Case Study - Small Software Product Development Company

Introduction

Thinktank Consulting was approached by the management of a relatively small software development company that was looking for some help with their issues. At the time they had approximately ten to fifteen small clients that they sold their product to and were obligated to support these clients to generate cash flows to sustain the company. At the same time the firm was selected to participate in a tender for a very large contract with one of the larger players in the Asian telecommunications market. The management felt that they had a very good chance of winning this contract providing they can produce a major upgrade to their product.

Problems

The issues mentioned by the executives of the software house included: excessive workloads, projects (both from Professional Services and Product Development areas) frequently being late, Change Requests implemented for customers frequently required rework and “buggy” upgrades to the existing software product.

Constraints

Quality and richness of features of the new version of the product was of the first priority to the company, because of its Asian bid. At the same time the management was concerned about maintaining the cash flow generated by the CRs requested by the existing small customers. Time factor was also important; however the senior management has indicated that they were willing to be somewhat flexible in order to obtain superior quality.

Solution

This was a case when the SmartPhase methodology developed by Thinktank Consulting was a perfect fit to the scenario described. We conducted a series of in-depth interviews with the technical personnel including software development managers, product manager, CTO, developers and testers to try to identify the root causes of the problems mentioned earlier. The results of our findings were presented to the executive team. After a prolonged discussion both sides agreed that while all of the recommendations are valid and useful, the company has enough resources to: Designate a Business Analyst and train him Develop and adopt a set of Requirements Engineering templates Dedicate 70% of the company effort on product development and 30% of the effort on the change request implementation (professional services) Work with customers on prioritizing and thus decreasing the number of change requests. The following activities were deemed necessary, but were postponed to the second phase of the software process improvement program: Charging more money for CRs Improvements in project planning and estimation Hiring of new testers

Outcome

The first prototype of the bioinformatics software was successfully developed in 10 months and installed at several test locations. After several months of fine-tuning the company had several very positive reviews by independent biotechnology experts and made a successful presentation to the venture capital company.

 

About the Author

Jamal Moustafaev, MBA, PMP – president and founder of Thinktank Consulting is an internationally acclaimed expert and speaker in the areas of project/portfolio management, scope definition, process improvement and corporate training. Jamal Moustafaev has done work for private-sector companies and government organizations in Canada, US, Asia, Europe and Middle East.  Read Jamal’s Blog @ www.thinktankconsulting.ca

Jamal is an author of two very popular books: Delivering Exceptional Project Results: A Practical Guide to Project Selection, Scoping, Estimation and Management and Project Scope Management: A Practical Guide to Requirements for Engineering, Product, Construction, IT and Enterprise Projects.

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