Software IT projects on average run 66% over budget and take 33% longer than scheduled, so you shouldn’t ignore how vendors answer the question of project cost and duration. Most vendors will base their numbers on past experience with similar solutions for similar customers.
However, the truth is that your particular combination of business processes, problems, and systems are ultimately unique. If your project involves business process automation, custom solutions, or integration between disparate systems, it is simply not possible to bypass a deep solution analysis and still provide an accurate estimate for project cost and duration.
This means one of two things – either your vendor’s estimates are heavily padded to account for risk (and you’re paying too much!), or the project is in danger of late delivery and surprise costs that put it over-budget.
The Solution Design Workshop Consultation
One way to avoid the surprise of a cost or time budget blow-out is to engage in a professional services consultation, such as a Solution Design Workshop. This is an on-site deep technical dive into the project, with the goal of documenting a clear and detailed understanding of your:
- Business processes, use cases, problems and objectives
- Existing systems and how they interact with one another
- Project size and complexity
- Potential project risks and challenges
This is invaluable information for you, as a project owner, to have at the start of any major project.
Equally important, this kind of consultation arms you with detailed high and low-level design and solution documentation about your existing systems that can be shared with all your potential vendors. The result is a much more accurate picture of the true project cost and duration.
Forward Thinking to Streamline Project Costs
A Solution Design Workshop can span one to several weeks and is not a free service.
You may be reluctant to pay a vendor to conduct a Solution Design Workshop before you’ve even selected that vendor or received a quote for the main project.
In fact, it’s forward thinking.
Make no mistake, this is not a new or additional cost. Your project will include requirements gathering and solution design activities, and whether hidden or not, the cost of that work will be included in the project.
So, the question isn’t whether solution design is needed (it is!) or whether you will pay for it (you will!), but rather when will it occur? Too often, this is a process that occurs after you’ve selected a vendor and agreed to an arbitrary quote. But it doesn’t need to be this way.
Although the documentation artefacts and deliverables you receive at the end of a Solution Design Workshop will almost certainly include a vendor-specific (or favoring) solution proposal, much of the documentation will be about your existing processes and systems, and this information is needed by all vendors to properly assess your project.
When the Solution Design Workshop is complete, the valuable information collected and documented can then be shared with all of your potential vendors, who are now able to provide you with a much more realistic quote and project duration estimate.
The final result? You’re now in a position, from the get go, to understand the true project cost and duration, understand the challenges and risks you will face, and kickstart your project on solid footing with a clear path towards success.
For more information about Solution Design Workshops and other Professional Services, contact the Incognito Professional Services team.