This is not what I expected – how to hand over the software project to new developers?

20 February 2023
Szymon Wójcik
Szymon Wójcik
iOS Developer
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  • Intro

Creating an app is a challenging endeavor that demands a significant amount of your time and money. Given the extent of the investment, it’s critical to strive for excellence and produce a top-notch product that appeals to your target market and generates revenue.

For a successful outcome, it’s vital that your software development team members have a profound understanding of your industry and are able to smoothly integrate this knowledge into your app while leveraging the top tools and technologies available.

Small mistakes in project management can be like a snowball and lead to a dead end in your dreams of the perfect product. That is why it is critical to pick a partner who is knowledgeable in their field.

We attempted to make the whole software development undertaking easier for you by discussing how to prepare for mobile development, offering ideas on reducing the costs of such an app, and showing you how to verify if the project is on track.

So, before you give up on your current software development partner who fails to meet your expectations, we urge that you read these articles – there may still be some room for improvement. However, if you don’t see the light at the end of the tunnel for this cooperation, see how to conduct the software handover.

Finding a replacement team for your project

There are several reasons why you may be dissatisfied with your collaboration with the software house. Lack of transparency and proper communication, insufficient technical skills, or unfulfilled promises can undermine your trust in a partnership.

Unfortunately, those are not the things the company can fix overnight, but rather an organizational culture and business know-how that take years to build and enhance. If you find yourself in such a position, the best way to save your project from total failure is to find a replacement for your current development partner and start the handover process.

Identify the issues

But before going on the hunt for your dream development partner, you should thoroughly examine what has previously gone wrong in the project. And even more importantly, figure out what caused it. Only a deep analysis of past mistakes will enable you to find a company that can fill all the gaps.

The team you choose to join forces with also has to be aware of the bottlenecks and issues that have slowed or pushed the project in the wrong direction. A thorough overview of your present situation will allow them to plan the following steps effectively.

Gather technical information

Once you’ve identified your pain points, collect information about the technology and tools employed in your project up to this point. A detailed technical grasp can assist companies in determining whether they can take over your project, and if collaboration comes through, speed up their operations.

If you’re unsure what to include in your technology brief, we’ve listed the key information your new team will need to manage your project efficiently.

technical documentation must-haves

Start searching for a new development team

So you’ve decided to look for a suitable substitute. But what aspects should you take into account to avoid another letdown? We answered this question in one of our prior posts in this series, but let’s go over this topic once again.

This time, we’d like to focus on some red flags to watch out for when determining if a company is a good fit to take over your project. Let’s dive into the details.

Lack of project audit

The technical audit is a must when shifting your project to another software provider. Why? A properly executed code, tools, and UI/UX evaluation provides a comprehensive overview of the project’s status, revealing all the challenges your new partner will need to face.

Aside from that, it allows the team to discover unproductive development techniques and outdated technologies and examine security risks to avoid costly mistakes caused by existing bugs. Those elements might drag your project down, so it is vital to detect them at the beginning of the road.

An outcome of code verification should be a detailed report of the different layers of the project and proposed improvements.

If you still need to get such a report and the organization doesn’t even plan to verify your app before diving into the specifics, run. Nothing positive can come from working on a project one is unfamiliar with. It will cost you loads of money and frustration in the long run, and you have had enough of that with the previous partner.

Empty promises

The lack of a proper code audit at the beginning of a collaboration is unacceptable, but making empty promises is even worse. If the project manager assures you that they will solve all of your problems right away without even asking what those problems are in the first place, it’s a bad sign.

Typically, it takes some time for the new team to become acquainted with the codebase, documentation, project specifics, previous problems, and so forth. Consider it an investment in the long-term success of your product.

Spending enough time in the beginning to grasp your project and its requirements will likely save them a lot of time later in the development process, which will benefit your budget overall.

Complete rewrite as the only option

It is a frequent dilemma for many software houses that take over the project – should we keep the existing piece of code and expand it as needed, refactor it, or rewrite the project from scratch? 

If a technological aspect of your project wasn’t the reason you decided to look for another partner, then it might be the case that your app’s code is well-written and can be readily extended. However, more often than not, old code requires some tweaking to become manageable, and in the worst case, it needs to be rewritten.

Developers use refactoring to clean up the code without slowing down development. Because, unlike rewriting, refactoring does not require the upkeep of two different codebases, devs can complete it while advancing deployment processes ahead.

Yet, while such a rebuild might enhance a piece of code, it cannot address underlying architectural issues. So when refactoring isn’t enough to improve the software, they generally decide to write the new source code from scratch.

The potential problem with rewriting is that it usually requires more people and effort to finish. It is due to the fact that if the existing app has been released, your customers rely on it, so you cannot just get rid of the old code. Instead, developers must split into two teams – one analyzes the existing code documentation to identify and duplicate the functionalities that should stay in the new product, and the other project team maintains the faulty code.

But some software companies may use rewriting as a shortcut. At the end of the day, writing new code might be easier for them than evaluating the ugly one and restructuring it. Everything comes at a price, though. And you are the one to pay because rewriting demands huge resources and thus might be inviable, especially if there are no solid indications that it is the best option to fix the code.

