Merge Customer Satisfaction and Agility to Increase your Software Innovation ROI

Merge sign depicting merging of customer satisfaction and agility

It’s no secret that keeping your customers happy is good for business. After all, the customer is always right! However, managing customer satisfaction and maintaining a healthy ROI at the same time can often be a delicate science, and this is especially true in relation to software development. So how do you achieve both? Here are a few ways you can combine customer satisfaction and agility to increase your software innovation return on investment.

The Role of Customer Needs

Customer needs play the largest role in product innovation since they ultimately drive and decide the success or failure of your software products. In addition to the attention you give to trending sales, margins, and customer retention levels, it is important to also track your company’s ability to incorporate customer feedback while innovating.

Most of the time, customers are expecting rapid innovation and may not necessarily care about what software development process you use to get there. They expect you to listen to their requests, understand them well, and deliver or over-deliver on their expectations. Consider that constant, rapid improvement is the formula for success, and delaying the release of the product to strive for perfection can prove costly.

Product Completion Rates and Cost Overruns

A successful product doesn’t always equate to cost savings. In fact, it can actually prove costly for a company both in time and money in the long run. For example, if a customer requested a specific innovation in Q1 and you couldn’t deliver until Q3 of the following year, or you delivered features that were misaligned with their actual needs, your balance sheet would force you to take a hard look at the process you were using to respond to customer needs. And you wouldn’t be alone. In the CHAOS Report of 2015, over 25,000 software development projects were analyzed and they found 60% of all projects were not completed on time, 19% were cancelled before completion, and 52% of projects cost 189% of their original estimate.

In contrast, a failed product can be deemed a success when it comes to cost savings. How do project completion rates and cost overruns impact your definition of project success or failure? You probably allow tolerances to your project costs and timelines. In some extreme cases, even a cancelled project may be deemed a success; perhaps you prioritized launching early to test for market validation, and then the market quickly rejected your innovation. You would deem it a success because you spent $250,000 rather than $1.5 million narrowing in on your customer’s needs. In other cases, only a 25% cost overrun or 10% time overrun would be palatable.

Project Tolerances and Archetypes

At the moment, you’re probably either sitting in front of financials that have you asking yourself one of two questions: “How can I get to ROI faster?” or “How do I replicate this success in other departments?” Our best advice is to study the software innovation successes or near-successes your company has had, whether in your department or in another division. Duplicate them, but do so with a caveat.

There are different project archetypes: greenfield development; enhancement of existing or legacy products; or refactoring of a legacy product. Make sure to compare apples-to-apples when forecasting your next project. Successfully using internal teams to enhance your keystone legacy product has different considerations than using that same team to re-architect for the cloud or launch greenfield development.

Referencing Past Projects for Future Success

If your company works best spinning up internal teams to add a new product line or strengthen your legacy product, develop a strategy to do that as quickly as possible. Or if a neighboring division showed success bringing in a software development partner, find out who they worked with. In either case, find out what the structure for success looked like.

Ask a few key questions:

  • Who were the stakeholders providing the project vision?
  • What were the critical project testing and review points?
  • How quickly was the product in the hands of end-users?
  • What advantages and disadvantages were there to the software development team?
  • Why did they consider it a success, and what would they change?

On the other hand, if you do not have model projects to reference, examine the failed processes.

  • How did you deploy your team(s)?
  • What was your production time/dollar?
  • What was your lead time and burn time?

Analyze these answers and think of ways to make improvements or try a new process for getting the innovation launched faster, and with a better customer service score, than before.

Outsourcing and ROI

Software development plays an integral role in simplifying processes for most companies, which saves money over time. But it can certainly be a costly and time-consuming investment initially. Outsourcing your software development needs can increase your ROI significantly, particularly if you have an in-house team that has a significant amount of unrelated work, or if you’re developing a completely new product.

Outsourced partners often provide more talent and breadth of skill than the traditional in-house team, a more refined software development process, and undivided attention for your project. Furthermore, using your in-house team comes with its own unique set of costs. Let’s not forget the word “payroll” – if your current in-house team is not equipped to take on the new project, you may not want to add more people to your payroll. More people on the payroll can often mean paying your employees the same amount, whether they’re working or not. So if you aren’t looking to add more permanent employees to your repertoire, you may want to partner with a software developer to get the goal accomplished more quickly and effectively.

If you’re thinking of going the outsourcing route, Ascendle is ready to partner with you to achieve your software development goals and increase your ROI. Our world-class team of experts delivers real business results while keeping pace with the ever-changing world of technology. Contact us today to get started!

Read More about ROI in our Software Innovation ROI Calculator Guide

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