If you ever developed or wanted to develop an application of any kind, it’s rather probable that you have taken part in or at least heard about a scoping session of some sort. It wasn’t necessarily called that, but since different companies use different terminology, the idea stays the same. So...
What is a scoping session?
A scoping session is a meeting between you and your software development team, the aim of which is to go through all aspects of project development and, as a result, supply you with a complete set of information about the time and cost of your project, its architecture and the scope of various milestones.
Usually, the development team provides a variety of required expertise through inviting a project manager, a UX/UI designer, a solution architect and developers, who’ll be taking part in further stages of project development.
Now, many companies include scoping sessions as one of the first steps of their kick-off process, meaning after you already signed a deal with them.
Here at Software Brothers, we decided to make is also available separately. Yes, it’s a bigger risk for us, as we’re providing knowledge that a potential client can then take elsewhere, but I guess we’re confident enough in the quality of provided services, that the majority of those who opt-in for the scoping session with us — stay with us.
What are the goals of a scoping session?
There are many goals to a scoping session, so let’s focus on the main ones.
Providing you with a clear understanding of the technical side of your project
This is specifically important if you are not a technical person. Presence of the development team will not only allow you to understand your business more, but also will give you all the relevant information about how you should tackle the task at hand — managing the development of your product.
Preparing a cost and time estimations
As you go through your idea, outlining all the features that should be included in your upcoming application, the team will be able to provide you with an accurate estimation on how much money the entire project will cost you as well as how long it will take to deliver the end product.
Preparing a project scope divided into feasible milestones
Delivering an application with all the functionalities in a single long stretch isn’t the smartest idea, and that’s why the software development team has to take the agreed scope and divide it into shorter deliverable milestones. With your help with prioritization, each stage of the product should be planned in a way that will allow each version to be ready for public release.
This way, you won’t be stuck in a never-ending development process which will burn out your budget rather quickly.
Identifying potential risks and hurdles on both business and technical aspects
An additional benefit from using an external team is their expertise with various previously developed applications. I could name plenty of situations where we advised our clients against some aspects of their project development because we already saw the exact same mistakes happen to other startups, and we’d rather spare our clients the trouble of wasting time and money.
Introduction between yourself and the team you’ll be collaborating with
And last but not least, the project scoping session is an amazing opportunity to meet the people who’ll be working on your project — your future team.
You’ll be able to ask all the questions on the spot, evaluate the expertise of invited team members and see if they actually understand your business and your product. The latter is extremely important if you want the cooperation between you to go forward as smoothly as possible.
How to prepare for a scoping session
The external team should spend some time on analysis and preparation to the scoping session before the meeting takes place. It should be a red flag if the team members hear about your product for the first time during the meeting.
But let’s leave them for a moment, because you too should be prepared as good as you can, if you want to maximize the results of the scoping session. You don’t have to have all the answers to all the possible questions, and nor does the scoping team expect you to. Here’s what you should prepare, though.
Be ready to describe your idea in detail
Don’t be afraid to share the details about your idea with an external team and if you’re extremely concerned about someone stealing it — simply sign-up an NDA and focus on providing as much information about the project as possible. It will allow the team to understand exactly what is the end goal and what’s the best way to reach it.
Prepare for even more questions
From my experience, having all the required expertise at the meeting, in a form of invited UX/UI designers, PMs, architects and developers, generates questions that non-technical people rarely think about.
Never have I imagined that discussing the colour of the background in a payment’s confirmation screen for a bus hailing app could go this deep, when suddenly our senior UX/UI designer pulled up a simulation of various colour blindness scenarios and showed why the colour preferred by a client would make it hard for some people to navigate and understand the application.
So definitely get ready for more questions.
Make sure you understand the goal of the whole meeting
It’s also important to understand that the team present at the meeting is there to cooperate. If they understand your business, it will allow them to properly communicate with you and stay on the same page, as well as will make it easier for them to estimate and then develop the software in the future.
Even though this might sound trivial, staying open-minded during the scoping session is very important. The scoping team’s goal is to, first of all, identify all the potential technological land mines, which can put some of your business’s aspects in question.
We’ve seen founders get defensive about their ideas as if we’re forcing them to change their entire businesses, but that is not the case. We just want to pinpoint all the threats that can wait for the development team, so they don’t get ambushed later on.
In the end, we’re here to cooperate and assist you in building a successful tech company, and we try to make sure that it goes as smoothly as it’s possible in the software development industry.
A scoping session is an amazing business tool that will allow you to understand your business even more, especially from the technology perspective and will help you avoid mistakes that otherwise would’ve cost you time, money and maybe even the business itself.
If you’d like to learn more about our approach to scoping sessions or product design in general, you can check our dedicated page here. And should you have any questions, just drop me a line at mailto.