Statistically, only 1 out of 10 startup companies gains a foothold in the market and continues developing. In most cases, their offer doesn't benefit the target market – the value of such products tends to zero. Some projects lose for another banal reason: there are not enough opportunities to present the product properly and reveal its advantages to users.
Organizing workflows within a team that doesn’t understand project goals is another reason for failing. Due to this, development may end before it even starts, and the product will freeze at the idea stage. Some companies fail in the first year, while others cease to exist after 5 to 10 years. But the fact is that only a few remain afloat and succeed.
However, it's possible to prevent common mistakes. The Rocketech specialists summed up the nine most important factors you should consider when preparing your startup for an IT solution development project. Here are the tips on creating the right conditions for a successful project outcome.
1. Understanding the Requirements
The work direction and methods of idea implementation depend on the requirements you set. This mandatory preparatory stage usually includes several steps: discovering and analyzing the needs of target users, documenting specifications, and checking the document for correctness.
At this “zero” stage, you should set the following requirements:
- Business-related: the product’s purpose;
- User-oriented: tasks your product is to solve and related scenarios;
- Functional: key features of a software solution;
- Non-functional: business model, use cases, licensing, intellectual property.
Further work with specifications should be based on a large amount of data about the project, product, algorithms, processes, and all possible requirements. It is necessary to prepare documents at each development stage, ensuring their gradual evolution. Use Jira, Confluence, or another alternative tool for task management and making the project’s wiki. Such tools should be constantly updated and reviewed at the beginning of each sprint. Creating a precise task management system ensures the results upon the release and later forms the product documentation.
2. Feature Evaluation
First and foremost, development is a process. It’s not an independent ambiguous result. And it should be based on a well-defined feature list. This way, your development team can set smaller objectives to ensure the success of each sprint. It's crucial to choose the right project management methodology – our experience shows that Agile frameworks like Scrum and Kanban work best. Evaluating and reviewing each feature helps you understand the project’s direction and estimate the final cost and required resources correctly.
A released feature that collects user feedback is your winning ticket. Each feature should address customer pains points and solve their problems. Customer development and problem interviews help you define what your target users need and how to give it to them.
- Prioritize your tasks and develop only the features that solve customer problems.
- Leave all nice-to-haves till later.
- Focus on sales – the sooner you launch every feature, the better you can estimate the project cost.
- “Stock up” the resources.
Requirements may change over time. It means you need to reassess the situation continuously. Development is a dynamic process responding to the changing environment and, therefore, requiring an agile approach.
3. Short-Term Planning
How the internal processes are organized affects both the speed and quality of work. It primarily applies to setting goals and planning. Sometimes companies tend to set long-term goals, striving to cover everything at once, but it can seriously backfire.
For startups, long-term planning is risky. Strictly following only the forward-looking strategy, the IT team cannot adapt to the market changes or new requirements. Ultimately, it deprives the project of flexibility and slows it down.
However, there is a golden mean, and its name is Agile. It implies dividing the project into short periods of two or three weeks - sprints. Each sprint has different tasks. At the end of a sprint, analyzing the results, the team and the customer jointly prioritize goals for the next one. According to statistics, this methodology has helped 98% of companies already.
4. Framework as the Project Foundation
A framework is a software product that makes it easy to create and maintain large, technically complex projects. They include the file system and databases, error fixing, and data protection. From a business point of view, using a framework is more cost-effective than writing code from scratch.
Such IT solutions are easier to maintain and modify if necessary. The framework structure is standardized, which means it is understandable to any specialist. It is indispensable when working on projects with complex business logic and strict requirements for security and speed. But you should remember that you benefit from it only if you choose the right instrument.
There are hundreds of frameworks on the market allowing you to implement almost any feature. For example, the leaderboard compiled by Statista in 2021 includes React.js, jQuery, Express, Angular, and Vue.js. However, frameworks have different functionality and solve distinct tasks.
5. Control and Synchronization of Changes
The Version Control System (VCS) captures revisions and stores multiple document versions. It's crucial to anyone dealing with ever-changing data. For example, developers can store source code and control access rights for different users. It is also an indispensable opportunity for collaboration, where process synchronization is essential.
The system helps solve other problems that arise during the work on the project. For example, it's sometimes easier for a developer to reboot by rolling back the program to a stable working version and rewriting it all over again. VCS allows you to do this: it stores the entire history, so it is easy to find the necessary version. It may contain other information required by the team and the customer (for example, text files or images).
6. Quality Over Speed
Sometimes tasks of the same complexity take much longer to complete in the middle of a project than they've done initially. Why? These are clear symptoms of technical debt accumulated over many iterations. It means that the project has many confusing pieces of code and failures in the architecture, so it is hard to scale.
The reason is clear: often, developers prioritize speed over quality. It happens when a business seeks to launch a product faster than its competitors. Users, however, may prefer the slower competitor’s solution due to its higher quality.
Ideally, you should focus on quality at the project’s start. Speed can become your additional advantage. It is unlikely to prevent all errors, but you will reduce their number significantly. It will be much easier for developers to fix minor defects than major bugs during the next refactoring.
7. Continuous Testing
Professionals usually rely on the technical specification containing detailed information (from initial goals to final characteristics). However, the described nuances do not remain unchanged during the entire work period. The pitfalls here are related to the impermanence of the requirements.
Requirements may change under the influence of market trends, niche trends, and target user preferences. Some features lose their relevance and go out of fashion over time. To be prepared for such surprises and quickly adapt to them, monitor the market constantly. Start testing as early as possible and run it regularly, especially after changes.
8. Budget Cooperation Model
While in-house IT departments remain large companies' prerogative, startups opt to outsource their development. A business has three options to delegate the project: local specialists, a neighboring country, or a distant country. Since most startups have limited budgets, the third option is more profitable. For example, specialists from Eastern Europe charge $ 30-60 per hour, while in the US, prices reach up to $65-130.
Of course, other factors also affect the cost: the specifics of your project, complexity, additional integrations, or the need to introduce modern technologies for digitization and automation. However, the location of your contractor may reduce costs significantly.
9. Tech Partnership
According to experts at McKinsey, technological advances in the next ten years will make us reevaluate the previous 100 years. In a changing environment, focusing on innovation is the key to surviving in highly-competitive markets.
Partnering with an experienced development company is a strategic decision that largely defines your project’s results. After 100+ successful projects, Rocketech has formed a flexible and efficient Dedicated Team model. Our philosophy is to go beyond standard IT outsourcing services and create long-term, trusted partnerships with our Clients.
Whether you have only a product idea or an existing project in development, our managers will assign required professionals and guide you throughout the entire process. We are always excited to share our expertise and hear your ideas. Contact us today!