Project Development – Stay on Task

September 8, 2009

Now that you have an optimal design, the development work can proceed. Your development team should have defined processes and structured approaches to ensure that the work is as consistent and efficient – and conducted according to your project plan. Each development task (sometimes referred to as a work package) should have defined milestones, gates, and deliverables.

Use Standards and Assets

For most service-oriented business, design re-use is the only way to ‘get ahead of the game.’ Re-inventing the wheel – just won’t cut it. So, develop and use templates, coding practices, wiring standards, ….

Test Early and Often

Just like in the manufacturing lines where many NI-based solutions are deployed, it is good to test early and often to catch mistakes early and avoid lots of re-work. So, formalize your practices to test at the unit/module level as well as points of sub-unit integration. Verify that each task is correct and complete. As development progress, check to make sure that the system requirements are being met.

Managing Subcontractors

If you use subcontractors to assist your development efforts, implement processes to make sure that their quality meets your own. That starts with a formal evaluation and selection process, including contracts to avoid conflicts of interest, protects IP, and preserves T&Cs of your work. Once chosen, they should follow your procedures for communications, change orders/authorization, and work approval.

Project Development – Start With a Good Design

September 1, 2009

Once you’ve taken adequate time to plan and schedule your project, now comes the easy part – the actual project work. But, you may not want to your development team that they’ve got the easy part.

Project Design

Before putting your head down and burying yourself into the project work, you want to make sure that you have an optimal design. What is the best approach to tackling the project? What is the best general architecture for the system? Are their assets (e.g. reference designs, prior work) that can be utilized? Often, a more senior developer can serve as a mentor to help determine the best approach.

Formal Design Review

Once you have selected a conceptual design vet it out against the project scope and requirements. Does it meet each of the design requirements and acceptance requirements? Your assessment should include if the design is overkill for the projects. Can the requirements be met with a more efficient design? Take the time to have a formal design review with non-team members.Poor project design

Testing the Design

Even after agreeing to the design, you can still minimize your risk by testing the design. For instance, mock up prototypes of key aspects to the project. Mock up all of the HMIs, required reports, …. Then, sit down with the customer to review the design. Some integrators require customer sign-off before proceeding further with the development.