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Business, 4 MIN READ

Is Your Project Doable? Use Flexibility Pentagon to Find Out!

February 4, 2020
Semyon Scherbak
I want a team of three engineers to complete business software development in six months on a budget of $10,000. I have a mile-long list of critical features, and the finished product should be perfect!

If it sounds familiar, it is because most startup founders look for software development and consulting services with the same list of requirements in mind. The problem is, they do not realize their requirements are, in fact, constraints. They limit the project's flexibility, and it takes one accident to send the house of cards tumbling down. Before you believe the claims on IT software companies' websites and hire a software design firm that promises to deliver but doesn't, let's explore the risks and challenges. By the end of this post, I'll convince you to change your approach to requirements and constraints to ensure your project is doable.
The project's scope, schedule, quality, staff, and budget

Five Dimensions of Business Software Development

If you ever tried to learn anything about website and software development, you must have heard of the triple constraint triangle. It is a simple and effective way to illustrate the project among the limitations of scope, time, and resources. However, there are multiple interpretations of this concept. The one I enjoy most belongs to Karl Wiegers. He suggests the five dimensions instead of three. To better understand the idea, let's go over every aspect.

  1. Scope or feature set is something of which you have a pretty good idea. You know what you want the app or the website to do, creating a list of functional requirements. Top software development firms will help you implement any feature, but you should always focus on the critical ones necessary for your minimum viable product (MVP).

  2. Quality is an essential dimension if you don't want to get a project riddled with errors and bugs. The quality parameters of business software development usually make up the list of non-functional requirements, such as usability, response time, load speed, and more.

  3. Cost or budget is the third dimension of the project and usually the most sensitive one for startups. In the "iron triangle" concept, it is combined with the next entry on our list – staff or human resources.

  4. Staff is not usually the aspect you worry about when dealing with the best software outsourcing companies. However, the team size is closely related to the size of the budget and the number of qualified software engineers employed by your technical partner.

  5. Time or schedule is the final dimension of the development of software. It is another critical factor for startups, as a month's delay can make or break the business idea and let competitors enter the market first and scoop up your target audience.
Why should you care about these five dimensions of a business software development project? You can turn them into a useful tool to ensure your idea is doable without relying on negotiations with underhanded IT vendors out to get your funding. Before we move onto the flexibility pentagon of your project, remember:

The project's scope, schedule, quality, staff, and budget are interconnected; when you change a single factor, the others must change as well. Otherwise, you risk project failure.

Flexibility Pentagon Check

For this simple exercise, you will need your favorite spreadsheet processor capable of creating a radar chart. Let it include all five dimensions of the project, all with axes from 0 to 10. Now evaluate the level of flexibility for each aspect.

  1. Zero flexibility means the dimension turns into a non-negotiable constraint.
  2. One to four points of flexibility make a dimension into a driver, making it one of the project's goals.
  3. Five to ten points of flexibility turn a dimension into a degree of freedom necessary to balance the drivers and constraints.
Looking at the flexibility pentagon for your project, consider how doable it is.

Once you plot the radar chart for five dimensions, you will get a visual representation of a flexibility pentagon. The larger its surface, the more flexibility your project possesses, and the more realistic its successful completion is.

If you set all five parameters to zero, you will get a dot, meaning the smallest change can ruin the workflow and lead to failure even if you hire the top software consulting companies. One additional requirement or one software engineer getting sick is everything it will take to ruin your dreams.

If there are more than two hard constraints and no degrees of flexibility, something needs to give. On the other hand, the lack of drivers and constraints is a sign of poor planning.

What can you do to increase the chances of success using this insight?
Bring it to the negotiation table with your chosen business software development company at the beginning of the discovery phase.

Successful Software House Services Negotiation

Even the best websites for software developers miss one crucial point. Software development is not just about engineering; it's about business needs, communication, setting and meeting expectations. Mark Moore, Senior Project Director at Oracle, says it best
One challenge I see here is that, in my experiences over a few decades, it is better if the BSA/BA role is more closely aligned with the Business rather than the IT organization. If you limit your field of vision to thinking "software" you miss the often better opportunities to help the Business focus on what I call the "pain points" of their operation and how to overcome or eliminate them.
Small business software development services are not limited to engineering, testing, and delivery. Instead, you will see the best software company websites (Freshcode included) focusing on the project discovery phase. Using your initial assessment of the five dimensions, you can rely on an experienced project manager to turn it from a sad dot at zero into a beautiful pentagon. Their research into your intended niche and target audience will ensure your business software development relies on the perfect set of constraints, drivers, and degrees of freedom.

When you employ the services of software companies, keep the flexibility pentagon in mind, and negotiate change management before the development process begins. You should know how adding a new feature will influence the budget and schedule, along with staff and quality requirements. This way, you will prevent any unpleasant surprises down the road and ensure your project's stability in the course of delivery.
Freshcode team keeps up the most efficient solutions to power up our customers' projects. Contact us if you have any profound ideas for launching your business!
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