Guaranteeing User Satisfaction in the Era of Fast Deployments

Much of the methodology available and that businesses adopt in the development of products — specifically software — revolve around the ability to effectively produce products as quickly as possible without suffering from degraded quality. Nevertheless, development projects are continually over budget and run past the scheduled delivery date. Although much of these overruns have to do with how a project is managed, some issues are hard to avoid. For example, application development is becoming more complex as these systems are engaged in highly interoperable tasks that have an interdependence with other external systems, among other reasons. In an era where customers require feature-rich products in an instant-gratification environment, how can companies deliver while still maintaining quality and user satisfaction?

Improve project management budgeting

Most project managers understand the essentials of handing large scale projects and deployments including handling scope, managing time and scheduling, keeping records of costs, ensuring quality, and handling in-team activities. In fact, many are certified by boards that ensure these individuals have a clear understanding of how to handle complexity, change, budget restrictions, and time. Nevertheless, a large percentage of projects fail due to overruns. Part of the failure, however, is in handling realistic deliverables that meet the expectation of the end-user. When focused on ensuring that the customer is content with the results, this can lead to scope creep. Otherwise, managing scope may lead to a lower expectation that the desired result.

To avoid these failures, it is necessary to delve deep into stakeholder interests and understand their real wants and needs. This often involves moving past what is stated in the functional requirements, and understanding implied expectations. Do this by using experience and past failures, and asking key questions to understand the business problem that needs to be addressed. Project managers should be asking these questions to all stakeholders, including end-users. This allows managers to develop a multiple-perspective view of the scenario. Once this is done, budget for surprises and build contingency into the project. More importantly, always have a backup plan.

Incorporate the use of key performance indicators

One of the wisest ways of understanding the handling of a project is that if something cannot be measured, it cannot be managed. Therefore, develop key performance indicators (KPI) that can provide insight. These objective measures provide evidence of where a project or task stands, and can help improve decision-making. Furthermore, these offer a point of comparison and can track effectiveness and efficiency. More importantly, when properly aligned to end-user requirements, quality, scheduling, and budget, they can help a development team stay on track and focused. These indicators provide the perfect queues to ensure that project managers adjust based on quantifiable results.

Use feature flags

Development companies use feature flags for many reasons. Primarily, these are ways to turn a subsection of a deployment on or off without having to rewrite code. This way, an entire module is enabled or disabled instantly. This feature can promote fast deployment of functionality while maintaining safety. By its very nature, this idea promotes responsible scale ability. Apart from the qualities that make is a perfect tool for rapid deployment, feature flags can also help determine the aspects that customers are curious about and use. For example, development teams can turn on a module or feature and see how customers interact and react to it before completing the entirety of the code. This allows for a focus on features that customers truly value so that resources are invested on actual end-user requirements versus speculation of needs. The consequences are faster deliverables while maintaining a high level of user satisfaction.