We at Mad Devs focus on delivering value: we’re constantly checking how the customer will be able to benefit from anything we’re doing for them. This approach prioritizes our customers’ business success over any other goals.
Delivering value requires thorough planning and regular revision of plans. The earliest stage of planning involves a group of people whose objective is to lay the foundation for the project’s success: the SWAT team.
What is the SWAT team?
SWAT is an abbreviation for Special Weapons and Tactics. SWAT analysis can be applied to various situations, projects, and products. The point of the analysis is to assess both the present state of what’s being analyzed and its prospects. With SWAT analysis, one can identify things that are functional and reliable and those that, on the contrary, need work.
At Mad Devs, the SWAT team is assembled at the earliest stage of collaboration: the software project estimation stage, which is right after the potential customer contacts us. At this point, it has two objectives:
- Assess the customer’s business needs
- Assess Mad Devs’ resources and the feasibility of meeting the identified needs
Assessing business needs
The SWAT team includes not only software engineers but also IT industry experts who can analyze what’s happening in the market. They do research to access the probability that the planned product’s value proposition is likely to gain a market share.
To see if a product can be successful, the team focuses on users’ needs. Any product is planned around the goal to solve a certain problem that users face. The questions we ask when assessing these plans are “Which problem are we trying to solve for users? Is it really a problem?” If we find that it is, and we can see how the product can solve it, we’ve identified the product’s potential to fit the market.
Assessing our capacity
When estimating a project, we assess ourselves, too. We look for current weaknesses on our side that can prevent us from completing the project. We then figure out how we fix and overcome those weaknesses.
Here are examples of decisions the SWAT team needs to make at this stage of project estimation:
- What IT specialists to add to the project team
- What technologies to add to the tech stack to make it optimal
- What experts we can turn to and ask for advice
We at Mad Devs use the power of our strong network to find experts for additional consultations that are vital in industry specific projects. For example, if our SWAT team were to estimate a project dealing with international trade, they would try to contact an expert who is knowledgeable in the industry and benefit from their expertise.
To compose the future project team, the SWAT team outlines requirements for the software development process. In other words, the SWAT team translates the customer’s business needs into a tentative high-level list of tasks. This way, we can see what technologies, frameworks, and other instruments we’ll need to use. Team composition is planned accordingly.
Why do we employ the SWAT team
Safeguarding the product’s future
Assembling a SWAT team before cooperation even starts is our way to ensure that a project is off to a good start. We don’t like to rush into development before we can say that we know what we’re doing.
Our 15+ years in the industry show that the lack of initial analysis can lead to serious trouble. Sometimes, developed products will have to be remade from scratch because they can’t survive in the market.
To avoid wasting time on developing something that users won’t be interested in, we take this extra time for SWAT analysis. It definitely pays off in lasting projects.
Showing our expertise
The SWAT team deals with fundamental things: what the product will be like and how its development will be approached. That’s why this team is composed of some of our best specialists.
Extensively communicating with the customer, the SWAT team shows him or her how we work. Here’s what the customer can learn from interacting with the SWAT team:
- We are professionals who start with research and analysis instead of making bold claims right away;
- We focus on the customer’s business as opposed to technical challenges;
- We engage the customer in the development process and pursue the customer’s goals;
- We plan what we do, and we adjust plans as needed;
- We have the experience and qualifications to implement the project.
Pros and cons
The main advantage of SWAT analysis is that it enables effective planning. By assessing a project and preparing for implementation, the SWAT team ensures that further effort will be well-guided. For example, it will be easier for the developers to proceed with their tasks as the SWAT team creates a basis for them.
The main disadvantage of SWAT analysis is that it takes extra time. If the project doesn’t happen or gets canceled for some reason, this time will turn out to be wasted. But we still use the SWAT team (unless the customer specifies otherwise, e.g., because they need a small MVP just to try it out) because we like to do things the right way right from the start.
How the SWAT team operates
- The SWAT team creates a roadmap for the project based on formulated goals. The roadmap breaks the project’s scope into manageable parts and outlines the timeline for implementation.
- In close cooperation with the customer, the SWAT team specifies project requirements and deadlines. This allows turning abstract ideas of what the product should be like into an actual plan that the project team can follow.
We do not have the illusion that we can put together a detailed plan for a project right from the start. Plans can change for various reasons. For example:
- Something happens in the market that affects product vision
- The customer reconsiders their business goals
- Unpredictable complications arise in the development process
We are aware of uncertainties, and we know we might need to revise our roadmap. But it doesn’t mean initial planning is pointless. Software development is a volatile process that requires an agile team with flexible processes to implement adjustments as we go.
Preparation for implementation
The SWAT team documents their research to pass knowledge to the project team. Accumulated documentation will make it easier for the project team to proceed when development actually starts.
The SWAT team participates in composing the project team. There are four main principles:
- The technological background of team members should match the project’s needs
- The team must include at least one senior developer, who ensures that the project is moving in the right direction
- The team must have a project manager or a team lead who maintains continuous development
- There must be a tech lead on the team to ensure the quality of results
When a project enters the implementation stage, the entire SWAT team or at least one member of it continues to oversee the development process and provides recommendations to the project team if needed.
Before starting a project, we at Mad Devs do SWAT analysis. The SWAT team assesses the project and creates a roadmap for the project team to follow. The SWAT team comprises some of our most experienced and highly qualified experts. We make this extra effort to ensure that the customer will be able to benefit from what we develop for them. If you want to personally experience working with our SWAT team in the assessment of your project, feel free to contact us.