An application roadmapping process for software projects
What will it cost to build this?
How long will it take?
Can we build it?
Emotional side of software development
Those questions encompass the majority of the fears when starting a software development project.
And they are well founded fears.
With statistics like 80% of all software projects fail to stay in their budget, meet their deadlines, or even deliver anything at all..
You're right to be scared.
Especially if you're building something new and innovative. Something that you haven't done before.
But asking for commitments to a budget and timeline from a consultant is error-prone too. Chances are they won't know anymore about your project than you do. In fact, they might even know less.
So it's no wonder they shy away from estimates in the first place or they give vague ones like 6-12 months or 100-200 hours.
I hired Eric to write a plug-in for the open source ticket tracking platform, Redmine. He was a great help from the start by helping us define what we needed and how we wanted the plugin to behave. He delivered the project right on time and at a great price. It worked like it should and continues to be an often downloaded plug-in for Redmine users (leaving the plug in open source was our choice). I highly recommend Eric for any Redmine development (or any Ruby work for that matter).
Burt Culver, CTO, Fishpond Ltd
But what's the downside?
What if the project costs more or takes longer than estimated? What if a developer low-balled their estimate to win the project? What then?
You'll be left with a project that costs more than you expected, takes longer than you wanted, or the quality is so bad that it has to be redone. Or all three.
So if you can't protect yourself by asking for estimates upfront, what can you do?
The P's: Proper planning prevents problems
Take a minute and think...
What if instead of having all these unknowns in your project, you had firm features?
What if instead of just an innovative idea, you had a detailed plan for building that idea into a product?
What if instead of a rough guess based on a few conversations, you had a detailed estimate outlining each step and cost options to pick from?
Then you could know exactly what you're paying for. Exactly what the consultant will deliver. And exactly when they'll deliver.
You could invest more into the core features and functionality to delight your users.
Or more into the innovative parts to catch some press and make an acquisition a reality.
Or more into automation and processes so you can be a part-time entrepreneur.
That's the ideal. And here is how you can get closer to that.
Use a map
Instead of estimating in the dark and making wild guesses, a Trail Mapping session outlines your project from A to Z. What it does, who it does it for, potential problems, overlooked opportunities. And most importantly of all, how it will get there.
Instead of picking an arbitrary date in 6-12 months from now to launch, you'll know a specific week.
Instead of worrying about the extra costs to finish your project at the end, you'll know how much you'll need to invest to get to the finish line.
Because at the end of the day, that's what matters: having a successful software project.
What if things take longer?
The Trail Map's estimates are a range with a confidence. Sure-bet features will wind up in a narrow range. More innovative, riskier features will be in a broader range.
Can my in-house developers use this?
Absolutely. The Trail Map lays out a clear and well-defined plan to get your project built. Assuming you have the right team, with the right experience, you'll be able to follow the plan.
What if my in-house developers don't have the right experience?
You have a few choices:
You can hire outside help like my Custom Development,
You can hire new employees with the right experience, or
You can train your in-house developers
Just wanted to say nice job on the Transfirst code – we got it integrated and Matt said the code you wrote was very nicely done!
Tim Haskins Principal & Creative Directior, Copious
What if things change after the Trail Mapping session?
Things will change in software development, that's one of the few constants.
The Trail Map document is a living document. It's meant to adapt to your project now and in the future. Major changes will disrupt things but you can refresh the roadmap to plan your new path.
What do you get?
The final results from the Trail Map is a clear picture and direction for your software project based on the professional experience of Eric Davis. It will be created and given to you for future reference and to share with your team. The facts used for the roadmap will be collected based on interviews with you, your team, and customers.
The roadmap will answer your questions about what to build, how to build it, and what it will take to build.
How long does it take?
Creating a personalized Trail Map will take a few days. But you don't need to be present for the entire process. You just need an hour of your time and an hour from whoever is leading your team. The project manager, product manager, lead developer, or someone similar.
Calendar-wise, each Trail Mapping session takes three days to complete.
What does it cost?
A Trail Map starts at $1,000 for a small project. Compared to what could happen if you build the wrong thing, your Trail Map provides you the insurance needed to be successful.
After many years of working together, I can say with authority, that it's a privilege and a delight to work with Eric Davis. For many years he has been the sole developer behind our most critical business software which manages our teams, projects and finances. Recently he helped us transition to our in-house team by spending a week training us. I along with my dev team had a wonderful time collaborating with him and now find the process of updating and deploying our own code to be easy and inspiring.
Eric is extremely well organized, unusually adept at setting expectations, and has an uncanny ability to identify and adopt cutting edge technologies just as they become stable but before they become popular. He is a rare gem. I can't recommend him enough.
Peter Chester Partner, CTO at Modern Tribe, Inc.
Start your Trail Map today
To start your Trail Map, use the link below to contact me (Eric Davis).
Every Trail Map is a collaborate effort. The more time and energy you put in, the better the outcome.
But if you're not happy with the Trail Map and would like to revise it, you're covered. For up-to 30 days after completion, I'll work with you to revise and finalize the roadmap into something you can use.
P.S. You shouldn't start anything without knowing what the plan is to reach your end goals. Doing so is just a guess and you can't run a successful software project on guesses. Your Trail Map is your unique plan for your project.