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How to navigate software development

Software development can be a complex and challenging process. Whether you're a business owner looking to develop a custom software solution or an individual with a unique software idea, we discuss how you can navigate the crucial software development journey.

Where to start

It’s important to define the overall project goals as early as possible, as software development might only be one part of the answer. Then with a clear goal in mind, you can make sure your time and effort are going to be wisely spent. This means researching any solutions that already exist. Market knowledge allows you to identify opportunities, analyse competition, and make informed decisions.

Finding a competitor is a unique opportunity to gain valuable insight: you can adapt your pricing model; reassess the overall value of your project; and learn from their strategies. Understanding the market will significantly influence the trajectory of your project and help determine your Unique Selling Point. Conversely, if there is nobody in the market space, ask yourself why not.

Detailed research

While the preliminaries are critical, remember the depth of your analysis should align with the amount of funding you are seeking, and the detail expected by your target audience. For significant funding you’re going to need to draw up business plans, pitch decks and draft project schedules & forecasts. In addition, market research and analysis will give empirical evidence to back these up.

Engage in conversations with those who possess first-hand knowledge of the market to ensure your project is relevant and necessary. Also, examine economic & social trends, and market conditions amongst your target audience. The more validation you can obtain, the greater chance of success your project has. Be critical and sceptical!

Software development

Next, consider how your software service is going to be used by your target audience. Are they going to pay a regular subscription following a SaaS (software as a service) business model, or is each solution going to be tailored and require unique development? Will it be part of a benefit for an overall service? What is the scope of the build? Here, you’re starting to create a software requirements document, a single source of truth for your project.

At this stage you’re in a strong position to engage with a software development company for the technical expertise you need. At Cambridge Kinetics, we provide services that explore the technical feasibility of novel projects, and can build out the software requirements with detail, to move towards the implementation stage. The developer should also be able to help make a judgement on the overall feasibility, budget requirements, how well your project can scale and long-term running costs.

Decision time

Finally, it’s time to make a decision whether you want to move ahead with your project, put it on ice, pivot to a slightly different model, or chalk the effort up to experience. Ultimately, this needs to be your choice, driven by the validation of the research and advice you’ve been given. Keep challenging questions in mind such as whether the project outcome that you had at the start still matches the one that your research has led you to.

Overall, researching an innovative project extensively before diving into software development is crucial. By defining project goals, conducting market research, exploring existing solutions, assessing technological feasibility and analysing financial aspects, you can make informed decisions, minimize risks and achieve success.

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