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Common Pitfalls of Software Development and Tips to Avoid Them


Article originally published in DevOps.com.

In business, no one wants to plan on failure. However, when it comes to software development, failure is more common than most managers want to admit. In particular, many managers and executives fear large software-based projects are especially likely to fail due to the complex nature of these projects and the nuanced reality of the deliverables.

While there is no doubt a software development plan is complex, there is no reason to be so readily consigned to failure. In fact, it might be argued that software is so important to your operations that failure should be viewed as unacceptable. However, this aggressive approach in theory needs to be backed up with proper execution in practice. That is why you need to know the common pitfalls that befall most software projects. This is the only way to make sure your company avoids them.

Vague Project Requirements

One reason so many projects fall short of the mark is that these projects fail to define the mark adequately. Your software development project cannot succeed until you know what you really want it to do. This means your project specifications need to be clear from the very start. Your goals should be defined first, and then these goals should be consistently reiterated to team members throughout the process. This includes the scalability of the project. The development team needs to know what features should be included in order to produce a final software solution that actually meets your company’s needs.

This is all part of developing a versatile software development plan. A good software development plan will anchor your project from start to finish. A poor one will inevitably leave you vulnerable to failure.

Unrealistic Timeline

The timeline matters to the company, which is why some companies set aggressive timelines as part of their software development plan. However, while these timelines sound good in planning sessions, they may not make much sense in the daily development process. It is pivotal to think carefully about a timeline in order to account for development, testing and more. All parties should be consulted in the development of the timeline. This includes high level executives, project management and developers. This varied input should allow the project to accommodate the needs of management alongside the needs of developers. This is a form of risk management because an insufficient timeline will lead developers to cut corners, leading to a lackluster result.

Unbalanced Staffing Commitments

As you define your software requirements, you will need to think about the team members who will bring your plan to fruition. If you do not assign enough people to the project, production will fall behind. However, if you put too many people on the project, things can start to get messy. Overstaffing a project can easily lead to miscommunication, and it is harder to keep a large team of people unified. This can also lead to redundancy and a lack of consistency if too many duties are spread out. For these reasons, it is important to assess your staffing situation correctly from the start. Be sure to include your project management team in the final staffing decision.

Insufficient Testing Procedures

In all your planning, it can be easy to neglect testing. The reality is testing should be a critical part of your plan, accounting for a significant amount of your timeline and resources. Testing is important because it allows the development team to iron out any problems with the software. All software will have bugs in its early versions, and these bugs can be caught and fixed with sufficient testing. Testing is the only way to make sure your software works the way it needs to work. If you implement deliverables that do not perform, then your workers will be flummoxed, your consumers will be disappointed and your security could be at risk. Therefore, allot plenty of time for testing throughout the entire development plan, allowing for each component to be tested prior to going live.

Poor Hands-On Leadership

If you really want to make sure your project goes well, then make sure you have good people in place to lead it. Your project management team is absolutely critical to successful software development. A good project manager will internalize all parts of your plan. This includes the budget, the timeline, the goals and the staff. Your project managers need to facilitate communication, manage schedules and oversee adjustments. This key leadership role is your software development plan in action. Make sure you hire the person with the right skills and the right experience. Then, make sure that person knows exactly what your goals are to achieve success.

These pitfalls are common for a reason. However, with a little foresight, it is possible to keep your project and your company from disaster.

Written by Shane Zilinskas, Founder

Published September 30, 2019

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