If the provider insists on building the app from the ground up and fails to explain why, better back up from this collaboration. Overall, you want a partner that uses the most suitable methods to get the best outcomes and justifies their choices, not one who cuts corners just to get things done.

Project handover checklist

Let’s assume you have found a software development company that fulfills your requirements regarding tech stack, pricing, experience, organizational culture, and attitude. It’s finally time to transfer your project from one team to another.

A successful handover is critical for all parties involved. You, because you must instruct a new team and your partner who is supposed to make up the prior mistakes. That is why a solid transfer strategy is key. But how to do it right to avoid potential downtime and additional costs?

We have come up with a process that such a transition should follow to get optimal results.

Code audit

The good outset is half the voyage. For this reason, your new collaboration should start with a careful review of your project, including a code and UX audit. As we have mentioned earlier, front-end and back-end reviews are required to estimate the usability of the current code, detect potential problems and determine the new team’s capacity to fix them. In addition, a technical audit lets your new partner evaluate how much money and work the project will require, allowing them to create a roadmap for future development.

During the evaluation of a code repository, a range of issues may be uncovered, such as inefficient algorithms, significant technical debt, numerous bugs, security vulnerabilities, and so on. Overall, based on the state of your code, your tech partner should suggest a suitable strategy that will enhance your product. From our point of view, there are three possible action plans.

Work on the existing source code

Following the code analysis, the company should summarize the findings by outlining the issues and proposing corrective actions. However, when the source code quality is satisfactory, remedial steps are not necessary. Instead, the development team creates a strategy for future software development, which includes adding new features or functionality that the previous company failed to deliver.

Addressing the issues through refactoring

A strategy for developing software that has to be updated to ensure sustainable progression would look a little bit different. The development team should provide you with a detailed overview of troubling issues and explain why they may have arisen. You should also expect a step-by-step plan on how they will repair your code and a clear indication of what threats this might involve.

Rewriting the code from scratch

In the worst case, the code must be written from the ground up. It might be due to critical faults in the system, outdated architectural solutions, or simply a lack of possibility to be further expanded.

Although this may seem daunting, you should be aware that when the quality of the code is really poor, patching it with temporary solutions will just add to the technical debt over time. Investing in a complete rewrite now can save you resources and headaches in the future.

If this scenario applies to your project, the company should demonstrate how they will structure your code and what upgrades they will implement. But outside of that, they should also devise a clear plan for transferring the project from the previous team, including the estimated duration of each stage and the type of required development services to give you an idea of how the project will proceed.

Sharing knowledge

Allowing your old and new team to collaborate is the most effective approach to sharing the project’s technical details. This kind of knowledge transfer lets developers communicate directly, which speeds up the onboarding process of the new squad. But, due to the often abrupt dissolution of an existing partnership, such a situation is rarely possible.

That is why we have encouraged you to collect technical information from your prior partner, as it is now your responsibility to familiarize your new team with the product’s environment.

To maximize the productivity and efficiency of this process, divide it into several meetings. This method will enable your new employees to absorb the information better and seek clarification on areas they may not entirely comprehend.

It is also the right moment to establish communication norms and state your expectations towards the collaboration. Set deadlines, coding standards, and best practices you would like your team to stick to while developing the product.

Effective transfer of critical information and your requirements may result in a faster project kick-off, smooth development, and quicker deployment of the enhanced app.

Gradual transition

It’s finally time for the new crew to work on the project. Yet, it might be difficult for software engineers to do the challenging job right from the beginning. To make the transition phase as painless as possible, try to delegate some maintenance work first, allowing them to delve into the code base and become acquainted with it.

With a good grasp of how the source code is built and what is there, the team will be ready to proceed to more demanding tasks and accelerate their work as the project proceeds.

Monitoring the progress

Just because you thoroughly verified your future partner before initiating collaboration doesn’t mean your work is over once the process goes on. From your previous experience, you should be perfectly aware of how fast a project can slip through the cracks.

To prevent your undertaking from another fiasco, stay on your toes. Supervise the work by keeping an eye on how the team communicates internally and with you – whether they dwell on an issue to find the best solution or pretend everything is fine.

Another aspect is the pace of development. A well-organized development process ensures the timely delivery of your product and reduces the chance of error. It’s also a good indicator if work picks up speed over time because it implies the developers created a solid foundation from the outset.

The whole point of this ongoing monitoring is not to be unreasonably suspicious but to stay in touch with your team, answer their queries, and check if the project is proceeding in the right direction.

A software project handover in a nutshell

We would lie if we told you transferring your project between two companies comes with no sweat. It is a complicated process that requires time and thoroughness.

By identifying the difficulties of the previous team, acquiring technical information, and carefully analyzing possible partners, you can ensure that you select a team with the ability and experience needed to take over and complete your product development effectively.

Add to it a well-organized transition process that includes technical audit, knowledge transfer, and continuous monitoring, and you have the formula for a seamless changeover and, eventually, successful app delivery.

Of course, this does not mean the new team will avoid any mistakes, but if you follow our advice, there is a great chance they won’t be so acute this time.

If your project requires a breath of fresh air and you’re at a loss for a new tech partner, contact us! We have the knowledge and skills to get your project back on track.

Contact us and get a free project estimation!

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