6 Ideas That Will Make Your Software and Web Projects Successful

A software or web project is a significant time and money investment, whether you’re building, buying, implementing or optimizing. When they fall flat–or worse, fail– it can be a big blow to your organization’s momentum.

There are some key things that make these large-scale projects more successful.


Success can mean a variety of things for organizations. Four ways of defining success for a software or web project could be that it:

  • Meets key performance indicators (KPIs)
  • Sees early and quick adoption from target audiences
  • Launches on time and on budget
  • Produces a roadmap – more use cases, features and optimizations


There are some best practices for projects, regardless of their nature. Projects should always have a deadline and budget for accountability as well as a small group of decision-makers to keep the momentum going.

Here we’ll focus on digital projects and unique ways to make them work better.

1. Solves or Serves a Business Problem or Priority

Only build (or buy) what you need. A technology project, whether it’s a new website, web functionality, or app, should address a need of your business. The decision to undertake a software or web project should not be driven by an interest in new technology or a good salesperson on the vendor side.

A classic example of a software that doesn’t address businessneeds is Salesforce. The platform has become prolific, seen as the gold standard in many cases.

In reality, the implementation, cost of ownership, and burden of administrating the system are high. Since Salesforce is a category leader in customer relationship management and has an excellent sales team, it’s often the default choice for growing businesses.

Selecting Salesforce because it’s well-known is not always the right fit. It’s usually overpowered and filled with features that your sales team doesn’t need or want. This leads to a lack of adoption and, ultimately, a high level of frustration with an expensive tool.

Instead, if you’re looking for software for your sales team, start by naming the problem or priority they need to solve. Writing this down is the first step towards finding or building a more well-suited solution.

2. Start with the Outcome

Before jumping into detailed requirements, there are a few steps that will ensure your software or web project’s success.

The first is to start with an outcome mindset. This is not about the project, tool or platform. It’s about the end state you are trying to achieve. The project is just your avenue to achieve it.

Compare the following statements:

Our goal is to make it easier for our customers to do business with us.


We’re going to build a website that has all of the tools our clients need.

The first example is a broad way of thinking,focused on what the customer needs over what you want to do. The second example is vague and makes assumptions. This ties right into the next step.

3. Discovery Happens Before Full Requirements

Now that there’s agreement on the outcome, the next step is discovery. It can come in all shapes and sizes, but what matters most is:

  • Who you talk to – This is the time to gain information and trends from end users. If you’re building something to be used in the plants, listen to plant managers, technicians and key employees.
  • What you ask – This is an art, which combines your stated outcomes and the person being interviewed. A good discovery interview follows a structure and allows space to dig deeper into certain comments.
  • How you summarize it – Discovery needs to be channeled, filtered and analyzed. To act on what you learn, it helps to identify trends, notice what was left out, and filter personal preferences out (when appropriate).

A common mistake in discovery is focusing on the wrong audience. This leads to projects starting from the top down instead of the bottom up and could leave you with a tool that is useless to the people who actually need them. If the leadership team or director won’t use the technology, they shouldn’t contribute to discovery.

4. Solid Requirements & Scoping

This topic could be its own article (and there are whole books written on the topic). Using discovery to inform requirements will produce more well-rounded, accurate requirements.

Requirements, at a base level, should include:

  • Goals and KPIs for the projects
  • Details about who will use this, where and how
  • Details on current systems that will need integration
  • Design requirements – branding, images, etc.
  • Development requirements – languages, platforms, documentation, etc.
  • Technical requirements – compliance, hosting, DNS details, etc.
  • Quotes from discovery

It’s also helpful to add screenshots, links to examples, sketches (even pen and paper) and other illustrations.

Complete requirements lead to a clearer scope. A clearer scope decreases project risk for all sides. This step is often rushed or incomplete because it’s tedious or overwhelming. It’s an investment that reduces headaches and pays off, quickly.

5. Users & Stakeholders Involved Throughout

Before we go too far into this, don’t misunderstand: we’re not suggesting design, development or implementation by committee here.

Each project should have defined decision-makers. Part of those decision makers’ jobs (helped by their partner on the project) is to gather and understand input from users before they make the decisions.

That looks like showing settings, clickable prototypes and demos to the users of any technology project. During these showcases, observe how they interact with what you’re showing them and listen to what they say.

These are important data points that can be used to build or implement something that will have better adoption. It also secures buy-in throughout the process and larger ownership over the implementation.

Ensuring that you get feedback throughout the build or implementation usually leads to tweaks and updates throughout the project instead of wholesale changes or complete whiplash at the end. You’ll be happier, your budget will be intact and you’ll meet your timeline.

6. Training & Ownership

This step is often overlooked. It’s long been the industry standard for an agency, vendor or platform to have ownership over your accounts and settings, while not training you on them. This ultimately sets you up for failure and frustration.

If you’re building or implementing a mission-critical tool, your business should have ownership or administrative rights over it wherever possible. If buying software, this might not look like ownership but you should have access to add, change or delete user accounts or update crucial settings and autonomy to make changes.

With the ownership mentality, should come the necessary training. A web or software project will never achieve sustainable success if the owners are not well-trained in what it can do and how to use it
Support & Maintenance is Part of the Plan
Another key to long-term success in this project category is defining a support and maintenance plan. “Launch is just the beginning,” is a saying for a reason.

While you should have ownership and be well-trained in your systems, your team doesn’t have to handle all the maintenance and support. Oftentimes, these activities clog the bandwidth of key team members and restrict revenue-generating and innovative work.

Support, maintenance and updates are planned for after launch in every successful project There’s a plan for how to pay for it and who’s going to do it, so your software or web project does what you want (and paid for) it to do.

The Role of a Roadmap

A signal of a successful digital project is that it generates ideas during its implementation. There are other features and use cases that can be applied.

A roadmap is the place to capture and prioritize those ideas. This is a central piece to a living, growing web or software application. It also helps you plan for future updates and improvements, so your organization keeps momentum in its digitalization journey instead of starting from scratch every time someone has a new idea.

As you can see, there are many steps to executing a successful software or web project. And when done well, they can be a catalyst inside any business.They help you get promoted, decide how budgets get distributed, and have a long-term impact on revenue and profit.

The secret isn’t necessarily in the code or design, althoughthose are important foundations. Intention and purpose throughout the process are what propel these projects to a successful outcome.

If your website makes you cringe, it's probably not a good representation of the business' digital transformation.

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