Software Development Perils to Watch Out For

Here are the most common problems that typically plague software development teams.

Regardless of what industry you belong to, software is the cornerstone of everything you need to conduct efficient and effective business operations. From process automation to guiding customer interfaces, our reliance on technology continues to reshape the business landscape.

Software is an important tool that can give a competitive advantage and improve your overall market performance.

A High Failure Rate

Sadly, many software development projects are doomed to fail. A report by a Standish Group claimed that software failures are so commonplace that success rates are estimated to be at a measly 6%.

A whopping 52% either go over budget or veer away from timelines, while up to 42% of cases are cancelled or abandoned altogether.

In a separate study conducted by the Harvard Business Review, it was revealed that 1 in 6 major software projects missed their target schedules by about 70%. Those same projects also exceeded their budgets by as much as 200% on average.

Even those that manage to stay within budget or finish on time have had to revise their original plan to a point where the desired result is substandard quality or reduced functionality. Project scale-backs become necessary to plug the leak. In the end, you only get a fraction of what you had paid for.

The situations become even direr in cases wherein key decision makers undervalue such projects. Failure to secure much-needed support from senior management typically have a lower chance of success.

Software development requires more than just lip service from the C-suite to thrive. It must have the upper management’s total commitment, as well as concrete, actionable steps for the team to perform.

Stumbling Blocks

Lack of senior management support is just one of the many problems that business owners typically run into when conducting software projects. Other stumbling blocks include one or all of the following issues.

  1. Having a bloated team

It’s a classic case of too many cooks spoiling the broth, and this principle holds true for software projects as well. Unfortunately, many people fall into the trap of believing that adding more people to fix a problem results in a faster resolution.

On the contrary, the opposite is true. Every additional team member means added friction and slower response times.

Having said that, make sure that your team isn’t so lean that people end up having too many tasks on their plates. Most people equate multi-tasking with better productivity, but again, the opposite is true. The more your required people to multitask, the more their work suffers.

Both the quality and quantity work takes a hit because they’ll have to juggle more things and handle more responsibilities. If this goes on for too long, you’re at the risk of losing your best talent, forcing you to hire new members in the middle of the project. You’ll have to start all over, contend with new hires with high learning curves, and more extensions.

  1. No concrete timelines

You need to set realistic timelines that take the unpredictable nature of software development into account. Taking an honest look at how long it will really take to create a particular piece of code and other tasks will save you a lot of disappointment and unmet expectations in the long run.

Don’t give into client demands by agreeing to a deadline you know you can’t deliver. A project manager with many years of experience is in the best position to predict with better accuracy how long each task will last.

Time estimates must also be broken down into bite-sized pieces that everyone can follow. When someone says a specific task will take one month to accomplish, demand a step by step account of how exactly they came up with that time frame. It helps to have a granular approach so that you’re not working on pure speculation when coming up with your timelines.

  1. Using the wrong metrics

KPIs are an integral part of project success. Take the time to measure metrics that are aligned with the overall business objective. Don’t fall into the trap of using a metric just for the sake of convenience.

If you’re at a loss about KPIs, don’t hesitate to test your current metrics and put them under the microscope. Analyze how effective it is and whether or not it contributes to accomplishing your overall goals. If it doesn’t, revise and test it further until you come up with the right ones.

  1. Communication gap

Make sure everyone is on the same page when it comes to disseminating critical pieces of information to your team. It’s easy to take this effective communication for granted, so make plans to hold regular meetings and stick to it.

Whether it’s a daily morning meeting or a quick end-of-day huddle, keeping everyone in the loop about project status fosters trust among members. Keep employees updated especially when milestones are reached or status changes are about to be implemented.

  1. Ineffective accounting procedures

Don’t forget to appoint key personnel to be in charge of specific mission-critical tasks. Break it down into component tasks and know who exactly is responsible for what. This keeps them accountable and helps you identify where the delays are coming from whenever problems arise like going over budget or missing deadlines.

Make sure that everyone in the team knows what they are tasked to accomplish so that there’stransparency and a sense of accountability for those concerned.

software development perils watch out for

Adapting is the key to success

There’s no escaping the technology in today’s business landscape. Even those that don’t belong to the software development industry must have the flexibility to adapt and change.

In the coming years, we will continue to rely on technology heavily, and it is fair to assume that it will encompass areas as diverse as customer service, marketing, sales, and operations. The time will come when themajority of business functions will be mediated by software, and you must be prepared to deal with issues and tools you need to develop, purchase, and successfully deploy software.


About the Author

KarthikSubburaman is currently the Country Manager of ECC International (ECCI) and Apex Global Learning. He has notable experience as a lead consultant and solution architect for clients across industries – in the areas risk management, business process re-engineering, corporate sustainability strategy and organizational learning management. Among other expertise, he has an eye for problem solving, decision analysis, and quality excellence helping a number of companies across industries to improve business processes and learning improvement and sustainability.

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