Meeting project deadlines

How to Help Your Development Team Meet the Deadline

"I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by."
Douglas Adams

It is fortunate that we do not live in the times of the Wild West: now deadline means the time before which a project must be completed, and developers are not shot if they fail to deliver it on time. However, missed schedules still may mean life or death of your project or revenue targets. Nowadays, deadline in software development is a lifestyle and is associated with a lack of sleep, an abundance of coffee mugs around the monitor and rush.

No matter how accurately the timelines are estimated - a violation of the deadline still may occur. And the thing is not just in the developers' inability or ability to work to deadlines. There are many reasons that can influence IT project schedule and some of them are beyond the control of software engineers. Let's see why things can go wrong and what you can do to help your software developers meet the deadline.

What impacts IT project deadlines

In software development, it is important to understand that not everything depends on a dev team, and a project owner also influences meeting project deadlines. Though there is no magic spell to ensure completion of your project on time, it is possible to avoid some common and critical pitfalls. So, if you want your app to be delivered on schedule, bare in mind that the following reasons may undermine the deadline:

  • There are no clear goals in the project plan
    The basics of how to meet deadlines and targets all boil down to understanding the expected results and the means of achieving them. A project plan with clear goals is like a roadmap with a destination mark. If you ask a driver to take you to some place, he gets you there. The fact is that a project plan is more than just a list of tasks and dates. It explains the goals, needs and expectations, as well as defines the approach your development team will use to embody your ideas into reality. Otherwise, you are trying to get somewhere not knowing where.

  • Frequent changes in tasks
    This point follows from the previous one. It is great when entrepreneurs and startup founders are in the permanent search for improvements and fresh solutions. And it is also fine if you want to take into account the latest mobile trends and your new creative ideas. However, frequent changes in requirements result in delays, as even an innocent little thing, like adding social media share buttons, might take 5-6 hours to develop and as many hours to test it.

  • Lack of participation from the client
    Probably, I will not reveal anything new, however I'd like to emphasize the importance of the client's participation in the development. This is particularly critical when outsourcing software development. Your software team needs continuous input from your side. You should review updates, give your feedback, make decisions if some issues arise. If developers have to wait for your responses for too long, this causes the schedule delays and stretches your project timeline.

As you can see, meeting the software development deadline is the responsibility of both project owner and development team.

Tips for meeting software project deadlines

All entrepreneurs, startupers and managers have to deal with the questions: how to set goals and targets in the right way and how to manage priorities in order to meet a tight deadline. IT business players is not an exception. So let's speak how you can help your engineering team to deliver your project on time.

  • Bring in the tech specialists on early stages of setting deadlines
    Creating a technical assignment that clearly defines your project requirements and functional specifications is an important step towards meeting the deadline. Do not confuse the professional technical assignment made by an IT business analyst and based on in-depth tech analysis of your project with a project description which you create to explain your project idea to investors, developers and other stakeholders.

    Let's say you need an eCommerce function and, for client-side documentation, it's enough to write something like "users can purchase products through the site" to make it clear what the website is going to do. However, from the technical point of view, there are more than one way to implement this and there are many questions to consider before setting the timeline for developing it. Do you need an admin panel to manually manage products? Or just a static list of items that you are not going to change? How many and which payment systems do you want to integrate? Do you need to sync it with your inventory management and accounting systems?

    All the options should be discussed with a tech specialist and clearly defined to set realistic deadlines. So, get feedback and input from your engineering team before the development schedule and timeline are finalized.

  • Communicate
    When you think of how to prioritize work and meet deadlines, communication may not be the first thing that comes to mind. However, it should. As an originator of the project idea, you are the only person who knows all nuances of how it should work and without your input the development may go the wrong way. So, keep your finger on the pulse of the development process, talk to your development team, check their daily work, provide timely feedback to each new update and be there when developers have any questions.

    At the same time, avoid too long meetings. Meetings are necessary to stay on the same page with your team and address problems quickly, however keep them short and to the point.

  • Break a project into smaller iterations
    You can not lift a thing that is too heavy and you can not understand a complex subject at once. That is when the complexity of the problem exceeds a certain threshold, we do not know where to start and how to address it. The same is about software development deadlines - it is hard to appropriately set a single deadline for a massive project. Besides, a remote deadline may have a relaxing effect when we deceptively think that there is still plenty of time to finish everything.

    It is good to break a big IT project into smaller releases with a particular set of tasks and define deadlines for each release. It helps to avoid chaos and keep a good pace. This way your development team will be able to deliver smaller parts of work in an orderly and timely manner.

Bottom line

Schedules and deadlines are important in any business. Being on time with your software initiatives shows your professional attitude towards your customers, contributes to your business reputation and conduces to your project's success. Missed deadlines have the ominous consequences and can create a domino effect. Thus, both parties - business owners and software developers - should work together to win the race against time. Follow these tips to help your development team deliver your software on time!