April 1, 2016
Top 6 Challenges in Software Development
Software development has evolved beyond tech geeks typing furiously in a dark abyss of bright screens, immersed in complex code and foreign languages, adding features to static systems. It has become a critical business infrastructure component that needs to be able to evolve, adapt and improve – all at the drop of a hat.
In today’s business world, software is at the core of each company’s ability to create products, systems and services. The demand for tech-savvy, agile software solutions that are both well-integrated and intelligent increases, and these innovations become key differentiating factors in a competitive landscape.
Software development is complex. It’s no surprise that in each project, there are bound to be challenges. We’ve compiled a list of our top 6 challenges in software projects every business should be aware of when getting ready to build new software solutions:
- Completely understanding the user. What we think our users want and need can be, at most times, completely different from what they actually want and need. Effective planning means integrating user input and feedback throughout the design and development process.
How will they navigate and use the application? What components are the most critical to accomplish what they want? These are typical questions to address in the planning phase of the project so that the appropriate design can be developed prior to implementation.
- Users don’t know what they want until they get it. Even with heavy user involvement throughout the design and development process, it is inevitable for the user to have a complete understanding of what they want and need after they use the application in real-time. Including actual users in acceptance testing as part of the agile process catches many issues prior to launch and results in higher adoption rates upon initial release.
- Integrating different systems and technologies can get sticky. There are thousands of different technologies, systems and applications available for businesses. Integrating third-party or other custom applications, such as your CRM, website, or an inventory management database, adds to the complexity of the project as the new software solution must conform to the external constraints of these existing systems. Even a simple requirement, such as supporting multiple browsers, significantly increases the complexity of building and testing software solutions.
- Finding and hiring the right skills required for each project’s unique demands. Just as integrating the varied components to the existing infrastructure are complex, finding and hiring the resources who understand them is also a challenge. Each project’s applications, tools, and technologies could demand a new set of skills and expertise.
Highly skilled resources are often difficult to find and tend to be costly. Beware of the development agencies that say they can handle your complex needs for cheap. Remember: you get what you pay for.
- Trying to duplicate the test environment. It is very difficult to test software in a controlled environment because the user is not immersed in a completely realistic working situation. It’s impractical to gauge how a user will really use the application in different situations on a regular basis until it’s deployed.
- Change of requirements. Also known as scope creep, it’s common for businesses to continuously build new ideas throughout the design process. It’s almost too easy to get caught up in all the things we want to do, that we forget what we originally set out to create. When the solution is live, it’s almost certain new feature needs or desired capabilities will reveal themselves. However, these improvements can always be implemented in the next phase. It’s important to keep focused on the core functionality you are trying to achieve and ensure that the foundation is built and capable of supporting these new features. If all the new ideas and features were added initially, it would pose a major risk to the quality of the foundation we are striving to build. After the initial deployment, take some time to gather user feedback and then start thinking about and preparing the next phase of the project.
From planning, all the way to deployment, understanding the challenges of software development ultimately creates a better experience both for your team and your users. Make sure you have a partner that understands the complete scope of your project. They should be able to identify the core functional needs of your project, map out the user requirements and workflow, identify the critical components, and be able to place all the complicated backend code behind a killer user interface.
Need help planning, developing, and deploying a new software solution? We’d be happy to discuss your project with you.