and communications vehicles, training plans and training, and post-implementation assessments.
7. Appoint a seasoned facilitator.
IT projects can become political, very fast. Different stakeholders have different perspectives, different agendas, and different ideas about what is the best technical solution. Also, IT projects should be about the business and the users, not about technology per se.
Find a seasoned, objective party to help you navigate the software lifecycle, from concept, through business requirements, software evaluation and selection, implementation, and post-implementation. This person must be:
- fluent in the terminology of strategy, business subject matter and IT,
- seasoned in directing large, complex projects,
- able to identify and escalate issues that arise,
- a communicator and
- experienced in producing project deliverables throughout the lifecycle.