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Benefits of Project Planning Phase and the Approach We Use

09 Oct 2018
251
6 min

It's barely possible to roll out a successful app or website without a thorough planning. There are two reasons for this: software development becomes a more complex process over the years and the modern user's expectations about product quality and functionality are very high.

With this in mind, we've been polishing a planning phase in our company for years to be able to fully transmit the clients' vision, make their solution competitive, and deliver a quality final product as soon as possible.

This article is written to answer your questions about the planning phase at our company. Still, you're welcome to ask our managers for details if you haven't found the needed information here.

What Is the Planning Phase of a Project?

The project planning phase is an obligatory step for most software development projects. It's needed to identify and document all the requirements. The primary goal of this phase is to enhance the management of time, risks, and costs during the project.

Why is it obligatory for most projects? The point is vendors have to clearly understand all the peculiarities of the solution you want them to build for you. It doesn't really depend on what application you want to create: mobile, web or desktop. The planning phase is the only way to deliver your vision on the product as accurately as possible and avoid misunderstandings.

For this purpose, the company's representatives ask you questions about the project and draw up a documentation that will be used at all software development stages. (We'll explicitly consider the planning phase components a bit later.)

So, the main objectives of the planning phase are:

  • Identify project requirements.
  • Document the project requirements.
  • Give a client an opportunity to revise their project and make some changes.
  • Get approval from the client to move further.
The main objectives of the planning phase

The main objectives of the project planning phase

When Can You Skip This Phase?

Before we go into details, let's determine in what cases the planning phase isn't required:

  • You already have all the required documentation. It's often the case that clients come to us with all the needed documentation drawn up by another vendor or in-house specialist.
  • You want to make minor improvements to your product. The planning phase is also not necessary in case you own a ready-built product and want to make some changes or conduct minor technical improvements. 

In other cases, it's impossible to deliver a quality solution, especially if the deadlines are tight, without a precise planning.

The Planning Phase at Cleveroad

After you contact us for the first time and tell about your project, we estimate how much time and money the implementation will roughly take (min and max amount of hours for each feature). It's called a rough estimate and it's free of charge. The estimate is handed to you as we finish. Thereafter, it's for you to decide whether to continue working with us or not.

If your decision is positive, the project will go through the planning phase which is also called Sprint Zero. A dedicated Requirement Analyst works on your project up throughout this phase. That's where our cooperation as the vendor and client begins.

For the planning phase, you pay a fixed price in case the requirements are clear. However, if there are a lot of unknowns requiring deep exploration -- we work with you in accordance with the Time & Material model.

The duration of this phase is completely dependent on the initial requirements and the scope of work. Typically it lasts one month or longer and requires your presence at 2-3 meetings a week. Besides meetings, you will need to review and verify the milestones of this stage. Your involvement is very important for the overall success at this stage.

We should mention that the planning is needed not only to plan everything out but to provide you with a detailed estimate which is based on the specification we write. This way, by the end of the phase you will be able to understand whether such conditions are acceptable for you and make a decision to continue (or not) cooperating with us.

What we do during this phase:

  • Identify, collect and analyze requirements
  • Research the market
  • Write specification
  • Craft wireframes
  • Create a detailed estimate
What kind of work our specialists perform during this stage

The scope of work we do during the planning phase

Now, let's more explicitly consider every component of the planning phase.

1. Requirement List

After the planning phase has started, we ask you a plethora of general questions regarding your project. Platforms, target audience, geographic distribution, etc.

Additionally, we research the market and analyze the niche your application belongs to for precise decision-making throughout the development process.

Finally, we specify the list of features you want to implement in the final product. The Requirement Analyst might also consult you concerning the functionality it would be great to add for the efficient rivalry with other apps in the niche. The same concerns functionality that's better to postpone for some time in order to faster launch the product to the market.

2. Specification

A specification is a document including every piece of information about the project. Except for the aforementioned information it also contains user stories, the list of requirements (technical, functional, and usability) as well as describes possible risks.

Apart from that, the specification spells out the stages of project development and other related details.

When the project's specification is ready, we send it to you for verification. Next, you approve or disapprove it. In the latter case, we take your remarks into consideration and resend the specification for revision. Otherwise, we continue the planning phase.

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Note: We can't move to the next step until you approve the specification.

3. Wireframes

A wireframe is a screen blueprint. Wireframes are designed by our UI/UX designers based on requirements from the specification. They are crafted with the purpose to represent the skeleton of application: presence and placement of elements and basic transitions from screen to screen.

Wireframes are also should be approved before we move any further.

Wireframes look like this

This is how the wireframe looks like

After these three steps are finished, our QA engineers check the specification and wireframes for logical issues that might suspend the project development.

4. Detailed Estimate

That's the final step of the planning phase. Software engineers, designers, and other involved specialists study the specification and wireframes to estimate the time they need to implement each feature.

After that, the estimate is sent to you and you take the decision to proceed to the next phase or stop development.

What Do You Get By the End?

  • Comprehensive specification
  • Detailed project estimate
  • Ready-made wireframes

We transmit to you all the documents and wireframes that our specialists have worked on during this stage. So even if you decide to stop cooperating with Cleveroad after the planning phase, you'll have a full pack of documents any other vendor will require to build a software for you.

Haven't found what you were looking for? No problem. Contact our managers and ask them any question regarding your project or cooperation with Cleveroad.

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