The #1 Way To Avoid Software Development Change Order Hell?

Imagine putting out a bid for a home.

You ask for 5 bedrooms, each with its own bathroom. You want a large eat-in kitchen with stainless steel, top-of-line appliances. You put it out to bid to 5 contractors and get 3 bids. All priced within 20% of each other.

You check out the homes built by the least expensive bidder and they’re beautiful. It’s a no-brainer… you select the low-bidder.

When the home is completed exactly as you asked, the only problem: you didn’t ask for windows and doors. You didn’t get any either. That’s going to take a change order.

In most cases your dream home is not actually a “specific” type of home; the reason being… no one else has built that kind of home. The idea is unique or has a twist that has not been implemented in the market. The bidding party makes assumptions about what you really want in order to provide a fixed-cost proposal. In most likelihood, these assumptions will vary from bidder to bidder. You end up with a new headache, i.e., a price variation of 10x across your partners responding to the RFP.

Often times we get bids at 10Pearls and we know they’re deficient. Usually the client fails to specify the administrative tasks required to manage users, permissions, security, and redundancy… the boring stuff. Much like the doors and windows priced in on the high-priced home bids. In other cases, we get the “dream house” specifications, where even the major details have not been completely fleshed out. For example, is the house going to be three levels, a ranch-style home or actually an efficiency apartment?

It is no secret that more often than not, software development projects run over budget and time. When the job is finally done, the bait and switch change orders result in a 60-day delay and a 50% increase in cost.

There are 2 ways to avoid this scenario:

  1. Engage A Trusted Firm To Perform A Discovery Needs Analysis Process – hire a firm that develops software applications for a living to do a needs analysis and develop a professional scope of work. That’s the equivalent of engaging an architect to design your home. That’s the way to ensure that your application has the right number of windows and doors. Then put that out to bid, or;
  2. Engage With Complete Transparency – share your budget, your needs and have the firm share their rates. Then manage the product in an agile fashion. By ‘agile’, we mean “a group of software development methods in which requirements and solutions evolve through collaboration between self-organizing, cross-functional teams. It promotes adaptive planning, evolutionary development, early delivery, continuous improvement and encourages rapid and flexible response to change. It is a conceptual framework that focuses on delivering working software with the minimum amount of work.” (Wikipedia)

At 10Pearls, we are experts in developing comprehensive software requirements documents, where every nut and bolt is specified; or if you prefer, we are Agile Software Development Artists. We actually have great success in running a hybrid process, where we take practices from Waterfall and combine them with the values of Agility. This guarantees that while development is iterative, we maintain a handle on overall costs and delivery timelines.

What we’re not? While our rates are extremely competitive, we’re rarely going to be the low cost Vendor on an RFP because we never leave out the doors or windows. We’re not in the business of ‘bait and switch’ where you will have multiple change orders slapped on you.

We engage as true partners. Our business is based on the satisfaction of our customers and the word-of-mouth recommendations that loyal customers fervently produce.

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