Challenge: The Strain of New Product Development

An established software provider was in the midst of constructing a beta version of a new core product offering. The software development effort was straining limited resources from all departments across the organization. Informal communication among project participants and the lack of a clearly articulated process flow were impeding progress and jeopardizing the release schedule.

Management’s concerns were two-fold: First, they sought to meet their existing, fast approaching beta-release deadline with an adequately tested, stable product. Second, they wanted to establish a detailed development framework to serve as a dependable roadmap for all future software development initiatives.

Sophelle’s Assessment

Sophelle performed an end-to-end assessment of their current development lifecycle, staffing levels and organizational structure. Employees were interviewed and observed across all functional areas including product management, engineering, documentation, and support. Sophelle also evaluated a cross-section of product documentation and development tools.

The evaluation revealed the following issues:

  • Lack of a product roadmap and insufficient documentation of requirements were causing confusion and under-utilization of resources.
  • There was no comprehensive project plan spanning functional areas.
  • Departments within the organization were relatively isolated from one another.
  • A talented and motivated staff existed, but staffing levels were disproportionate across functional areas. In particular, staffing levels in Quality Assurance were insufficient.
  • Shifting accountability throughout the product lifecycle left no individual point of accountability with full responsibility for products.

Solution

Sophelle worked with the client to create and document a product lifecycle framework for the existing beta release and for future product development. The framework included a detailed roadmap to achieve an understanding of each project and its impact on available resources, simultaneous legacy projects, and industry regulations. The framework also assigned a single point of accountability for each project, responsible for integrating development efforts, issues, and concerns into the overall product lifecycle.

Sophelle provided an experienced interim QA manager to guide the client through the beta release of their new product. Sophelle fortified the QA function by adding a skilled contract-to-perm QA engineer, ensuring adequate resources to achieve a stable beta product. Sophelle also addressed the client’s long-term staffing needs by sourcing and hiring a QA Director, responsible for completing the transition of the organization to the newly created lifecycle going forward.

Result

The beta release was on time and stable, providing the hard-working development staff with a much-needed sense of accomplishment. Thorough knowledge transfer enabled the client’s staff to achieve proficiency with the new lifecycle framework, resulting in significant gains in productivity and product quality, and providing the process necessary to confidently forecast and execute future projects.

Please contact Sophelle today for more information.