+49 30 258 143 174
+49 30 258 143 174
On the market since 2013, APP3null is one of the pioneers of the app industry. In these last 6 years of our work, we found that out of over 90 projects, only 3 failed technically in one form or another. Yes, you heard us right – 3 out of 90. Of course, this does not mean that the rest “went through the roof”. No, there are economically successful projects and less successful ones. We often have no influence on that. But technically speaking, only three projects have failed so far. Why? What causes software projects to fail?
We strongly believe that our positive experience is not representative of the industry. On the contrary, we have often “rescued” projects from customers who had reached a dead end. These customers were still lucky that they had not spent their entire budget with the wrong provider. The number of unreported cases should be much higher and I personally assume that 50% of software projects are not completed successfully.
So what are the main reasons and how can you successfully avoid this fate?
Enclosed are reasons why your software project may fail:
This mistake is the number one reason why many clients end up with a bunch of bad code but no finished product. The software development market is huge and confusing; the price is dumped as if there is no tomorrow. For the layman, it is very difficult to distinguish who can actually deliver and who is simply blinding.
There are hundreds of companies in South Asia whose business model consists solely of luring naive customers with hourly prices below $10 (!) and delivering nothing in the end.
But also in this country, there are enough black sheep. Often, companies in the DACH region take on projects in order to outsource them abroad, without the customer being aware of it. Outsourcing was and remains associated with risks, which affect professional agencies just as much as inexperienced individuals or companies. The result: they bear the same risks as if they were outsourcing their project themselves, but pay significantly more.
Projects often fail because of freelancers. Indeed, there are situations where freelancers are a perfect solution for your requirement. However, not always! In larger projects, where many technologies are used, it is very risky to hire a single freelancer. What if he gets sick? What if he “doesn’t feel like it” anymore? Who controls the quality of his code? Is he really working only for you or on five projects in parallel? In fact, several times we have saved projects that were started by freelancers but never finished.
Now, how can you minimize these risks? Rules of thumb:
This is why one of our projects failed. At the start of the project, the contractor and the client are best friends. The contractors are motivated, polite, still in a kind of “sales mode”. The question is whether it looks that way at the end of the project. Often it doesn’t. But why?
This mistake is very common. The software industry is extremely dynamic, creating new technologies, languages, and frameworks every day. App programmers are often eager to experiment and clients are frugal. When these two preferences collide, things get adventurous, and as is often the case, such adventures then have consequences. The typical case:
A new framework for mobile apps is coming onto the market. The client is promised that by using this framework, the costs would be significantly lower than native app programming. Afterwards, it turns out that the community behind the framework is still in its infancy, there is a lack of libraries and support, and the framework may be completely abandoned by the operators. But even with established frameworks, like Xamarin or React Native, we’ve seen developers end up in technical deadlock time and time again. There are a variety of reasons for this that I won’t go into here, but it happens again and again, unfortunately.
Our recommendation: experiment elsewhere instead. In software development, it has paid to use proven technologies. Don’t run after all the latest trends, stick with “oldies but goldies”. Only when the technology has actually established itself does it make sense to use it.
We also had to make this sad experience. Programmers are often too self-confident and promise a lot without actually checking the feasibility beforehand. This happened to us once ourselves. We tried to link two very different systems and synchronize the content, which was not directly supported by any of the systems. Result? 6 months of work, thousands of invested hours on a fixed budget. At some point we gave up and closed the project deep in the red.
Recommendation: for the technically challenging matters and for topics new to the app programmers, it often makes sense to validate the technical feasibility. It is recommended to have the core function developed as part of a preliminary project, a kind of prototype, so that it can be tested whether it is technically feasible. If this core function doesn’t work technically, then the rest of the project doesn’t make sense either. So for little effort, you’ve determined that further investment in the project doesn’t make sense.
Software projects are not always easy to plan. The larger the project, the more likely it is that many aspects will be left unconsidered at the beginning. As the client, you would therefore always need to include a buffer. The costs quoted by the vendor are rarely the amount that will be spent at the end of the project.
Besides, every project needs support and maintenance and of course further development, new features, etc. What happens if you have little wiggle room on the budget? Nothing good:
Recommendation: Always include plenty of buffer. If the provider says 50,000 euros, then have 70,000 euros ready.
Negotiate carefully: Don’t let yourself be ripped off, but don’t reduce the budget to the level where it’s just about worth it for the provider to develop. The app developer must be motivated, and to be treated like royalty, you must also pay royally.
Find out here, how to finance your app project.
Customers often pose a question: What causes software projects to fail? We hope this question has been at least partially answered in this article. There are a variety of reasons why your software project can fail. In our experience, the five reasons listed above occur particularly often. Stick to our recommendations. If you have any questions, just give us a call; no one has ever died from good advice.
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Since 2013, APP3null has developed more than 100 web and app projects. From dating apps to logistics, from games to IoT, we have a wide expertise.
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Phone: +49 30 258 143 174