This blog was originally written by Detroit Labs Delivery Lead RJ Mey.
RJ’s career has taken him from copy writing, to development, to project management. He resides in Michigan with his two cats. 😸
Taking on a custom software development project is an exciting opportunity to spearhead newness and innovation within your company. Naturally, newness might come with risks, uncertainty, and roadblocks along the way. Choosing the right software development partner can help mitigate some of those risks and overcome roadblocks along the way.
Trust, transparency, adaptability, and collaboration are four core values that we’ve found make a partner great – they’re values that we consider when working with a partner and that our project teams lead with. Our Detroit Labs Delivery Leads (DLDL for short) use these values as their guiding principles when leading custom software projects to help steer our clients and the project team toward a common goal.
It’s common to hear something along the lines of “Trust is the foundation of all good relationships.” Well, it’s true – and it’s the foundation of all our partner relationships.
Without trust, we’re anxiously waiting for an update about if we’re going to hit our deadline. Without trust, we’re gritting our teeth when the new website launches. Without trust, we’re hoping that we didn’t miss any major bugs.
There’s no peace of mind quite like going into a meeting with folks you trust. The conversation moves along smoothly, there’s ease in the room, and you’re certain that if challenges arise – and they will – you are in a room filled with people who will work through it with you. When building a custom software project, your time, money, and reputation are all on the line. Choosing an agency you trust can help ease some of the nerves and give you more confidence in betting your reputation on their work.
Projects create room for collaboration. They’re an opportunity for teams and partners to come together and bring out the best in each other. Hiring an outside vendor to build a custom software application is inherently a form of collaboration.
Collaboration on a delivery project can occur in a number of ways. It can involve sitting down with a client to understand their business and why they’re requesting the features they desire. It can also mean negotiating a deadline to ensure a successful launch. Another type of collaboration involves discussing what features need to be added or removed from a project’s scope.
It’s difficult for an outside vendor to know your business as well as someone on the inside. Likewise, if your company had the expertise to build your custom software project yourselves, you wouldn’t be looking for a development partner.
Collaboration creates space for teams to play to their strengths and form new ideas. By collaborating, we can build the right tool for the job with confidence that we’ve got experts — on both the client and the partner side — who understand the work and client needs. Collaboration gives us the confidence that the people doing the work understand our needs and that we understand theirs.
Transparency and trust go hand in hand. Through transparency, the people involved in a project can see where the work has been, where it is now, and where it’s going. Transparency can involve objective and subjective components of a project.
Some examples of objective project transparency:
- Scrum burndown and burnup charts
- Project calendars
- Sprint velocity calculations
Some examples of subjective project transparency:
- Bi-weekly check in meetings with a client
- Team confidence polls
Programming work is not a commodity. Who makes it —and how they made it — matters. With transparency, we have the assurance that our new product is in the right hands and is being made well. Transparency lets us manage expectations from other stakeholders. It gives us insight into what’s working and what isn’t.
To paraphrase Dwight D. Eisenhower, “Plans are worthless, but planning is everything.” As a project progresses, unexpected challenges will inevitably arise. New features are discovered, team members have emergencies, budgets change, global pandemics begin. Rather than trying to rigidly adhere to ideas that were thought of during the planning phase, a successful project leader adapts to shifting circumstances.
Adaptability can take on a number of views on a project team. Adaptability can mean things like removing features in order to meet a deadline. It can involve scaling up a project team to increase capacity. It can even include changing how a project leader communicates with a client, and how often.
Working with clients and partners over the years, we’ve found these four core values to be essential to our way of doing business. While navigating through the tumultuous world of custom software development, these four values can provide a perspective when choosing a team to partner with. Trust, collaboration, transparency, and adaptability will always provide a strong foundation for a project team.