How to Avoid Scope Creep in Software Development
15 May 2014
When you’re developing to accomplish complex, enterprise-level projects, the area of project estimation can become quite challenging due to one overriding factor: specific requirements not visible from the first sight. Having successfully delivered many complex IT, telecom and financial-related development projects, Azoft has demonstrated the efficiency of its project management team.
The key to our synergy? After an initial review of the project requirements and before any technical specifications are defined, we hold a Team Immersion Week during which the project manager and a small leadership team communicate with the client to study their business, processes and analyze the project workflow in minute detail. This is performed in close cooperation with the customer’s own team of technical specialists, through either visiting with them in person or via remote videoconferencing.
Taking the time and effort to acquire an in-depth understanding of both a project’s business objectives and a company's in-house workflow generates outstanding results:
- The finished application more thoroughly caters to the nuances of the company’s workflow and provides tangible benefits in a user-friendly way, thus increasing productivity and improving customer service
- Projects are delivered in shorter turnaround times and at lower cost due to a more precise understanding and efficient implementation of the development specifications
- A reduction in change requests occurs during and after the implementation.
To provide a clearer picture of the basis and benefits of an immersive approach, let’s use one of Azoft’s telecom projects as an example:
The immersive approach illustrated: Telecom Project
This project was completed for a major European telecom operator. The customer runs a complex OSS/BSS infrastructure that’s responsible for supporting various aspects of the company’s business processes: reserving equipment; documenting services sold to customers; managing pools of IP addresses, etc. Some of those systems at that time were integrated and communicating to Amdocs Cramer OSS via an API. As the old API provided the ability to automatically manage only a small portion of services and products from the company’s stack, it was decided to design and implement a brand new API that enables high-level operations and conforms to modern enterprise standards and trends.
The immersive approach in action
After examining the initial project specs, Azoft’s specialists traveled to the client’s site in Austria to perform a more detailed analysis of the company’s business processes, which consist of handling customer orders and network inventory management activities. The processes had to be carefully determined, classified and then referenced against API operations, domain models and object states. We communicated with the client’s team, determined the requirements, and designed a comprehensive set of software development specs.
The onsite analytical session allowed our team to get the full context of the client situation, understand existent workflow, problems and project objectives more precisely, and learn how the result solution should be shaped in order to address those problems.
Created during this session set of well-defined project specifications enabled our team to prepare a very detailed and accurate project estimate, precise delivery schedule with clear milestones.
Working in close collaboration with telecom team, the following key features for new API were revealed that:
- allow management physical and logical network resources.
- make it possible to document services sold to the customers, based on a wide range of network technologies, hierarchies, and different types of services.
- support upgrade/downgrade of bandwidth for the sold physical lines via utilizing the current network configuration or reconnecting a customer to a new type of equipment.
- provide (by request) 3rd party system details about documented services, as well as physical and logical network inventory associated with them.
- expose utility public operations which allow to retrieve object instances from the Cramer OSS object model.
The deep immersion into the telecom’s workflow allowed our team to deliver the most accurate and complete technical specification for the production team, thus eliminating sweeping changes to further development stages. Additionally, it allowed for the design, development and deployment of the most efficient solution for the customer’s needs.
Since the preliminary analysis revealed exactly what the system needed, the results were impressive:
- Significant increase in the amount and speed of processed data, thanks to wide range of automatic operations and high performance.
- More accurate and precise documentation of the company’s network inventory, resulting in more efficient customer support service.
- Support for a large portion of products from the company’s stack that can be managed via the new API.
- Provision of a flexible solution for instances of launching a brand new product: the set of operations provided by the new API can be extended, and business strategy changed without significant effort.
Through the use of an immersive approach and working closely with customer’s specialists, the Azoft team was able to deliver a solid, all-around solution without encountering any unexpected changes during the development process. As a result, the project was completed in less time – and ended up costing the client less money.
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